Our Easy Laptop Buying Guide

Laptop buying guide

There’s really only one main problem for the vast majority of laptop buyers. Being faced with a plethora of different options can be off-putting for anyone who just wants to buy a decent laptop that will work for their needs.

Not everyone wants or needs to get into the finer details about the components or advanced features when shopping for a laptop, so to make things a little easier we’ve put together a simple guide. Just answer the following questions (in order) and you should have a better idea of what you’re looking for.

Is Windows for you?

The vast majority of laptops run Windows. Microsoft’s operating system has gone through several major revamps over the years, with varied responses from users, but the current Windows 10 strikes a good balance for most people. We highly recommend Windows, especially for the vast majority of Dell laptops which are optimised to run it smoothly.

The major alternatives all have their limitations. Apple’s operating system only runs on Macs, which are exclusively available at higher price points than most PC alternatives. Google’s Chrome OS is designed to run on budget Chromebooks, which is ideal for light work but doesn’t support more advanced applications. These are great choices for some users, but not for everyone.

Which physical design appeals to you?

Modern laptops come in all shapes and sizes. Windows laptops range in size from compact and portable to larger, heavy-duty models, plus there is currently more interest in 2-in-1 devices which can be converted into touch-controlled tablets. We specialise in Dell laptops, of course, and although this includes several different ranges, you will notice that Dell tends to opt for a classic, sophisticated approach with their laptop designs.

Most products in the Latitude and Precision laptop ranges have a screen size of 15 inches, which tends to be the average that most people prefer. Ergonomic keyboards and track pads are important for usability, and these are another area that Dell excels in. Overall, Dell are one of the most consistent manufacturers when it comes to build quality and physical design.

What specifications do you need?

There are many different factors to consider here. In many cases, laptop manufacturers will have a range of different specifications available for each of their models, so it can also get confusing. Here is a brief summary of each key component:

  • CPU – Your processor will greatly impact the maximum performance level of your laptop. Intel Core processors are the most common, with entry-level usually being an Intel Core i3 processor. We would recommend opting for an Intel Core i5 if possible, to make sure you can run Windows quickly and smoothly. An Intel Core i7 is a good upgrade for more demanding tasks. Intel Xeon are the most advanced, while other Intel or AMD processors are usually found in budget laptops.
  • RAM – Memory is required to cache data and run applications. With 2GB of RAM, your system will probably freeze or run slowly on a regular basis. 4GB is the minimum for today’s standards, and 8GB is ideal for most users. Above 16GB is relatively rare because it isn’t needed for most purposes.
  • Storage – A regular hard drive (HDD) contains tiny moving parts, making them slower and more vulnerable to age problems than solid state drives (SSD). However, hard drives have bigger storage capacity, so if you need to save a lot of local files a solid state drive might not be suitable. 1TB of storage for a HDD is common now, while you can only expect 128GB or less with a typical SSD.
  • Graphics – Dedicated graphics will not always be necessary for standard users, but they are usually needed for gaming. Most users can opt for the cheaper integrated graphics option.
  • Screen – If you want your graphics to be displayed clearly, you will want to make sure that your laptop has a minimum 1080p display. A typical screen of this size would have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Cheaper screens without full high definition are typically around 1366 x 768 pixels, which look acceptable but won’t be so crisp.

Once you reach this point, most of the major considerations for buying a laptop have been covered. We would also recommend looking up user reviews for any model you’re interested in, as well as professional reviews written by experts. If you’re interested in a Dell laptop, you’ll find some fantastic deals here at IT Clear, and we’re happy to speak to you if you have any questions.

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