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A 10-Step Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Laptop

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Cup of tea next to laptop on desk

Cup of tea next to laptop on desk

So you have decided to buy a laptop. You know you want a laptop in a cool colour and you have an idea of a price point.

Aeroplane and laptop

Aeroplane and laptop

Before you start browsing for that shiny new laptop there are some specifics that you must consider. Following is a checklist of 10 areas where you need to do some homework.

Laptop keyboard

Laptop keyboard

1. Purpose

Before you buy a new laptop, you should first ask yourself what you will use the laptop to do. Do you need a laptop for simple tasks, average word processing, and low-level internet surfing? Or do you need something more powerful for activities such as lots of add-on software programs and serious gaming?

Laptop on desk

Laptop on desk

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you to understand how much power you will need in a laptop to achieve its desired purpose.

Laptop next to phone and sunglasses

Laptop next to phone and sunglasses

2. Dimensions/Weight

The main reason for purchasing a laptop is the desire for portability. Unlike a desktop, a laptop offers the convenience of portability.

Laptop sitting on grass

Laptop sitting on grass

The ability to carry your work and entertainment with you while on the go is a definite plus.When you talk about portability, the dimensions and weight of the laptop are both serious considerations.

Man sitting on floor with laptop

Man sitting on floor with laptop

While laptops range a great deal in dimension and weight, reasonable middle-of-the-road dimensions of a mid-sized laptop are a width of around 15 inches, depth of approximately 11 inches, and a thickness of around 1.25 inches. An average weight is approximately 3-6 pounds.

Laptop with lid half opened

Laptop with lid half opened

3. Processor

A processor, also known as a CPU (central processing unit), processes instructions that are gathered from programs and files running on the laptop. Speeds of processors are indicated in GHz. Higher GHz indicates faster processors. And faster processors equate to faster laptop.

Man using laptop in the dark

Man using laptop in the dark

4. Hard Disk/Storage

The hard disk drive, also known as the hard drive, is the main data storage hardware device in a laptop. It holds the operating system, software application files, and any other file you choose to save on the laptop such as photos, videos, spreadsheets and documents. Hard drive sizes can range from 20 GB up to 500 GB.

Woman browsing images on laptop

Woman browsing images on laptop

There are larger hard drives available. However, these hard drive sizes would be found in a higher-end laptop that stores a great amount of data and files.

Laptop with lid half opened

Laptop with lid half opened

5. Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM can be thought of as the core of your computer. It is just as important as your processor and hard drive. With the right amount of RAM on your computer, the performance of your laptop and the ability to support various types of software is optimized. RAM is measured in Gigabytes (GB).

Laptop sitting on desk

Laptop sitting on desk

6. OS (Operating System)

An operating system (such as Windows 10) encompasses a set of programs and routines that control laptop resources and provides access to a laptop’s various services. It allows hardware components to communicate with software components.

Man sitting with laptop on his lap, next to dog

Man sitting with laptop on his lap, next to dog

7. Graphics Card

A graphics card, also known as a video card, is a piece of hardware installed in a laptop that is responsible for rendering the image on the monitor.

Woman using laptop at desk

Woman using laptop at desk

8. Display Size

Optimal display size is an option that differs greatly depending on who you ask. Laptop display sizes vary from device to device. The best way to decide on a display size is to see the laptops in the stores. Seeing the laptop live and in person is the best way to choose a display size that best suits your needs.

Women browsing content on laptop

Women browsing content on laptop

9.Battery Life

Battery life is simply the length of time that a laptop battery can maintain a charge. As laptops offer portability, you will want as much battery life as possible with the laptop you purchase. An average battery life would be at least 4 hours.

Laptop with its lid closed on desk

Laptop with its lid closed on desk

10. I/O Ports

I/O ports refer to input/output ports. These are connectors on your laptop that enable you to connect various devices to your laptop. I/O ports will vary with the style of laptop. Following is a list of common ports that you might want on the laptop that you purchase:

  • USB
  • HDMI
  • RJ-45 (Ethernet)
  • VGA Monitor Port
  • Headphone Port
Ports on laptop

Ports on laptop

As you can see, there are quite a few areas that must be considered prior to your laptop purchase. If you do your homework with this checklist, you are sure to purchase a laptop that meets your needs quite nicely.

Laptop on desk next to sheet of paper

Laptop on desk next to sheet of paper

Tea cup sitting on laptop

Tea cup sitting on laptop

Woman with laptop on her lap

Woman with laptop on her lap


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