Laptop Buying Guide: Everything You Should Know [2020 Edition]

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After testing over 100s of laptops and computers for 7 years, we’ve decided to publish an in-depth buyer’s guide that’ll help you learn about important things/specs to consider when purchasing a laptop. It’s 10,000 words in length, that’s why we recommend you to bookmark it (so that you don’t lose it.)

Buying a laptop looks pretty straightforward when it is outright difficult. There are a host of factors to look into before considering the choices and that’s where our guide will be helpful (as it explains most of them.) However, before you continue further, we suggest you to ask yourself that, “WHY DO YOU NEED IT?

Asking the question will help you FIGURE OUT the things/features/specs you’ll need, but how? Well, on asking it, you’ll get a list of things you’ll do or different software you’ll run. Basically, the trick here is to find your requirement first. Once that’s solved, we can eventually plan out the budget.

One mistake that most people do is, they choose the budget first and then select specifications or features. However, it should be the opposite as there are umpteen options from various brands in the market that would fit your budget, provided you chalk out the requirements. Although, budget is very essential, but is there any point in getting a machine that can’t do the task you bought it for?

Now that we have summarized the key takeaways, right at the start, here are the individual aspects that you need to consider before selecting the perfect laptop for all your requirements:

1. Getting Started with Operation System (OS)

Operating System

The usual inclination is to always start with the physical aspects of a laptop. However, we need to understand that the operating platform plays a major role in determining the choices we make. To begin with, we will talk about each operating platform and what benefits the same brings to the device.

We also check if it is appropriate based on your requirements or even personal preference. We must also note that most gadgets feature one of the three prime operating platforms like the Windows OS, MacOS, and the Chrome OS. However, there are certain devices that even feature Linux, allowing them to be installed along with one of the existing platforms.

Windows OSmacOSChromeOSLinux

Windows OS

Probably the most widespread operating system on PCs, every other laptop features Windows OS. The reason being interactive aspects and user-friendliness of the same! Without a doubt, this is a highly flexible OS that is pre-existent on most gadgets.

Therefore, if you are just looking for a device with basic professional features or even the most advanced specs, Windows OS certainly comes in handy. If we count the number of devices running Windows, the count will easily exceed those featuring the Chrome OS or even macOS.

Moreover, devices offering this OS also come with a host of built-in specs. These include touch interfaces, fingerprint sensors, and even dual graphic innards in certain devices. When it comes to the version, Windows 10 is the most popular one at the moment.

Certain users are still persisting with Windows 8 and Windows 7 respectively. However, it is always advisable to purchase a device that runs Windows 10, out of the box. The perks of using Windows 10 include switchable modes, Cortana as the go-to digital assistant, bug improvement, and more.

Windows 10 also features a host of powerful improvements including natural language searches, stylus compatibility, and more. Therefore, Windows is the preferred operating platform for most professionals. Entrepreneurs, Gamers, and students looking for simplicity, intuitiveness, and a balanced set of features can also consider Windows-powered laptops.

macOS

If you are planning to concentrate on aesthetics, class, comfort, and features — all at the same time, a MacBook is the best choice for you. Firstly, laptops running Apple’s macOS are MacBooks which are further segregated into the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

The differences are based on physical differences, feature sets, and the price point. At present, almost every MacBook is running the macOS Catalina which has all the features available on the Windows 10 OS.

While there isn’t much to choose between the two platforms, the MacOS Catalina makes sure that instead of the basic taskbar and start menu, the bottom of the screen is substitutable with the Apps Dock that floats and looks aesthetically pleasing.

If you have any other Apple gadget, including an iPhone or the Apple Watch, it is possible to unlock the device with the same. Apple also lets you take calls and look at texts on the MacBook, provided the same is synced with the iPhone.

Unlike Windows 10, MacOS isn’t something that supports the tablet mode as none of the MacBooks flaunt touch-based interfaces. The Catalina OS, however, makes certain adjustments by bringing the iPad applications to the MacBook followed by newer and improved iPad display support and accessibility perks.

Therefore, if you are willing to pay a premium price for the device, select the one with the MacOS in it, as a MacBook scores highly courtesy of the software-hardware cohesion.

Chrome OS

Provided you have a restrictive set of requirements and a pretty constricted budget, a Chromebook seems like a good fit. Firstly, this is a proprietary operating platform offered by Google that comes with its own set of features and limitations.

From an operational point of view, the interface looks more like a Windows spinoff, including the features and the application menu. Google Chrome is the go-to application. And you can mostly have access to web apps that might not work in the offline mode. To simplify things further, we can consider the Chrome OS as the one that needs to stay connected to the internet to function perfectly.

Things, however, are looking far more optimistic for the Chromebooks now with the likes of PixelBook and other gadgets now supporting android applications, out of the box. However, you can’t use it for development of Android apps or games. You shall consider it if you’re looking for something small.

It is affordable and easy to carry device for basic professional and personal activities. Checking Work/personal emails, chatting, writing & editing documents, browsing the web, etc. They support everyday basic activities and are popular among students or kids who love technology but have a restricted budget.

Linux

Although this operating system is highly useful for engineers and technical students, the normal users find it difficult to use it. Operating platforms like Windows and MacOS have added several layers of innovation and are easy for home users. However, feel free to check out our list of best Ubuntu compatible laptops, if you prefer a Linux based OS.

2. Structure and Size

Now that we have talked about the possible OS-centric shifts, it’s appropriate to move on to the physical aspects in play. To start with, it is important to select the size of the laptop before considering anything else. However, we must note that the physical presence is mostly evaluated on the basis of the display size.

Structure and size of laptop

Sleek and Snappy

The millennial population emphasizes more on sleek laptops that are small but powerful. Even startup owners who need to travel extensively prefer models that fit in pouches. Therefore, the sleek category features machines that resemble tablets. Here we have display sizes in the range of 11 to even 12 inches. In terms of weight, they do not weigh more than 3 or 3.5 pounds.

Suitable

Laptops with screen sizes in the range of 13 to almost 15 inches strike the perfect balance between functionality and portability. These gadgets are purchased in abundance as they weigh less and for professionals, it is easier to view presentations on a decently sized screen surface. Almost every MacBook Air offers a suitable screen real-estate for Apple enthusiasts.

Sturdy and Popular

Almost every professional has had the chance to use a 15-inch laptop which happened to be the best size a few years back. However, senior professionals still prefer the 15-inch to the 16-inch screen size range. It offers them the option to look at things closely even when multiple tabs are running. The 16-inch screen is a rarity but Apple seems to have started the initiative with the latest MacBook Pro.

Massive

Almost every equipped gaming laptop offers a screen size that ranges between 17 to even 18 inches. The inclusion of a powerful processing unit and cooling fans further adds to the girth and weight. Quite obviously, it is hard to carry them around and these gadgets are great when workstation and in-house productivity is concerned.

Now that we have discussed sizes, it is important to talk about the structure and orientations that are in fashion. While the regular-sized model is a decent choice, there is an increasing demand for 2-in-1 laptops. This trend is precisely due to the convertibility on offer. The best thing about these convertible entities is that they can be hinged back and forth with almost 360-degree capabilities in-store.

Moreover, in certain devices, even the entire keyboard comes out and can be paired if and when necessary. While these gadgets might look a bit gimmicky to some, they are great for people who are always on the move for creative purposes.

If you are constantly moving around on feet, the 2-in-1 convertible laptops are decent choices. However, Windows-powered detachables have had certain battery replacement issues in the past but the concerned brands are making efforts to fix the same.

3. Keyboard, Touchpad, and the Feel

Let us get a bit abstract with laptop purchases and concentrate on how the device feels to the hands. Most brands offer decently structured models which we witnessed in the preceding sections.

The “laptop feel” entails the texture, placement of the strategic keys, keyboard space, and even the quality of the touchpad that is in play. The alignment and direction of the USB ports and charging port also qualify for people who have specific setup.

Coming to the keyboard, the type of laptop and the concerned brand has a lot to offer to the customers. As a matter of fact, if you are only considering the gadget for media consumption such as watching movies or shows, listening to music, or just internet surfing, a great keyboard isn’t necessary.

However, if you use the device to indulge professionally, a strong keyboard with a decent ergonomic outlook is necessary. Some of the desirable traits include exceptional key travel, the spacing between the keys, solid yet seamless tactile feedback, and more.

When it comes to selecting the touchpad, it eventually comes down to the feel. Here is one factor that is impossible to test based on user reviews and especially when you are shopping online. However, if you look closely at the brand specifications, all the leading companies talk a lot about the touchpad as it is an important device trait.

The expected qualities include the availability of multi-touch gestures, pinch-to-zoom capabilities, smooth scrolling, and more. Precision drivers are present in almost every Windows laptop which plays a major role in determining the quality of the touchpads. However, there’s not a laptop that can beat Apple’s MacBook when it comes to trackpads.

4. Specs, Innards, and Processing Power

So finally we are down to the internal components of the device. Here are the components that actually render power and determine the quality of work, entertainment, gaming indulgence, and other activities.

In this section, we will cover every aspect of the device’s physicality and even the components that are instrumental in driving the laptops. In simpler words, every aspect of the hardware will be taken care of.

4.1. Processor

If you are looking to consider the processing prowess of the device before making a purchase, it is time to give some thought to the processor the laptop is offering:

Intel 10th GenIntel 9 ChipsetsIntel Core i7Intel Core i5Intel i3Pentium/CeleronIntel Core MIntel XeonAMD Processors

Intel 10th Gen

These are the latest line of processing units from Intel, further segregated as Ice Lake processors and the Comet Lake processors. We can expect a few devices in the near future to pack in these processing units and there are many brands that have already started rolling out several of these. When it comes to the expected feature sets, these processing units are powerful to say the least with the Comet Lake being a 14nm CPU, best known for its raw performance.

Apart from that the Ice Lake 10th gen processor is a 10nm chipset that features improved onboard graphics performance courtesy of the ‘Iris Plus’ graphics inclusion. However, once these chipsets start rolling out fast, the prices of the laptops featuring the same will certainly surge, almost exorbitantly.

However, regardless of the processor you look for in the laptop, always consider the 10th gen models. They are new, improved, and in sync with the processing requirements.

Intel Core i9 Chipsets

Here is a new line of powerful chipsets from Intel that supplant the already potent i7 processors. Needless to say, the i9 chipsets are known for faster performances. Even when pitted against the sleek mobile processors, they perform better. Moreover, these entities are only available on the most premium devices.

You might consider the same if you are only interested in gaming performances. For high-end gaming inclusions, rigs, and setting up rendering and graphical workstations, the i9 chipsets are the best contenders in the market. If you are planning to run demanding applications, games, and programs, the i9 processors can handle anything you throw at them.

Intel Core i7

For individuals looking for a decent amount of processing power and that too without breaking the bank, i7 processors are the best possible choices. However, different varieties of i7 processors are available in the market.

Firstly, if any processing unit has the HQ and or even K as the suffix, it means that the version of i7 chipset consumes more power as compared to other versions. This version comes with four cores and known for exceptional productivity and gaming support.

This processor comes as the higher configurable option for the new 13-inch MacBook Pro that boasts of blazing speeds and massive firepower. In addition to that, if the i7 chipsets have Y as the suffix, they are pretty standard versions and consume lower power. The performance degrades a bit as compared to the HQ and K versions but is negligible to the common users.

Last but not least, the ones with ‘10’ in the model number are the newer renditions of the Intel 10th gen processing units. These include the Core ‘i7- 1060G7’ for the Ice Lake processor. Then there is the Core ‘i7- 10710U’ for the powerful and 14nm Comet Lake variant, as discussed previously. The chipsets are from the latest like of the 10th Gen core series.

Intel Core i5

Most mid-range devices feature the i5 processors. Therefore, if you are into mainstream devices, a laptop with the Core i5 processing unit is certainly a good choice. The most common versions to find include the U series models, like the ‘Core i5- 7200U ‘CPU.

These are standard options if you are looking for blazing speeds and higher power consumption to feed the beast. It is advisable to go with the ones ending with HQ. Intel i5 processors that end with Y aren’t great performers and consume minimal power. Whatever be the case, always go with the 10th gen processing units which have four separate cores and tons of potent and functional features.

Some of the elusive attributes in regard to the 10th gen version of the Intel i5 processors include better AI support. Other perks include improved Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and certain the Thunderbolt 3 integration.

Intel Core i3

If you are hard-pressed for money and looking for just a basic device for content and media consumption, you might consider the i3 chipsets. The performance of these chipsets is average and a bit downgraded in comparison to the i5 processors.

They are still appropriate for devices with restrictive usage patterns. However, the price differences between the i3 and i5 processors aren’t massive and therefore. Therefore, if you can shell out some additional cash, it is always advisable to opt for one of the core i5 units instead of the i3 units.

Intel Pentium/Celeron

These Intel-powered chipsets aren’t quite effective if you are into gaming or high-end professional usage. When it comes to the price point, they belong to the sub $400 category of laptops. This fits well you are only looking to surf the internet via a Chromebook.

Even if you are looking to do some basic document editing, you can consider gadgets with these processors inside. However, under any circumstance, we will always recommend the i3 or the i5 processing units.

Intel Core M series

Laptops featuring the M series processors include the Core i5 and Core i7 units. The Y suffix fits quite appropriately with the showcasing lower levels of performance and power consumption. Moreover, these devices perform at acceptable levels if the stakes are lower. That said, the overall performance is better than the Celeron units.

The important thing here is that they consume lesser power as compared to the standard units. These chipsets show up in sleek Chromebooks and other sleeker devices that pack in SSD (more about that later in this discussion). Another aspect of the Intel Core M series laptops is that they almost go fanless.

Intel Xeon

While this might sound like a new name to you, the gamers will perfectly relate to it. These are costly and power-intensive processing units that are reminiscent of larger workstations. This device fits if you are into professional video rendering and professional-grade technological escapades such as machine learning, 3D modeling, CAD software, etc. This processor is the best choice moving forward.

Not just that, if you have a Xeon in play, you can very well meander through the video editing and 3D modeling requirements with considerable ease and precision. These devices are heavier and never known for a good battery backup.

AMD Processors

These are decently powered processing units, mostly found in budget laptops. The group of Ryzen 4000 chips from AMD is powerful enough. They are manufactured precisely to compete with the more popular Intel counterparts. Another good thing about the AMD powered machines is that they offer a host of additional utilities as compared to similarly priced Intel-powered devices.

Another breed of AMD chipsets is the A, E, and the FX series CPUs that are mostly found in low-cost devices. However, the company usually tags them as APUs and makes sure that they offer decent performances even on budget laptops. These gadgets are best suited for media viewing, productivity, and web surfing.

While the chipsets are important, you must also look at the clock speed of the same, in order to make the buying process seamless enough. Basic laptops have clock speeds in line with 1.8 to 2GHz but the best gaming options need the clock speeds to be somewhere in the ballpark of 3.5 to 4GHz.

Put simply, it is the clock speed that determines how fast the processor can comprehend information and make way for actions.

4.2. The RAM

How much RAM do I need in Laptop?

Every processor needs the support of the Random Access Memory to perform at its best. It goes without saying the RAM is the backbone of a laptop. In most cases, individuals purchase the same just by asking about this feature to the concerned retailer. A majority of budget devices come with 4 gigs of RAM.

While we still get laptops with 4GB RAM for a budget of $250 or less, it is always recommended to at least go with an 8GB model.

Firstly, every device has certain processing power. The same gets exposed once we start using the resources or clocking the processor cores with heavier responsibilities. Therefore, a gadget with only 4 gigs of RAM might show signs of lag and other issues. Here is what holds true even if it is asked to handle multiple windows and even online tabs.

While tab discarding is an automatic feature offered by certain brands and laptops, long term performances are affected if lesser RAM is added into the mix. Therefore, if you have a tight budget we would recommend you to compromise on the processor and certainly not on the RAM quantity. In most cases, 8 gigs should be the staple of every laptop.

However, if you have intricate and complex gaming requirements you should move to the 16GB ballpark. Most high-end games have a minimum system configuration or requirement of 8GB RAM. That said, a 16GB laptop comes into the mix and allows you to multitask with considerable ease. In case of 8GB laptops, you can either play a game at reduced FPS or handle all the productivity-related tasks.

Furthermore, the 32GB laptops are exorbitantly priced and only fit for individuals with high-end technical requirements to account for. Needless to say, certain power users can even go up to 64GB. A majority of modern-day laptops have RAM expandable slots. This aspect allows users to add almost 16gigs of additional RAM to the device for improving performance. Moreover, there is no use of purchasing a 16GB device if you aren’t planning on using it for gaming.

DDR Generations

In the end, it all comes down to the exact requirement you want the laptop to fulfill. Lastly, at present, we would suggest you go for DDR4 RAM as they offer the best Double Data Rate for your device. DDR5 RAM has been launched but official device rollout is still a long shot.

4.3. Storage Drives

Storage support is an important factor to consider while purchasing a laptop. However, addressing the same also depends on your preferences, nature of work, and surprisingly the structural attributes associated with the same.

SSD vs HDD

Most of the conventional laptops feature the HDDs or hard disk drives with ample storage support. You can always pay a bit more and opt for the sleeker devices with Solid State Drives on them.

Firstly, SSDs do not take up a lot of space and also help you achieve better computing speeds. HDDs are computing bottlenecks as they lead to slower speeds and come with restricted cache memory, in the ballpark of 8MB to even 16MB. In most cases, we get a 1TB or 500GB HDD whereas some of the costlier workstations can even go up to 2TB.

SSDs are great assets and make sure that your machines work faster. As compared to the conventional SATA entities, the new breed of SSDs offer triple peed perks. One such example is PCEe x4. Apart from these mentioned storage units, we also have the eMMC support on certain budget laptops and even convertibles.

These are mostly Solid State Drives (SSDs) but the speeds are slower even as compared to the HDDs. The storage space varies from 32GB to 64GB and might even go up to 128GB for costlier laptops and even Chromebooks.

4.4. Display Quality

While we did talk about the display size before, it is time to understand a bit more about the laptop selection process on the basis of display quality. If you are into high-end gaming and incessant media consumption, a good quality screen is highly desirable. Budget units still pack the 1366×768 screens which don’t resonate to better-looking content and sharper graphics.

Laptop display quality

If you are waiting to make a purchase, we would always suggest at least the full HD display at 1920×1080 pixels. Besides Full HD or 1080p, there are other devices that cost more and offer screens with resolutions going up to 2560×1600.

 Other options include laptops flaunting the 2K and even the 4K screens with 3840×2160 pixels to consider. However, if you are going up the pecking order in terms of display, you might have to compromise a fair bit on battery support.

Besides the resolution, it is also important to consider the screen make and quality of the same. Firstly, there is the IPS panel that offers adequate levels of brightness and color but doesn’t go overboard with the budget.

Provided you are purchasing your first laptop, we would suggest you go with a machine that offers the sRGB color palette. A rating of over the 100 percent mark and the brightness level that exceeds 300 nits also makes a difference. However, if the price isn’t the concern consider a device with OLED display. The latest technology in regard to display quality is the miniLED, something that will roll out to several high-end devices in the future.

Touch Support

While most clamshell models and even the MacBooks do not offer touch support, it is important to consider 2-in-1s for getting the best value for the touch screen support. However, even if you plan on purchasing a device with touch capabilities, you will not gain massively. This holds true if you are mostly into professional tasks, gaming, and web surfing. Furthermore, the battery life takes a hit if your device flaunts touch support.

4.5. Graphics Processing Unit and VRAM

The type of GPU that the laptop holds depends entirely on your set of preferences. For instance, if you are not into gaming or demanding graphics-oriented tasks, you can easily do away with dedicated graphics cards. Otherwise, you can opt for the integrated GPUs like the latest Iris Plus from Intel.

GPU and VRAM

In case of reasonable gaming indulgences and moderate to high graphic-intensive tasks, you can either choose NVidia graphics card or the more affordable devices featuring the AMD graphics processors. To begin with, the basic setup would include the likes of GTX 1650 or the NVidia MX250 GPUs. These units are more than capable when it comes to handling the low-end to even moderate processing requirements.

In case of mid-range devices that have slightly escalated graphics-oriented demands, it the best choices for GPUs are the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 or anything that even slightly precedes the model at RTX 2050 or 2060. This conglomerate of GPUs, however, covers all the mid-range and even high-end requirements. NVidia offers a wide range of choices based on your preferences and pocket.

The AMD GPUs are still decent choices and you can get a decently powered laptop for a pretty standard price. It is important to note the AMD GPUs are found in Apple powered devices so that takes care of the credibility quotient. However, the best option in case of Windows-powered devices is to go with the Radeon RX 5600M GPU or the 5700M. This factor depending on how upgraded you want the GPU to be. While we did bring up Apple once, we would still advise against buying a MacBook for gaming.

Another underrated aspect of graphics processing is the inclusion of the Video RAM that is closely associated with the GPU and helps the concerned device render and process images and videos with ease. Every wondered what helps your game or photoshop files to load!

It is the VRAM that sits deep into the GPU and helps you get a better gaming experience, provided you are looking to play at higher resolutions. Under standard circumstances, a 4GB VRAM is more than enough. This would make sure that 1080p gaming works like charm. However, for the more demanding requirements like gaming in UHD and QHD, you do require at least 8GB of VRAM.

4.6. The Ports

In most cases, individuals do not even look at the ports as they are so overwhelmed with the entire process. However, you must keep a note of these hardware inclusions, if you have accessories like hard disks, external drives, and other aspects to consider. If you have these connections right on the device, you will find it easier to operate professionally.

laptop ports

Some of the terminologies to consider include the USB 3.0 ports for faster file renders and the standard HDMI output for video production. If you are willing to shell out a bit more, you can opt for the USB Type-C units. These are compatible units to the former, and lastly the unique Thunderbolt 3 openings.

We would always recommend getting a Type-C port in place. With this into the mix it becomes easier to connect docks and chargers without having to worry about the structure. The universal port is a good addition followed by the inclusion of a USB 4 port for facilitating faster transfers. Moreover, if there is a high-end device in consideration, you might just get a USB 4 port.

This allows you to create mobile workstations by daisy-chaining other devices. While we are talking ports and connections, even the headphones jacks, Ethernet ports, and card slots for SD deserve special mentions, especially when you are into gaming.

4.7. DVD Drives or Blu-Rays

Optical drives have lived out their expectancy period. However, you will still find a few options that come with Blu-Rays drives and standard DVD drives for reading and writing discs. However, never let this be a roadblock when it comes to purchasing a decent laptop. If you really want an optical drive, you can always connect an external device for something as low as $20.

4.8. Connectivity

In most cases, you would require a device that will allow you to stay connected to the internet even when you are on the move. This calls for the inclusion of a laptop with 4G LTE connectivity option. However, in terms of pure connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 compatibility is also a decent feature offered by the 10th generation Intel processors. The Wi-Fi 6 feature is way more stable as compared to the 802.11ac.

Another important aspect is the Bluetooth compatibility as we should prefer gadgets with Bluetooth 5 for better and improved connectivity in case you are looking to pair headphones and an external mouse.

5. Assessing the Battery Life

Each one of the processing components and hardware inclusions requires power which is either offered by electricity or the power backup or rather the included battery. Therefore, the ideal scenario is to purchase a device that offers at least 8 hours of backup. Moreover, if you are looking to get a more beefed up device you must compromise a fair bit on the battery prowess of the same.

An important factor to consider is that you must never believe a manufacturer regarding the battery backup and test the same for yourself. Self-Testing is often out of the question as no one will allow you at the store for 6 to 8 hours, waiting for the battery to run out.  You can keep looking at third-party reviews to get the job done.

6. Budget

Before you fixate over a laptop, it is necessary to consider the requirements and then the budget. If you have sizeable gaming and video rendering concerns, you cannot expect a budget laptop to do that for you. Therefore, preferences matter, and the budget can be selected accordingly. Here the possible price ranges to look at:

Sub $250Sub $600Sub $900Above $900Above $1500

Budget Devices (Sub $250)

If you plan on getting a simple yet decently specs device, the 150-250 dollar price range seems like a good bet. Within this price, you will most certainly get a Chromebook or even a low-end device running Windows OS. Besides minimal storage and a slow processor, mostly Intel Celeron, Pentium or low-end AMD, these gadgets, these gadgets are pretty good for handling basic tasks. They also make good second gadget and also resonate well with the kids.

Standard Laptops (Sub $600)

For a price less than $600 dollars or something higher than 350, you can purchase a device running Windows 10 and Intel-powered chipsets i.e. Intel Core i5 or i3, provided you are looking to go extremely low. In addition to that, you can also get an AMD A8 chipset clubbed with almost 500GB of hard disk support. Only a handful of devices offer full-HD support at this price point followed by SSD inclusion and decent battery life. The exceptions include the Chromebook Flip from Asus and the Aspire E 15 from Acer.

A few lists we’ve published:

Mid-Range Laptops (Sub $1000)

If you are willing to pay this much for a device, you can really get hold of some high-end features. Although the MacBooks still seem pretty far-fetched, there are powerful Windows devices offering SSD support, metallic finishes, higher screen resolution, and what not. If you’re having a budget of this sort, you may check out the models in the below lists.

High-End Gadgets (Between $1000-1500)

Provided your budget is set to the sky, you can easily purchase laptops that are portable, powerful, light, and even graphics-oriented, all at the same time. You can also get your hands on the new MacBook Pro if the budget is significantly higher than 1000 dollars.

Be it 8 to 16GB of RAM or the powerful Intel i7 10th gen processors with 2K or even Full HD displays, high-end devices do come at a price provided you are willing to pay for them. In some cases, you can also opt for 2-in-1s with touch support but we wouldn’t recommend you go for them if you are already paying this much. Instead of splurging for gimmicks, it is better to spend on utility and power.

Exclusives (Above $1500)

Still interested in going higher in terms of price! On the basis of gaming inclinations and professional requirements, gadgets priced up 3000 dollars are up for grabs and that too with the best possible specs sheet to look at. At this price, you might also get the Intel i9 processor, 16GB of VRAM support and a dedicated graphics unit, helping you set up mobile workstations.

7. Brand Identity

Laptop Brands

Almost every individual has some sort of brand fixation with a majority of them inclined towards getting a Mac at some point in time. Here are some of the best brands in the market that offer laptops based on diverse price points, feature sets, and more:

AppleHPAsusDellAlienwareLenovoRazerAcerMicrosoftHuaweiMSIOthers

Apple Laptops or MacBooks

Looking for class and aesthetics? Consider the MacBooks, including the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Firstly, these gadgets are never cheap and you need to spend a fortune to get the most powerful MacBook. However, if you are new to this, it is obvious that you will be fixated on this piece of innovation.

The devices are iterative in nature and the highlights include the potent retina display. When it comes to the generalization of features, Apple gets a lot of positive reviews and even scores decently in the designing segment, barring the hue and cry over the keyboard quality in the recent set of devices (which has been rectified in the newer versions launched this year.)

It is the support and device warranty segment where Apple wins over all the other competing brands. The value for money and the selection of features are decent enough. However, the major drawback of every Apple product is the lack of innovation or inclusion of path-breaking features. Therefore, this is one brand that can get boring to use but comes with a pretty loyal user base.

HP Laptops

It wouldn’t be wrong to state the HP is the most popular laptop brand in the world, based on the common consensus. Besides exceptional availability and its presence across diverse price points, HP laptops are also innovative, often a bit too much. Most importantly, this brand wins it in terms of value for money and feature selection based on the concerning price tag.

While the design elements are pretty good, some of the HP Pavilion models have experienced issues at the hinges. Customer reviews for the HP laptops are also pretty good. However, the only lacking part is that the company doesn’t always offer prompt support and warranty to the users.

Asus Laptops

Asus is a relatively new player in the laptop segment and is best known for the path-breaking and innovative features they bring to the table. When it comes to user reviews, the brand is still in the process of establishing a fairground. However, the design and value-based inclusions are near perfect. However, it is the innovation that we would like to talk over, once again.

The company believes that laptop users are hard to retain and they can be best catered if the feature sets evolve on a periodic basis. The company, therefore, brings in a few notable designs specific additions to its existing repertoire. These include the ErgoLift Hinge and the new ScreenPad support. However, ASUS still leaves a lot to be desired in the customer support arena.

Dell Laptops

If you are concerned about the shape, aesthetics, and sleekness of the device, you must immediately go with a Dell-powered device. The Austin-centered company believes in striking the perfect balance between all the aspects of laptop selection.

A good thing about this brand is that it is a consistent performer. Be it the innovative features, excellent design elements, and the more than desirable customer support system, Dell is a device that is changing the global perspective towards laptops.

The Dell XPS series of gadgets deserve a special mention as they feature some of the best and slimmest designs in the market, thereby reinventing ergonomics, in an innovative manner.

Alienware Laptops

This brand originated from Dell and later grew into a force to reckon with. Despite several other brands in the market, Alienware has been able to leave a mark in this sector courtesy of its game-centric premise. In the world of broader classifications, Alienware chooses to carve out a specialization for itself.

The feature sets are innovative as these devices require additional firepower to sustain hours of continued usage. While the reviews are pretty much in favor of this brand, it also packs in a lot of innovative prowess, in regard to the redesigned command center and the Alienware software envisioning the same.

Being a gaming laptop, the prices are high and therefore this isn’t an actual value for money device. The support system is still top-notch but the design elements are just satisfactory as most Alienware devices are larger and chunkier than usual, courtesy of the massive processing prowess and the existing cooling elements.

Lenovo Laptops

Lenovo has been a top brand for long and it probably is the only laptop maker that emphasizes the budget segment more than any other. Lenovo laptops are sturdy and fit for professional usage. Besides the excellent value for money and price-centric selections on offer, this brand also doesn’t shy away from innovations.

However, software glitches were encountered in quite a few latest gadgets. This pulled down the review quotient and made this company slightly unpopular. However, the newest line of gadgets is pulling the company up.  But with the competition thickening up in the desired category, it is a matter of time that Lenovo concentrates more on the customer support and device warranty, more than anything else.

Razer Blade Laptops

Razer branded gadgets are picking up pace in the retail market. Firstly, it is important to note that the customer support system on display is the best in the entire laptop market. The company is dedicated to improving customer experience, at every point of sale.

However, the innovations are limited and so is the value for money quotient. Razer makes a lot of gaming devices and therefore the prices are mostly on the higher side. The design-based aspects are satisfactory and people are actually pretty optimistic about this new kid on the block.

Acer Laptops

This company has been around for long but the graph has been mostly dwindling to say the least. There was a time when the Aspire G series from the company was the only potent line of laptops in the budget to mid-range segment. While the graph dipped a lot in the past few years, the company is picking pace with is new Acer Swift 7.

Needless to say, Acer is adding a lot of innovations and caters perfectly to the budget segment. While the reviews are the only things pulling the brand down, they are trying to fix the same with a better customer and improved aesthetics.

Microsoft Laptops

A good thing about the Microsoft laptops is that they are sleek and offer touch support on select devices. However, the company is best known for the hardware-software cohesion. Every Microsoft device features the proprietary Windows 10 out of the box.

Moving on, the Surface Go is a budget option offered by this brand which also boasts of excellent user reviews. The device, however, leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to overall innovation. Then there is the value for money and even certain design elements that aren’t aesthetically compatible with the user requirements.

Huawei Laptops

The company started on the right foot but things started falling offline when some of the other gadgets from the same company didn’t meet user expectations. To be exact, the fortunes turned a bit with the potent Mateboox X Pro that features excellent design elements and certainly a powerful core. Most importantly, this brand fell apart a bit primarily due to the lack of innovation in the subsequent devices and even the lack of a proper customer support system.

MSI Laptops

MSI made decent gaming laptops and the devices are still pretty good and feature-packed when compared against the existing global standards. Most importantly, the brand lost a lot of ground when the tech support and customer service qualities were categorized as dismal by the customers.

In addition to that, the company hasn’t modified the design elements even a bit and the value for money isn’t all that great. However, MSI is still a good brand and you can opt for them if there are good laptop deals on them.

Other Brands

While we did mention some of the most sought after laptop brands, we must also take time out to consider the brands that aren’t going anywhere with their devices. The likes of Samsung and Toshiba are the laptop manufacturers that haven’t taken a lot of initiative to upgrade the gadgets.

Therefore, if someone tells you to go for these brands as the prices are less, refrain from purchasing the same as Samsung laptops lack in terms of laptop innovation and design, Toshiba no longer is into the laptop space.

8. Additional Features

There are quite a few additional aspects that you need to consider before purchasing a laptop. Most of these requirements are highly targeted and depend on the specific preferences of the concerned individuals. Most importantly, these features can be very important but are highly user-specific.

Audio Output: There are individuals who do not prefer using headphones while gaming or watching movies. This is where the audio output comes across as a powerful consideration. Decently priced laptops or even the low-end budget models make use of Realtek drivers for determining the speaker’s quality. In most cases, we get Dolby speakers offering a decent acoustic output for the users. You can, however, check this feature at any point in time while making the purchase at an offline store.

Backlit Keyboard Support: It is always advisable to have a gadget that scores high in all the categories. Backlit keyboard support is one area that is often ignored by the brands, in order to add in other features and alternative options. It allows you to access the keyboard and keep typing even when it is dark. However, this is an exclusive feature and in most cases the absence isn’t a deal-breaker.

Fingerprint Sensor: There are certain devices that have a fingerprint reader embedded with the touchpad. However, this often considered as a gimmick as the exposed area can be prone to damages. That said, if you want to offer an additional layer of security to the device, this might be a more practical choice. In the end, it all comes down to your preferences.

Fast Charging: Laptops, like smartphones, need to work extensively without external power. While the consumption was discussed in the previous sections concerning processor and battery life, there are devices which offer fast charging capabilities that make sure the depleted power reserves get back to normal, as fast as possible. However, fast charging often calls for a higher price tag.

Webcams: If you are into regular Skype calling, it becomes necessary to consider the webcam before making the purchase. Most laptop brands offer their own webcam interface which allows users to record videos and click snapshots. Also, despite having it, most of them consider getting a good quality external webcam as the in-built webcam isn’t capable of HD video conferencing.

Internal Microphone: They are decent additions and allow users to conduct Skype calls without having to depend on external speakers. However, in order to check for availability, it is necessary to conduct a visual inspection or check out the user reviews.

9. Color and Texture

Believe it when I say, laptop color and texture are the actual deal-breakers that are often undervalued by the brands. In most cases, brands offer metallic shades as they are easier to add. The color options, however, are standard.

This aspect includes

  • HP relying heaving on black
  • Lenovo opting for metallic shades more than other hues
  • Apple bringing in a host of colors including gold, gray, and silver.

However, when it comes to different stencils and layouts, Dell XPS series actually wins this segment hands down. Last but not least, white-colored laptops are also selling a lot, especially in recent months.

The texture plays an important role when you are gripping a device and carrying it in along. You do not want an excessively smooth surface that will slip out of your hands. Also you do not want an abrasive surface that will be rough and unpleasant to even work with. This aspect is necessary to consider if you are a frequent traveler. You need to take out your device for the security check at the airports.

However, you must not get disheartened and let go of a good device if the color and texture do not fit in as per your expectations. You can always opt for laptop skins that are available and make way for customizations.

10. Accessory Compatibility

Now that you have covered all bases, it is time to see if the device is compatible with accessories or not. In that case, it is important to see if the headphone jack is universally compatible or there are enough slots to fit in external keyboards and mouse.

Most importantly, if you are looking to make the purchase, you must see if the retailer is offering an additional keyboard, laptop bag, or anything else to sweeten the pot further for the customers.

11. Other Non-Compulsory Aspects To Consider

We are still in the process of selecting the best laptop for you. However, there are certain elements that you must take care of before making the payment. While these factors might look inconsequential, they are extremely relevant and can make or break your experience of buying a gadget:

11.1. Charging Cord

The charging cord is an indispensible tool as it is very hard to find a replica that charges your device. Unless you purchase a new charging cord, your laptop might just be stranded with some residual battery juice.

However, people tend to ignore the length of the cords before making the purchase. Check for the cord length and make sure you get the adequate wire. This is important if your workstation is far from the charging point.

Moreover, if you are a constant globetrotter, the charging cord should also be carefully looked at. You must also look at the output power rating and even make sure that the ones offer three pins are better at keeping the device insulated and safe in case of sudden spikes and power outages.

11.2. Placement of Hot Keys

Every laptop offers several function keys which are more like the one-stop executioners. In most cases, these cases are raked atop and offer one-touch functionalities. These include volume up, volume down, flight mode, Bluetooth activation, undo tab and more.

Better the number of Hotkeys and the explanatory symbols, better is your chance of saving time and improving device productivity. When it comes to selecting laptops with these features, Lenovo and Dell are the best possible choices.

11.3. Notification Lights

There are certain devices that have notification lights aligned to the structure. There are customers who prefer devices where the power button, charging point, and the important buttons have LED lights associated with them. This avoids any form of confusion whether the feature is activated or not. Here is one aspect that you must take care of, in order to save time and effort.

11.4. Point of Contacts

There are several devices with dual and singular hinges. For example, a majority of laptops manufactured by Hewlett Packard come with two hinges with separation in between. Based on our personal experiences, we would suggest you go with a device that has one hinge and the least possible point of contact. Dual hinges are prone to defects and breakages which can render the device dysfunctional.

11.5. RAM Slots

Before you buy a device, you must check whether it has additional RAM slots to account for. There might be a chance that you purchase a budget laptop but your preferences change in time to more advanced users. Therefore, the laptop has RAM slots behind; you can always pair in the requisite amount of Random Access Memory, just to increase the speed and task handling ability of the device.

Every laptop offers several function keys which are more like the one-stop executioners. In most cases, these cases are raked atop and offer one-touch functionalities. These include volume up, volume down, flight mode, Bluetooth activation, undo tab and more.

Better the number of Hot Keys and the explanatory symbols, better is your chance of saving time and improving device productivity. When it comes to selecting laptops with these features, Lenovo and Dell are the best possible choices.

11.6. Notification Lights

There are certain devices that have notification lights aligned to the structure. There are customers who prefer devices where the power button, charging point, and the important buttons have LED lights associated with them. This avoids any form of confusion whether the feature is activated or not. Here is one aspect that you must take care of, in order to save time and effort.

11.7. Point of Contacts

There are several devices with dual and singular hinges. For example, a majority of laptops manufactured by Hewlett Packard come with two hinges with separation in between. Based on our personal experiences, we would suggest you go with a device that has one hinge and the least possible point of contact. Dual hinges are prone to defects and breakages which can render the device dysfunctional.

11.8. Battery Compatibility

If you are constantly on the move, there are chances you might misplace certain accessories, including the charging cord. Examples of professionals forgetting the cord at the hotel premise when the charge was full in quite common. Therefore, the best advice is to carry an additional battery with you that can help you make time for getting back and arranging the power cord. However, follow this path only if you are a hardcore professional and there are deadlines to meet.

How did we prepare the Guide?

We understand that you aren’t just looking for a device but also a companion for life. In this guide, we offer insights into the most expected topics like size, specs, battery, and more. We also take brand-specific warranties, compatibility with accessories, and other relevant aspects in play.

It is obvious that you need to read the entire piece for getting ahead in the laptop buying race. However, it is always good to look at a summary for getting a hang of the expectations and proposed inferences:

  • For perfect balance between laptop portability and usability, gadgets that come with 12.5 to even 14-inch displays make the best cases.
  • Based on the current set of professional requirements, the bare minimum for getting in some fast hands include the Intel i5 processor, 8 gigs of RAM, SSD storage, and a Full HD display.
  • While 2-in-1s are better, traditional laptops are durable and last longer. Nothing beats the standard clamshell in terms of utility.
  • The ideal battery life for a standard device is 8 hours or a bit more in power saving environments.
  • If you are just looking for basic online usage with limited but adequate features, a Chromebook is the best choice in the market. 

So, Which Laptop to Buy?

This question should include diverse possibilities while factoring in all the aspects of the concerned gadgets. However, to simplify things further, we first need to analyze the preferences and the exact set of requirements before even considering this discussion.

To begin with, if you are an avid gamer, you might require a device that packs in a lot of processing and gaming power. Basic professional use shall demand portability and speed, more than anything else. If you are into graphics, video rendering, and editing, no device looks powerful enough. These attributes include firepower and multitasking capabilities.

The shape and weight of the device is also a matter of concern if you have plans of carrying the device along. If you are planning to restrict the same to indoor usage stop worrying about the aesthetics and concentrate on performance!

Lastly, brand fixation is always a matter of concern. Laptops and devices purchased prior to this offer a good indication regarding the buying behavior of the user. Mostly, individuals persist with the tried and tested brand names, provided the budget is on point.

The Verdict

A laptop is like your friend for life. However, even if you purchase one, the model expectedly turns obsolete in the next few months, courtesy of the technological advancements. You must look for a device that stands the test of time and even keeps fulfilling your expectations.  In the world full of better gadgets, you must always look for relevance while purchasing.

If your gadget is beefed with features, it is possible that some of it will still be relevant in the next few years to come. Most importantly, it is necessary to concentrate more on the Operating System of the device as it accounts for the majority of the user experience.

While we can always keep explaining the features in detail to simplify the buying process, it is known that additional speculations are expected to confuse the customers. In the end, you only need to purchase a device that is in sync with your requirements.

If you require power, opt for a high-end model. But if your work module is restricted to basic productivity jobs, a budget model would do. There isn’t any laptop that is perfect. In the end, it comes down to finding the perfect device for you instead of looking around for options.

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