Introduction: Laptop Buying Guide

Picture of Laptop Buying Guide

This Instructable is designed to show you, the people of Instructables.com, what to look for in a laptop. This is not guaranteed to be the right way, as there is no such thing as a "right way". This will or will not give you good results, because there is no "right way". I am writing this Instructable to aid you in this process, which can be difficult at times. Well, let's get started! Oh, and I apologize ahead of time about the spacing of the text in step 2. It looks different published. I am sorry for any inconvienience this has caused you.

Step 1: Price

Picture of Price

The first thing most people will notice is the price of the laptop. Yes, $400 is cheaper than $1000, but what is right? There is no "right" price. It all depends on what you need in the laptop. Of course, $1000 will get you a lot farther than $400, but is it worth it? It varies. If you want a top of the line laptop that will last you years, than go with the $1000 laptop. If you want an entry level laptop or a netbook that you will use for basic tasks such as word processing or surfing the web, than go with the $400 laptop. Laptops are not cheap, but some of them run about $2000, so don't go overboard.

Step 2: Specs

Picture of Specs

Okay, we know the price, but what about what's inside? Well, there are a bunch of things to look for inside the laptop, and some of them matter more than others, so let's get started. I will only list the more obvious specs here.

Operating System: Windows 7 is pretty much your only option today in the Microsoft realm. If you want something for home use, go with Home Premium, and if you want more "stuff" in it, like better networking and utilities, go with Professional. Ultimate gives you even more options .

RAM: What is does is give you more room to perform more tasks. The more RAM, the faster your system will be. 1 GB is typical for
netbooks and low-end laptops, and is good for basic tasks. 2GB is better, as is suitable for a little multitasking. 3GB will open
up more doors, and make it possible to perform tasks quickly and effeciently. 4GB is suitable for pretty much anything you
need to do, and will allow for 3D games and you will get the most use of your computer.

CPU: The brains of the computer, where everything happens. For optimal performace, you will want a 2nd Generation processor if
you are with Intel. There are not many AMD processors in laptops; the only one I've seen is an AMD Fusion processor, so that
is pretty much it. For the speed of the processor, it depends. If you want to perform basic tasks, go with either the AMD
Fusion, which is 1.6 GHz, an Intel Pentium, 2 GHz, or an i3 chip, 2 GHz. For moderate use, such as multitasking, use either an
Intel Pentium, 2+ GHZ, or an Intel i5 chip, 2+ GHz. For a future-resistant laptop, use an Intel i7 2.4+ GHz

GPU: The Graphics Processing Unit. This is what gives you picture. Integrated graphics, which means the GPU is embedded into
the CPU, is OK if you don't plan on playing 3D games at high frame rates. Dedicated graphics, which means there is a
separate processor for the graphics, is OK if you want to play 3D games, and use graphics intensive programs. If you have
dedicated graphics, 512 MB of graphics memory is sufficient for moderate tasks. 1 GB of graphics memory is good for
graphics intensive programs and 3D games.

Hard Drive: Your storage medium. The size, of course, will matter on whether you manipulate large files. 250 GB is about entry
level, and will give you adequate space. 320 GB is about "midgrade", and will last you a while longer. This is usually
adequate for average users. 500 GB is sufficient for just about anything. You can have multiple 3D games on it, and
have a plethora of space for other stuff. Solid-State Drives are gaining popularity. They are faster, but they cost more
and the capacities are about 1/8 of 2 TB hard drives. They typically go up to 256 GB, so if your budget allows, or you
want the faster speed, go for it.

Screen Size: The screen size greatly depends on what you are using the laptop for, so if you are looking for a ridiculously portable
laptop, an 11 inch screen will suffice, but you won't find that size on anything but netbooks. 14 inches is usually
appropriate for an ultraportable. A 17 inch screen is only for high performance and desktop replacement laptops.

Ports/Connectors: Depends greatly on your intention of use. Always have USB. If you want to output HD Video, and HDMI is nice.
You also always want earphone/mic jacks so you don't bother anyone if you are ever in that situation. Gigabit
Ethernet is almost optional, unless you need it. Modem is optional. eSATA is a nice touch if you want to connect
an eSATA compatible external hard drive.

Drives: A CD drive is becoming more of an optional component as people are switching to flash memory such as flash drives. If you
do get one, make sure it can write CDs, and at least read DVDs. Floppy drives are obsolete today, so don't expect to find one
in a laptop anymore, but hey, if you still have floppy disks, get an external one.

Wireless/Bluetooth: Make sure to have a wireless card. 802.11n will get you connected to any network. Bluetooth is optional. If you
connect you phone to your computer over Bluetooth or something , then get it.

Audio: Pretty straightforward. Make sure it has good speakers if you listen to music a lot.

Batteries: At least 3 hrs. If you want all day computing, get a 9-cell battery.

Step 3: Cosmetics

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Well, we are at the looks of it. This part is pretty straightforward. Just see if you like the looks of the laptop. If you like blue, get a blue laptop. If you like red, get a red laptop. See the pattern? Make sure it is thin enough. You don't want to be lugging around a laptop 1 inch thick. Weight is another factor. Aim for 5 lbs and under, unless you need a desktop replacement laptop.

Step 4: Conclusion

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Well, I hope this helped with your decision in buying a laptop. Any comments, suggestions, or just plain constructive criticism are welcome.

Comments

die potato (author)2014-12-24

Huh... That really helped me actually understand what they meant by the CPU and ROM and stuff. Before it was just like "hey! This one has a higher number intel core than this one and it says it has more memory so i'll think about getting this one instead of that one"

I literally had nooo clue until now!

Schmidty16 (author)2012-09-22

i am looking for a laptop computer with an i5 processor that i want to play 3d games on like runecape and minecraft i want the price between $600 and below whith a screen anything bigger than 14in and bigger with a camera in it id dont store a ton of pics so what do i do can u give me any suggestions

KaydenST (author)Schmidty162012-09-22

Acer Aspire TimelineXs are nice. I'm pleased with mine, and it plays minecraft well. It is a 4830T I believe

Schmidty16 (author)KaydenST2012-09-23

where did you buy it and how much did you pay for it and how big is your screen size

KaydenST (author)Schmidty162012-09-23

My Grandpa bought it I think off of CDW, the price is $626.99 USD, and the screen is 14 inches. And I remember the exact model now: Acer Aspire TimelineX AS4830T-6499

Schmidty16 (author)KaydenST2012-09-23

ok i saw that scame computer at walmart

black hole (author)2012-08-23

I got a refurbished Dell Latitude D820 on eBay for $200, and it works great. I believe the seller is 'CL3Technology' if anyone is interested.

lemonie (author)2011-12-11

You're just talking about laptops, as most people do when writing these "guides".
>Cost? it depends
>Colour? What you like
>Floppy's? Well, this or that.
>Anything else? Well it's up to you...

L

KaydenST (author)lemonie2012-08-23

Well, that's what the Instructable is about, isn't it? :)

KaydenST (author)black hole2012-08-23

I've had no trouble with performance with Dell Latitudes. I think they are great machines

Schmidty16 (author)2012-06-15

Looks very good I'm probity going to walmart to get a Samsung Visio it's screen size is 15.5inches

KaydenST (author)2011-11-05

Awww... my arrow didn't show up right.... :(

ghostmonkeys (author)2011-10-19

Comments: Great content.
Suggestions: Give examples of the laptops you are giving the specs for.
Constructive criticism: Its a little difficult to read [ Step 2]

its
very like
this.

Other than that. It has helped me alot.

Thanks again for your instructable

Nathan (Ghostmonkeys)

KaydenST (author)ghostmonkeys2011-11-05

I have spaced the sections more, but when I go to edit it, it doesn't show the Step like this:

its
very like
this

it shows it like this:

its very like this

I will have to go through it really good. Sorry I was so late in changing it.

KaydenST (author)ghostmonkeys2011-10-19

Yeah, Step 2 did turn out a little weird. I will try to fix it tomorrow. I will also try to add the laptop examples in, too. Happy computing!

ghostmonkeys (author)KaydenST2011-10-19

Sounds good. Do you think you could help me with my question?

Link is

https://www.instructables.com/answers/How-can-I-play-Star-Wars-Knights-of-the-Old-Republ/

Thanks in advance

Nathan (Ghostmonkeys)

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