Computers Laptops

15 Laptop Buying Tips

Introduction

Purchasing a laptop is no easy task when it comes to picking out a quality machine. There are many different laptop brands, sizes, and specifications out there. There are also many different reasons to own one. This is why we have compiled 15 tips to help you decide when purchasing a laptop.

Step 1

Consider the amount of money that you want to spend. Laptops have come down in price, but they are certainly not cheap. A good estimate on the amount one should expect to spend on a decent 15 to 17 inch laptop is about $500-$700.

Step 2

Figure out what size laptop is needed or wanted. Many users choose a 15 inch screen, which is considered the average and most abundant size. There are also 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, and even 20 inch laptops out there. It all comes down to brand and person preference. All brands carry a 15 inch laptop, but may not have one that is 12 or 14 inches.

Step 3

Determine the size of hard drive needed. As with laptop sizes, there are also many different hard drive capacities. Many bottom of the line laptops have 320 GB hard drives. A 320 GB drive is decent, but it is no way huge. The largest hard drive that a laptop can come with is a 2 TB. Laptops with larger hard drives are more expensive. A 15 inch laptop with a 500 GB or larger drive will run into the low $600s in price.

Step 4

Browse the sale ads. Laptops go on sale at different stores each week. Sometimes the sale is a really good deal. More often than not the sale will cover select 15 to 17 inch laptops. Sale ads can be found in the Sunday paper and also on the local stores' websites. 

Step 5

Look online to get a list of specifications for each laptop that you are considering to purchase. Make sure you are happy with all the specifications before you purchase. You may run into a situation where you are comparing two 15 inch laptops that are $100 apart and the specs alone are the difference between the two. Become familiar with what you are looking for. 

Step 6

Make note of the amount of DDR RAM memory that you need. Most laptops have at least 2 GB of RAM, but some have less. If the laptop is running Windows 7, there should at least be 2 to 4 GB of RAM. Generally most 15 to 17 inch laptops have at least 2 GB of RAM by default. 

Step 7

Decide what type of processor you want. In many cases, the processor determines how much the laptop will cost. A 15 inch laptop with an AMD processor is going to be $200-$300 less than a 15 inch laptop with the top of the line Intel i7. Intel processors are typically better than the AMD kind, but if you are not picky over the type you can save money. 

Step 8

Consider whether a full or compact keyboard is better for you. Some users will prefer a compact keyboard, which can be found in the smaller laptops up to the 15 inch ones. Full keyboards generally start in the 15 inch laptops. The full keyboard contains a ten-key pad in addition to hotkeys. A major disadvantage of a compact keyboard is that the keys are too close together, even in the 15 inch laptops. 

Step 9

Consider the weight of the potential laptop you will buy. If weight is a factor, make sure it is known for each laptop you are looking at. Weight is generally listed under specs. Most 15 to 17 inch laptops weigh the same through the different brands, but some carry special laptops that are designed to weigh less. 

Step 10

In many cases battery life is a determining factor in selecting a laptop. Figure out what your needs are. Many newer laptops can get excess of 5 to 6 hours of battery life per charge. Also consider the type of battery, many laptops have either 6 or 9 cell batteries. Smaller than 15 inch laptops tend to have smaller cell batteries. 

Step 11

Consider the type of optical drive that is needed. Laptops have three types, CD/DVD, CD/DVD RW, and now Blu-ray. The newest laptops with the Blu-ray drives are pricey, plus this type of disc is not the standard yet. 

Step 12

Pay attention to the number of USB ports. Make sure at least one is a USB2 port. The average 15 inch laptop has at least 2 to 4 USB ports. 

Step 13

Consider the specs on the graphic card. A better graphics card is needed if high resolution videos or games are going to be used on the laptop. Generally a 15 inch or larger laptop would be considered for gaming, so make sure the video card is appropriate. It is recommended that a laptop have a NVIDIA or ATI video card. 

Step 14

Having sound on the laptop is important. Make sure it comes with a sound card and headphone output. A built-in microphone is also important. 

Step 15

Wireless or no wireless Internet, an important question. A laptop should really have a wireless networking card so that it can assess the Internet. Also make sure the laptop has at least one Ethernet port in case a wireless connection is not available. Ethernet ports are standard in most 15 inch laptops. 

Comments

These 15 tips to buying a laptop are not all of the factors that could or should be considered when making this type of purchase. Always make sure that the laptop you are buying is researched thoroughly before you make the plunge. 

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.pcworld.com/article/125647/how_to_buy_a_laptop.html
  2. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2356818,00.asp
  3. http://www.geek.com/laptop-buyers-guide/
By Nastassia Bushey, published at 03/02/2012
   Rating: 4/5 (11 votes)
15 Laptop Buying Tips. 4 of 5 based on 11 votes.

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