12 Things to consider before buying a laptop

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You’re thinking of buying a new laptop, but the minute you walk into an electronics store, you’re instantly overwhelmed. Who knew there were so many types of computers?

If you need to find a laptop, you first need to decide what you’re looking for. What will you use your laptop for and what features are most important to you?

Since laptops are a big investment, deciding what you need will help you make a wise purchase that you won’t regret. To help, we’ve put together this laptop buying guide.

To find out more, keep reading to find 12 important considerations when buying a new laptop.

1. Budget

Most shoppers have a set budget for their new laptops. For this reason, it usually helps to start by deciding on your budget, then only searching for laptops within that price range. For reference, the average consumer spends about $700 on a device. However, you can find models for much less – and much more.

It all depends on brand, features, and speed. Other factors that impact cost include processing power, size, operating systems, and included software.

2. Operating System

When it’s time to purchase a laptop, most users know which operating system they prefer – usually, Microsoft or Apple’s iOS. Other options include Linux, Android, Chrome, and Ubuntu.

But if you’re not sure which you like, or you’re thinking of making a switch, read up on each option to decide which would best work for you. Also, make sure your current software programs and hardware will be compatible with whichever you go for.

3. Size and Style

Which size and look do you prefer? With so many laptop options, you might be surprised at what’s out there.

When it comes to size, this generally refers to screen size. Screens are measured in inches and tend to go anywhere from 11-17 inches.

While smaller screens tend to be cheaper and smaller, which is great for travel, some people can find the screens hard to read. Larger screens give you more to work with but they do mean the laptop will be larger and heavier.

The most popular screen sizes are between 13-15 inches, so if you’re unsure, start with 13-inches and see what you think.

For a fun design twist, you can always add a laptop wrap or a keyboard cover to whatever laptop you buy, mixing up the color and look. These are not only stylish but also protect your laptop from spills and debris.

4. Weight

If you travel frequently, the best laptop is a lightweight one. You don’t want to be weighed down by carrying a large, heavy laptop, especially when you’re running through an airport terminal.

In this case, check the weight and size of a potential laptop before purchasing, ideally in person at a retail outlet. Since most users will carry their laptop in a sleeve or case, keep in mind that this will add a bit of weight also.

In contrast, if you’re mainly going to be using your laptop at home, weight might be less of an issue.

5. Hybrid or Traditional

Laptops are either hybrid or traditional. What’s the difference?

A hybrid device is a combination of a tablet and laptop, with a flexible screen that can bend to 180 degrees – they’re feather-light and versatile, but don’t always have the processing power of a traditional laptop.

Traditional laptops are often heavier and can’t be customized as much, but they’re capable of running more software and doing more. Both are great options, so it really just comes down to your needs.

6. Brands

Apple, Lenovo, Toshiba, Microsoft – more and more companies are producing laptops. Many consumers tend to buy their tech from tried and trusted brands they know well, but it never hurts to consider other options.

However, if you’re going to buy from a brand you know nothing about, be sure to read reviews first and make sure they’re reliable. Sometimes, a deal that seems too good to be true isn’t worth your money.

7. Processing

Laptops have varying processing speeds, all based on how much power they have. This is known as RAM, or random access memory.

The more RAM a laptop has, the more your laptop can do at once. This equals fast speed and higher performance. If you just want a computer for sending emails and surfing the web, RAM will probably be less important. However, if you want a laptop for complex business purposes, you might need a higher RAM.

8. Storage capacity

Spend some time thinking about how much internal storage you need. In laptop terms, internal storage is how much data you can store within the computer itself, such as files, images, and software programs.

Depending on your needs, you might not need a huge amount of internal storage. However, if you plan to save a lot of large files to your laptop or use software that requires a lot of memory, like video editing, get extra memory.

Even with a small storage capacity, you still have plenty of other storage options. External hard drives are compatible with laptops.

Or, use a cloud-based storage system, like Dropbox or Google Drive, instead of saving directly to your device.

9. Warranty

More and more of us are purchasing tech devices, like laptops, through our phones or tablets. Yes, this is more convenient than going to the mall, but there are a few things to be aware of first.

Before buying, take time to read the fine print – what does the computer’s warranty cover? Can you extend it?

While this is something you’d talk to a salesperson about in a store, online, it may not be as clear. Not all warranties are created equal, so make sure you know what is and isn’t covered.

Also, if something does go wrong, check how you can activate your warranty if you ordered online. That way, you’ll understand how to get help if anything goes wrong.

10. Look and feel of the touchpad

One key component of any laptop is both the touchpad and keyboard. While keyboards tend to have similar layouts, you want to take some time to check out a laptop’s touchpad before buying.

Each brand does them in a slightly different way and each has a slightly unique sensitivity to touch. If you have the chance to check out laptops in person, play around with the touchpad and see if it’s something you like.

Yes, you can always get an external mouse to use, but you still want to be comfortable with your laptop’s features before buying.

11. Screen resolution

Do you need a high-definition, 4K screen? Not necessarily, but this all depends on what you’ll be using your laptop for. If you love gaming, it’s better to splurge for a higher resolution screen, giving you clear details and all the vibrant colors of your favorite game.

Or, if you work in a creative field and do a lot of photo editing or graphic design, you’ll probably appreciate a 4K screen.

12. Battery life

An important consideration in any laptop is battery life. How long can you use your laptop on one charge?

Many modern laptops have seriously long battery life, letting you go all day on a charge – or longer. However, the more programs you’re running at once, the faster your battery will drain.

Always check out the battery life on a laptop before buying, keeping in mind that the manufacturer’s guidelines are based on optimal conditions. In real life, most battery life is going to be a little bit shorter.

Battery life is especially important if you travel a lot or work remotely – you don’t want to be caught in a situation where you need your laptop but the battery has died.

Find your ideal device with this Laptop buying guide

Overdue for a new computer? If so, use this laptop buying guide to start thinking about what you need.

Considering each of the points above, make a list of your ‘must-have’ and ‘would be nice’ features in a new laptop. Then, start researching options until you find the perfect laptop!

Once you know what you want, shop around so you can get the best possible price – we’re sure that you’ll love your awesome new laptop!

If you found this article useful, please read on to find more great tips.

Disclaimer: We may earn a commission if you make any purchase by clicking our links. Please see our detailed guide here.

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