Best Laptops Buying Guide

In this guide you will learn about specific things to look for when purchasing a new laptop, as well as some of our recommendations. Whatever your budget and needs, we are confident this guide will prove useful in your endeavour.

Table of Contents

Which Laptop Should I Buy?
Best Laptop Under £300
Best Laptop Under £400
Best Laptop Under £500
Best Laptop Under £600
Best Laptop Under £1,000
Best Laptop For Students
Best Laptop For Music Production
Best Laptop For Video Editing

Contemplating your Options: Which Laptop Should I Buy?

Are you currently in the market for a brand new computer? In today’s society, everyone is on the go, which makes it more difficult to use a desktop computer for accessibility. Instead, one should consider making the transition to the laptop, which offers extreme portability and awesome convenience. Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these computers on the market for you to choose between, which makes the process of purchasing one a bit more difficult. You’ll need to scour through your available options, until you find one that suits your needs to perfection. What exactly do you need to look for? In this guide, you will discover help for deciding which laptop you should buy.

Work Out Your Budget

You might as well face it, unless you’re one of the top 1%, you’re probably going to be working on a tight budget. This makes the purchase a little more difficult, but it also helps to know exactly how much you’re willing to spend. Once you know this specific amount, you’ll be able to eliminate computers which are simply too expensive. Although you want a superbly powerful laptop, you certainly don’t want to enter the poor house in order to get it. Therefore, you should do a little financing, until you’ve come to a specific price allotment. Then, you’ll be able to break down and examine the specific characteristics that you should look for in a laptop. For everyday use you should expect to spend between £300 and £450, honestly anything less than £300 is unlikely to cut it. Gamers on the other hand should be looking to spend anywhere from £450 up to £1,000, any more than that is simply overkill.

Operating System Preferences

If you’ve used computers for more than a few years, you’ve likely experimented with a number of different operating systems, such as MAC OSX, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS. At this point, you likely have a preference. If you don’t, your specific selection here might not matter too much. Still, it is helpful to know all of the differentials between the various operating systems. Remember that less frequently used operating systems are less likely to face viruses, malware and other similar complications. If this is something that gives you concern, it is imperative to stick with Chrome or MAC OS. Still, you’ll likely need to go out of your way to find something other than a Windows OS computer.

Laptop Screen Size Preference

The laptop screen size will totally rely on your preferences, needs, and uses. The screen size is based on the distance from the far top right corner extending diagonally to the far bottom left corner. There are innumerable sizes to choose from, but your selection will be solely based on your laptop uses.

  • 11-12 Inch Screen is by far the slimmest and most lightweight, as it weighs around 0.17 to 0.25 stones. This screen may not be applicable for work or playing video games.
  • 13-14 Inch Screen is the perfect size for portability. This screen weighs in a little more than the 11-12 inch screen, but its size provides more versatility.
  • 15-16 Inch Screen is a tad bit larger than the 13-14 inch and the weight capacity is slightly more, 0.25-0.32 stones, but this will be totally reliant on the laptop brand. It won’t feel as restrictive as smaller screens, however, and is also one of the most common screen sizes.
  • 17 Inch Screen is significantly larger, while increasing your screen real estate tremendously it does make portability a little more difficult,. This laptop can weigh up to 0.5 stones or more, but again this will rely on the specific brand.

Although many gamers and business professionals prefer a 17 inch size screen because it provides them with a larger viewing area, which will make it so much easier to play games and get their work done, but it is not a requirement, only a preference.

Check the Inputs: Keyboard and Touchpads

In today’s laptop market, you will discover a variety of different keyboards and touchpads. If you get the opportunity, it is helpful to get a feel for the keyboard. Make sure that you feel comfortable using it and won’t make too many typos with the particular layout. On the other hand, you should consider getting a keyboard which is equipped with a number pad, most but not all laptops with a screen size of 15 inches or above will come with a number pad, be sure to check the laptop you’re interested in has this feature if it is a requirement. This is extremely helpful, if you’re going to be inputting a lot of numbers. As for the touchpad, you’ll want to ensure that the installation feels sturdy and will last through repeated use.

When experimenting with a Windows 8 laptop, it is of the utmost important to test out the gestures. Make sure that they’re not overly sensitive. You certainly don’t want to continue opening different windows, while you’re hard at work, or gaming away. In general, most experts would agree that Lenovo and Apple offer the most reliable touchpads and keyboards. If you’re looking for suitable alternatives, don’t stray too far from HP and Dell, as they’re definitely sufficient.

Traditional Laptop or Transformational Notebook

In the past few years, this might not have been an option, but the transformational notebooks or tablets are increasing quickly in popularity. These devices are tremendously handy, when you travel often. With traditional laptops, you generally have one solid piece, which opens and closes. When closed, you have a book, which can be easily carried. Once it is open, you’ll gain access to your screen and keyboard. Some will prefer this old setup, but it isn’t the only option.

With the transformational or 2-in-1 laptop, you can actually mutate your laptop into a tablet. With this possibility, it is sometimes possible to detach the keyboard form the display and vice versa. This allows the individual to carry the screen portion of the computer separately, which could be referred to as a tablet. In this regard, the screen will be touch enabled and you won’t need the keyboard anyway. There are several different manufacturers, which offer this type of arrangement. If this is something that suits your preferences, you’ll certainly be able to find one.

Examine the Battery Life!

When you examine the specifications of any laptop, you will find the manufacturer’s estimated battery life. All in all, this figure is just that, an approximation. It is possible that they’ve put the battery through strenuous tests and have given themselves the benefit of the doubt, but this figure might not always be reliable. Instead, it is pertinent to take the time to examine the reviews of users of the laptop. This will help to ensure that you receive the most reliable approximation possible.

Remember that battery life is crucial. You don’t want to get out and run out of battery. Although you might have to pay a little bit more for an improved battery, most will agree that it is certainly worth the increased price.

Hard Drive

In most cases, someone, who is new to computers, will instantly look at the hard drive space and ignore the other parameters. Although this is a very important figure, it might not be the most important. Still, it is a good idea to ensure that your computer will be capable of storing all of your files, whether they’re videos, music or games. Most individuals shouldn’t need anymore than 500GB or 750GB. Increasing the overall capacity shouldn’t do too much damage to your wallet.

Of course, the biggest factor here is the speed of the hard drive. Most users will agree that a faster drive is more important than a one that is significantly lager. If you have the budget to pull it off, you should sway towards a higher RPM, which will allow you to browse through your drive and open files, at an increased rate.

If it’s within your budget, you could go for a laptop that includes a Solid-state drive (SSD) which will significantly improve start-up and program launch speeds. Don’t worry about this too much however if it’s out of your price range.

RAM

RAM is extremely important, since it’ll help to determine how much your computer is going to lag. On the other hand, gamers will need an increased amount of RAM, with 6GB being the absolute minimum. When you check out the specifications for your desired laptop, you will find a specific amount and you should be able to determine, whether or not it is possible to upgrade the RAM. For non-gamers and specialists, it is imperative to get at minimum 4GB from the onset. You should refuse to settle for anything less. However, it is better to reach for a higher amount, if possible.

If you’re planning on running multiple programs and watching videos or gaming, you’ll need more. In fact, 6 or 8GB or RAM will be a good starting point. On the plus side, purchasing additional RAM at a later date might be an option and shouldn’t be too expensive, just be sure to check with the retailer if you’re able to upgrade on your own. If you get it upfront, you’ll safe yourself some hassle though.

The CPU

The laptop’s CPU, or central processing unit, is an integral part of the system. It is absolutely imperative to choose a quicker CPU, if you’re going to running resource hogging software or games. If you opt for a cheaper alternative, it is likely that your computer will lag significantly, when you attempt to multitask or run bigger programs. In general, you’ll benefit significantly, if you put in a little extra money and upgrade to a quad-core CPU. With a quad-core CPU, you’ll be able to multitask much easier, with worrying about slow downs. Gamers and those, who wish to edit videos, will find it is easier to do so, with a quicker quad-core CPU. For most day-to-day users, however, dual-core should prove sufficient.

Graphics Card

For gamers, it is pertinent to ensure that you get a sufficiently powerful graphics card. Although integrated graphics will be enough to carry out basic tasks, gamers, who wish to run the latest games, will need the more powerful, and usually most expensive graphics card possible. Of course, a good GPU is imperative for a wide range of tasks, including playing videos and gaming. In general, it is best to purchase the most expensive card possible, since this will allow you to perform an increased number of tasks with ease. With a more powerful graphics chip, you’ll be able to edit videos, play games and playback videos without lag.

Optical Drive

If you are reliant on CD/DVDs to watch your favorite movies and listen to your favorite band, then you are definitely going to want a laptop that is equipped with a CD/DVD drive. This drive offers versatility, as far as the innumerable digital discs that it is capable of reading. Most computers come assembled with this appurtenance, unless it is the smaller 11-12 inch, which are mostly only available with the basic computer components.

The DVD/CD +RW offer more versatile usages including:

  • DVD Reader will allow you to watch DVD movies.
  • CD Reader is great for listening to your favorite CD tunes.
  • CD Writer provides the ability to burn audio and data CDs.

This great device is definitely too good to pass up and most people find it difficult to function, without it. You will also have the option of removing and adding data as well, which is a necessity for most computer users.

If you purchase a computer that does not have a CD/DVD drive, you may potentially be able to acquire an external CD/DVD +RW drive, which can easily plug into your USB port. You will need to do a little research before you actually purchase a specific laptop, because you want to make sure that it is suitable for all of your needs.

Warranties

When you purchase a laptop, you’ll usually receive a one-year warranty from the manufacturer. Although this offers a bit of security, you should take the time to contemplate upgrading to a more secure, but more costly alternative. While laptops are built for longevity, life is unpredictable and things can easily go wrong. It is always best to take steps to prepare ahead and always expect the worst. Therefore, you may want to consider looking for a laptop which offers an extended warranty. On the other hand, you may want to think about putting down a little extra money to extend the warranty for a few additional years.

Outputs

When examining the laptops on the market, it is a good idea to inspect the sides and back. Here, you will find the specific outputs that are available. It is always helpful to purchase a laptop with a few USB slots, since these are used for almost everything. However, it is also a good idea to consider looking for one with an HDMI slot. In general, the HDMI port is becoming increasingly popular and is more frequently available. With this option, you’ll be able to hook up your computer to your television and instantly stream your computer’s videos to your big screen. In most MAC computers, you will find the Mini Display Port or the Thunderbolt, which are reliable alternatives.

Conclusion

All in all, answering that all important question; which laptop should I buy, really varies from individual to individual. Your specific preferences, uses and budget will help to make the best decision. Take your time, examine each characteristic and read reviews, until you find a portable computer that suits all of your preferences perfectly.