The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide: How to Choose

Laptops, which are more compact than desktop computers but far more powerful than smartphones and tablets, offer the utmost flexibility. When it comes to work and play, as well as travel in between, there is no better tool—if you have the right specifications.

Choosing the appropriate laptop for your needs can mean the difference between money well spent and an expensive paperweight. Therefore, how should you choose the right laptop? Our laptop buying guide will help you select the right machine to meet your needs, from screen size to hard drive type.

Here are some quick tips

The following is a quick overview of the key factors to consider when buying a laptop – feel free to continue reading for a more in-depth article.

  • Screen size: If you travel frequently, select a screen size of between 12.5 and 14 inches for an optimal balance of portability and usability. Gaming laptops, or laptops that will be used primarily at home, should have screens of at least fourteen inches. For children or if your computer will be used more like a tablet, screens under 12.5 inches are recommended.
  • Battery life: Unless you plan on always being close to a power outlet, 8+ hours of battery life is essential. OS: You can choose from Windows, Mac OS, or Chrome OS.While Windows is most prevalent and offers the greatest compatibility, Chrome devices are affordable, and their functionality is rapidly growing. Mac OS may be preferable if you already own multiple Apple products.
  • You want to look for a minimum of a Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, SSD storage, and a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen unless you are looking for a budget laptop (under $600).
  • Two in one or not? : If you are planning to use your laptop like a tablet, watch lots of movies on the go, or are a frequent business traveler, you might consider a 2-in-1 with either a detachable screen or a bend-back design.

Choosing your platform is the first step

As you may have read the quick tips in this laptop buying guide, you already know that there are three primary operating systems, or platforms, available in today’s laptops. It really comes down to preference whether to use Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS. However, there are a few more practical factors that should be considered.

Operating Systems

At the present time, around 77 percent of laptop users use Windows devices, making it by far the most popular option. In addition to that popularity, there are considerable benefits when it comes to combability in terms of apps, games, and devices. As a result, gamers should look at Windows-based laptops exclusively.

The current version of Windows 10, released in 2015, offers an impressive list of features, including touch screens, fingerprint readers, dual-graphics chips, tablet modes, live start menu tiles, and Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent digital assistant, which can also answer follow-up questions.

Most users, from students to professionals, will find Windows 10 laptops to be an excellent fit.

In contrast to Windows, macOS, which has a market share of jIn contrast to Windows, macOS, which has a market share of just under 17 percent, operates in a similar manner, although it lacks touchscreen capabilities.

With its latest version, Catalina, iOS features a desktop app dock and a version of Siri (which is Apple’s equivalent to Windows’ Cortana), along with Apple Pay, ability to make and receive calls and texts from iPhones, and integration with Apple watches.

According to the list above, the biggest advantage of a Mac laptop is its compatibility with other Apple devices and applications. These characteristics make them an attractive alternative for loyal users of Apple products.

ust under 17 percent, operates in a similar manner, although it lacks touchscreen capabilities.

With its latest version, Catalina, iOS features a desktop app dock and a version of Siri (which is Apple’s equivalent to Windows’ Cortana), along with Apple Pay, ability to make and receive calls and texts from iPhones, and integration with Apple watches.

According to the list above, the biggest advantage of a Mac laptop is its compatibility with other Apple devices and applications. These characteristics make them an attractive alternative for loyal users of Apple products.

Chrome OS is a new operating system developed by Google. At present, Chrome OS, which occupies a mere 2 percent of the market, is most often found on inexpensive, barebones Chromebooks.

It is not as robust as Windows or macOS, but it does offer greater security and affordability as a trade-off. For those who will just use the Chromebook for browsing the internet, using social media, checking emails, and chatting, Chromebooks are a good choice.

The fact that they are resistant to malware makes them a great option for parents looking for a web-safe option for their children (however, keep in mind that their gaming features are limited).

As a downside, Chromebooks are designed to be used online and lack the power of more advanced laptops.

It would be best if you could find a machine with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 (preferably 4K), 16GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. If you are interested in Android applications, a 2-in-1 would be the right choice.

Need a two-in-one device?

After you have selected an operating system, you should ask yourself, is a traditional laptop or 2-in-1 better? Over 63% of internet users now browse the web from their mobile devices, prompting the development of 2-in-1 laptops.

Two-in-ones are laptop/tablet hybrids that offer a choice of two primary styles: detachable or flexible. Most two-in-one laptops come with a removable touchscreen that enables the laptop to be transformed into a tablet at any time. The flexible keyboard allows you to twist or flip your keyboard out of the way, which can also serve as a stand.

In addition to heavy travelers, especially those who enjoy watching videos on the go, and consumers who enjoy the functionality of a tablet but would like a bit more functionality, these devices are convenient. However, they tend to be underpowered and lacking in performance.

The size of an organization matters

Choosing a size is the next important step toward narrowing down your options. Each laptop is designed with a particular user in mind, ranging from 11 inches to 18 inches. We will begin at the top.

  • Generally, 17- to 18-inch laptops are designed for users who use a laptop as a desktop computer. In addition to being heavy and difficult to transport, they are also often equipped with improved heat control and dazzling displays. Thus, it is no surprise that the gaming community is their primary customer base.
  • The most popular laptop size ranges from 14.5 to 15 inches. Most of them are relatively lightweight (4 to 5.5 pounds), easily transportable, and have decent screens.
  • Laptops between 13 and 14 inches are typically aimed at frequent travelers. In exchange for weight savings (under four pounds) and improved portability, they sacrifice some screen size.
  • These laptops are designed for the laptop-as-tablet market as they are essentially tablets, but with greater functionality and keyboards. Moreover, they are light and thin (2 to 3 pounds) but frequently have limited capabilities.

Specifications and Hardware: What Do You Need?

In this section, we are going to discuss the specifics-this is when the pricing begins to become more complex. What specs are necessary to accomplish what you want to accomplish?


CPUs are like the brains of computers. Finally, it determines how complex a task can be and how fast it can be completed. I am not going to get too technical here, but the number of cores a processor has directly affects its performance since each core is like another tiny brain. As an example, if you have four cores on your machine, each core can run a different process, thereby improving performance.

  • You can choose budget-friendly AMD chips with two to four cores for simple tasks such as word processing and budgeting documents, but always go for the most recent gen and don’t opt for subpar storage or memory.
  • Gamers and performance-hungry users needing better performance should consider a processor with at least five cores, such as the Intel i5. An excellent graphics card should also be considered for gamers.
  • Heavy gamers or creative professionals who work with video and image editing may desire to increase the number of cores to seven or nine, such as the i7, i9, or AMD Ryzen 7-but keep in mind that this will result in the computing device becoming significantly more expensive.
  • For those doing extremely processor-intensive tasks, an AMD Threadripper (32 cores) or Intel Core X (18 cores) would be the best option.

The RAM is:

The random access memory (RAM) of a laptop is its short-term memory if the CPU is its brain. Not to be confused with the system storage, where data is stored permanently, RAM is used to temporarily store the actions your computer is carrying out or will need to perform in the near future so that those actions can be carried out more quickly and with a minimum amount of strain on the processing system.

Although there are a number of options for 2 to 4GB of RAM at budget prices, for most users, that is insufficient memory. You will also need to take into account the following factors:

  • A Chromebook user who wants to do nothing more than browse the internet will be able to get by with less than 4GB of storage.
  • Light users (word editing, budgeting, surfing the web, etc.) will require 4GB to 8GB of RAM.
  • A typical user would require between 8GB and 16GB of RAM if they play games (in average graphics settings), watch media, etc.
  • 16 GB+ is probably not necessary unless you are a serious gamer or you use sophisticated software, such as video editors.


As for the actual system storage, you can choose between a hard disk drive or a solid-state drive (SSD). This article won’t go into the details of how they work, but will describe the best applications for both.

SSD drives are faster and offer better performance, but they can also be less durable and are not ideal for long-term storage because of their short lifespans. Traditional hard disk drives, on the other hand, are less expensive and slower. The best route is to choose both, but unless you are primarily concerned with sequential operations (such as media streaming), a SSD drive is likely to be more efficient.

In terms of storage capacity, most users have no problem with 250 to 500 GB. You will have plenty of room for pictures, files, and so on, but if you will not be saving many files, you may be able to save a few dollars (laptop storage is very inexpensive these days) by dropping down to 120GB.


Pixels determine the sharpness of an image on your screen. Budget laptops typically have a 1366 x 768 screen, but if you plan to do a lot of media viewing, you would be better off with a 1920 x 1080 screen. The person who does a lot of gaming, photo editing, or video watching may opt for 4K (3840 x 2160), but keep in mind that this is costly and reduces battery life.

Chips for graphics:

In addition to your graphics card, your laptop’s price will also be influenced by this component. Graphics cards fall into two broad categories:

  • Memory is shared by integrated graphics. These are reasonably priced, and will be sufficient for most users.
  • Discrete graphics chips are equipped with their own graphics processors (GPUs). Gaming and heavy media use require them because they put less strain on your RAM. Many manufacturers, such as AMD and NVIDIA, provide detailed information regarding their chips and list them according to their cost.

Ports and Connections:

Most laptop computers come with wireless internet capabilities (Wi-Fi), however not every model includes Bluetooth. Whether you intend to broadcast music wirelessly to speakers, connect to wearable devices, or otherwise, make sure the laptop you choose is Bluetooth-enabled. There is a dongle for this, but those are somewhat cumbersome.

Review the ports provided as well. USB 3.0, USB Type-C, and HDMI ports are included as standard features. The easiest way to determine what port your devices require is by taking a look at the devices you have. You will likely need an HDMI port to connect to a television or an external monitor, for example.

Life expectancy of batteries:

A manufacturer’s quoted battery life should never be relied upon. Manufacturers often fail to consider the actual usage environment. In lieu of this, once you have narrowed down a few laptops, you should examine unbiased third-party reviews regarding battery life. When you’re away from home, make sure you’re using your laptop for 8+ hours.


And last but not least, your budget is an important factor to consider in our laptop buying guide. If we could not be constrained by financial considerations, most of us would choose the best laptop available, but in reality, we are all constrained by them.

Fortunately, the market recognizes this, and there are laptops available at almost any price level:

  • From $100 to $250: This range is more likely to be at the high end (excluding used or refurbished models) and consists primarily of Chromebooks. Most likely, you will be okay if you only need a web surfer.
  • Budget laptops cost between $250 and $600. You can get an acceptable machine in this price range that will be able to meet the majority of the needs of the average user. The storage options will be limited, and the cases will be plastic, but five cores with 8 GB of RAM should be sufficient.
  • If you wish to game, wish to purchase an SSD, or desire a durable metal case, you will probably pay in the range of $650-$900.
  • A high-end gaming machine or mobile workstation falls into this category. In addition to being powerful, fast, and portable, these machines will have a number of features.

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