Is A Gaming Laptop Right For You
Because of their lower in-game performance , a gaming laptop might not be the best option for you. If you arent 100% in need of a laptop and you would be willing to consider getting a desktop instead, youd be able to get a lot more performance out of your budget.
However, laptops obviously have a significant advantage in mobility over desktops and so if youre someone who needs the mobility of a laptop, but who still wants an adequate option for gaming, the five factors listed above will help you find the right option for your needs.
For laptop recommendations, consider checking out our guides below:
Pc Laptops Sale And Refresh Schedule
The major PC manufacturers release new laptops at three times of year: back-to-school season , holiday season and spring . New models usually ship at the beginning or middle of these windows. However, the best deals tend to appear in July/August and November/December, which are the heart of the school and holiday shopping seasons. This year, we also expect to see better-than-average laptop deals from Amazon’s Prime Day, which is likely to be held July 16 based on leaks.
“There is a best time to buy notebooks, and it is exactly when you think it is, between the last week in July and the first three weeks in August, when the back-to-school merchandising frenzy is in full force,” said Analyst Stephen Baker, who studies laptop pricing and sales for the NPD Group, a market intelligence firm. He noted that this time frame applies to both Macs and PCs.
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Not surprisingly, we’ve found that prices can be just as low if not lower at the end of the year, when consumers are busy buying gifts for family members or for themselves.
For example, the 12-inch MacBook debuted at $1,299.99 on Amazon in June 2018, but saw its first major price drop during Black Friday season of 2017, before shooting back up to its retail price of $1,299.99. As we enter the beginning phase of back-to-school season, the laptop dropped briefly to an all-time price low of $1,099.
Battery Life: Advertise Vs Real Life
Fact is many manufacturers lie about the real battery life of their products. Some even have the audacity to advertise a battery life that is twice the real battery capacity. There are tools that you can use to check if theyre telling the truth, or you can go ahead and spend hours inside a computer store and wait for the laptop to lose battery.
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How To Find The Right Laptop For Your Needs
While it might seem straightforward, knowing how to buy a laptop that fits your needs isn’t as cut and dry as it might seem at first. Not all laptops are created equal, and as the consumer PC market has matured over the decades, there has been a lot of differentiation between different kinds of laptops with specific hardware that is better suited for some tasks over others.
While there is still a lot of overlap when it comes to a given user needs, knowing specifically what you need is the first step in buying the right laptop for you. This might sound easier said than done when confronted with rows of laptops at a major retailer or while sorting through the hundreds of options at online stores like Amazon, Newegg, Box, or other major online retailers.
If you don’t know exactly the kind of hardware you should look for, don’t worry, we’re here to help show you how to buy a laptop that will give you the best performance for your money, whether you need a laptop for work or home, for gaming or for business.
Best Time To Buy Your Laptop
One of the most common questions about buying a new laptop is when to shop to get the best deals. Theres no strict rule for securing a cheap but good laptop. But there are a few different ways you can time your purchase window to find a good deal. Consider these timelines if youre in the market for a new laptop.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday: These two dates in November are probably the most obvious ones for finding amazing deals. However, act fast, as laptop supplies tend to run out quickly. If you wait for the post-Thanksgiving rush, it may be hard to get the laptop you want, so you may not want to wait too long.
You can get ahead by heading online beforehand to see where the best deals and shortest lines will be. Doing your research in advance is a smart strategy.
Back-to-school season: Many retailers offer lower prices to help accommodate students who need new laptops for school. The fall is a great time to shop if you want to get a more affordable device with a steep discount, even if you arent a student heading back to class.
A couple of months after a big release: When a company is preparing to release a new model, they typically lower the price of older generations of laptops. Both manufacturers and retailers do this in an attempt to deplete stock, so there is both physical space to display new releases and customer demand for it.
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Choose The Graphics Card
There are two types of graphics solutions found on laptops integrated and discrete. The integrated ones are typically slower while the discrete ones are more geared towards performance. If you are going to use your laptop for playing basic games or just for browsing, watching movies, a laptop with an integrated graphics card is perfectly fine.Discrete graphic card solutions on laptops are typically powered by AMD or NVIDIA. AMD calls their cards Radeon, while NVIDIA calls their solutions GeForce.
These GPUs come with dedicated graphics memory which lets them handle graphic intensive software and games. If you are studying a 3D or computer graphics course, a discrete graphics card is essential.Of course, the other benefit is being able to play high-end games on your laptop. NVIDIAs entry-level graphics solutions are labelled as GeForce 930M, 940M, whereas the mid-range offering start with the GTX 950M and above. AMDs low-end graphics solutions start from the Radeon R5 going up to the R9 series of GPUs.
Best Laptops For Music Producers
If youre looking for a laptop for making music, you need a machine that can run your choice of digital audio workstation, or DAW. For most DAWs, we recommend something that exceeds the minimum spec requirements. Generally, CPU, RAM and storage are the most important specs for audio production. DAWs are RAM-hungry programs, and this is in addition to any work your system is doing in the background, like surfing SoundCloud or collaborating with other artists via video. A bigger monitor screen is nice too, particularly if youre looking to create songs with many tracks.
Your choice of DAW should play a significant part in your laptop OS selection. GarageBand, Logic Pro X, Peak or Soundtrack Pro are only supported on macOS, where Sonar, Sound Forge FL Studio and Adobe Audition are Windows-only DAWs. Both OSs can run Ableton, Cubase, Reaper and Pro Tools.
Its best to do your own research here and decide based on the programs your favorite musicians use or watch software demos to see what jives with you. The user interfaces very greatly and some DAWs are more beginner-friendly than others, or more suited for certain styles of music.
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Windows Mac Linux Android Or Chrome Os
Operating systems tend to polarise opinion. Ask a room of techies whether you should go with a Windows, Mac, Linux, Android or Chrome OS laptop or tablet and you’ll start a heated debate that will go for a long time but nobody will win .
All systems have their good and bad points, but it’s important for you to choose a side, because it affects your software choices and possibly your hardware decisions too. This is definitely the case with Apple products and Chrome OS in particular.
Apple’s macOS only runs on Apple’s family of computers, while iPadOS only runs on iPads, but they’re designed to work seamlessly with Apple’s other operating systems: iOS , tvOS and watchOS .
Chrome OS runs on laptops, mini PC desktops and PC sticks that are specifically designed for it, usually of a relatively lightweight configuration that is meant to be internet-connected most of the time.
Even outside enterprise users, Microsoft’s Windows has several versions, with Home being the consumer version, Pro for more serious users and Windows in S mode for lightweight laptops aimed at being an alternative to Chromebooks.
These days Windows and Chrome OS have a much greater degree of interoperability with Android, though not to the same degree as Apple’s tightly integrated hardware-software ecosystems.
Android is also outgrowing its phone-centric roots to also be seen as a stand-alone OS for tablets, most notably by Samsung and Lenovo.
One Last Note About Cpus
When it comes to CPUs, just about every modern CPU is fast enough to handle general computing tasks without any trouble. That said, unless you are looking at a very basic Chromebook for checking email and maybe some Netflix streaming, you’re going to want to buy a laptop with either an Intel Core and an AMD Ryzen processor, preferably the latest generation Core i5 or Ryzen 5 or greater, specifically the 11000-series for Intel and the 5000-series for AMD.
If you are looking at a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, you can still get Intel-based versions online, but Apple has moved on to the Apple M1 chip, which is perfect for all but the most intensive computing tasks and for now is the only processor option for new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro models.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop or a creative workstation, a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 is your best option, with Core i9 and Ryzen 9 processors being standard in high-end builds.
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Dont Skimp On Battery Life
If you’re buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.
Check That Keyboard And Touchpad
The most impressive specs in the world don’t mean diddly if the laptop you’re shopping for doesn’t have good ergonomics. If you plan to do a lot of work on your computer, make sure the keyboard offers solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel and enough space between the keys. If you’re buying a Windows laptop, be sure it has Precision touchpad drivers.
Look for an accurate touchpad that doesn’t give you a jumpy cursor and responds consistently to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom. If you’re buying a business laptop, consider getting one with a pointing stick between the G and H keys so you can navigate around the desktop without lifting your fingers off the keyboard’s home row.
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Is A Comfortable Keyboard A High Priority
When you’re busy looking at laptop designs, it’s easy to forget about the basics and be dazzled by gorgeous chassis and high-resolution screens, but keyboard comfort is an important factor for most business users. In fact, an uncomfortable keyboard will be a much bigger barrier to productivity than a slightly unimpressive PPI or a bland design. While you shop, keep in mind that the smaller the laptop, the smaller the keyboard, and that typing on a miniature keyboard for hours at a time can be tiresome.
If possible, test out keyboards to get a feel for what you like. If you can’t do that, at least take note of the size of the keyboard on any laptop you consider. If you choose a laptop with a less-than-optimal keyboard, you can invest in an external keyboard for long typing sessions but this is not ideal, of course.
Which Screen Size Will Work For Me
If you want a perfect mix between portability and visibility, a laptop with a 14 screen is ideal. Smaller screens, such as 11.6 and 10.6, are even easier to carry around but may be too small if you spend a lot of time typing documents or looking at spread sheets.
Laptops with 15.6 screens are the most common and are great if youre spending more time working at a desk than on the go.
The largest screen size available today is 17.3. While laptops with this screen size can be difficult to carry around, they offer the clearest view of your content and are great for multimedia.
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What Are Cpu Cores And How Many Do You Need
One of the most important things to look for when buying a laptop is how many cores the CPU has. Cores are like processors inside your CPU. They can each act alone or work together to complete tasks.
In general, the more cores a CPU has, the faster it will be, especially for multitasking.
- 2 Cores: For Basic Tasks
Dual-core CPUs are only sufficient for basic tasks like checking your email, browsing the web, and writing word documents. If you like to have multiple browser tabs and applications open at once, you might overload this CPU.
- 4 Cores: For Everyday Multi-Tasking
Quad-core CPUs are good enough for the majority of users, including gamers. They also allow you to multitask without slowing your laptop down, and you can play some entry-level games at lower resolutions.
- 6 Cores: For Gamers and Content Creators
Hexa-core processors are designed for more demanding users that need to run intensive programs, like game streamers and graphic designers. They allow you to play games while streaming at the same time.
- 8 Cores: For Professionals
Integrated Graphics Vs Discrete Gpus
The last major hardware issue you’ll need to consider is whether you need a discrete GPU. If you’re looking for a high-performance gaming laptop or you plan on doing a lot of graphic design or 3D modeling work, then you should really consider opting for a discrete GPU over integrated graphics.
You can tell if the laptop you are looking at has a discrete GPU if it lists anything by Nvidia under its graphics category or if it lists an AMD Radeon RX GPU. Laptops with AMD processors can be tricky though since AMD makes both CPUs and GPUs. Generally, most AMD discrete graphics will be anything labeled as AMD Radeon RX 6000-series, not just “AMD Radeon graphics.”
When in doubt, you can always ask a customer service rep for clarification or if you’re shopping online, sometimes you can find out in the reviews or Q & A section of the product page whether a particular AMD laptop had a discrete GPU.
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Processor And Graphics Card
When it comes to your laptops processor and graphics card , think carefully about the capabilities that matter the most to you. If you want your laptop to be able to handle gaming, video editing or photo editing, youll need a laptop with stronger capabilities to provide a quality experience. Look for a gaming computer and more high-end processors.
Youll also want to consider the core of the computer. Three of the more common processors include the Intel Core i3, the Intel Core i5 and the Intel Core i7. These designations help provide consumers with some information regarding the power of the processor. Generally speaking, the i7 will be stronger than the i5, which in turn is stronger than the i3. However, sometimes, this can get a little mixed up if you compare newer i5s to older i7s, for example. If you are in the market for a strong processor, though, youll most likely want to go with an i7.
Other processors you might encounter are the Intel Celeron and the AMD Ryzen family, such as the Ryzen 5.
Will I Be Traveling With My Laptop Or Mostly Working In One Place
Portability is a major concern for some business owners and a nonissue for others. If you travel a lot or work in different locations on a regular basis, it may be worth sacrificing the screen and keyboard size for a lighter computer. You can always check the dimensions and weight of a laptop under the technical specifications online.
Keep in mind that laptop screens, like television screens, are measured diagonally and that, in general, any device lighter than 3 pounds is portable enough for business travel. Before you choose an ultraportable, though, make sure the device has the ports you require and a battery life you can live with.
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Solid State Drivers :
Solid-state drives use flash memory chips to store data. Theyre lighter, much faster, and use less energy than a traditional hard drive but can be more expensive. You may consider going with an SSD if youre on the go or need to work quickly.
Its also possible to find a laptop with a hybrid of the two that combines the capacity of a larger HDD with the performance of an SSD.