Laptop Buying Guide – How To Decide What To Buy (list of steps)

How To Choose A LaptopIf you have already started looking for a new laptop you are well aware of the many choices that are out there. Laptops come in different sizes, some have touchscreens and then there are the Operating System choices. 

There is a lot of information to parse through, so let’s break it down and get started.

What to look for when buying a laptop

Let’s start with your needs? What do you want to do with a new laptop?
A casual user might only need a small lightweight laptop, while a gamer would most likely need a fairly powerful system with good graphics and memory.
To make this simpler, let’s separate out some questions and go through each one.

Budget

How much you can afford to spend will influence you decision. Laptops can cost a little as say $200 for a Chromebook or around $1000 or more for a powerful system a gamer might like.
>> Start a list and take note of your budget as a guidepost to help keep you realistic when making a choice. Write this on the list

Use

So here we talk about how and what you intend to use the laptop.
Do you just need to check email and social accounts? An entry level or basic laptop will do.
Do you need spreadsheets and to install programs or apps? A medium level will do.
Want something to play games?  An advanced or high end system will be what to look for.
>> Think about what you need a laptop for and add your choice to your list.  Your list should now have your budget and ‘use’ written on it.

Portability and Size

Laptops are portable, but some more so than others. Portability has a lot to do with the physical size of the machine. A smaller laptop means a smaller screen size.  Do you have a need to carry it in a

Laptops are portable

backpack or bag?  A weight difference of a pound or so will get burdensome when lugging it through an airport.

>> If portability is a factor note that you will look for a smaller sized laptop and add it to the list.

Operating System

Available today are computers installed with Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS, Google Chrome OS(Chromebooks) and finally Linux.
Most laptops you see for sale run Windows. That is because Windows can be installed on most hardware out there.
MacOS is tightly controlled by Apple and runs on their hardware.
Chromebooks are becoming more popular and there are many manufacturers offering Chrome OS.
As for Linux, it’s usually the more advanced user who will use it. Although, many distributors offer free versions that can be downloaded and run from a flash drive which is a great option to try.
>> This is a matter of preference. If you are already familiar with a certain OS, then by all means try to find a laptop that runs this operating system.  This blog covers PC’s that run Windows and that is largely what this article will orient toward.

Information On Hardware-

Processor, memory, storage, graphics

The processor or CPU runs/controls the system. So generally, a higher end CPU will mean a faster laptop.  Most PC’s use Intel CPUs.
Memory or RAM allows the OS to keep and access information fluidly, which also impacts the speed or responsiveness of the computer.  At least 8GB of memory is adequate for the casual to medium user.  A gamer or more intensive user might opt for 16GB of memory.
Storage is the amount of hard drive space the laptop has. Many laptops today come with a solid state drive(SSD).  These are smaller in size and more reliable.
Graphics will include the type of onboard graphics chip as well as the laptop screen. A casual user may only be concerned with the screen size.  A gamer will want a current or fast graphics chip to render their games properly.

Additional

There are many additional components that make up a laptop. There are several ports each laptop will have. Take a look at how many USB ports the laptop has, are any of them USB 3.0? Is it enough for all your devices? Do you plan on plugging in an external monitor?
How about security?  Many laptops come with fingerprint readers. Is that important and useful to you?

Summary

The list you’ve been compiling has your budget, how you intend to use the laptop, and what size you are looking for written on it. If you’ve decided on an operating system you will have narrowed down the choices even more.  Becoming familiar with the internal hardware will empower you to make a better informed choice. With all the choices there are, I’ve included below my list of the top 5 laptops. You should be able to search and compare different laptops to find one that closely matches the list you wrote.

Here are my top 5 Lenovo laptops:

WorkhorseThinkPad T590
Portable and Powerful:   Yoga C940
Affordable:   IdeaPad L340
Gaming:   Legion Y740
Everyday UseThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 3

What are your thoughts on choosing the best laptop? Let me know..