What to Consider When Buying a Laptop

Today's laptops come in various sizes and can serve up entertainment as well as keep up with work or school needs. As with any computer purchase, let your needs determine the systems you consider, with an eye to crucial specifications that help you decide which computer to buy.


How you use your laptop determines how much processor power you need from it. Once you determine how long you plan to keep this computer in service, you can estimate the performance it must offer to keep pace with your needs. Along with the CPU, the system's graphics capabilities also should fit your intended use. A laptop that sees heavy action as a gaming machine needs more graphics performance than one you use for light word processing and email duty.


The memory requirements of your computer's operating system help you determine how much RAM your laptop needs to offer, as do the applications you use and how many of them you run simultaneously. The default shipping configurations on many systems include less RAM than they can accommodate. Because RAM upgrades on portable computers typically require more technical savvy than the equivalent installations on desktop systems, you may want to buy some optional RAM from the computer manufacturer to bring your laptop up to its maximum memory.

Weight & Battery Life

The portability you need from your system helps you select from among competing computer models based on their heft. In fact, if you need as lightweight a portable system as possible, your needs may be better suited to a tablet PC or mobile tablet. Traditional laptops may incorporate a touch-sensitive screen as well as touchpad and keyboard input. Tablet PCs use a pen-input interface but also include a mechanical keyboard, whereas tablets place their emphasis on a smaller unit size.

The performance and capabilities of mobile technology alternatives to traditional laptops make them apt choices for people who want online connectivity and light computing capabilities. Regardless of the system you choose, look for specifications that list the number of times you can recharge the battery and the protections the laptop provides against overcharging or overheating. These provisions help you extend battery life.

Other Considerations

Laptops come in various sizes, with widths from compact to spacious. The horizontal dimension of a laptop case limits the size of its built-in monitor. How much computer you want to carry around with you may help you decide whether a big screen is really a necessity, as can the kind of work--or play--you intend the system to perform.

If you plan to play games or music on your laptop, look for a system with high-quality built-in speakers produced by an audio-oriented supplier. Finally, decide how closely integrated you want your laptop to be with your smartphone or other mobile technology. If you choose a computer that syncs with your mobile device, you can charge your phone from your laptop, share files between the two devices and view each one's functions on the other.

Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/ Demand Media

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