With the plethora of laptops flooding the market these days, it become difficult to know which are good and which are not. In this Techspirited article, we give a few of the factors that are used to rank laptops, so you can make an informed choice while buying one.
With so many laptop models available nowadays, it’s difficult to understand which one is better and why. Some promise great computing speed, while some guarantee a good media center. It’s easy for a consumer to be swept away by the hype and advertising, and forget why he/she wanted the laptop in the first place. In these situations, it is best to have one’s own rating system to understand where a laptop ranks in your needs and wants.
Laptop Computer Ratings
How to rate a laptop? A seemingly simple question, but a myriad of answers are available. A tech-savvy individual will go for technical details like processor, graphics card, screen size, etc. Ask a college student, and he’ ll say gaming capabilities and price. A businessman will rank lightness and networking features at the top. Take a look at this list, and based on your need, see what you need to look for in a laptop to make it the best for you.
Security tools, management software, and usability are key factors to look for in a business laptop. Sufficient RAM, hard disk capacity, and a light and compact body are the hardware features. The operating system used often is Windows Vista Professional or Windows 7 Professional.
Laptops are not the ideal gaming platforms, but gaming laptops are very popular among all age groups. At a minimum, the laptop should support low graphic quality games. For hardcore gamers, a gaming laptop is a combination of high RAM, large hard disk capacity, and a great graphics and sound system.
Your graphics usage comes into focus here. If you need high-end multimedia performance for video/photo editing, gaming, or watching movies and music, look for ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards. At a minimum, the graphics system should support low quality games and movies and some amount of photo or video editing.
Processor and Hardware
There are many hardware features to rate on, but the 3 most important are processor type, RAM capacity, and hard disk space. Simply speaking, a processor is the laptop’s brain. What programs you can run, and how fast and how many at a time you can run, depends solely on your processor. Intel and AMD are the two top brands. To keep your programs from lagging, go for a minimum RAM of 2 GB. Gamers and users of high-end software programs like Visual Studio need at least 4 or 6 GB. With hard disk capacity, how much you get is never enough. The necessary capacity for any laptop is between 200 to 500 GB. Again, your usage depends here. With insufficient hard disk capacity, the RAM cannot function properly. Other hardware features can be screen size and optical drives (DVD, Blu-Ray).
With networking, Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet are the norm. But the standards of these two technologies keep advancing. Wi-Fi 802.11g is being replaced by the faster 802.11n standard. Mobile broadband is useful in areas with irregular or poor Wi-Fi connection. A mobile broadband antenna is built-in and allows you to connect to your cell phone’s data network. The terms WWAN and 3G are used to describe this sort of connection.
What sort of devices can you connect to your laptop? Bluetooth is a popular wireless protocol, useful for transferring data between a laptop and a paired device. The paired device can be anything, from a mobile or a MP3 player, to another laptop. Up to 5 Bluetooth connections can be conducted simultaneously. USB connections are a necessity, don’t even think to buy a laptop without one! Look for how many USB ports are available based on your needs. ExpressCards and PC cards are some older interfaces that are steadily being replaced by USB adapters.
What’s the use of a good graphics system or networking features, if your laptop keeps going off due to poor battery quality? Battery capacity ranges from models and brands. The LCD size also depends here, as the wider the screen, the more the power consumption. A 13-inch laptop has a better battery life than a 17-inch laptop. Another battery drainer is the processor. Some laptops allow add-on external batteries. Apple laptops are known for their long-lasting battery capacity over Windows laptops.
There are different weight classes in laptops. ‘Thin & Lights’ are between 4 to 6 pounds, and ‘Ultraportables’ are below 4 pounds. Standard laptops are between 6 to 8 pounds, while the heavy weights are 8 pounds and up, and are called desktop replacements. Going for size also means compromise on some of the above features, as smaller laptops usually pack less capabilities.
Price is always a tricky issue when it comes to any technological gadget, be it a smartphone or an MP3 player. With advancement in technology, prices always drop and your worst fear is realized: that very expensive laptop you brought is now $200 cheaper. Another question is what is enough and what is cheap or expensive? For gaming laptops, a minimum of $700 should be considered. With home users, a budget of $600 to $1000 is necessary, due to multiple users and needs. Netbooks are a class of laptops with limited features, with the price typically under $500. Thin & lights and ultraportables are usually between $600 and $1000. Here, look to your needs and expected life of the laptop. It’s better to pay a little more and get something built-in, then to buy an expensive external component later.
Comparison of 4 Recent Models
To truly understand how the above features rate a laptop, let’s take 4 of the recent best laptop computers available, and compare them.
Apple MacBook Pro Winter
|Network & Connectivity
|Fast and powerful, mainstream category
|Intel i7, 4GB RAM, 750 GB HDD
|Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, 2 USB ports, card reader
|7 hrs, good
|Thin, strong body, 5.5 pounds weight
Toshiba Portege R705-P35
|Network & Connectivity
|All rounder, ultraportable category
|Intel integrated system
|Intel Core i3, 4GB, 500GB HDD
|3 USB ports, 4G broadband, Wi-Fi n, No Bluetooth, Wireless Display
|Slim, light, 3.2 pounds
HP Envy 17
|Network & Connectivity
|Multitasker, desktop replacement category
|ATl Radeon HD system
|Intel Core i7, 4GB, 500GB HDD, Blu ray
|2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0, Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth
|Poor, approximately 1.5 hrs
|Slim but heavy, 7.51 pounds
|$1500, decent for hardware features
Dell XPS 15
|Network & Connectivity
|Excellent media and gaming facilities, desktop replacement category
|Intel Core i5, 4GB, 500GB HDD
|2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0, Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth 3.0, WiMax
|Ok, approximately 4-5 hrs
|Slightly bulky, 7.2 pounds
|$800, competitive price
Note: All prices mentioned are approximate and depend on various factors like location and offers available
There are no good or bad laptops. One man’s pride and joy is a piece of junk to another. The best way to understand which laptop is the best for you, is to carry out a detailed research. Don’t accept one opinion on any model, instead discuss with friends and see the general impression. Purchasing a laptop is not as difficult as you think it to be, if you choose, with the right features in mind, what suits your specific needs.