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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.

For those of you who want the fastest networking, get a laptop with an 802.11ac wireless adapter (some laptops come with an Intel Wireless-AC 7260), which can work with the latest range of 802.11ac routers that have hit the market recently. Using 802.11ac, your file transfer rates will be able to hit speeds over 30 megabytes per second (MBps), and in some cases even approach 40MBs. This is beneficial when you want to transfer video files to your laptop before going on a trip, for example.

Also look for Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth isn't only handy for connecting to wireless mice and keyboards, it's also awesome for connecting to a Hi-Fi system wirelessly. We use Bluetooth all the time to play music through a stereo system from our laptop. This is music that's either stored locally or streamed from Google Play Music or online radio stations while we work.

Full-sized SD card: Why would you want a full-sized SD card? Well, if you're a photographer and you quickly want to get photos off the camera and onto your laptop, the SD card slot is the best way to do so. Many modern cameras come with Wi-Fi to facilitate transfers from the camera, but that's still a fiddly process. Some SD card slots are better than others, too. Look for one in which the card can sit all the way in, rather than a slot that makes the card stick halfway out.

USB 3.0: You shouldn't get a laptop without a USB 3.0 port, and you should look for a laptop that has at least a couple of these ports. This is for obvious reasons such as plugging in an external hard drive to back up your laptop's data, or for when you want to plug in a conventional mouse or a fancy keyboard.

Meet your needs and budget
Of course, you need to balance these features with your budget and your needs, and you might have to make some compromises. Rarely does a laptop come along that ticks all the boxes, especially when it comes to price. Let us know in the comments below if you consider other aspects of a laptop to be more important (maybe you want better gaming performance or a rugged build, maybe you want a laptop that can turn into a tablet), and especially let us know if you've already found the perfect laptop for your needs.


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