Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Laptop in Your Price Range

According to the latest statistics, mobile computer aka laptop sales amounted to 54% of the market share. That’s because there’s a laptop to suit every user’s needs nowadays.

So, if you’re looking for a new PC, chances are you’re on the hunt for the latest laptop. There’s also a chance you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the variety of options you’ve come across in your search. 

Laptops range in price from less than $1,000 to way more than the average person can afford. You don’t want to buy a cheap laptop that lets you down, but you also can’t afford to spend a fortune, right?

Here’s your guide to choosing a laptop that won’t blow your budget or cause disappointment down the line.

Basic Money Saving Tips When Choosing a Laptop

It’s tempting to cover your bases by buying a top-of-the-range laptop with all the bells and whistles, but that won’t bring you any savings at all. Rather take some time figuring out what you need. 

Once you know the basics, you can start comparing prices across different brands. Don’t buy a laptop without reading reviews on the model you want.

Remember to keep your preferences in mind. A laptop that’s too slow for an avid gamer might exceed your requirements by far. 

You could also come across some fantastic discounts when researching your purchase. Here’s the drill.

Pick an Operating System

There are four main types of operating systems available today. These determine which programs you can run and also affect the operating efficiency of your laptop.

Windows OS

Windows dominates when it comes to operating systems, with 1.3 billion Windows devices in operation worldwide. Eighty percent of computers on Earth run Windows OS.

At present, most laptops come with Windows 10 installed, but Windows 11 has just come to light, so you’ll see more laptops offering this OS soon. 

macOS

Apple technology runs on the MAC operating system and accounts for 10% of computers worldwide. These durable devices have their fans thanks to their excellent security features, abundant storage, and fast performance. 

The macOS suits everyday use as well as gaming, but these machines are usually more expensive than similarly rated Windows PCs. 

Chrome OS and Linux

Chromebooks run on Linux-based operating systems. They use cloud technology to store data, which makes them faster and more efficient than regular laptops.,

These laptops suit web applications, data processing, web applications, video streaming, and internet surfing. Google developed the lightweight, graphical Chrome OS.

It’s exceptionally fast since it runs independently of PC hardware. Chromebooks are among the most affordable laptops available since they’re made with low-cost hardware and have a basic design. 

Chrome is an operating system developed by Google. Chrome OS overtook macOS sales-wise during 2020. 

It’s a lightweight graphical operating system. That means it runs independently of hardware, making Chromebooks exceptionally fast and efficient. 

Decide What Size Laptop You Want

The size of your laptop determines its portability. If you travel with your laptop a lot, you want something small and light, whereas size doesn’t matter as much for a laptop that stays in place most of the time.

Size is an important consideration since it’s not something you can upgrade later. Once you pick a laptop size, you’re stuck with it. 

Laptops vary in size from 11.6-inches to 17.3 inches, although most brands offer three sizes, namely:

  • 13.3-inches
  • 15.6-inches
  • 17.3-inches

A laptop between 12.5 and 13.3 inches and weighing under 3.3 lbs. is usually ideal for most people. 

Due to size constraints, smaller laptops offer fewer features and enhancements. 

Consider Screen Quality 

The screen is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a laptop. You’ll spend many hours gazing at this surface, so it must be comfortable and easy to use.

Some laptops have touchscreens to make it easier to carry out some tasks, but a touchscreen can add glossiness and glare to the display. This is problematic if your work involves editing images or video content and might affect your gaming experience, too. 

Resolution

You’ll need a screen resolution of at least 1920×1080-pixel resolution for ease of viewing. Most laptops offer Full-HD screens nowadays, while some offer 4K resolutions but this extra is only necessary for those who work with very detailed graphics. 

If you’re a photographer or videographer, you should also take color accuracy, color gamut, and HDR standards into account. Ideally, you want 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut, and Delta E < 1 color accuracy.

Refresh Rates

Refresh rates refer to the number of times an image refreshes on the screen. The faster the rate, the better suited a laptop is for gaming.

So, if you like computer games or online gaming, aim for a laptop with a refresh rate over 144Hz. Nowadays, you can get laptops with 300Hz refresh rates too. 

Angles

Viewing angles can greatly affect your comfort when using your laptop. IPS technology is best for a wide range of viewing angles, which comes in handy if you often use your laptop at awkward angles. 

It’s impossible to predict what type of screen suits you best until you’ve used the laptop. You can visit your nearest laptop store to compare the different types of screens and get an idea of what might work for you. 

Keyboard Essentials

No matter which laptop you decide on, it’s no good to you if it doesn’t have good ergonomics. If you intend to spend a lot of time typing on your laptop, you need a good-quality keyboard to maximize performance and reduce fatigue.

It must offer tactile feedback, depress for at least 1 or 2 mm at every keystroke, and comfortable spacing between the trees. 

A Windows laptop should always have Precision touchpad drivers. A pointing stick (nub) between the G and H keys help you navigate off the keyboard without lifting your fingers off the home row.

The touchpad should offer high accuracy and respond consistently to multitouch gestures, like pinch-to-zoom.  

Central Processing Unit (CPU) Rating 

The CPU is the business end of any laptop, responsible for how it performs and what it offers. There are two main types of CPUs prevalent in laptops today.

Intel

No doubt you’ve seen laptops offering ‘Intel inside’ before, but now these CPUs offer a host of new versions to contend with too. These include Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors. 

Most entry-level PCs have core i3, while the best ones have Core i7 processors. Some of the latest models even have a Core i9 processor nowadays, but they’re priced out of reach for most laptop users. 

Intel systems perform extremely well for multimedia operations and multitasking, 

Intel dominates the CPU landscape with a market capitalization of $213 billion.

AMD

These laptops and notebooks run on Ryzen Mobile CPUs manufactured by AMD. They’re a little cheaper than Intel laptops but offer superior graphics performance.  

How Much RAM Do You Want?

The first computers for home use came out with just 64k RAM, but you’ll need a laptop with at least 8 GB to cope in everyday life nowadays. For power users, 16 GB is a good option, while gamers can go up to 32 GB for the best experience.

The more RAM a laptop has, the quicker the system can access data. That means it can run more applications simultaneously.

DDR, or double data rate, is another important aspect to do with RAM. It refers to the generation of the component’s design. Right now DDR 4 is the latest version, but DDR5 should launch any moment now. 

You should also note whether the laptop offers single or dual-channel RAM. Dual-channel transfers data faster, but not in any way that will affect daily use. 

To sum up. The more RAM, the better, but you pay for what you get. So, unless you’re planning to run large data-heavy applications, extra RAM is an unnecessary expense.

Besides, you can always upgrade your laptop’s RAM later if need be. 

Is the Storage Up to Scratch?

Traditional hard drives are a thing of the past when it comes to laptop technology. These noisy, hot, and heavy components are slow and detract from a laptop’s portability. 

Solid-state drives offer much faster performance, although they have a limited storage capacity. They’re silent but also more expensive.

To make up for these shortcomings, some manufacturers combine a small SSD with a large hard drive so that users can enjoy faster speeds, with enlarged storage capacity. 

The fastest modern laptops have NVMe solid-state drives. These boasts superior speeds but they come at a high price. 

How Long Does the Battery Last?

Battery life is a major issue with most laptops. After all, remote operation is why they exist. 

Fortunately, technological advances mean many modern models feature up to 11 hours of battery life once they’re unplugged, plus the option to fast charge to 80% in a few minutes. 

Remember, these times depend on a huge variety of factors. A laptop in sleep mode will last for hours longer than when you’re using it. 

Battery life depends on screen resolution and brightness, background apps, and your Wi-Fi connection. There’s no real way to tell how long a laptop’s battery will last until you use it. 

If you intend to use your laptop while it’s plugged in, you shouldn’t spend extra money on a laptop with a superior battery. 

Are There Enough USB Ports?

The more USB Type-C ports a laptop has, the better. These are the most widely used ports in the industry, allowing you to plug in an external drive, keyboard, mouse, or external screen while working on your laptop. 

Type-C ports also offer much faster data transfer than USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Thunderbolt 4 ports are the optimum, with a data transfer speed of 40 gigabits per second, faster charging and multiple connection options.  

Naturally, if you don’t need to plug any extras into your laptop, apart from the occasional flash drive, you needn’t spend extra money on these fancy extras. 

Does the Laptop Have Security Features?

Security is a top concern for many users today. So, it’s not surprising that many laptops come out with state-of-art biometric security features. 

Fingerprint readers and facial recognition are among the most popular security features available. Again, if you intend to use your laptop for low-level gaming and streaming Netflix only, you might not need these expensive extras. 

What Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi speeds depend on the signal strength and how well your laptop interacts with your router, but they also depend on your laptop’s network card.

Link speed refers to how fast your laptop transfers data from a router to your laptop and back. No matter how fast your internet connection is, your laptop’s link speed can slow it down. 

The best available network cards support Wi-Fi 5, although Wi-Fi 4 is still around in older machines. 

Durability and Overall Quality

Accidents happen. People drop laptops and spill their tea on them. So, it’s important to know how much trauma a laptop can take. 

Durability is significant in that the last thing you need is having to replace your laptop due to an unfortunate accident. Most modern laptops can withstand dust and rain, and some have military-grade protection certifications. 

This MIL-STD 810G certification refers to a minimum durability level for laptops. These machines undergo 29 separate tests to measure how they stand up to heat, shock, cold, humidity, and various other factors. 

Unfortunately, no watchdog presides over these tests, and they’re conducted in-house, so you never really know how rugged a laptop is, based on this.  

You Can Always Upgrade

Today’s latest laptop is tomorrow’s old news. Rapid advances in technology mean there will always be a better laptop than the one you have now.

Besides, most laptop components only last around five years, so don’t think too far into the future when buying a laptop. Rather focus on your immediate needs and save yourself the expense of buying a machine you don’t need right now.  

We’ve got snippets on a wide range of topics, from finding the best deal when choosing a laptop to the best business hacks. Browse our site for more. 

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