Laptops offer brilliant portability and power, but they’re ultimately less flexible than a desktop. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ve made it.

You could just decide upon a budget and grab whatever a big manufacturer such as Dell, Lenovo, HP, or Acer is selling for that price, but what if the machine doesn’t do what you want? What if the keyboard or screen isn’t right, or it doesn’t have all the ports you need? You can’t just swap out your keyboard monitor and while you can do things like upgrade the RAM or move up to a bigger or faster hard drive, doing those things is not as easy as it is on a desktop PC.

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.

For this reason you need to think carefully about what you need your laptop for before you hand over your cash. In this buying guide, we’ll cut through some of the confusion by taking you through the different kinds of laptop available, providing an overview of the different specifications you’ll come across.

1. Determine What it use For

Think about your main uses for a laptop. The main purpose of your laptop will be the biggest influence on the type of laptop you get. People use computers for countless reasons, but general use falls into one of the following categories. Keep these in mind when you are looking at laptops:

  • Office/Schoolwork – Mostly use the computer for word processing, research, spreadsheets, and other professional and academic tasks.
  • Games – Playing the latest and greatest games, but still using the computer for other tasks as well.
  • Web use – Primarily using the computer to access websites, email, streaming video, and social media.
  • Media production – Use the computer as a workstation to record music, edit video, or manipulate images.

2. Think About Your Money

Set a budget. It will be helpful to have a budget in mind as you start looking at laptop models. The different types of laptops will be explained in-depth later, but generally you’re looking at around $300-$400 for a netbook or Chromebook, $500-$1200 for a standard laptop, and $900-$2500 for a desktop replacement.

  • If you are considering a Mac, be aware that Macs are generally priced higher than a comparable Windows or Linux laptop.

3. Pick the Size

There’s no best laptop overall; it really depends on your own requirements and budgets, and size will play a big part in that.

Laptops tend to be divided into categories based on the diagonal size of their screens, in inches. This is because a laptop’s screen size also determines the overall size of its chassis. A laptop with a huge 17-inch screen will be fantastic for work and gaming, and is likely to feature a decent-sized keyboard to make typing easier, but will be far bigger and heavier than a 13-inch model.
Gaming notebooks are technically laptops, but most of them aren’t what you’d call portable

You need to think carefully about whether you’ll be travelling with your laptop or using it only at home; there isn’t much point buying an ultra-light 13-inch model (£500-£700 approx) if you’re going to use it on a desk at home most of the time. Likewise, a 17-inch powerhouse (around £600-£1000) makes a good replacement for a desktop PC, but is unlikely to fit in a rucksack, and if it did, you might not be happy with lugging around something that weighs something a little shy of 3kg, like Acer’s Helios 300.

A 15-inch model (around £300-£500) offers a decent compromise between ease of use and portability: as long as it weighs around 2kg or less, you probably won’t mind taking it on the train. If you want something super-lightweight, opt for a laptop with a display of 11-13 inches.

4. Pick a Platform: Mac, Windows, Linux or Chrome OS?

Understand your options. The operating system is the interface and structure of your laptop. Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and ChromeOS are all operating systems. When choosing a laptop, the operating system is usually installed already, though you can change operating systems later. You cannot install Mac OS X on a non-Mac laptop, but you can install Linux onto either a Mac or a Windows laptop, or Windows onto a Mac laptop.

  • Mac OS X – Designed for use with Mac hardware. OS X is only available on MacBooks.
  • Windows – The most common operating system available, and compatible with the most software.
  • Linux – This is a free operating system that comes in a variety of flavors, or “distributions”. These include Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, and more.
  • ChromeOS – This is Google’s Chromium-based operating system. It is designed for laptops that are consistently connected to the internet, and can only run special web apps. ChromeOS is only available on specific Chromebooks, though you can get Chromium for any system.

5. Find the Suite Specification

Examine the specs for each laptop you consider. Every laptop is different; even two models that cost the same will have different hardware inside. Make sure to take a look at the specifications of each laptop you consider purchasing.

6. Feel the Keyboard and Touchpad

Due to the constraints placed on them by the laptop’s physical size, laptop keyboards tend to be more varied than desktop models. For a start, there’s room for a numeric keypad on only larger laptops, and then only on certain models.

Also, many laptops have small arrow keys, or backslash keys that are on the right rather than the left of the keypad. Only some laptops have Home, End and Page Up and Page Down keys, too; if there isn’t a physical key for such functions, you’ll need to use a Function (Fn) key combination instead. If you rely on these keys to navigate around a text document look for a laptop where all these functions are replicated by separate physical keys.

Laptop keyboards can vary wildly in quality, too. Some are unpleasant to type on thanks to horrid flex in the middle of the keyboard tray when you type. If you’re unable to try out the keyboard for yourself in a shop, we’d recommend that you at least read some reviews to see if there are any major problems. After all, you’ll have to live with a sub-standard keyboard as long as you have the laptop.

7. Check the Warranty

Computer parts fail, and do so fairly often. Having a solid warranty is very important for laptops, especially the more expensive ones. Make sure the warranty is a manufacturer warranty, and that they do a good job with their warranty work.

Don’t Forget to comment, or if there any question, feel free to ask. Hope your desk fill with your dreamed Laptop.

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