Basic Laptop Buying Guide

During the holiday season, it’s typically easier to find great deals on some of the better quality laptops out there. Right after, you also have CES, which gets potential buyers excited for the new technologies that will likely come out that year. When hunting down laptops, you always have to compare it to buying a new car, or any similar depreciating asset that you would put wear and tear on. If you are a serious gamer, developer/programmer, or media editor, this blog post is not for you. This is geared towards the everyday average Joe or Jane, that browses the web, watches streaming media, and stores some photos, movies, and music.

Processor – typically the Intel Core i7 processor will give you the best bang for your buck. I’ve had various laptops with this processor, and it just tends to withstand the tests of time. Some older and slower processors will work fine, but it’s just probably something that you should invest in with the knowledge that it will help you add more time to your laptop’s life, as long as you don’t drop it in a pool or do any major damage.

Amount of RAM – in this day and age, you should have at least 4GB of RAM to keep things running fast. I would highly recommend spending the small amount of money to even go just a little further with 8GB of RAM. Prices have come way down since Y2k, and you might as well treat yourself to a speedy laptop.

Type of storage – normally, when buying a lot of laptops, they try to give you a disk-based hard drive. When hunting down that new laptop, be sure to get a solid state drive (or you’ll probably see it as SSD, most often). This is a disk-less hard drive without the worries of a slow mechanical arm scanning the drive platter. Even better is that it can withstand small drops without breakage…just don’t run it over or drop a brick on it.

Other considerations – so I would definitely ensure that if you want a long-lasting laptop, you should at least note the proc/RAM/storage down. The rest of this post focuses on some nice-to-haves that’ll just make you happier with your purchase, sometimes at a bit more cash than you might want to spend.

Battery – the lithium ion batteries that have come out in the last 4 years have been amazing, and you can have your laptop running for 8 hours without spending too much extra money. 8-cell batteries are my usual recommendation nowadays, as these will tend to give you more juice during those long flights or airport delays.

Weight / screen size – typically the weight of the laptop goes hand-in-hand with the screen size. A good majority of people that I speak with prefer 5lbs or less, and a screen size of 14 inches. Obviously the less poundage will incur higher costs, unless you get a netbook or Chromebook (but those usually don’t have the best processing power over time).

Ports – pay attention to the available ports when shopping around…the more USB ports, the better. Also, some laptops (ahem, Apple) don’t even come with Ethernet ports anymore, which might be a necessity when plugging into a hotel room or at your apartment desk.

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