How to choose a laptop
Here are the three key aspects to consider when buying that best laptop:
A laptop’s operating system (OS) is the interface through which you access everything in the computer, from work apps to games and more. The most popular OS worldwide is Windows 10, found in hundreds of different laptops from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more. It’s a widely adaptable OS and most supported by third-party app makers. Apple’s macOS is exclusive to MacBooks, and is the most compatible with Apple’s other products, like iPhones, but it is a popular and full-featured OS in itself. Finally, all Chromebooks run Chrome OS — the newest of the three — Google’s Chrome browser-focused OS that works mainly off the cloud (online), particularly through Google’s own suite of apps and services, like Google Drive and Gmail.
The internal hardware that powers a laptop is considered the “specs,” and will dictate how effective your laptop is at various tasks. The processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) impact the laptop’s raw power or speed and multitasking capacity, respectively. The storage (hard disk drive or HDD, or solid-state drive or SSD) will determine how much space for files the laptop has. The graphics processor (GPU) dictates how effective the laptop is at rendering video and 3D visuals for games; many laptops, particularly in the low-to-midrange, utilize what’s called internal graphics, which shares RAM with the CPU rather than a dedicated GPU. The laptop’s display sharpness is determined by pixel density, with 1080p (or Full HD) being the generally desirable target.
Finally, all of these factors contribute to the laptop’s battery life, with eight hours generally being the minimum acceptable number — unless it’s a gaming laptop.
Another thing you’ll want to think about is how big the laptop is. A smaller laptop will ultimately be more portable, but a larger one will have a larger display, which is better for watching movies, photo editing, video production, and playing games. Common sizes for laptops are 13 inches and 15 inches, though 11 inches and 17 inches also appear every now and then.
In addition to the specs, you’ll want to think about the price.