The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide 2020

A few years ago, there were fears that laptops were about to die a natural death, as parts of the world went crazy about tablets. However, to people like me, who do so much work on laptops such fears were clearly nonsensical. There is no way that I am going to replace my laptop with a tablet, and still be able to carry out any amount of work. As far as I am concerned, tablet computers are a nice gimmick, which is why I have produced this guide to help you look for a new laptop. So, if you were wondering what to look for in a laptop, here are a few of the the most important considerations;

  • Purpose
  • Processor Speed
  • Random Access Memory
  • Battery Size and Life
  • Operation System
  • Price

What to look for in a laptop

The first thing that you need to do is ask yourself why you need the laptop. What are you going to do with it? You know yourself best, and there is no way that I am going to be able to tell you how to use your laptop or your PC. I use my own laptop for blogging, freelancing, creative writing and much more. In any case, here is a list of some of the things that people do with their laptops in today’s world;

  • Simple Word Processing
  • Gaming
  • Watching Movies
  • Graphics processing
  • Listening to Music
  • Surfing the Internet
  • Writing/ Computer Typing

Choose a laptop that’s appropriate for your needs

As I have already stated, you know what your computing needs are. It is important for you to, therefore, choose a laptop that will enable you to do whatever it is that you need to do.

If, as an example, you are only going to use your laptop for simple word processing and surfing the internet, there is really no need for you to buy an expensive, high powered gaming machine.

Those that like to use their laptops to listen to music are, on the other hand, going to take sound card and speaker quality into account when choosing their laptops.

If you are a writer or blogger like me, and are looking for a laptop that you can use in your line of work, your major consideration is probably going to be on the acquisition of a laptop that has a good keyboard.

Get a Laptop with the Correct Processor Speed

Another thing that you need to consider when buying a laptop is processor speed. Unfortunately, this is an area that most people do not really consider when shopping around for a new PC. Indeed, I have to confess that when I bought the laptop on which I am typing this article, I was oblivious to most of the things that I am talking about today.

Processor Speed is important when choosing a laptop
Processor speed is important when choosing a laptop

Why Having the Correct CPU is Important

The importance of choosing a laptop that has the right CPU can, however, never be overemphasized. Indeed, it can safely be argued that the Processor is the computer in a computer. It is the part that does the computing in a computer. 

Fortunately, in my case, I stumbled on just the right type of machine for my needs and, more than six years later, it’s still running like new. Well, the battery is shot and key “A” was just pulled off its roots by my cat, but other than that, the thing still runs like a breeze.

In case you are curious, I have an HP G62 laptop that has an Intel Pentium P6100 processor. It is an entry level machine, but benefits from the fact that the P6100 is really a scaled down Intel Core i3 (hyper-threading, whatever that is, is removed from the P6100).

Processor Speed on my own Laptop

My laptop has a 2.00GHz dual core processor, which, I believe, should be the absolute minimum for any computer today. In fact, I will as bold as to advice you not to buy a computer that has a processor that is clocked at less than 2.00GHz! Whats more, there is no excuse for anyone to buy a computer that does not, at the very least, have a dual core processor.

I have had friends and colleagues who have gone that route, out of ignorance and out of consideration for battery life (a CPU that is clocked at a higher speed, generally speaking, consumes power at a faster rate), and they have all regretted their choices within a few weeks.

Out of respect for yourself and for your work, please, do not purchase a laptop that lets you dance around while waiting for a simple word processing application or a simple browser to open. Of course, there are other considerations to laptop speed, but it all starts with the processor. Get one that is clocked at over 2GHz and you won’t ever regret your choice.

Get a Laptop with Enough RAM

Random access memory is important when choosing a laptop
Choose a laptop that has enough Memory

Random Access Memory (RAM), is another major factor that determines how well a computer is going to perform in a variety of situations. It is also one of the things that you should look at when hunting for a new laptop. You can get more information on what RAM is and how it influences computer performance by reading this article.

Needless to say here that Memory is where the programs on which you are working at any given point in time, are temporarily stored. This boosts your computer’s performance, for the simple reason that, although volatile (all the data gets lost when power is turned off), Random Access Memory can be accessed at a rate that is extremely fast, when compared to a computer’s Hard Drive.

Programs that are being made today are getting more and more demanding on a computer’s resources. That is why, when it comes to RAM, I advise you to future-proof yourself. Your laptop should, in this regard, have a minimum of 8GB RAM.

However, I do have to say that I am getting by just fine with a laptop that has 3GB of RAM. I once contemplated raising that to the maximum 8GB that the machine can take, but have never really gotten around to doing it. 

Look at the Battery Size

The one thing that makes laptop computers so attractive is their portability. This comes from the fact that they carry their own power supplies. Battery life is, therefore, another of the things that you should consider when choosing a new laptop. Laptop batteries average between 3 and 6 hours between charges and usually need to be changed after a year of use.

Having said that, I do have to say here, for the record, that I am one of the, perhaps, rare people who never really use their laptops as a lap-top computer. Although I carry it around, I almost always use it with the power supply connected to an AC socket. The fact that the battery, after I-don’t-know-how-many years has pretty much died has sealed the deal on my behalf.

If I unplug my laptop from an AC supply for over 5 minutes, it usually shuts down. It does something surprise me by going for hours without turning itself off. This can only mean that the battery still has a few seconds of life left in it. I remember seeing a warning that my battery was dying a few years ago. However, since I simply ignored it, Windows must have gotten tired of warning me, and the message has long since disappeared.

In any case, I advise my readers to take laptop battery into consideration when choosing their laptops. Go for something that suites your needs, and you won’t have any problems.

Buy a Laptop with a Familiar Operation System

There are a number of Operation Systems out there, a fact that you should take into consideration when choosing a new laptop. However, the most known are Windows and Mac OS. Windows, by far, rules the roost, although Mac OS has its band of loyalists.

Choose a laptop that has the latest Operation System

Nearly 90% of the computers that are in use today have Windows as their Operation System.  Should you decide to go with Windows, we recommend that you choose a laptop that comes with Windows 10, the latest version of the OS. Getting anything less could mean that you will have to fork out money, should you ever decide to upgrade.

Get a laptop that you can afford

I deliberately left the issue of price for the end of this article. That is despite the fact that it is the major concern for most people who are looking for new laptops. This, in my view, is an entirely wrong approach.

You should not, as an example, go into a computer store and tell the people there that you need a laptop that is priced at, say, $300 dollars. You are likely to end up with a machine that fails to meet your needs should you do so. 

Laptops should not just be bought for the sake of satisfying an ego. Like any other computer, they are there to fit a need, and you need first determine what that need is, before thinking about costs.

Get me right; I am not saying that price is not a major concern. Indeed, it is a major consideration when hunting around for a new laptop. However, the most important thing lies in determining what you need first, before taking it from there.

A final Word

Again, I must reiterate the fact that you should first decide on the specifications of the laptops that you wish to buy, before thinking about how much you will have to pay for it. Whatever your budget, you will probably be able to find something that suits your needs. In any case, knowing what to look for in a laptop is important. It allows you to get a machine that is well suited to your needs.

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