What Specs to Look for in a New Laptop

The holidays are rolling around, and with them, massive sales. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other retailer-driven holiday sales are sure to get you thinking – “These deals are too good to pass up. Should I get myself something new?”

You start to think about what needs upgrading around the house, and you start to think about your trusty laptop. It hasn’t failed you yet, but maybe it’s due for an upgrade. What kind of laptop should you get, and why?

In our previous post on ‘Laptop Stickers, What Are They?’, we discussed the dizzying variety of laptops currently on the market, such as lightweight notebooks and larger high-powered laptops. The portable nature of laptops has resulted in their huge boost in popularity, with an overwhelming 2019 sales projection by Statista of 166 million units worldwide. With the constant turnover of new makes and models, it’s gotten even more difficult to ensure that you’re making the right choice. In order to help you make the best decision, here are some things to consider when you make your purchase:

Size

Size matters, especially if you plan on taking long daily commutes to class or work. Ideally, CNET recommends in their laptop buying guide a “13-inch or smaller display, that weighs under three pounds and is at most around 15mm thick” for an easy-breezy carrying load. With its sleek 13.3-inch display and a thickness of just under 10mm, they recommend the HP Spectre for working professionals. Does having a smaller laptop compromise your battery life? Not necessarily – this laptop can keep going from 17.5 hours up to 21.5 hours depending on your current workload.

Functionality

A guide by HP on the best laptops to give as gifts stresses an obvious – but often overlooked – point: there are different laptops for different people. How are you going to be using this laptop? Is it for work? For play, or for both? For instance, if you’re buying a laptop for a dedicated gamer in your life, you’ll need to consider aspects like dedicated graphics card slots, high screen resolution, processor speed, rich audio, and minimal fan noise.

Screen Quality

Finding the right screen for your needs is important because it’s the component that you’ll be looking at for hours at a time. In their top 10 tips to consider when buying a new laptop, PC World covers the pros and cons of touchscreens. Although having touchscreen functionality can be useful for graphic artists, they tend to add a glossy display to the finish, which can cause distracting reflections. It’s also important to consider buying displays with a high color range and accuracy for serious photographers and videographers.

Keyboard and Touchpad Quality

Laptop Mag suggests testing out the keyboard and touchpad before making your final decision. Especially for writers, having to type every day on ill-formed keys can be a total deal breaker. Some things to consider are “solid tactile feedback, plenty of key travel (the distance the key goes down when pressed, usually 1 to 2mm) and enough space between the keys”. In addition, ensuring that you have an accurate touchpad without that pesky jumpy cursor will make it well worth your while.

CPU Power

What is CPU and why should you care? In simple terms, it’s the main processor of the laptop that executes all its actions. According to this article on Reviewed covering the ‘7 Things to Consider When Buying a New Laptop’, a dual-core processor is sufficient for basic tasks like surfing the internet and sending e-mails. However, for more intensive tasks like photo and video editing, having an Intel Core i7 CPU ensures peak performance and optimum speed.