How to Choose the Best Laptop

Looking to buy a new laptop? Plan ahead and you'll find the best laptop computer for your budget.

The guide below will walk you through the most important questions to ask when buying a new laptop.

What are Typical Price Ranges for a New Laptop?

Price is always an important consideration and it varies depending on the features of the laptop, ranging anywhere from $300 or less for a very simple cloud storage based notebook to over $3000 for a high power laptop built to handle sophisticated video editing projects or heavy duty gaming. With a variety of price points in between for machines equipped to service everyday homework, entertainment or small business tasks you're sure to find something that fits your needs.

What Screen Size Do You Want For Your Laptop?

Laptop displays come in a wide variety of different sizes. To find the best laptop screen size, you'll want to think about how you plan to use your new computer.

Here are examples of how different screen sizes might work best for specific types of laptop users.

  • Big Screens

    If you'll be using your laptop on a stationary desk for large periods of time, either for work or for gaming marathons, you may enjoy the largest laptop screen you can find. A 17 or 18 inch laptop may be the right choice for you. If that's not big enough, you could always consider an additional monitor or two to hook up to your laptop, so you can have an extra large viewing area for work or for play.

  • Best Screens for Working on the Go

    If you will mainly be using your laptop for working on the go, while traveling or at offsite locations, you may want a bit smaller screen, but one that is still large enough to do work. The most popular sized, 15 or 16inch laptops offer easy portability and a wide-enough screen for an enjoyable viewing experience.

  • Ultra Portable Computers

    If you are looking for the lightest and easiest computing option for travel and commuting, you might want to consider a notebook or a tablet with a 10 to 12 inch screen. You could choose a tablet, a notebook, or even a computer that doubles as both a tablet and a notebook.

What Features Do You Want From Your Laptop?

Laptop features keep evolving all the time, with new variations being added regularly. Here are some options you might want to consider when choosing your next computer.

  • Gaming Laptops

    A high-end configuration including an excellent graphics card, gaming laptops are designed for gamers who want an immersive gaming experience.

  • Touchscreen Laptops

    Some of the more popular models have a touchscreen display that will allow you to perform many functions without the use of the keyboard or mouse.

  • Two in One Laptops or Convertible Laptops

    These two in one laptops combine the portability of a tablet (foldable, touch-screen) with the more traditional elements of a laptop (tracking pad, keyboard).

  • Traditional Tablets

    A perfect balance of portability and functionality, a tablet lets you play games, watch videos, check social media, and even work on-the-go.

Which Laptop Screen Resolution Works Best?

The screen resolution is the number of pixels your screen can display either horizontally or vertically. This basically translates into how clear and crisp the images on the screen look.

  • Best Screen Resolution for Everyday Computer Use

    High definition screen resolution above 1366x768 should be suitable for everyday work. You can find this in mid-range price device options.

  • Best Screen Resolution for High End Computer Use

    Higher resolution screens such as 1920x1080, all the way to 3840x2160 work well for heavy duty gaming, professional photo editing and video editing, as well as graphic design.

How Do Laptop Operating Systems and Brands Differ?

Microsoft OS

Microsoft's OS, Windows 10 is easy for a beginner to use, and allows installation of a lot of external applications and games. Because Microsoft partners with many brands, there are several price points and models to choose from that run Windows programs, so finding an affordable device, whether its a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, is a piece of cake.

Apple OS

MacBooks run Apple's MacOS (formerly known as OS X). Ideal for creative design work, many photo, video, and music editing softwares are optimized for Macs. Known for their sleek design and simple interface, Apple products have become wildly popular because of their intuitive operating systems. Mac OS is safe from most viruses and spyware but they can be more expensive.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS is an operating system developed by Google. Chrome OS is inexpensive and typically does not support a large storage space.

The Chrome OS is not designed to download and run heavy applications or to support Windows installation. It is designed for working on the web and storing most of the files online.

With an average memory of 2GB – 4GB, Chrome OS is designed for basic functionality and for users to experience web-based working on a laptop.

What is the Difference Between Common Laptop Processor Choices?

Two of the largest processor brands are Intel and AMD. Choose the right fit for you based on your preferences towards speed, graphics performance, affordability and flexibility.

Intel Processors AMD Processors

Core™ i9 and Core™ i7: Intel's latest offers best performance for even the toughest of tasks and is used in most gaming laptops.

Core™ i5: A mid-level powerful processor that helps you work smarter and more efficiently

Core™ i3: Intel's entry processor helps you manage your daily tasks

From AMD A4, A6, A9 to AMD Ryzen 3/5/7 these processors get your laptop ready for working efficiently.

How Much Memory Do You Need for a Laptop?

RAM or Random Access Memory can be looked at as the overall speed of a laptop or desktop computer. While the computer is running it needs the ability to access and store information very quickly without being permanently saved, this is the function of RAM. Typically speaking the more RAM you have the more functions you can perform on your computer simultaneously and without too much lag time.

Recommended RAM for Different Types of Laptop Use

  • Everyday Computer Use

    Typically speaking the more RAM you have the more functions you can perform on your computer simultaneously and without too much lag time. For general operations (browsing the web, Word, Excel, etc.) a typical person can get by with anywhere between 2 - 8GBs of RAM.

  • PC Gaming

    16GBs would be the minimum amount of RAM needed to get the type of performance you would want as a serious gaming platform.

  • Photo and Video Editing

    32GB RAM (higher-end models) for photo and video editing professionals and designers.

What are the Most Common Computer Hard Drive Options?

There are three types of Hard Drives: Hard Disk Drives (HDD), Solid-State Drives (SSD), and Hybrid Drives.

A Hard Drive can be compared to a backpack. The bigger the backpack, the more you can store in it. The bigger the Hard Drive, the more space you have to save documents, pictures, programs, etc.

Here is a comparison between Hard Drive Types-

Hard Drive Type Features
Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

If cheap and plentiful is what you are looking for, then an HDD is for you. This is the most common storage device used in traditional towers.

HDD drives rely on a spinning disk measured in Revolutions Per Minute (RPMs) to permanently store material.

Hard drive sizes are measured in gigabytes and terabytes, and commonly range from 250GB to more than 1TB.

Solid-State Drives (SSD)

Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are a newer storage technology, and boost your computer’s performance better than an HDD.

SSDs don’t have any moving component.

They use a series of interconnected flash memory chips to store information.

They cost significantly more than traditional hard drives.

Hybrid Drives

Hybrid drives are priced reasonably and provide the advantage of both the HDD and the SSD.

They combine a hard drive with solid-state’s memory and boost the speed and performance significantly.

What is a Graphics Memory Card?

A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), or graphics card, is responsible for the images you see on your screen. This hardware is usually integrated with your computer chip.

Integrated graphics are adequate enough to handle general computing tasks. However, for high-graphic demand tasks such as video production, gaming, or photo-editing, you'll probably want a dedicated graphics card.