Which Laptop Should I Get
With so many laptops to choose from, selecting the best one to fit your budget can be like navigating a minefield. Even making sense of the ever-changing list of product specifications is no easy feat. Laptops vary greatly by CPU speed, graphics capability, size, drive storage, and RAM, among other things. Whats more, your laptop needs may be completely different to someone elses, only adding to the confusion.
For some, a flashy 4K screen may be important. Others may want a high-performing CPU, like AMDs new Ryzen 5000 processors, to give them a competitive edge in games. Getting value for money can be tricky too, since newer technologies dont always mean better performance. For example, older-generation CPUs can sometimes outperform newer products in benchmark tests. For these reasons it pays to do your homework before you purchase a laptop.
To simplify the process for you weve put together a list of 12 criteria that you can use as a guide for what to look for. It may seem laborious delving into each category, but there are a lot of things to consider. At the end of the day, taking time to research your new device will mean you avoid making a costly mistake and get a laptop thats just right for you.
Clock Speed: The Cpu Stopwatch
Measured in megahertz or more often gigahertz , a processor’s clock speed is its operating frequencya driver of how many instructions the processor can crunch through per second. Higher clock speed is generally better, though things get muddy when comparing clock speeds between different brands or even between chips within the same brand. That’s because some CPUs are more efficient than others, able to process just as many instructions in a given slice of time despite operating at a lower clock speed. Still, clock speed can be telling when comparing chips within a single vendor’s family line.
To complicate things further, today’s processors typically have two advertised clock speeds: a base clock and boost clock, sometimes dubbed turbo speed since Intel refers to the duality as Turbo Boost technology. When handling light workloads, the CPU runs at its base clock, typically between 1GHz and 2GHz for laptop chips though sometimes higher depending on the processor’s rated wattage. When more speed is needed, the CPU temporarily acceleratesoften to 3.5GHz to 5GHz or sountil the task is done. Processors don’t run at their boost clock all the time because they might overheat.
An Intel CPU manufacturing wafer
Best Hp Laptop For University Students
HP 15″ Laptop
The right laptop for a college student depends greatly on your major, especially if youre going for a graphic design or programming degree. A student who uses their computer primarily for writing papers needs some essential functions, such as space for programs you may need to download and use in the classroom.
You can find all that in an HP 15″ Laptop, one of the best laptops for college students. And if you go for a slightly upgraded version, it comes equipped with up to 8GB of memory, Windows 10, and up to Intel® Core i5 processor.
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Which Type Of Laptop Should You Buy
You want your laptop 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. Choose wisely, and youll be satisfied with your purchase.
Types of laptops to consider include:
What Is The Purpose Of A Laptop
Just like a desktop computer, laptops can be used for a range of purposes, including for school and university, work, gaming, to listen to and download music and videos, graphic design and video editing, and for general use such as for searching the internet and completing online tasks such as paying bills online.
Laptops continue to rise in popularity due to their mobile nature in that theyre able to be carried with you and used wherever you go, says Jason Tavoletti, The Good Guys Category Manager – Computers, Print & Monitors. Not only are devices becoming more thin and light, some laptops are extremely powerful and operate just as fast and efficiently as desktop computers. Laptops are essential for working from home, studying, connecting with friends, and playing online games.
For more information about what to look for in laptops for purposes such as schooling, home office and gaming, please read on as we outline the inclusions youll need for each.
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Screen And Build Quality
Always try to get your hands on a laptop before you buy. Start by looking at the screen indoors and — if possible — near a window or outside. You’ll probably find that Apple and Sony screens have the brightest colours and best contrast. If you do have to buy from the specs alone, look for LED backlighting and Full HD for the best resolution, found on pricier machines.
‘3D’ is a buzzword right now and 3D laptops are already trickling out. While games and films can look stunning in 3D, the technology is still fairly young, fairly expensive and suffers from low levels of brightness and sharpness. Consume at your own risk.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good keyboard, trackpad or navigation nipple. Look for dedicated keys for mail, Web and especially media controls — they all make smaller keyboards easier to use.
Open and shut the case a few times and hold it in both hands. How heavy is it? Does it flex or creak? How strong does it feel? While it’s hard to beat Apple for solidity and design, all the big brands have premium metal-bodied models, and Panasonic even has fully waterproof and toughened Toughbooks.
What Other Specs Should I Look For
While the GPU is important, youll also want to be on the lookout for a good CPU, enough RAM and lots of storage space.
- CPU: Depending on your budget, you can get a very powerful Core i7 CPU or even one that you can overclock such as the Intel Core i9-9980HK. You can also find laptops with desktop CPUs. However, most games benefit more from a quality GPU than a CPU so you can definitely get by with a Core i5 processor.
If you see something older than the most current Intel 10th Gen Core or with less power, consider saving a bit. CPUs usually arent upgradeable, so youre making this choice once. Intel launched its 11th Gen Intel Core H35 at CES 2021, while a 45W part will come later in the year.
Like memory, storage is often upgradeable in gaming notebooks. So if you need more space, you can toss in a 2TB or larger HDD.
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Ssd Types: Sata Or Pcie Nvme
Typical mainstream hard drives use the same SATA interface as mechanical hard drives, but that connection is limited to about 550 megabytes per second, which is still four or five times more bandwidth than a hard drive uses. However, some more expensive laptops use drives based on the PCIe-NVMe standard, which is sometimes listed as just NVMe or PCIe but is the same thing.
The fastest PCIe-NVMe SSDs on the market can theoretically read and write at four or five times the speed of a SATA unit, but most PCIe-NVMe drives we test are 1.5 to three times quicker than an equivalent SATA drive. Where a typical SATA SSD might return a rate of 150 to 175 MBps on the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, which involves reading and writing 4.97GB of files at the same time, a normal PCIe-NVMe SSD will get between 250 and 500 MBps. Some high-end gaming systems have dual PCIe-NVMe SSDs that work together in what’s called a RAID array, and those can get rates of over 1,000 MBps on our test.
Unfortunately, not all PCIe-NVMe SSDs are created equal. For example, the ThinkPad Yoga 370 that we tested had a 256GB Toshiba PCIe SSD that managed only 145.7 MBps on our test, less than most SATA-based systems. As a consumer, your best bet is to check benchmark reviews like ours to see how the drive in your potential laptop performed.
Bottom Line: An NVMe-PCIe SSD is a nice-to-have if you can afford it.
Looking For Portable Storage
Wi-Fi speed is important because fewer laptops come with a built-in ethernet port for plugging into your local wired network.
If this is the case, you may be able to purchase a USB-to-ethernet adapter of the same brand or a third-party alternative.
In either case, look for a laptop that supports the current Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, now rebranded as Wi-Fi 5. This is backwards-compatible with previous standards including the previously most popular 802.11n, but is much faster.
The emerging standard for newer laptops is Wi-Fi 6 which is faster and designed to support more devices than Wi-Fi 5.
Connectivity on laptops these days is all about USB-C, the new low-profile standard that’s becoming common on more models. A USB-C plug is slimline and easy to use , but its appearance can be deceptive, as the same-shaped plug is used for several different standards USB 3.1 Gen-1 and Gen-2 and Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.
Most USB-C ports will be either USB 3.1 Gen-1 which is rated at 5Gbps , the same speed as USB 3.0. The faster version of this is USB 3.1 Gen-2 . There’s also USB 3.2 Gen-2×2 . Then there’s the blazingly fast Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.
Avoid cheap third-party cables and chargers or you may risk damaging your computer or worse
Read more: How we test laptops and tablets
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How To Choose A Laptop
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Looking to invest in a new laptop? There are so many options out there that trying to find the right one can get confusing fast. With a little planning and consideration of your needs, you can quickly eliminate the vast majority of laptops from your search and focus on finding the one that suits your habits and budget perfectly.
The Abcs Of The Archrivals: Pentium Core Ryzen And More
AMD and Intel differentiate their laptop processors according to all of the basic concepts discussed earlier, but their top-level branding is most visible to casual shoppers. Here are their basic product lines by intended market.
Intel’s mainstream laptop CPU brand is Core, while AMD’s is Ryzen. They clash at every levelAMD’s Ryzen 3 competes with Intel’s Core i3, Ryzen 5 with Core i5, and Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 with Core i7 and Core i9.
Among laptops and Chromebooks retailing for just a few hundred dollars, AMD’s Athlon chips vie with Intel’s Celeron and Pentium lines. AMD has no direct alternative to Intel’s Xeon for flagship mobile workstations, though its Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 can offer similar performance. Xeons are essentially Core i7 or Core i9 processors with extra features, designed to work with exotic error-correcting-code memory and to guarantee smooth operation with specific professional applications for fields like engineering, architecture, and data science.
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Most Popular Business Laptops
Once you’ve fully acquainted yourself with the above considerations for the best business laptop, you should feel more prepared to browse the vast market of options. Even with all you’ve learned, though, you might still face a bit of as you navigate the seemingly countless options in front of you. To give you a good starting point, we’ve listed a few of the very best business laptops and summarized their features below.
Hp 15s Ryzen 3 Thin And Light Laptop 15s
Slim and lightweight, the HP 15s laptop is the perfect companion for students and working professionals who prefer carrying their laptops around. The device comes equipped with 4GB DDR4 RAM and is powered by the AMD Ryzen 3 dual-core processor, which works in tandem to ensure that you can multitask with ease on the laptop while running heavy applications and programs without any hassles. The laptop is also affordably priced, making it one of the best options available for the average consumer.
Specifications: HP 15s Ryzen 3 Thin and Light Laptop 15s-eq0007AU
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How Much Local Storage Do You Really Need
The smallest common SSD size is just 128GB, which is about 25 percent of the capacity of the 500GB hard drives you find on many budget laptops. You can easily fit Windows 10 , Office 365 , Chrome and even Photoshop on such a drive, but the minute you start working with files or even running Windows updates, the drive will fill up quickly. It’s also important to note that, if your SSD is more than 75 percent full, performance may suffer.
Some gaming laptops solve this expensive dilemma by coming with both an SSD for key applications and a hard drive for data. Most consumer and business notebooks don’t have room for multiple storage drives, but 1TB external USB hard drives cost under $60.
Bottom Line: Get at least a 256GB SSD, 512GB if you do more storage-heavy work.
Do I Want A Hybrid Laptop Or A Traditional Laptop
You’re already familiar with traditional laptops that open on a hinge, but now there’s another breed of hybrid laptops to consider. Hybrid laptops, also called convertible laptops or 2-in-1s, are laptops that double as stand-alone tablets.
Some hybrid laptops’ screens detach completely from the keyboard, while others have hinges with a 180-degree range of motion, so you can fold the laptop inside out and use it as a tablet. Employees who travel a lot or currently switch back and forth between a laptop and a tablet may be a good match for a hybrid design. However, you should be aware that a 2-in-1 with high specs will cost more than a standard-hinge laptop with the same specs.
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Which Intel And Amd Gen Should I Buy
The latest is always greatest when it comes to CPU generations so we recommend looking for Intel 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen 5000-series chips. Again, 11th Gen Intel chips are denoted by the first two letters after the hyphen: Core i7-1185G7. For AMD, you know it’s a Ryzen 5000 chip if the SKU number starts with a five. For example, AMD Ryzen 7 5700U.
Intel made great strides when it moved from 10th Gen to 11th Gen, especially when it comes to graphics performance with its Iris Xe chip, so we recommend getting the newest Intel processors. AMD, on the other hand, impressed us so much last year that an AMD 4000-series chip is still recommended at the right price.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 8 Laptop
- Screen size: 14 inches
- Dimensions: 12.71 x 8.54 x 0.59 inches
- Weight: 2.4 pounds
- 10th-generation Intel i5-10210U quad-core processor
- Maximum 19.5-hour battery life, with charging rates of 80% in one hour
- 8GB or 16GB RAM
- SSD capacity range of 256GB to 1TB
- 1920 x 1080 screen resolution
- Standard USB and HDMI ports as well as USB 3.1 and USB-C
- Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
- Webcam with physical privacy shutter
- Fingerprint reader
- Splash protection
The Lenovo ThinkPad has long ranked among the most popular business laptops think of every conference you’ve been to with rows of ThinkPads open on executives’ laps during key presentations and the eighth generation promises some of the laptop’s most advanced features to date. With immense memory and battery life, the newest ThinkPad is among the best business laptops for both on-the-go and office use.
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Set Your Technology Budget And Optimize Your Shopping Strategy
The best way to optimize your tech spending is to set a clear budget before shopping. As you set your budget, consider not only the overall amount you’re willing to spend but how that will amortize over the number of laptops you’ll buy. When entrepreneurs don’t set a budget before shopping, especially for technology, they often end up overspending or underspending. Not every business needs a fleet of top-of-the-line machines, and it’s a waste of time to consider high-cost options if they don’t suit your bottom line. On the other hand, underspending can end up costing you more in the long run if you don’t get what your employees need the first time around.
One popular approach to tech budgeting is to adopt different tiers of devices based on user needs. For example, it may be worth springing for luxury Dell machines for your C-suite execs and dev team, midrange Dell laptops for your professional staff, and entry-level Dells for support staff. It’s advisable to stick to one or two manufacturers to simplify maintenance and mobile device management in the future. For this reason, it’s best to keep tech purchasing decisions in the hands of a small number of high-level employees and not open the conversation to your entire staff.
If you’re not sure how to strike a balance between cost and quality, check out our breakdown of laptop budget ranges and determine your range based on the types of employees you have: