15 Key Features to Look for When Buying a Laptop

When it comes to buying a laptop, grabbing the first one that you find on sale is not the best option. You should consider everything from the storage space it provides, down to the screen quality. Everything is going to be a give and take, depending on the area that you work in.

Here is everything you need to know about buying a laptop that fits your needs.

  • Type of Storage

Consider the different storage options when looking for a new laptop. There are hard drives (HDDs), SATA solid-state drives (SSDs), and NVME M.2 SSD drives. Each comes with its own benefit.

HDDs are used for maximizing the amount of storage space available on a laptop. At the time of writing, SSDs of any size just don’t have the price point to compete with the cheap HDDs. HDDs do come with the downside of being much slower and easier to damage than SSDs.

SATA SSDs come with the benefit of being much faster. Compared to HDDs, you can expect to see an increase in reading and write speeds of about 500%. This is thanks to there being no moving parts in an SSD.

NVME M.2 SSDs are even faster than their SATA counterpart, as they plug directly into the motherboard itself. There is no cable to worry about when it comes to the transfer of power. The downside is the cost of an M.2 SSD typically costs around double to triple what an HDD would when it comes to storage space.

  • RAM

RAM is another of the laptop features that you should be on the lookout for. Having higher amounts of RAM can lead to an increase in productivity and multitasking, as this memory is in charge of that.

If you enjoy having dozens to hundreds of different tabs and programs open at one time, you should make sure that you have at least 8 GB of RAM in your new laptop. The more the merrier in this case. For those on a high productivity workload, 16 GB is the minimum you should obtain.

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  • CPU

Your CPU is just as important as the other three components that were mentioned earlier. Your central processing unit is in charge of allocating the work being done, as well as processing all the data to display and perform.

CPUs are judged by cores and threads. If you enjoy gaming, the number of cores isn’t as important as the clock speed. If you’re more of a creative and enjoy designing games, editing videos, or anything along those lines, look to favor a higher number of cores.

  • Dedicated GPU

If you’re a gamer or creative, having a dedicated GPU in the laptop is a must-have. Your GPU will have separate cores and processing power to help boost your laptop to full productivity mode.

If you’re more focused on word processing and spreadsheets, then a dedicated GPU is not necessary. You can stick to the integrated graphics that come with a CPU, but this does chip away at some of the processing power.

  • Screen Quality

Beyond the hardware, the screen quality will also matter to a lot of people. If you enjoy playing games, watching videos, or work in the creative field, a high-resolution display is important.

Most laptops start at 1080p when it comes to quality, but there are plenty out there that feature 4K quality on their screens. This makes colors more vibrant and distinguishable, making for a more pleasant viewing experience.

  • Keyboard Flex

When it comes to laptops, it is hard to replicate the feeling of a standard keyboard. Especially if you’re a fan of mechanical keyboards that make sure everyone in the office or your home knows you’re typing.

Keyboard flex refers to the amount of flex that a keyboard has underneath it when you’re typing. You can easily test to see the laptop’s keyboard flex by putting little amounts of pressure in the center of the keyboard. The sturdier the keyboard, the less likely you are to cause any damage to the hardware underneath.

  • Weight

The whole point of a laptop is to take it on the go. This is why weight is a big factor to consider when buying a new laptop. You should see how the laptop feels when you’re moving it around both with your hands and in a carrying bag.

Heavier laptops often are meant heavier for a good reason. The hardware they pack is not light but makes up for it in the performance area. For those that need to track numbers and type words, a lighter laptop will be more than sufficient at getting the work done.

  • Cooling

A big complaint of laptops is that they get extremely hot, extremely fast. This has even led to laptops burning people.

Check to see what the exhaust is for the heat pipes in the laptop. The more cooling that it provides, whether it be through more fans, better ventilation, or more heat pipes, the better the performance is. A combination of all three is the best option.

  • I/O

I/O, or more humanly referred to as input and output, refers to the number of ports that are available to you on the side of the device. This relates to everything from USB ports, to SD card readers, to lightning ports.

If you use an external mouse, as well as needing to plug in an external hard drive, and there’s only one USB port available, this makes things complicated. Take into account all of the extra items that you use when picking out a laptop.

  • Charging

Charging hasn’t evolved much in recent years, other than starting to adopt a standard USB C charging port. If the laptop still uses its own version of a charging port, this could be a problem when it comes to replacing it.

Versus getting a USB C charging laptop, you often can find a replacement at any superstore. Not only that but this type of charging also allows for charging from multiple ports, meaning that you can charge from either the left or right side.

  • Screen Refresh Rate

For those that are in the gaming world, the screen refresh rate makes a difference. The higher the refresh rate, the quicker you see frames.

This makes a difference when it comes to those in the competitive realm. The quicker you can see the competition, the quicker you can react, giving you a direct advantage over your competitor. A high refresh rate is considered anything over 60Hz.

  • Ease of Repair

While this seems weird talking about a new laptop, the ease of repair is just as important as everything else. If the company purposely makes it as difficult as possible to repair the laptop, in hopes that you simply buy another, then this is a big red flag.

See how many screws it takes to get to the inner workings of the laptop. From there, see if you can easily pop out items like the battery, storage drive, RAM, or other components.

  • Battery Life

This is a major portion as to why people get a new laptop in the first place. When the battery can no longer keep up with the demand of the workload. That’s why laptop companies often advertise the amount of battery life their product has.

If you’re hardcore editing and producing content while on the go, be sure to maximize your battery life. Companies will often skimp out on the battery in favor of higher-end parts, leading you to have a glorified “mini desktop”.

  • Ease of Touchpad

Using the touchpad is another one that often goes overlooked. While you may only want to be able to point and in click, others like shortcuts built in to maximize their productivity.

There should be a tutorial on touchpad shortcuts when you first get a new laptop. Or a review that covers the shortcuts if you want to learn beforehand.

  • Sound Quality

Last and not least, sound quality. The sound quality of laptops has actually seen a decrease in the last few years, as companies realize that their users tend to wear headphones, rather than use their built-in speakers.

If you’re someone that chooses to use the speakers, make sure you get a high-quality sounding device. You don’t want it to seem that you just pulled up a video from the 1940s with the terrible sound quality going on.

Buying a Laptop Is Simple

When it comes to buying a laptop, don’t look too long and hard at the nitty-gritty. Find the features that you need to complete your job, without breaking the bank, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new laptop.

If you enjoyed the article and want to learn more about how the tech world is evolving and how to stay on top of it, be sure to check out the rest of the blog. If you know someone looking for a new laptop, be sure to share this article with them.