5 Tips from a Computer Expert on How to Choose Your Next Laptop

5 Tips from a Computer Expert on How to Choose Your Next Laptop


Did you know that in 2019, computer makers sold a staggering 261 million computer units? Granted, that’s only a 0.6% increase from the year before, but that still equates to over 1.5 million more units shipped.

Moreover, the International Data Corporation says PC sales will surge by the end of 2020. The computer expert predicts PCs, work stations, and tablet sales to reach 425.7 million units.

The fact that more people are working and studying from home can indeed make PC sales skyrocket.

If you’re one of these folks who now work or study from home, you’re likely thinking of getting a new device yourself. While you don’t have to be a tech genius, it pays to learn what computer experts have to say about the subject.

That’s exactly what you’ll learn in this laptop computer buying guide. Read on to discover five tips that can help you buy the right gear for your needs.

1. Understand the Chief Differences Between Laptop Styles

Today’s laptops can be “traditional,” “two-in-one,” “mini,” “Chromebook,” or “high-performance.” It’s best you know how they differ, as their class dictates their functions and prices. For instance, mini-laptops are the cheapest, but they also have the “least” power.

On that note, let’s take a look at some of their basics features.

Traditional Laptops Reign in Terms of Balance

Traditional laptops, or “clamshells,” are the epitome of balance between usability and cost. Their screens (between 12 and 14 inches) and overall weight keep them portable. They’re big enough to last your daily Netflix binge for several hours between charges.

Plus, most clamshells today have specs ideal for average users and occasional videogamers. For instance, you can buy a new one for under $1,000 and get an i7 processor with four or six cores. It’s also become a standard for these laptops to come with 8GB of RAM and 256 to 512 GB of storage.

No Need for a Two in One if You Already Have a Tablet

Two-in-one laptops are either detachable or bend back units. Either way, they provide flexibility as you can use them as both a laptop and a tablet.

However, if you’re like 50% of US adults who already have a tablet, you likely don’t need a two-in-one. After all, this feature is the only key difference they have over standard laptops.

Mini-Laptops and Chromebooks Are Practical for the Little Ones

Mini-laptops (with screen sizes under 12 inches) and Chromebooks only cost $150 to under $300. These are no doubt the cheapest portable computers you’ll find in the market today. However, that also means they’re only capable of low-key tasks like writing or browsing.

Still, their affordable costs, paired with their ease-of-use, make them ideal for kids. Younger students can also depend on these devices for their at-home classes.

Elite Laptops for Creators, Pros, and Serious Players

High-performance laptops come with many more bells and whistles, so they cost no less than $1,000. This price applies to base models, with the higher configurations costing $2,000 to over $5,000.

That’s a lot of Benjamins, but that’s in exchange for powerhouse computers. For example, $2,000 can get you a laptop with a 10th-gen Intel i7 four-core processor, UHD display, 16 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of space. Expect to spend a thousand dollars more to configure this with an eight-core processor, 32 GB of RAM, and 2 TB of space.

Moreover, the case (or “housing”) itself of such devices is more durable than low- and mid-tier laptops. High-performance laptops often come with more durable metal parts. Whereas many portable computers under $1,000 usually come with plastic components.

As such, these elite laptops are best for creators, professionals, and hardcore gamers.

2. Windows Is Great but So Is macOS

Two of the biggest players in the computer operating system market is Windows 10 and macOS. Windows 10 alone accounts for over three-quarters of the OS market. Apple’s macOS, on the other hand, accounts for only over 17%.

If you’ve been a long-time Windows user, Windows 10 may still be the best choice for you. However, macOS is just as user-friendly,  and you can sync a Mac with most other Apple devices. You can even access most of the contents of a synced iPhone or iPad through a MacBook.

With that said, Macs can be expensive, with their cheapest laptop priced at $899. That’s the latest MacBook Air, with its eight-core processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of SSD. You can get it for $100 less if you’re a student or an educator.

If you like the highest level of customizability, though, go with a Windows laptop. This way, you have more upgrade and configuration options. Macs are configurable, but they aren’t compatible with many “non-Apple” products and peripherals.

3. 8 GB of RAM Is the Least You Should Get

Random-access memory, AKA “RAM,” is a laptop or desktop’s active “memory.” This is where a computer stores data from active apps and services on a temporary basis. Every activity performed by the device produces data that consumes RAM.

So, every app or service you launch and task you execute chips away at a laptop’s memory.

Your computer starts using RAM as soon as you switch it on, as its OS also needs memory. From there, start-up programs or log-in items that initiate upon boot also use RAM. Everything else you do, from launching a word editor to running a browser, also accesses a part of the RAM.

However, many older units and refurbished laptops usually just feature 2 GB to 4 GB of RAM. This range is okay for minor activities like using a text editor and browsing the net. With 4 GB, you can do all these plus have enough to play media or stream online.

However, 2 GB or 4 GB may no longer be enough if you have to use simultaneous memory-heavy apps. For example, activating 10 browser tabs at the same time can already consume about 750 MB to 3 GB of RAM. Since most OSs also need 1 GB of RAM, this is the most you can do with a device equipped with only 4 GB of memory.

That’s why one of the most crucial computer buying tips to keep in mind is to get a device that has no less than 8GB of RAM. This is the most suitable memory for most average users. It’s also one of the minimum basic requirements for most modern video games.

4. You Can Settle for a Smaller Capacity Storage Drive

Mini-laptops and Chromebooks often have storage capacities of 16 GB to 64 GB. That’s why they’re okay for kids and younger students.

However, as a college student or an employee who produces more data, the least you need is likely 256 GB. Unless you’re a creator or serious player, 512 GB of storage is more than enough.

If you still can’t decide, and you’re on a tight budget, you can get a laptop with a smaller drive, so long as you can upgrade it.

Upgradable devices are those that don’t have “soldered” or “built-in” components. Instead, they come with removable drives and even RAM sticks. Once you have the budget for more space (or memory), you can simply swap the factory ones with an aftermarket part.

You can also move your files to the cloud to free up as much space on your laptop as possible. A Google One account, for instance, gives you 15 GB of free cloud space, but upgrading it to a 100 GB plan only costs $1.99 a month. If you need more, you can go with a 200 GB plan for $2.99, 2 TB for $9.99, or 10 TB for $99.99.

5. Pre-Holidays Are Still the “Best” Days to Buy a New Laptop

During the 2020 Black Friday, shoppers spent a staggering $9 billion on web purchases. That’s a whopping 22% increase from last year’s spending.

With that said, Black Friday is one of the best times of the year to snag awesome tech deals. During this time, you can get discounts of at least $500 (or more) on laptops that usually cost $2,000. You can even get discounts of no less than $1,000 on computers worth $3,000 or more!

If you miss Black Friday, there’s Cyber Monday, which is another huge tech event. So much so that experts say consumers will spend between $10.8 billion to $12.7 billion this 2020 Cyber Monday.

Both days are a yearly thing, so whenever you need to buy a new device, consider doing so on any of these days. However, it’s best that you start shopping around as early as the first of November. Many tech companies often offer extra “early bird” deals for such purchases.

Become a Computer Expert With These Tech-Savvy Tips

There you have it, the ultimate laptop buying guide that can help you become a computer expert. While you don’t have to be a “rocket scientist,” it pays to know the tech lingo, especially when it comes to laptop specs. Don’t forget to mark your calendar, too, so that you know when to snag your dream laptop for much less.

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