What Do You Need More: Clock Speed Cores Or Threads
The answer to this question really depends on your regular computing tasks. Higher clocks translate to quicker responsiveness and program load times . Higher clock speeds also mean single-threaded tasks can happen faster. Many popular games are still lightly threaded.
But many modern programs can take advantage of lots of cores and threads. If you do lots of multitasking or edit high-res videos, or do other complex, time-consuming CPU-heavy tasks, you should prioritize the number of cores. But for the vast majority of gamers and general-purpose computer users, a clock speed ranging from 3-4GHz with four to eight cores is plenty.
Decide If You Want A 2
Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops, hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode and other positions in between such as tent or stand modes. 2-in-1s generally come in two different styles: detachables with screens that come off the keyboard entirely and flexible laptops with hinges that bend back 360 degrees to change modes.
Most of these systems are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with bend-backs being laptops first and detachables offering a superior tablet experience. However, if you don’t see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you’ll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.
From Chromebooks To Windows Pcs To Macbooks Buying A Laptop Is Still A Confusing Mess Of Model Numbers And Specs But If You Follow These Rules Youll Be Fine
So there you are, in the Best Buy laptop section, staring down the biggest decision of your life: Which one should I make mine?
Do you head for the low-cost Chromebooks? Pull out Google Translate to decipher the placards next to the Windows machines? Or go to the Honey, I Shrunk the Apple Store area to check out the MacBooks?
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Do You Want A Touchpad
The same is true of a laptops touchpad. This is one of the foremost ways in which you interact with your laptop, so it needs to work well. Unfortunately, many laptop touchpads are awful. Theres a trend for making the buttons part of the main touchpad, which, when implemented poorly, can mean your cursor jumps all over the place when you perform a click. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has an excellent Precision Touchpad
Plenty of touchpads dont respond accurately to finger movement, or have squishy buttons that make it difficult to determine whether youve registered a click. Most modern touchpads support gestures, where you can use two fingers to scroll or to pinch-to-zoom but, again, how easy these gestures are to use varies widely between laptops.
Nowadays, many laptops come with Microsoft-approved Precision Touchpads, putting an end to years of mediocre Windows laptop touchpads that were massively outclassed by those found on Apples MacBooks. If you do pick up a laptop with a poor touchpad, theres always the option of carrying a USB travel mouse in your bag, which brings us to
Should I Get A Longer Laptop Warranty
Most laptop makers offer one-year warranties on parts and labor. These standard plans are limited, so they won’t cover accidents that stem from spilling a drink on the keyboard or dropping the system on the sidewalk. Fortunately, your credit-card issuer likely covers such mishaps for a short period of time after you buy a new product, and it also may extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Check your account benefits guide for details.
If your credit-card issuer doesnt cover you, some laptop makers will happily sell you extended warranties. Apple, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all offer wide ranges of extended warranties and coverage for accidental damage. Expect to spend $100 to $300 for these options. Our rule of thumb is that if a warranty costs more than 15 percent of the laptop’s purchase price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime.
Of course, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. There are instances when the logic board or the displaythe most expensive parts of a laptopfail, and while rare, such a catastrophe can cost you half of what the laptop is worth in repair costs.
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What’s An Ideal Size And Weight
Most people searching for a general-purpose laptop should choose one that measures about half an inch thick and weighs 3 pounds or less. In general, these are the maximum dimensions and heft a laptop can have for us to consider it an ultraportable, and for most users, portability is the key to maximizing use and enjoyment.
Aiming for that weight and thickness, in most cases, will limit the laptops screen size to 13 or 14 inches, although a few models with 15-inch or larger screens now fit into the ultraportable category. At most of these screen sizes, you can find models in either the conventional clamshell laptop shape or a 2-in-1 convertible design. The latter has a hinge that rotates the screen 360 degrees so you can use it as a makeshift tablet or prop it up like a tent for watching movies.
Some Windows and Chrome OS laptops do have smaller displays, such as 10 or 11 inches. Some of these are not technically laptops in the pure sense, but rather tablets with detachable keyboards. Unless youre specifically looking for a part-time tablet or the lightest possible laptop, avoid these designs. Theyre lighter than most 13-inch ultraportables, often less than 2 pounds, but theyre not as good at being tablets as the Apple iPad is, and their detachable keyboards mean theyre not much good at being laptops, eithertyping on most of them tends to be subpar.
The Best Dell Laptops You Can Buy Today
The best Dell laptop for most people? That’s the Dell XPS 13.
The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3, and the latest version of the laptop continues that trend it’s powerful, supremely well built, and compact, so just about everything you could possibly want in your search for the best Dell laptop around at the moment.
With the latest 10th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM installed, this is a portable computer that’s going to be able to handle everything that you want to throw at it. From late-night Netflix to early-morning report writing, you’ll find the Dell XPS 13 a highly capable and competent laptop.
It’s that 13.4-inch display with the super-thin bezels that really makes the XPS 13 stand out though: if you want to, you can go all the way up to a 4K resolution, but the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution models still look fantastic . Wondering what the differences are between this and the 15-inch model below? Here’s our Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15 guide.
The brand new Dell XPS 15 for 2020 has wowed us even more than previous versions of the flagship laptop, and if you’ve got enough money to be able to afford it, this is undoubtedly one of the best Dell laptops in the business you pay a little bit extra than the XPS 13 for that 15.6-inch display, but we reckon that it’s worth it.
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In Just A Minute Youll Find Your Perfect Laptop
Our quiz takes just about a minute to complete. Youll answer questions like how much youre looking to spend, what tasks youre using it for, whether you need extras like a touchscreen or 10-key, and more.
This stuff matters because it steers you away from laptops that offer too little or too much for your needs or price range. For example, when youre trying to find the best laptops for college, you have a budget. You wouldnt want to look at the pricier Razor Blade 15-inch laptop, which is one of the best gaming laptops money can buy.
Answer each question based on what youre looking for and youll get our suggestion for the best option for you, based on a dozen hand-selected options. Each question you answer narrows down the results.
Well walk you through some of the top brands, from Lenovo laptops to the best Chromebook you can buy with your budget.
How Many Cores Do I Need
Every laptop we sell has at least a dual-core processor. This allows it to handle several things at once so you can move quickly between different windows, with more apps and tabs running at once. Quad-core processors are great for running demanding software quickly, such as photo editing and music production programs. Modern creative software is optimised to run best with multi-core setups.
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How Much Should I Spend On A Laptop
- Less than £200 Intel Celeron or Atom processors, 2GB of Ram and 32GB of storage. Wont be particularly fast, but fine for very light note taking and browsing the internet.
- Less than £300 Newer Intel Celeron processors, 4GB of Ram and up to 64GB of storage. Again, won’t be hugely fast but offers a better level of performance for lightweight tasks.
- Less than £450 Intel Pentium, Core i3, AMD Ryzen 3 and 4GB Ram. Fast enough for web browsing and research work. Aim for a Full HD screen and an SSD if you can.
- Less than £600 Intel Core i5, i7, AMD Ryzen 5, 7 and 8GB of Ram. Should be ideal for photo editing and some light video work. Look for a thin and light design, a Full HD screen and an SSD.
- Less than £800 As above, but in increasingly high-end designs. Look for great battery life on premium ultrabooks
- More than £800 Some stunning designs, great screens and good speakers. High-end laptops will suit more intensive tasks, such as video editing or playing games. You can buy Apple MacBooks from £999 and above.
On a budget? Skip straight to our round up of the best cheap laptops.
Which Type Of Laptop Should You Buy
You want your laptop to be able to accomplish the things you need it to do. Some laptops are suited for business or professional use, some are geared more toward gaming and entertainment, and others are ideal for day-to-day tasks. Try to choose wisely, and you will be satisfied with your purchase.
Types of laptops to consider include:
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Should I Consider A Refurbished Laptop
Every manufacturer and reseller has different standards for refurbishing previously used laptops. A slight discount on a rigorously tested MacBook Pro that Apple sells with the same warranty as a new one might be worth the cost savings, while a laptop refurbished by a third party youve never heard could be chancy. Its best to buy any refurbished machine directly from the manufacturers online store as opposed to from a reseller, especially a reseller that may be hawking refurbs from marketplace” sellers or third parties on its platform.
Some of these resellers or their third parties will rate their refurbished stock with a grade. Weve seen refurbished laptops being sold and rated with grades of A, B+, B, C, and so on, to reflect the relative amount of wear and tear on the machine. There is no universal grading system for refurbished PCs, however. Its generally up to the reseller what the grade means, and thus it can vary from seller to seller. Were wary of machines graded this way and strongly recommend insisting on an ironclad return policy in the case of purchases like these, if you decide to roll the dice. You could end up pleasantly surprised, but usually, a refurbished-laptop deal that looks too good to be true…is.
Which Type Of Laptop Is Best For You
General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. Thats not to say they cant be fast, but youll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $600 or £400.
Ultrabooks: Where youll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800.
2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off, but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops are available right now. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 on a touchscreen.
Chromebooks: Where youll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than $300 or £200 and some can even withstand a slight tussle.
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How To Choose A Computer
If your existing PC is so slow it can barely run Windows Solitaire, let alone video editing software, dont fret. Theres some good news for computer users facing the inevitable upgrade: Theres never been a better time to buy a new PC.
Prices are at an all-time low, while at the same time, computers are becoming incredibly powerful and full of convenient features. But choosing the right computer to match your needs and budget can be an overwhelming task especially for tech-shy folks intimidated by geeky terminology and pushy salespeople.
Heres how to choose a computer thats just right for you.
What Generation Cpu Do You Need
Each year or so, Intel and AMD upgrade their processor lines with a new architecture. Intel is about to launch its “11th Gen Core Series,” with the Core i9 11900K at the top end. AMD’s latest chips are part of its Ryzen 5000 line, like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, and Ryzen 9 3900X. When looking at the model number, you can see the generation as the first digit of the four number . Note, though, that AMD skipped 4000 branding on its desktop CPUs.
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What Socket Does My Motherboard Need For This Cpu
Different processors require different socket types. If you already own a motherboard and don’t want to replace it, you’ll need to purchase a CPU that matches your board’s socket. Alternatively, you need to make sure that the motherboard you buy is compatible with your new processor.
For help choosing a motherboard, see our 2021 motherboard buying guide.
With its current-generation Ryzen and Athlon parts , AMD has adopted a single socketAM4. That means you should, with a BIOS update, be able to put a current-generation Ryzen chip into prvious-generation Ryzen motherboard, and vice versa. But due to limitations to the size of available data stored inside BIOS chips and the vast numbers of CPUs AMD has released on AM4, this issue has gotten much morecomplicated lately.
Intel, on the other hand, has a tendency in recent years not to support backward compatibility with its new chips and older motherboards, even if the socket is effectively the same. For instance, Intels socket LGA 1150 and 1151 differ by a single pin, and the version of 1551 designed specifically for 8th Generation Core chips is physically the same as that made for previous 6th and 7th Generation Core processors. But those older 1151-socket motherboards dont work with newer 1151-socket CPUs, because the newer chips have different power delivery subsystem needs. Note that Intel has bucked this trend with socket LGA 1200, which will accept both 10th Gen Intel and upcoming 11th Gen intel CPUs.
How To Pick The Best Laptop For You
So, what makes a laptop worth buying? First, it needs to offer excellent value for money. That means budget laptops below the $400/£400 price point need to still offer good performance and build quality.
Meanwhile, ultra-expensive devices need to justify their high price tags with best-in-class performance, premium build quality and lengthy battery lives.
If you want something to work on, a laptop with a modern processor, at least 8GB of RAM and a large screen are worth considering.
For gaming, you’ll want a gaming laptop with a dedicated graphics card and fast and responsive screen.
Check out our guide on what you should look for when buying a new laptop at the end of this page for more in-depth advice on buying a laptop.
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How Can I Get My Software
Home Delivery: Choose your software and have it delivered, just like you would any other item.
Collect in store: Reserve online and collect your software in any of our stores.
Buy now and download straight away. Just click Buy Now for Download on the product page of any applicable software. If you delete the software or reset your PC just log into your Currys PC World account to download it again.
Select The Processor And Ram
Laptops run on Intel and AMD processors. Choosing the right one is a bit difficult. If you are going to use your laptop mainly for college assignments, basic game titles and software, an Intel Core i3 or AMD A-series A6 or AMD A8 processor will suffice. For students who run heavy programming or graphic-intensive software, it may be worth spending more for laptops running Intel Core i5, Intel Core i7 or AMD A10 processors.
Most laptops today ship with 4GB of RAM, which is great if you want to perform daily tasks like using Microsoft Office, browsing the web and watching movies. If you are ready to spend just a little more, you might find options with 8GB of RAM. More RAM means multitasking between heavy software becomes simpler.
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