How Much Ram Does A Laptop Need
RAM is an important specification to look for in a laptop. Youll want 4GB at the very least for a Windows laptop though wed actually recommend for many people to go for 8GB. That will ensure that the laptop runs well for years to come. Budget Chromebooks can get away with less RAM, such as 1GB or 2GB.
Cheap Laptop Deals Under $200
HP Chromebook 11a: $229.99$149.99 at HPSave $70 The HP Labor Day sale dropped this Chromebook down to the cheapest we’ve seen it. It’s increased slightly, but at just $149.99 it’s one of the lowest prices you can expect to pay for a laptop of this type. With 4GB RAM and 32GB of storage it’s a capable machine if you need a device for school or basic tasks at home.
$299 $168 at WalmartSave $131 – While this 4GB RAM / MediaTek MT8183C processor / 32GB storage configuration is regularly found in laptop deals at this price point, picking up the Acer Spin 311 provides extra 2-in-1 functionality that usually carries its own premium. We rarely find convertible laptops under $200, so if you’re looking for excellent portability and a flexible experience without breaking the bank this is a fantastic option.
$249$189 at Best BuySave $70 If you want a larger screen and are still looking to spend under $200 then this Asus Chromebook fits the bill. It has the exact same spec as the cheapest laptop in this bracket, so expect a very basic machine, but that larger 14-inch screen may be more suitable for your needs.
The Razer Blade 15 Strikes The Ultimate Balance Between Gaming And General Performance As Well As Looks Feel And Design
- Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD screen, 144Hz refresh rate
- Processor: 10th-gen Intel Core i7, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics
- Operating system: Windows 10 Home
- Memory and storage: 16GB RAM and 512GB storage
Pros: Excellent display, lots of power and storage, fantastic keyboard
Cons: Pricey, not the best battery life
Razer has long been the leader in gaming laptop design, and that hasn’t changed yet. Offering power combined with a design that rivals even Apple’s MacBook Pro line, the Razer Blade 15 comes at a premium but backs it up with quality hardware.
Razer recently launched a new version of the Razer Blade 15 and 15 Advanced with Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs, bringing a modest refresh to our favorite gaming notebook. The new 2021 Advanced version is also available in three display options for the first time: full HD at 360 Hz, quad HD at 240Hz with Nvidia G-Sync, and ultra HD OLED at 60Hz.
We loved the older Razer Blade 15 for its excellent 1080p display that can be configured up to a 144Hz refresh rate to support frame rates of up to 144 frames per second and its alluring Chroma keyboard lighting.
All told, the Blade 15 treats you well for the steep cost. The keyboard in use is also just as effective for typing as it is for gaming, helping the Blade 15 serve as a truly catch-all device for users that would like to be able to work and learn on the same laptop on which they play games in their free time.
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How We Test Business Laptops
We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing both synthetic and real-world before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop’s display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop’s materials to the feel of its touchpad.
Will My New Laptop Support Windows 11
Microsoft’s official system requirements mandate that your computer has the following:
- A 1GHz or faster processor with at least two cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system-on-a-chip
- At least 4GB of RAM
- At least 64GB of storage
- Graphics that are compatible with DirectX 12 or later with a WWDM 2.0 driver
- SystemUEFI system firmware that’s Secure Boot capable
- Trusted Platform Module version 2.0
- A 9-inch display or larger with at least a 720p resolution and 8 bits per color channel
Any modern laptop should support these requirements, and each Windows laptop featured in this guide runs on a compatible processor. Microsoft is also working on an updated version of its online tool that should offer clearer details about whether your system is compatible with the update after some initial confusion.
The Trusted Platform Module requirement in particular has created some uncertainty since it’s caused certain devices to fail Microsoft’s compatibility test despite meeting the requirements. This could be because not every laptop ships with TPM support enabled, meaning you’ll have to switch it on in the BIOS options, as The Verge notes.
We’ve reached out to the companies behind the laptops featured in this guide to confirm that these devices will be upgradeable to Windows 11. So far, Dell and HP have confirmed that the Dell XPS 13 and HP Envy 13t will support Windows 11, and we’ll update this article accordingly as we hear back from the others.
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Will The Real M1 Macbook Pro Users Please Stand Up
If you’re eyeing the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro , then it’s highly likely you’re the type who, unlike me, actually pushes their computer fairly hard on a daily basis whether that’s by importing and exporting huge files, rendering graphics, or editing videos and photos. So prior to making the purchase, you’ll want to make sure that all of your necessary creative apps are optimized for the M1 chip.
If you strictly use Apple’s in-house apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you rely on Adobe’s suite of apps, then you might want to hold off. Other than Lightroom, none of Adobe’s other apps currently run natively on the M1 Pro just yet.
Apple does offer its Rosetta 2 technology an emulation software that allows for Intel apps to run on ARM-based MacBooks as an interim workaround. But it’s going to be a while before app optimization reaches parity with the Intel versions. It’s certainly something to take into account before you buy.
Since I don’t use any of these creative apps nor do I edit any type of footage, I decided to consult with some videographers in an effort to determine why this 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro even exists.
I started with one of Mashable’s very own video producers, Mark Stetson, who said to treat this M1 MacBook Pro like a first draft.
David Imel, a writer/researcher for YouTube channel MKBHD echoed Stetson’s stance.
Imel also brought up another good point: This will probably be the cheapest MacBook Pro for a while.
Meet Your Needs And Budget
Of course, you need to balance these features with your budget and your needs, and you might have to make some compromises. Rarely does a laptop come along that ticks all the boxes, especially when it comes to price.
Let us know in the comments below if you consider other aspects of a laptop to be more important , and especially let us know if youve already found the perfect laptop for your needs.
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How We Test Laptops
Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing laptops for over two decades. We test over 150 different models per year, subjecting each system to a series of rigorous benchmarks that provides a complete picture of performance, battery life and usability.
Our expert reviewers also use each product to see how it looks and feels in everyday situations. Because we see so many different notebooks, we can compare each to its direct competitors and give you an idea of how it stacks up to the average laptop in its price band.
When we bring a laptop into our laboratory, our goal is to see how it would work if you brought it into your home or office. While we use a number of industry standard benchmarks such as Geekbench and 3DMark, we focus heavily on real-world tests that we have developed in-house.
To test endurance, the Laptop Mag Battery test surfs the web at 150 nits of brightness until the system runs out of juice. To judge pure processing power, we use a giant spreadsheet macro that matches 65,000 names with their addresses, a video transcoder that converts a 4K video to 1080p and the Geekbench 4 synthetic test. We measure graphics prowess with both 3DMark Ice Storm / Fire Strike and a series of actual game titles.
We use a colorimeter to measure screen brightness and color gamut while other instruments help us determine a laptop’s key travel and ambient heat. See this page on How We Test Laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.
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.
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How To Shop For A Cheap Laptop
For laptops under $500, inconsistent pricing, disappearing inventory, and retailer-exclusive deals make shopping difficult. But even if you arent familiar with computer specifications, you can still find a decent Windows laptop by looking for these features:
- Processor: We recommend a 10th or 11th-generation Intel Core i5 or i3 processor or a 4000-series or 5000-series AMD Ryzen 3 or 5 processor . Avoid AMD processors such as the dual-core A9, as well as Intel Pentium or Celeron processors.
- Storage: Choose a 128 GB or larger solid-state drive and avoid hard drives .
- Memory: Get 8 GB of memory . In a pinch, 4 GB will do, but with that smaller amount you wont be able to run many programs at the same time.
- Screen: Look for a display with 1080p resolution, listed as 1920×1080 or FHD by many sellers. A computer that hits the other requirements but has a standard HD display will do for basic tasks.
When shopping for a cheap laptop, stick to major retailers with good return policies, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or the manufacturer itself. Avoid sites with deals too good to be true, like BuyDig. Buying a refurbished model is another excellent way to save money. When youre shopping for a refurbished laptop, buy from the original manufacturer or an authorized dealer and avoid seller-refurbished models from places like Amazon.
The Best Laptops You Can Buy Today
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Dell XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops thanks to its excellent performance, beautiful display, and svelte design. While the battery life isn’t as good as some other laptops of similar price, it’s usually more than enough to get you through a day of work without scrambling for a charger.
Plus, in 2021 Dell began offering the XPS 13 with a 3.5K OLED touchscreen option. If you can afford it it’s well worth the investment, as the OLED’s deep, inky blacks, vibrant colors, and high contrast ratios really shine when mounted in the XPS 13’s thin-bezelled InfinityEdge design. As mentioned earlier, it’s so good that it won the awards for best laptop display and best laptop overall in our Tom’s Guide Awards 2021.
Not interested in OLED? Don’t miss our Dell XPS 13 review.
Reasons to avoid
Apple has revolutionized its laptops, thanks to its own Apple silicon processors, which are replacing the Intel chips it’s previously used. This chip delivers faster speeds than the Air’s ever seen, and the longest battery life in any MacBook either: it lasted 14 hours and 41 minutes on the Tom’s Guide battery test. Not since 2015 has a MacBook come close to that. Not only does the M1 chip make the MacBook Air a multi-tasking fiend, but it also enabled me to play Rise of the Tomb Raider smoothly, and that’s even with Rosetta 2 conversion of that Intel app.
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to avoid
Reasons to buy
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So About That Keyboard
As for using the Surface Pro as both a laptop and a tablet, the same pros and cons remain given the unchanged design. I won’t assume everyone is as familiar as I am with the Surface line, though, so here’s a rundown.
The built-in rear kickstand, which has been the subject of mimicry since its debut, is executed just like on the previous model. A fully adjustable hinge allows you to recline the screen through 165 degrees of range, including nearly flat, which can be helpful when using the stylus for sketching or note-taking. The original Surface models featured a hinge with a limited number of set adjustment points, so this “free range” system is still very much preferable.
The kickstand is just half the battle in turning the Pro 7 into a laptop. It’s the Surface Type Coverthe detachable keyboard also subject to many copycats over the yearsthat makes the magic happen. As it always has, the keyboard easily attaches to the bottom of the Surface Pro magnetically, making transformation a breeze.
Also as it always has been, the Type Cover is sold separately. It hardly seems worth it to continue beating this drum, as Microsoft clearly doesn’t plan to include the keyboard with the tablet, but I wish it would. The Surface Pro is already on the pricey side, but adding another expensive peripheral to get to full functionality is a bitter price pill. Microsoft sent us the fancier Signature Type Cover for $159.99, but the standard model is $129.99.
Computing Accessories For Your Office
Now that you have the right hardware and software its time to discuss computer accessories. To personalize your machine and make sure it runs at peak efficiency you are going to want to consider a variety of extras like monitor stands, surge protectors, portable hard drives, laptop bags, and of course a keyboard and mouse. Our selection of computer accessories lets you personalize and create a custom set-up that fits you like a glove. The best part is most of these are fairly affordable so you can swap between items as your mood or style changes.
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How Much Battery Life Is Enough
Many laptops can last an entire day away from the power outlet, even when youre using them for demanding but common activities like streaming internet video. There are exceptions a laptop with a 4K display and a powerful CPU probably will not last for more than 8 hours or so before its battery dies, and most gaming laptops die far sooner. When youre playing demanding games that tax the GPU, gaming laptops tend to run out of juice even more quickly off the plug than they normally do. Youll find more than a few exceptions, though, and even powerful laptops have become adept at sensing when their maximum power isnt required and reducing various components consumption.
This is where PC Labs battery testing comes in. We evaluate battery life by playing a locally stored video file nonstop with no wireless connections active and 50 percent screen brightness. An excellent result on our test suggests that the laptop is good at adapting its power use to the task at hand, and you can use the results to compare the potential of machines you are considering.
Measuring battery life is notoriously tricky, though, since its entirely dependent on how you use your laptop. Your usage profile probably doesnt match our testor anyone elsesto a T. So youll want to look at tested battery life in a relative, rather than absolute, sense.