Which Laptop should I buy?
This is a question I get asked almost daily and there isn’t a quick and easy answer to it. My reply will always be based on what you want the laptop to do.
I won’t be getting into brand names and model numbers here but I will discuss the internals of laptops and what I would be looking for to suit particular workloads.
When someone asks me to recommend a laptop my first question is always the same.
What will the laptop be used for?
In general I get one of four answers. General office/home use, internet access, gaming or 3d applications.
This is the most common reason for someone to be looking for a laptop. They want a mobile device, running Windows to provide them with internet access and the ability to run software such as Microsoft Office.
Internet access and Office applications are not demanding on hardware so you don’t need to go nuts on high specification parts.
I would be looking for a 15.6” display which gives enough display space to view web pages or use Word and Excel easily. Some people may prefer a 17” display or even a 12” display. 17” displays make laptops much heavier and less mobile, use more power and cost more. There is also much less choice of laptop when looking for a 17” display. 12” displays I find are too small for serious office work and are usually more expensive than the 15.6” equivalent.
I would be looking for an Intel i5 processor which again is plenty fast enough for office tasks coupled with 4gb or 8gb of ram.
Personal preference here but I would also be looking for a laptop with an SSD rather than a mechanical hard disk. Although an SSD will give you less storage space it will also run cooler, use less power, doesn’t damage easily when knocked or bumped but most importantly a laptop with an SSD feels much more responsive.
If someone is looking for a device for internet access then I would generally steer them towards a similar system to the above. Perhaps with an Intel i3 or AMD processor, 4gb ram and a small (128gb) SSD.
If they really only want internet access then perhaps even a Chromebook would be suitable. Chromebooks do not run Windows but Chrome OS. These devices are hugely popular in education at the moment as they are cheap, secure and easy to use.
For gaming especially, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. Good gaming laptops are expensive so don’t expect much change from £1000 for something decent.
Here I would be looking for a 15” or 17” display. Intel i5 processor, 8gb or more of ram and an nVidia 10 series vga card. I would also be looking for an SSD and a mechanical hard disk. The SSD for running Windows and the mechanical drive for storing games.
This is generally for people looking for mobile workstations for 3d rendering or video editing. I would expect these machines to be even more expensive than a gaming laptop. Look for a high resolution 15.6” or 17.3” display, Intel i7 processor, 16gb ram, SSD and mechanical drive combo again and a workstation class vga card like the Quadro line from nVidia or the FirePro from AMD.
All laptops will come with wi-fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Windows 10 (apart from Chromebooks,) sound and speakers, usb 3 ports etc.
Quick reference table
|Office/Home use||Intel Core i5||4gb or 8gb||Intel integrated||15.6”||240gb SSD or 500gb hard disk|
|Internet Access||Intel Core i3||4gb||Intel Integrated||15.6”||500gb hard disk|
|Gaming||Intel Core i7||16gb||nVidia 10 series||17.3”||240gb ssd and 1tb hard disk|
|3d Applications||Intel Core i7||16gb||nVidia Quadro or AMD FirePro||17.3”||240gb ssd and 1tb hard disk|
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