I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to spend over $1000 for an Apple or any other brand for that matter. No I’m looking to get as much value for my money as possible. The budget for this laptop is $600 which I think is more than enough to get me a great laptop for my needs.
In preparations for my purchase I asked my social media peeps on Facebook and Google+ what they found most difficult about buying a new laptop. Not surprisingly, most responses mentioned understanding the specifications, which was one of my big challenges as well.
After doing a lot of research I decided to write this article to share what I learned in hopes that it will help others with their purchases in the future. This is not meant to be very technical, I just want to give enough info to help you make the best decision possible. Hope this helps.
One of the weird things I noticed is that many local and international stores don’t highlight the CPU information when talking about laptops. Weird because it is perhaps the most important piece of information that should influence your purchase.
Could it be because so few people understand it or are trying to cover up the weakness of the product?
If you choose to ignore the CPU specification when purchasing your new laptop, you could seriously end up wasting your money on a dud laptop. So this is what you need to know to make a good decision;
- Intel Core i7 – High End - expect to find this in more expensive performance machines, although unless you’re a gamer or serious video editor, it’s unlikely you need this much power.
- Intel Core i5 – Main Stream - Intel’s mainstream processor, found in many 15-inch, and even some 17-inch laptops, usually between $600 and $1,000
- Intel Core i3 – Low End - Found in many budget and mid-range laptops, this dual-core CPU is fine for everyday computing
In addition to giving you the class of the cpu, the specs will also indicate the generation of the CPU. So you may see a specs like this;
- Intel Core i3-4xxx - indicates 4th generation i3 processor which is the latest generation out now
- Intel Core i3-3xxx – Indicates 3rd generation
- Intel Core i3-2xxx – Indicates 2nd generation
My old laptop has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which was top of the line when I bought it, but now falls behind the low end i3. So I have no doubt that the i3 is sufficient for most of my tasks.
Recommendation: You can get a very nice laptop with an Intel Core i3-3xxx processor for under $500. For my budget range I’m looking for an i5-3x or 4xxx if possible. Stay away from the Pentium, Celeron, and Atom models as they are all older/slower than the i3.
Also stay away from AMD processors as they are inferior to intel as well.
Hard Drive & Storage
My current laptop has a 320 GB HDD hard drive and I still have close to 100GB remaining. This is why a very large hard drive is not that important to me. The type and speed of the drive is more relevant for my needs.
HDD - consists of spinning platters that spin when data is accessed. They are found in the majority of laptops, are large and inexpensive, but also add weight, heat, and lots of moving parts to your laptop. Most laptops now come standard with 500GB 5400rpm HDD.
SSD - (Solid State Drive) is flash memory, similar to what you’d find in an iPhone or SD card. These drives run cool and quiet, and produce less heat, but they’re also much more expensive, with smaller capacities. SSD is the future of computer storage, but for now, the small capacities mean they aren’t ideal for things like large video collections.
Hybrid - In my research I’ve come across laptops with hybrid drives, where a small SSD (20GB or 32GB) is paired with a larger HDD. This lets the system boot faster and helps apps open quickly, but stores bulky music and video files on the standard hard drive.
Recommendation: Go for the Hybrid if available, otherwise make sure you get at least 500GB.
Size & Weight
My old laptop has a 15.6 in screen and is between 6.5 – 7.5 lbs. While the screen size is ok, it can be a pain to carry around.
I’m looking for something more on the lighter side and will accept a smaller screen size down to about 13.9 inches.
Recommendation: It’s really up to your personal preference and how you plan on using the laptop.
Other Things To Consider
Battery Life - After 6 years of use my old laptop lasts just one hour on Battery. So I was pretty tied to the plug. This time around I’m looking for a new laptop with more battery life. At least 5 hours will do.
USB Ports - USB3.0 offers faster transfer speeds and will be the new standard in a year, so make sure you have at least one USB3.0 port.
Resolution- Most of the laptops that I’ve looked at come with 1366 X 768 resolution which is sufficient for me and my price range. But it’s not HD. I’ve seen this mentioned in a lot of reviews, but I think I’m prepared to accept this.
RAM – 4GB is the standard amount of RAM you will find on most laptops. You should not settle for less, in fact, aim for 6-8GB if possible. The more the better.
My Laptop Picks
ASUS VivoBook S400CA-RSI5T18 14-Inch Touchscreen - Price: $529.00
This laptop has a powerful i5 processor, Is portable at only 4lbs and has a 5 hour battery life. It has a touchscreen which is great for Windows 8.
HP Envy 14-k020us TouchSmart Ultrabook – Price: $839
This is a great laptop, with a powerful 4th generation cpu, great battery life, light weight and beautiful design.
Acer Aspire S7-391-6468 13.3-Inch Touchscreen Ultrabook - Price: $939
This is a really nice laptop with a 4th Generation i5 processor, only 2.9lbs and 6 hours battery life. It also has a SSD drive, so it will be blazing fast.
To see more of my laptop picks click on the link below based on your budget
I hope this helped you, if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments