How to Buy a Laptop

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There are various types of laptops that exist in the world today, namely ultra-portable, gaming laptops, business laptops, budget laptops and netbooks, which have a very small screen.

What is a Dedicated Graphics Card?

Dedicated Graphics Cards work the same way  the processor does in a laptop, but is dedicated to process the images we get on the screen. Without dedicated graphics, our processor, whether it be an i3 or i5 takes on the role of processing the graphics; it is usually a separate chip on a laptop logic board that has its own memory or uses a part of laptop’s memory, in some cases, up to 1 GB of the laptop’s RAM.


For Games

Games require a specialized graphics card. We have two companies today that make graphic chips for gaming laptops; these companies are AMD and NVidia. You probably already heard somebody say that Intel graphic accelerators will do the same job as those two, but this is not true. Yes, some games will work on Intel graphic chips, but  other things come into play sometimes; for example, on some Intel cards, OpenGL may not work and the game will not run.

What is the best graphics card of the above mentioned two? Well, NVidia cards in general are a bit more popular. Though, this does not mean they are better.

For Office Work

There are cheap laptops that would be suitable for office work. However, I need to warn you here, as the cheapest laptops available on the market are not always up to par, even for web browsing. Today’s web pages are stacked with a lot of heavy code, some use Java or Java Script which is very resource hungry.

That’s why I would not recommend buying a laptop with a Celeron processor. You will be throwing money out with no benefits. The Celerons can work normally just on desktop computers. For laptops, this is not a recommended option.

I have here a small 14 inch laptop, Asus E403SA, which would really be well suited for office work. Many laptops today with a 14 inch screen have limited storage space of 32 GB. For office work, there should be at least 64 GB storage to store documents, pictures etc. Though, it is possible to increase storage capacity a bit by using a Nano USB flash drive.

Business Laptops

Deciding which laptop to get for a business really depends on what the duties will entail. I would recommend the Asus mentioned above for business use if there is no multimedia work involved. If there is some multimedia work involved, I would get a Toshiba Tecra A40-C-1KF 14 inch, which has an i5 processor or similar. I would stay away from dual core processors, as they, even today are underpowered. Unless the laptop has a dedicated graphics card, it is better not to look at laptops with Celerons and dual core processors.

I probably would look for a better resolution than 1366X768, say 1920X1080. Laptops with this higher resolution are rare and cost more, but I think you will benefit from higher resolution if you ever plan to use design software.

For work or business, I would also look for a laptop that has a dedicated graphics. This is not just about speed and compatibility with design or other software, but in general, the images that dedicated graphics cards produce are more pleasant and more detail-oriented.

For Serious Gaming

Dedicated laptops for gaming are Acer Predator, Dell Alienware, MSI Apache Pro, MSI Stealth Pro etc. They are advertised as gaming laptops.

What you need to watch for with gaming laptops is the battery life. Some of them have a short battery life, while some will have up to 6 hours of battery life. However, the tendency is that gaming laptops will have a shorter battery life, as they have some serious hardware inside.

A serious gaming requirement for laptops is and always will be a dedicated graphics card, i.e. AMD or NVidia. You probably will hear a sales person saying that Intel i5 and i7 are up to the task with games, but do not fall for this sales pitch. Games need serious hardware and even if you get an i7, I guarantee that some games will not work.

Budget Laptops

Above, I have mentioned laptops with Celeron processors. They are considered budget laptops and mainly targeted to office work. Though, I need to mention that Celerons have reduced memory inside and will be noticeably slow in case you open a dozen tabs in a browser. If you find a Celeron processor in a laptop and a dedicated graphics card (AMD Radeon), I would say this would be a good buy. Though, this combination is extremely rare. You probably will find a desktop PC with a Celeron and an AMD Radeon graphics cart more often than a laptop with this setup.

An AMD budget processor, in my opinion, would be the E-300 or E-350. They often come in a laptop paired with a dedicated graphics, i.e. Radeon HD 6310M, which makes the laptop very capable of running some simple games, in addition to office work.

Conclusion

The type of laptop you need to buy depends primarily on the job that you need done. However, in general, laptops with dedicated graphics cards are better. Though, laptops with a better performance will be heavier and more expensive.


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