Laptop Buying Guide

Many people ask me on Facebook and in real life which laptop they should buy. Actually there is no easy answer for this question. There are many types of laptops. One should buy a laptop according to his or her requirements and budget.

Laptops consist of several types of components. Each component has some certain task. If you know details about these components then you can choose a laptop for yourself according to your needs. When you seek suggestions from someone for buying a laptop he or she may suggest a laptop according to his or her own choice. Suppose you want to buy a laptop for productivity but if you want suggestions from a gamer he or she may suggest a gaming laptop. Why you should buy a laptop of others' choice with your own money. That's why I think it's wise to try to choose a laptop yourself.


Processor: Processor is the most important component of a laptop. Processor can be called the brain of a device which combines all the other parts of the laptop. How the laptop will perform is dependent on the processor. That's why you should select a good processor when you want to buy a laptop. Some components of a laptop can be changeable but you can't change the processor of a laptop. That's why you should select a laptop processor carefully. As long as you will use this laptop you have to use this processor.


At present most used processors for laptops are Intel processor and Ryzen processor by AMD. Both processors are good for laptops. But personally I saw that Ryzen processors use less resources (CPU, RAM, Disk Space) then Intel processors. That's why you can multitask on Ryzen processors little bit better than Intel processors. It's not a big deal for high configuration laptops because these laptops have a lot of RAM, disk space and a great  processor speed. But for low budget laptops I think Ryzen processors will perform better.


There are various types of processors and each type has various types of generations. For example Intel has Celeron, Core i3, Core i5, Cora i7, Core i9 etc types of processors which has 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc generation. Every year Intel releases a new generation processor. At present in 2023 Intel has released the 12th generation processor. Ryzen has Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7 processors and each processor has 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc generations. Ryzen also releases a new generation processor each year. At present in 2023 Ryzen has released the 6th generation processor.


A processor’s generation plays an important role along with the processor’s type. Many people think that core i5 will perform better than core i3, core i7 will perform better than core i5. This is true for the same generation. That means a 12th generation core i5 will perform better than a 12th generation core i3 processor. A 12th generation core i7 processor will perform better than a 12th generation core i5 processor. But a 12th generation core i3 processor will perform better than a 9th generation core i5 processor. Similarly a 12th generation core i5 will perform better than a 9th generation core i7. The processor types and generations work similarly on Ryzen processors too. How will you know which processor will perform better? One easy way is to search “`Processor name` benchmark” on google. You will find a score on this website for that particular processor.


Ram: When we run a program on a computer the processor keeps that program in ram so that it can access the program very fast. Your multitasking ability that means to run multiple programs simultaneously depends on the amount of ram the system has. It is suitable for laptops to have at least 8GB (8 gigabytes) of ram. Generally low budget laptops consist of 4GB ram and have an extra ram slot. In such case you can add another ram according to your needs. The extra ram can be 4GB/8GB/16GB depending on your budget and the amount of ram the laptop supports. You need to ensure that the extra ram has the same bus speed as the built in ram of the laptop. For instance if a laptop has a 3200MHz bus speed ram then the extra ram should have 3200MHz bus speed. You may face several problems if the bus speeds of the rams of the laptop don’t match.


Operating System: Some laptops have Windows operating system(OS) installed by the manufacturer and some don't. The advantage of laptops with installed Windows OS is that you will get genuine Windows activated by a genuine license key. In such a case you don’t need to activate your Windows OS manually. The seller of the laptop which doesn’t have Windows OS installed will install and activate the Windows OS for you. But most of the time it won’t be genuine windows. The genuine and cracked Windows will work the same, the only difference is that cracked windows may sometimes contain viruses. So you need to consider whether you need a windows installed laptop or without windows installed laptop while buying a new laptop. And if you want to use any distro of Linux or any other operating system then you can buy a laptop which doesn’t have Windows installed.


Display: Laptop displays come in different sizes. Usually the laptop display size varies from 11 inch to 17 inch. You can select the display size as per your preference. If you like a small laptop then you can get a 13 inch display laptop, if you like a big laptop you can get a 15/16/17 inch laptop according to your budget. Display resolution is important in selecting the display. The display is usually HD (1366x768 pixels), FHD (1920x1080 pixels), QHD / 2K (2560x1440 pixels), UHD / 4k (3840 x 2160 pixels) resolutions. The higher the display resolution, the better the display content will look. Select the display resolution according to your budget but try to buy a laptop with at least FHD - Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) display. Another factor of display is touch or non-touch display. If your laptop needs a touch screen and the budget is high, you can select a touch display laptop. Generally laptop screen refresh rate is 60Hz. Gaming laptops have a higher screen refresh rate to facilitate gaming. If you buy a laptop for gaming, you can buy a laptop with a higher screen refresh rate. Screen refresh rate of 60Hz is sufficient for normal usage. Besides, the quality of the display depends on the sRGB, adobe color gamut of the display. If you search by writing 'laptop screen color gamut' in Google, you will get details about this.


Storage: Storage is a device where you can save data. There are different types of storage devices like Hard Disk Drive (HDD), Solid State Drive (SSD), Pendrive, Micro SD Memory Card etc. Laptops can usually have only HDD or only SSD or both HDD and SSD. SSD is faster than HDD but SSD is more expensive than HDD. The ideal for today's low budget laptops is to use a low-storage SSD where the Windows operating system will be installed, and a high-storage HDD where other documents will be stored. Many go with 128GB(128 Gigabytes) SSD due to low budget. But I think at least a 256GB SSD is necessary. The advantage of having Windows installed on SSD is that your laptop will open much faster, applications will run faster if installed on SSD. And photos, videos, pdf etc. documents should be kept on HDD because they do not need to run very fast. Laptops usually have 1TB (1 Terabyte -> 1000 Gigabytes) HDD. Many laptops come with just the HDD and an extra SSD slot so you can add an SSD later. Check whether this extra slot is M.2 NVMe or not. If the laptop does not have an SSD, it is better to buy an extra SSD and install Windows on the SSD. If your budget is high you can go for an SSD with more storage. SATA and NVMe are the two types of SSD that are commonly used for laptops. NVMe SSD is much faster than SATA but NVMe is more expensive. Higher storage NVMe SSD would be best for a laptop. Besides, another important thing in storage is read and write speed. The higher it is, the faster the storage device will work. So it is important to choose storage with high read and write speed.


Graphics: Showing images on display, image rendering, image manipulation etc. are done through graphics. Without graphics we wouldn't be able to see anything on a laptop display. Processors have built-in graphics. Low budget laptops do not come with a separate graphics card. They use the processor's integrated graphics. For normal usage, integrated graphics of the processor is sufficient. But if you want to do gaming, high resolution video rendering on a laptop, you need to buy a gaming laptop with a powerful graphics card. A laptop with a powerful graphics card drains its charge faster because the graphics card consumes a lot of power. So, while buying a gaming laptop, take a good look at the battery backup of the laptop.


Battery: How long the laptop can provide backup while not charging depends on the laptop battery. A laptop with a better battery can run longer without charging. Laptop batteries are usually measured in Wh (Watt hours). Typically the more Wh a laptop has, the more backup it will provide. But it depends on the power consumption of the laptop or how much power the laptop is consuming. If a laptop is 100Wh and it uses 10 watt power in normal usage, then that laptop will give 10 hours of backup. Power consumption increases while doing heavy tasks like gaming, video rendering or running emulators on the laptop. Then the battery is consumed quickly. Gaming laptops have high power consumption due to powerful graphics cards and provide less battery backup. However, current gaming laptops offer good battery backup. While selecting a laptop, check whether the battery watt hour is high and whether the charger watt is high.


Keyboard: Things to look for in laptop keyboards are the keyboard style, whether it is backlit and whether it has a numpad. Laptop keyboards are usually of 3 types: Traditional, Chiclet and Mechanical. However, Chiclet (or island) style keyboards are used in most laptops and I find them more comfortable. Backlit means whether the keyboard lights up. Backlit keyboard helps to work in low light. Some laptops have a numpad and some don't. Generally, if the display is smaller than 15 inches, the keyboard does not have a numpad. If you need a numpad, select a laptop with a numpad.


I/O Ports: While buying a new laptop you should check what kinds of input output ports the laptop has. Usually USB Type-C, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI / Displayport, Headphone jack port are the most useful ports. With a USB Type-C port you can add more ports using a Type-C Hub. So I think it is necessary to have a USB Type-C port in a laptop. With USB 3.0, USB 2.0 you can connect pendrive or any other USB devices to the laptop. USB 3.0 will transfer data faster than USB 2.0. With HDMI, Displayport, VGA port you can connect your laptop to another monitor or TV or any other display devices. In this case, you can do different things on 2 screens by extending the display of the laptop. Current laptops usually do not have a VGA port. But if you need you can buy a HDMI to VGA converter. Make sure your selected laptop has all the ports you need.


Weight: Laptops usually weigh between 1kg and 3 kg. It is important to buy a lightweight laptop for easy portability. I pay a lot of attention to laptop weight when buying a laptop. Because carrying a heavy laptop is a bit cumbersome. I think it is better to buy a laptop between 1kg to 2 kg in weight. If it weighs more than 2 kg, it may be difficult to carry the laptop.


Here I have tried to explain details about the main components of the laptop. Now let's talk about the MacBook. MacBook prices are comparatively higher than other brands of laptops. Macbook maker Apple's latest M1, M2 chips (processors) are very powerful, so many people are getting interested in Macbooks. I use an Ubuntu(Linux Distro) laptop, a Windows desktop and a Macbook. I have to do a lot of work together. I personally feel that I couldn't do all my work with just a MacBook, and would have needed a Windows device. If you want to take a laptop for normal use such as office work, browsing, listening to music, watching movies, graphics designing, video editing, then it is better to get a MacBook. And if you want to do powerful works such as coding in many languages, running virtual operating systems, gaming, laptop component customization etc then it is better to buy a Windows based laptop. When working on my MacBook, I feel like I'm working in a closed system, unable to do whatever I want. Getting free software for Macbook, using multiple monitors at once is a bit difficult. Apart from this, sometimes there are problems while coding due to file permissions. However, MacBook will be ahead in terms of security, typing experience, long battery backup, extraordinary display, very fast performance, long term usage, resale value etc. I think if you have a good budget it would be better to get a MacBook and a cheaper Windows laptop/desktop. Decide whether to buy a MacBook by deciding what you want to do with the laptop.


Many people ask me, 'I have taken admission in the CSE (Computer Science & Engineering). If I buy a laptop, I can do all the work of CSE?' The programming we are taught in CSE can be done with any laptop. The more powerful your laptop is, the faster you can work. So you can take any laptop according to your budget. But try to get a laptop with at least intel core i3/ryzen 3 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD. And if the budget is high, try to buy a good laptop.


Hope you have got a good idea about laptops by reading this article and from now on you can buy a laptop for yourself. If you like the article, you can share it on social media. Kindly mention my website as credit if you share. It is very difficult to write such articles in the busy schedule. Still try to share my limited knowledge with others. I will write some more articles in the future in sha Allah. Many thanks for reading the article.

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