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Buying a laptop – What to look for…

Buying a laptop – What to look for…

So, it’s come to the point where you’re thinking of buying a laptop. But what should you look for in your new machine? Read on to find out!

Screen Size

Firstly, you need to think of what size screen you want for your laptop. To work this out, consider if your laptop is going to be a desktop replacement or a portable computer.

By far the most popular laptop screen size at the moment is 15.4″ – which is a great compromise between desktop screen usability and light weight portability.

The largest common screen size is 17″ – the drawback of a laptop with this size of screen is that they tend to drain the battery quicker as they are bigger to illuminate and there is more detail to draw. They also tend to be heavier and bulkier than their 15.4″ equivalents

Dropping down to the lightweight range, you can get screens from just above ‘netbook size’ – around 11″ all the way up to 15″. As a rule of thumb: the smaller the screen is, the lighter the laptop is. The battery life also improves as the screen size falls.

It’s worth visiting a store to sample different screen sizes. I find my 15.4″ laptop ideal for working on at home, but I can’t use my netbook (10.2″ screen) for long periods as it’s just a bit too small for comfortable use.


Following on from the screen is the graphics chip inside the laptop itself. This decision is based on a simple choice:

Gaming or not gaming

If you intend to play games on your laptop – and when I say games, I don’t mean Facebook games, but full 3D games – then you’ll need to look for a laptop with a 3D graphics accelerator.
Look for laptops with graphics hardware from AMD/ATi or nVidia – this will be obviously stated on the packaging or specification.

If you’re not playing games, then you’ll be fine with any laptop graphics chip.

Processor, RAM and disk space

Processor power, RAM and disk space are really just commodity items. You’re looking for the highest values for the lowest money!

When looking at RAM (or Memory as it may be called) a higher number is better.
Windows 7 or Windows 8 work best with 2GB or more RAM. I would suggest 4GB should be a minimum if you can afford it.

For disk space, again a higher GB number is better. A TB number, such as 1TB is even better. If the laptop has an SSD (a very fast form of disk drive) then they are much smaller  – 128GB should be considered a minimum size for an SSD, and 500GB minimum as a hard disk drive.

For the processor, dual core is better than single core, and quad core is better than dual core. A higher clock speed (the number in Ghz) isn’t always the sign of a faster processor.
If looking at Intel processors, then as a general rule the better processors have the higher core number – so Core i3 is lowest, then Core i5 and finally Core i7 is the top end processor.

Don’t get the wrong model!

If you’re unsure as to what you need, drop us an email and we’ll be happy to help you. We can also supply machines and transfer data from your old computer for a fixed price in our workshop.