If you’re looking for a device that’s compact enough to carry around, yet versatile enough to handle today’s most beefy and demanding applications, then a laptop is the tool you need. It can handle everything from creating that presentation for work, to surfing the net or watching streaming content, and even playing games.

A quick glance at what’s out there in laptop-buying-land will show you there’s a mind-boggling variety of sizes, configurations, name brands, features and—what everyone is aware of—prices. All you want is a good laptop that can do the stuff you want it to do, or to buy something for some lucky someone that will appreciate it. You just want the lowdown scoop, Betty Boop. Right? Let me help you narrow the search down a bit, and give you tips for how to buy a laptop for best value and performance.

How will the laptop be used?

How a laptop will be used will determine a lot of things. If you only want it for surfing the ‘net and some word processing, then you won’t need a very powerful machine, which is great on a budget. However, if the laptop is going to be used for heftier programs or even gaming, then you will need certain components to be more high-end, bringing the price up. But there are ways to compensate.

Choose what’s inside your laptop

When looking for a laptop, these are the things you want to look for. Keep in mind, if you want performance without paying the price, don’t get the latest and greatest of the components, unless you really need it for what you’re doing.

CPU

This is the brains of your computer, and one of the most important factors in your laptop’s performance. You will commonly see the terms “AMD Ryzen, AMD FX, Intel Core i3, Intel Core i5, and Intel Core i7” when shopping around, and this refers to the CPU. As you would guess, a higher number means a better CPU. The AMD FX is a more budget-friendly yet still decent CPU, compared to its more expensive and more powerful Ryzen sibling. If you are looking for a mainstream laptop with the right combo of price and performance, though, I’d look for something in the Core i5 range.

RAM

Random Access Memory, or RAM, is another critical aspect of your laptop’s performance. It is an extremely fast type of computer memory which temporarily stores all the information your PC needs right now and in the near future. Without it, doing just about anything on any system would be much, much slower. Even not having enough for the application or game you’re trying to run can bring things to a crawl or make it so they can’t even run at all. You could get by on 2GB, but ideally a minimum of 4GB is recommended and 8GB is considered the standard. It’s up to you and your budget after that.

Graphics card

If you are playing games, doing any graphics-heavy stuff like video editing or design, then you will want a secondary video card on your laptop. Both AMD and Nvidia offer high and low-end cards, each with varying price points. The current crop of models include the GTX 1050, 1060, 1070 and 1080. You could do well on a budget with a solid GTX 1060 right now.

Hard drive

The more storage you need, the more it will cost you. You’ll get more performance out of a solid state drive (SSD), but it will cost more than a regular hard drive. So, consider how much storage, and how much speed you need on your new laptop.

Display

If the laptop is also going to be plugged into an external monitor, then you needn’t really worry about the display. But, if you want to work and play on the go, then your screen is going to need consideration. A majority of business, budget and work laptops only support 1366×768 resolution, which is fine for spreadsheets and word documents. If you are gaming, watching movies or doing anything else that requires more pixels, then you will have to spring for a display that offers 1920×1080, known as HD or 1080p.

Other things to consider when buying a laptop

That’s certainly a lot to think about when buying a laptop. And, there’s more, too! What about durability? If you are investing any amount of money in a laptop, you want that thing to last at least a few years, so look into the quality and durability of the build. Is the case well-built? How about the hinges on the laptop? Will they withstand a few years worth of opening and closing?

Another thing to consider is the quality and design of the keyboard and trackpad. If you are going to use what’s built into the laptop and not some external keyboard and mouse setup, then make sure everything is ergonomic and comfortable to use. Do you like the feel of the keys? Do they give a solid and satisfying click? Is the trackpad responsive enough? And what about ports? Does the laptop have the required ports you will need for things like external keyboard and mice, plugging into another monitor, etc.? Does it have the latest type of USB ports? These are all things worth looking into.

Finally, you will want to make sure the laptop you are interested in buying has some solid battery life. The reason you want a laptop is for its infinite portability, so it kind of defeats the purpose if the thing needs to be plugged into a wall charging somewhere. I’d certainly look for something that has around eight hours of battery life if you are really going to get some use out of the new laptop. At least, that’s what I’d look for.

Hopefully, that gives you some tips and things to think about when looking to buy a laptop for best value and performance. Hopefully I’ve given you at least a couple new things to consider when you’re in “buying mode.” If you have other things people should consider, please put them in the comments below. Ans, don’t forget to check out all the laptops available online at

Steven Hill
I am an award-winning writer, freelance journalist and blogger who is a self-confessed geek and tech lover. When not playing the latest video games or salivating over the newest gadgets, I enjoy cooking for my family, mountain biking or snowboarding the deep powder on Whistler Mountain.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am a gaming geek and graphics play a major role in laptops for me, this post however is very helpful for everyone who is planning to buy a new laptop, i would recommend it to every noob.

  2. I don’t normally game on a laptop (especially since mine died a few weeks ago) so I’m not too concerned about needing a top end graphics card, and I have a good external hard drive so that also isn’t something necessary. Other than using Microsoft Office programs my primary use for a laptop is to output it to my TV for watching digital copies of videos. As long as I have an HDMI port I’m happy.

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