Some people get their daily tasks done on their smartphones and tablets. But there is a limit to what the best smartphones and tablets can do. When it’s time to get some serious work done, laptops come in handy. But, with lots of laptop brands on the market boasting different features, prices, and build quality, choosing a good laptop that suits your needs and budget could be quite tricky.
Before you shell out cash to get a new laptop, here are the key things you should consider.
Laptops come in various sizes. Most laptops come in 11.6- or 13.3-inches screen configurations. Other sizes include 12.5-inches, 14-inches, 15.6-inches, and 17.3-inches.
Depending on your computing needs, you could get one of these sizes. If you will be doing a lot of drawing, video editing, and running high-end games, large screens are better. However, if you care about portability, a laptop with a smaller screen will do since small screen laptops are usually light.
Large screen sizes do not necessarily connote heavy equipment. Some large screen laptops are light and slim. However, a good number of small screen laptops are lightweight. The difference in weight between the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and its 15-inch model is 1 pound (0.45kg)
2. Screen Quality
Most modern laptops on the market boast high quality screen resolutions. Asus Chromebook Flip C434, Razer Blade Stealth (2019), Dell XPS 13 (2019) are some laptops with impressive displays. Some of these laptops have glossy displays which cause reflection and strain the eyes. Many laptops with touchscreens have glossy displays. Try to avoid brands with glossy displays.
In terms of screen resolution, you could go for a 1980 x 1080-pixel resolution (Full HD) or the pricier 4K resolutions. You can only find the 4K option in high-end laptops. The 4K screen resolution produces better crisp, vivid, and natural colours than other display variants. The 2019 Razer Blade Stealth, Asus Chromebook Flip C434, 2019 Dell XPS 13 as well as 2019 HP Spectre x360 have solid 4K display panels.
Many top performing laptops are powered by Intel’s core-based central processing units (CPU). For a decent experience, we recommend laptops with Intel core not older than Core i3. For the best performance, opt for Core i5, Corei7 or Corei9.
At the moment Corei9 is the fastest processors. Most modern gaming and non-gaming laptops are powered by this processor. Apple’s premium laptop, 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro with touch bar, Asus ZenBook Pro and 2019 Dell XPS 15 9570 Touch have super fast Corei9 processors.
4. Keyboard and TouchPad Quality
We recommend backlit keyboards. Thankfully, these days, many laptop keyboards are backlit. This makes it a lot easier to type in poorly lit rooms. The Lenovo Yoga C930, for instance, has backlit keys. Also, 2019 Razer Blade Stealth has backlit keys with backlighting patterns and colours that can be changed anytime.
You want to get a laptop with keys that are responsive with excellent tactile feedback and decent vertical travel. If you are an Apple loyalist, then get ready to use their butterfly-style keyboard as the recent MacBooks have this type of keyboard. The butterfly-style keyboard is very responsive, makes little typing noise, and has little vertical travel.
Go for laptops with with well-spaced keys and responsive touchpads if you will be cranking out emails and articles. Good touchpads respond very well to multitouch gestures. Brands such as the 2019 HP Spectre x360 and Asus Chromebook Flip C434 are shipped with Chiclet-style (island-style) keyboards which have keys that are soft and accurate with reasonable spacing. An advantage of using keyboards with well-spaced keys is that you will rarely hit the wrong key while typing.
Avoid laptops whose keyboard characters have the same colour as the body of the laptop as you may struggle to identify the keys when you are in a room with little lightning.
Before now, many manufacturers were churning out laptops with very low (think 2GB) random access memory (RAM). Right now they have all stepped up their games with RAM sizes as high as 32GB. The 2018 MacBook Air (16GB), 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (32 GB), Dell XPS 13 (16 GB) are some high-end laptops with excellent RAM.
We do not recommend buying a laptop with less than 4GB RAM. This is the benchmark, if you really want to enjoy using your laptop. For higher computing needs like video gaming, video and photo editing, go for a laptop with at least 16GB. To get laptops with RAM greater than 16GB, you have to pay more money.
Why should you opt for laptops with more RAM? Well, with more RAM your laptop can handle many tasks simultaneously without any lag. You can have many apps and other CPU-hogging processes running seamlessly when your laptop is equipped with more RAM.
Right now solid state drives (SSD) are beginning to replace the conventional hard disk drives (HDD) that were the industry standard some years ago, because SSDs are faster, and run without noise. You’ll most likely come across the following SSD sizes: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB. There are larger storages like 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 4TB, Some laptops like the Asus Chromebook Flip C434 have smaller storage (64GB).
If storage is your priority, consider models with large SSD. A case in point is the 2019 HP Spectre x360 (13-inch) which has 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB SSD options.
Another thing you want to look out for is the type and number of ports. Make sure the laptop you are buying has at least a USB 3.0 port. If it has USB 3.1, USB Type-C, or Thunderbolt 3 ports, that’s even better.
USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports are what you find now on most laptops. These ports have transfer speeds that would make anyone still using a laptop with USB 2.0 ports jealous.
As a matter of fact, many laptop accessories are now designed to work with these new ports. These peripherals work best when hooked up to laptops with these ports. Of all the ports mentioned, Thunderbolt 3 ports deliver the greatest transfer speed at 40 gigabits per-second.
8. Build Quality
You cannot rule out accidentally dropping your laptop even if you are very careful with your gadgets. A good number of brands have laptops with excellent build quality that can withstand minor accidents.
Some are built to withstand impact, others can handle liquid spills and even dust. One good laptop with a solid build quality is the Asus Chromebook Flip C434. It also has a sleek and attractive design and weighs 3.1 pounds (1.41kg).
9. Operating System
There are three well-known operating systems used by laptop manufacturers: MacOS, Windows and Chrome OS. Windows operating system appears to be the most popular, followed by MacOS, then Chrome OS. All MacBooks are powered by the MacOS.
Always look out for established brands like HP, Lenovo, Apple, Dell, Asus, Microsoft. These brands churn out very good laptops consistently.
11. Battery Life
Before you purchase the next laptop, be sure to check its battery rating. Battery ratings are represented in milliamp-hours (mAh) or watt-hours (Wh). Many manufacturers give you an estimate of their laptop’s battery life. But most times, what is written on paper does not quite match reality.
This is often as a result of many factors, particularly usage. Playing graphics-hugging video games and streaming videos online with screen at maximum brightness will surely reduce the battery life of a laptop. The best laptops on the market offer roughly 12 hours per charge depending on usage, anyway.
With 60Wh battery rating, the Lenovo Yoga C930 can withstand approximately 12 hours of constant web browsing via Wi-Fi with brightness at 150 nits when it is not plugged in. Meanwhile, the 2019 HP Spectre x360 (13-inch), which is one of the best laptops with regard to battery life (61Wh), can get you through 13 hours of productive work without visiting a wall plug.
Some laptops may not tick all of the boxes. So you have to make a choice based on your spending power and the purpose for which you need the device. That said, many premium laptops have more than 70% of the features every good laptop should have. Feel free to check out the best laptops on the market now.