Here is a quick list of 17 things to look for before buying a laptop. Today, laptop buying is not very easy when there are countless options to choose from and before you go looking for the best sellers, deals, discounts or prices out there you will need to look at what you really need and right now this simple step-by-step guide will help you do exactly that and fast. You will also be able to look into how to take care of a laptop and how to manage battery life.
- OPERATING SYSTEM
- 2 IN 1 LAPTOPS
- SCREEN SIZE
- USB PORTS
- BATTERY LIFE
1. Operating System
For the operating system you can choose between 32 bits and 64 bits. If you choose to have higher RAM then it is best to go in for a 64 bit operating system. Most of the computers in the market run on windows but there are other operating systems available like Mac or Linux and depending on who you buy it from your laptop may come with Mac or Windows installed. Brands like Dell or Lenovo usually run on Windows but others like Apple run on Mac or Linux. MS-DOS also known as Microsoft’s disk operating system is a command line operating system that comes with your laptop for free if you do not want an operating system installed on your laptop when you make your purchase or if you are planning on installing an OS later on. If you want a paid operating system on your laptop you can opt for Windows, Linux and so on. Laptops with the Mac OS run a little smoother than Windows and there is lesser problems with the laptop overheating.
These days most of the laptops come with 2GB of memory but if you are looking for better performance it always good to look for higher memory. 8 GB of memory should give out the best performance. Brands like Lenovo usually pre-install memory of atleast 2GB and others like Alienware come with higher memory for higher performance; most of the time you also get an option to choose how much memory you need before making a purchase. You even have the new Elementary OS Loki that people are hyped about but it’s still too early to say how it would run on a laptop.
3. 2 in 1 laptops
These laptops come in two types detachable and convertible. Detachable laptops let you detach the screen from the keyboard completely but the drawback here is they have lesser battery life, the convertible laptops let you bend the screen backwards or move it around different angles without detaching it from the keyboard and they tend to have a better battery life compared to the detachable ones.
4. Screen Size
The screens of laptops vary from 10 inches to 18 inches. Bigger screens are good for gaming or watching movies because it offers more landscape. If you are looking to cut down on the cost of the laptop then small or medium size screens should be decent enough to work with.
5. USB ports
You will find that laptops usually have 2 or 3 ports for USB and it is always better to have more ports, some laptops even come with 4 USB ports. Some laptops come with the USB 2.0 and others have the faster USB 3.0, you may even see laptops with one or two USB slots having the USB version 2.0 and other slots with the USB version 3.0.
Most people generally use their headphones while listening to music or watching a movie on their laptop and assuming you do not have a need for high quality laptop speakers you do not have to invest a lot of money for better sound. But if you have the money to spend you could look for high end laptops with better speaker quality.
Not many people use CDs these days but it is still good to have a decent CD/DVD drive especially if you need to install a new operating system or a new game. A Blueray DVD-RW will be able to read and write CDs and DVDs of all kinds. Your hard drive space on your laptop is also important – if you are going to be storing a lot of large files you will need more space but if you store all your large data elsewhere you are going to need less space. If you need to have multiple operating systems on your laptop, it is recommended to have more space. Your laptop’s hard drives come in SSD and HDD, SSD is better if you are looking for better speed but HDD is better if you are looking for better storage capacity. My recommendation would be to settle for at-least 500GB or 1TB of Hard disk space.
Laptops are meant to be portable but some are more portable than others. If you are on the move a lot, a light weight laptop is the one for you but if you are looking for a laptop for gaming or something that can replace your desktop then you can settle for a heavier version.
If you are on a very tight budget you could settle for an i3 processor, if you have a slightly higher budget you might want to look into laptops with an i5 processor, i7 processor laptops offer better performance but they are more expensive.
i3 processor laptops are good for doing small stuff like using MS Office, browsing the internet and listening to music.
i5 processor laptops are good for light gaming, photoshop and other regular tasks
i7 processor laptops are good for rendering videos or video editing, playing heavy games and other heavy tasks.
All laptops have Wi-fi to connect to the internet. Your Wi-fi might be 2.4GHz or 5GHz, some laptops might have both. 2.4GHz gives you better range when you move the laptop away from your router but the data transfer speed will be lesser. 5GHz offers lesser range but the data transfer speed is higher. You might also need to check your Wi-fi router to see what configuration it can work on.
Some laptops come with a backlight that lets you see the keys when you are working in the dark and others are just basic. You will also need to pay attention to the number of keys on the keyword because some laptops have a higher number of keys than others with more functions but all laptops have the standard QWERTY keyboard.
You have the option of two types of graphics card – integrated and dedicated. Integrated graphics comes as a part of the CPU and uses the system memory but a dedicated graphic card has its own memory. The graphics card is just like your RAM, higher memory equals better performance. If you are set on buying an Intel i3 processor laptop then you can rely on the inbuilt HD graphics cards, if you are going in for an i5 processor you can go in for a 2GB Nvidia Geforce graphics card or an ATI Radeon graphics card, finally if it’s an Intel i7 processor you can go upwards of 4GB or 8GB of Nvidia or ATI Radeon graphics.
13. Battery Life
Batteries can have 4 cells or higher, and these batteries have a mAh rating from 2000 mAh and above, batteries with a higher rating is always better. Apart from this the life of your battery also depends on how you use your laptop; like number of processes running, brightness, your wifi and so on. If you are performing high performance tasks you will drain out your battery quickly.
Tips to increase battery life or make it last longer
Remove or Unplug any unwanted devices that are plugged into your laptop when they are not in use. These could be headphones, mouse, external speakers and so on.
Remove any DVDs or CDs from the drive so they do not consume power.
The defragmenting of your hard drive will organize your files more neatly so your system will spend less time and resources searching for the files because they won’t be fragmented anymore which means less spinning on your hard drive which uses lesser battery power.
Turn off any unwanted programs or processes running on your device.
Less heat on your laptop will also improve battery life, so make sure your system does not overheat.
Make sure how have a good Intel processor on your laptop, it is said to be optimized to use lesser power which is good for you laptop’s battery life. Also be sure to upgrade your BIOS to the latest version.
The amount of RAM you have could also determine battery life; more RAM puts less strain on the hard drive which reduces the strain on your battery as well.
If you can; you can even clean your battery with alcohol every once in a while to make sure nothing is blocking power transfer.
Dim the display and avoid playing games or using programs that consume high battery power when the charger is unplugged.
You might also want to check and see if there is any software already installed on your device that lets you optimize battery life and if you don’t, I’m sure you can find some online. You can usually find these pre-installed programs in your control panel.
Turn off wireless and bluetooth when not in use.
There is nothing too special about the touch pad on a laptop but if you feel like the touch pad might get in the way of your work, some laptops have a button somewhere on the keyboard or beside the touch pad to turn it off so you do not accidently command the pointer to move when your hand is on it.
15. Touch Screen
If you enjoy using the touch screen instead of your keyboard, you could choose a laptop with a touch screen but the battery life reduces dramatically the more you use it.
Some brands are better than others. You will notice that laptops from Dell or Apple tend to be a lot costlier than others but the quality is also better. If you have a tight budget you might want to settle for something in between price and quality.
You can usually get a one year warranty on the laptop you purchase, you may even get the option to extend it to above 3 years or more. It’s always good to have a good warranty just in case something goes wrong with your laptop and you need it fixed.
Apart from all the features of the laptop, you may get a few accessories with your purchase. If you do not get a laptop bag you have a pay an additional amount for it but if you do not own a good bag to carry your laptop with you, it might be a good idea to invest on one. If you like, you could also purchase a mouse, external speakers or headphones assuming it is from the same manufacturer or seller giving you a discount.
The price of your laptop depends on the configuration or features you want your laptop to have, so it might be best to plan a budget keeping in mind all the features you need, if you have a bigger budget you can be flexible with what you want.
How to properly maintain a laptop?
Here is a list of things you could do to take good care of your laptop.
Make sure to use your laptop on a surface that allows air to pass through underneath the laptop which will keep the laptop cooler. If the sides of the laptop are closed it will lead to overheating and cause the delicate parts inside the laptop to burn up; there are safety measures put in place for the laptop to automatically turn off if it is overheating but it is always good to avoid the overheating all together just to be safe. You could also install a few programs on your laptop that lets you monitor the laptop; some of them even let you manually turn on the fan inside the laptop to clean or get rid of the excess heat. You could also purchase a USB fan that you could connect to one of the USB slots on your laptop if necessary.
Avoid spilling any liquid on the laptop; one reason is because it causes a mess and becomes hard to clean and another is because all the internal parts can be damaged if they are wet.
It is always a good idea to clean your laptop from time to time to get rid of all the dust from inside the laptop. You will also notice that the laptop screen tends to attract a lot of dust as well; a soft cloth should wipe away the dust nicely. To clean the inside of the laptop a can of compressed air is a good option but if it is too difficult to do all by yourself, you could just give your laptop out for servicing so it can be cleaned and checked out for any problems. If you can; purchase a cleaning liquid to only clean the keyboard and touchpad because like PCs and other devices there is always the presence of millions of bacteria that could be harmful.
If the keys on your keyboard have a lot of space through which dust can enter in; it might be a good idea to use a plastic keyboard protector to seal up the keyboard to prevent dust from getting in through the keys.
Keep your laptop plugged in while you are using it; whenever possible it’s good to avoid making use of the battery so it last longer and also gives you a fully charged battery in case you need to make use of it later.
Some laptops have a terrible touchpad and can be very annoying when you need to move your cursor or perform mouse clicks especially while gaming. In this case you could purchase a separate USB mouse and connect it to the laptop (I wouldn’t recommend a wireless mouse because the batteries die out fast and can be bothersome)
Make sure to go into your laptop setting and configure the laptop to go into sleep mode, hibernate or turn off when you close the lid of the laptop; that makes it easier to shut down the laptop when you know you are not going to be using it – but be sure to disconnect the laptop charger or turn of the power from the power outlet just to be safe.
Try not to use facial recognition or complicated passwords when you are locking your laptop. Facial recognition is not perfect and you might have to waste a lot of time trying to find a way to get back in, the same principle applies to passwords; you need to make a password that is easy for you but too complicated for someone else to guess.