Tech Tip: Laptop Buyer's Guide
Are you in the market for a new laptop but don’t know where to start? Check out our laptop buyer’s guide and let us help you decide!
First, you’ll want to figure out what you’ll use your new laptop for. This will help you decide how big or small the laptop should be.
For on-the-go web-browsing, quick blogging and simple e-mail, you should check out a smaller, lighter, 10-inch to 13-inch, inexpensive netbook.
Netbooks are designed to pack enough power to get the quick essentials done and also have a tiny footprint so you’ll have no trouble carrying them to a coffee shop, school or on a plane trip.
Some extras to look for with an enhanced netbook experience include:
Intel Atom CPU (N280 or N450 have Hyper-Threading = better multi-tasking)
HDMI port so you can turn your netbook into a home-TV media player
LED-backlit monitor = brighter & crisp LCD screen
8-9-cell battery means 6-7 hours continuous run time
Built-in webcam and memory card reader
Unless you’re planning to carry your entire iTunes collection on your netbook, 120-160 GB size hard drives are plenty.
If you need something more for writing school papers, doing research and multi-tasking, a notebook computer between 13 inches and 15 inches should be what you’re looking for.
At least 4 GB computer memory for heavy multi-tasking such as running MS Word, Excel, iTunes, Firefox and Outlook simultaneously
250-500 GB hard drive
Core i3-i5-i7 CPU – these new Intel processors are blazing fast!
64-Bit Operating System (i.e. Windows 7 64-bit) plus at least 4 GB RAM as it handles memory management more efficiently than its 32-bit counterpart
If you’re a gamer, graphic designer or just need the absolute raw power, opt for a 15-inch to 18-inch desktop replacement notebook.
These monsters have the power of a desktop computer but are more portable than lugging around a tower and computer monitor.
In addition to the 13-inch to 15-inch notebook specs, you should also add the following:
(SXGA+ 1680 x 1050) or (WUXGA – 1920 x 1080) – higher resolution allows more screen space so you can fit more windows for easier viewing
Core 2 Duo CPU P-series (i.e. P8450) – previous generation processor that is still very powerful at a reduced price
Core i3-i5-i7 – the newest Intel CPUs, they have hyper-threading which tells Windows there are twice as many processors that can tackle demanding applications
802.11n built-in Wi-Fi network card allows for faster communication for quicker streaming videos, file copying and downloads
Dedicated Video Card – 512 MB to 1 GB discrete video card handles all the video processing (i.e. 1 GB nVidia Geforce GTX 260m or 512 MB ATI Mobility Radeon 4570)
500 GB or SSD (Solid-State Drive) hard drives – SSDs have zero moving parts and help with faster boot times and quicker program launches
Dedicated Numpad – for number-intensive tasks, these are becoming more popular on 15” now as opposed to just 17” notebooks
For all you Mac fans out there, Apple has refreshed its notebook lineup with many goodies. First and foremost is the long-awaited iPAD. Make no mistake, Apple has declared the iPAD is not designed to replace your current notebook which is why you won’t find amenities such as a card reader, webcam and multi-tasking features. According to Apple, the iPAD works great for quick e-mail checking, reading e-books, viewing photos and casual movies and music. Considering its operating system is taken from the iPhone, this notebook would be ideal if you are a commuter, student, mobile professional or have a job that requires you to be able to send out an e-mail or chat without the formality of finding an empty seat/table at a busy coffee shop and waiting 1-2 minutes to boot up a traditional laptop.
In addition, Apple’s Macbook family now has Intel’s new Core lineup (i3-i5-i7). These processors do a fantastic job with multi-tasking thanks to its hyper-threading technology. Video muscle is improved with nVidia’s current Geforce 3xx- series video cards, which help with intensive multimedia applications such as Final Cut Studio and Adobe Photoshop. Apple has also increased battery runtime for the 13.3-inch Macbook Pro to approximately 10 hours while the 15-inch to 17-inch versions have a still-impressive 8-9 hours of battery life.
Regardless of which brand or platform you choose, keep in mind the reason(s) for your notebook purchase so you can avoid unnecessarily paying extra for those unimportant bells and whistles.
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