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The top 10 things to consider when buying a new laptop

Elias Plastiras | Oct. 7, 2014
Here’s what to look for if you want to buy the best laptop possible.

Core i7-based systems are for those of you who want the best performance from your laptop. However, note that with a Core i7-based system, heat coming through the base of the laptop can be cause for concern, especially if you plan to actually use the laptop on your lap a lot of the time.

RAM: You need 4GB of RAM or more to get the best out of your system. More RAM allows for more applications to be run at the same time, and for more data to be quickly accessible by the system at any one time, which comes in handy for tasks such as editing photos.

Storage: Hard drives used to be all the rage, but these days they are mostly out favour, especially for thin and light laptops. This is because they can be slow, somewhat bulky, and produce noticeable heat and noise. A solid state drive (SSD), on the other hand, offers a lot more speed than a hard drive, runs silently, and can be installed in a form factor that doesn't add too much to the weight and bulk of a laptop.

The only problem is that SSDs don't offer as much capacity. You'll be stuck with a drive that's either 128GB or 256GB in size, and even then, laptops with 256GB SSDs are pretty expensive. Stick to a 128GB SSD for your new laptop, though, and you'll love the speed with which it can load programs, access your data, and also how quickly it can boot up your system (it takes under 7 seconds for some Windows 8 systems).

Battery life: Manufacturer-quoted battery life is often not indicative of what a laptop can do, and this is based on the many variables that affect battery life. These are the screen brightness, the screen resolution, and the tasks that you run. If you run programs that need lots of processing, or if you stream lots of online video, or if you transfer lots of files over your wireless network, then your battery will drain a lot sooner than what the vendor has quoted.

Look at the rating of the battery in Watt-hours (Wh) or milliamp-hours (mAh). The larger these figures are, the longer the battery can last. For a 13.3in Ultrabook, for example, a battery with a rating from 44Wh to 50Wh will give you the best results.

Wireless networking and Bluetooth: This is something that can be often overlooked when buying a laptop, but considering that most laptops rely on an Internet connection for the majority of their tasks, it's an extremely important feature. At the very least, you need a laptop that has a dual-band Wi-Fi adapter. This will allow you to use the laptop with a dual-band router's 5GHz network, allowing it to work quicker and perhaps segregating it from other devices on your network that use the 2.4GHz network.

 

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