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Our editors rate and review products objectively based on the features offered to consumers, the price and delivery options, how a product compares with other products in its category, and other factors.
The ratings are based on the expert opinion of our editors and on underlying technology that analyzes decisions made by similar users to provide individual, targeted recommendations to each person who visits our site.
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Choosing The Best Option
What goes into being the best, you may ask. The criteria we've looked at include:
Laptop Shopping Guide:
Even if you don’t know much about technology, shopping for a new laptop can be fun and exciting. It may seem intimidating when you first get started, but once you get over your deer-caught-in-the-headlights reaction, you’ll find that all you really need to know is a few key factors.
Once you get up to speed with the following features, you’ll sound like you actually know what you’re talking about when shopping for laptops.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Random Access Memory, or RAM, refers to how much physical memory your laptop has. If you want the laptop to work smoothly and quickly, you need enough RAM. Those on small budgets who need their laptop for basic tasks like writing, checking emails, and listening to music should be able to live with 4 gigabytes of RAM. Are you the king or queen of keeping multiple browser tabs open at once? Then get enough RAM to cover all your bases - strive for at least 8GB. Gamers or those who do a lot of video editing or work with graphics will want more RAM, at least 16GB.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is one of the most crucial processing units on your computer. It is responsible for all the instructions your computer deals with - it’s like the brains of the computer.
When looking at the CPU of a laptop you’re interested in, you’ll probably notice the words dual core. That’s what most computers use now. But if you’re willing to spend more money, you can get four, six, eight, and even 12 core CPUs. The most sought-after CPUs right now are generally AMD and Intel.
Unless you do a lot of video editing, photo editing, or serious gaming, you don’t need to stress too much about this feature. If you do decide to go with Intel and have above-average needs because of gaming or image editing, you might want to go with Intel i7. But if you’re wanting a laptop for basic tasks, it’s fine to use the more inexpensive Intel i3 processor.
The Quality of the Screen
You’re going to spend a lot of time looking at your new laptop screen, so you need to make sure it’s a good one. When selecting a laptop, pay attention to its resolution. Low-resolution screens will give you graininess, while high-resolution screens will give you a sharp, clean image. You’ll really notice the difference with pictures and videos when using a low-resolution computer. To get a clear picture on your screen, go for a minimum of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is also sometimes simply called 1080p.
If more pixels give you a higher resolution, should you go for ones that are even better, like 3200 x 1800 or 3840 x 2160? You can, but it will cost more, and they’ll burn through your battery life at a faster pace. You’ll need to weigh what is more important to you – an above-average resolution or preserving your battery power.
If you plan on working in low-light conditions or even in the dark, a backlit keyboard can be invaluable. A good example of someone this would be useful to might be a person who does a lot of work late at night in bed when their partner is trying to sleep next to them. It will prevent you from having to leave the lights on in the bedroom to see what keys you need for typing. It can also be useful for gamers who want to play in the dark.
If you’re going to do a lot of typing, you’ll probably want a roomier keyboard with bigger keys. That’s especially true if you have bigger hands and fingers – it’ll cut down on the frustration of accidentally hitting the wrong key because it’s too close to the one you were really going for.
Some keyboards have an additional number pad off to one side, as well as the numbers at the top. That can be overkill unless you use numbers frequently on your keyboard. Some people never use that extra number pad at all, so they can safely skip that feature because they would benefit more from a roomier typing area.
Laptops come with a variety of screen sizes, just as televisions do. You can find laptops with smaller screens in the 11-inch range, more medium-sized screens with a 13- to 14-inch range, and even bigger laptops with a screen size of 17 inches. One of the more popular screen sizes is 15.6 inches.
So how can you tell which screen size will be best for your needs? Think about what you’ll be using your laptop for. Will you have to minimize two screens so you can look at documents or web pages side by side? If so, you should go for a bigger screen. If you’re going to be using your laptop to watch television shows, play movies, or for games, you might be happier with a bigger screen too.
Still, bigger is not always better and there can be some drawbacks to bigger screens. They can be pricier, and they are heavier and more cumbersome to carry around. You’ll really need to consider where and how you’ll be using your laptop to get the best understanding of what screen size would suit you best.
Laptop Design Elements
Do you want options when it comes to your laptop’s design? Do you want more than just the standard open-and-shut, one-piece basic computer? If so, some laptops allow you to take off the screen so you can use it just like a tablet. But that design isn’t appealing to everyone, especially considering that it’s a perk that will typically cost more.
Another design element to consider is if the screen is touchscreen. Not everybody is a fan of touchscreens. Although they seem great in theory, when you use a touchscreen, you’re constantly getting fingerprints on your screen. That can cause a lot of unsightly smudges or frequent cleaning efforts. Plus, touchscreens are glossier in nature, which can create glares or annoying reflections. Again, think about your laptop use and priorities when considering design elements.
Trusting our Top Pick
Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
Join the millions that have trusted BuyersGuide.org to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you find the laptop that's right for you.
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We leverage user data to understand decision-making and put the best products in front of each user. We tailor our comparisons to what matters to our user's needs, specific or broad. We keep our content up to date, we are constantly looking for new merchants and products to compare, and we are quick to remove any that are outdated or no longer meeting our standards. Our rankings change day-to-day based on our proprietary algorithms, that crunch data to identify top-performing products and tailor recommendations to exactly what our readers are looking for.
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