- SIZE OF LAPTOP
Laptops sizes tend to start at 11.6-inches and go all the way up to 17.3 inches. Notebooks laptops, mostly with 15.6” Screens are the most popular and offer the best combination of power and portability. If portability is especially important, you will want to go for a smaller sized Windows laptop. They tend to be thinner and lighter and have a screen that is either 12.5-inches or 13.3-inches in size, and a weight between 1kg and 1.5kgs. However, keep in mind that smaller-sized laptops might not have all the power and ports that you need. There are also some ultra-thin laptops available as well which are ideal for travelling and some laptops models with detachable screens which convert to tablets.
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit and is the main engine which powers your laptop. The bigger the processor the faster your laptop and it allows for better multi-tasking. The CPU cannot be upgraded later. CPU’s are made by two companies Intel and AMD. Intel start with Core i3 and go up to Core i5 and i7. AMD have the AMD Ryzen 3, 5 and 7. If you want a laptop for simple home use then a notebook with a basic processor should suffice. If you need a laptop to run specific software like AutoCAD or Adobe for example, then you will need something much more powerful. Always ask before you purchase and always check what are the minimum specifications that you need to run your software and devices.
RAM is short for Random Access Memory and controls the speed of your laptop. Essentially, it is your short-term memory and there are some limited options to upgrade this afterwards. More RAM allows for more programmes to run at the same time, and for faster access to your data. This is useful for editing photos or video content. You will need a minimum of 4GB of RAM. Many laptops now come with 8GB but if you are a power-user then you might need to consider 16GB.
There are two types of Hard Drives which allow you to store information on your laptop. Traditional Hard Drives have big capacity usually 500GB or 1TB which offers lots of space for storing documents, photos, and videos. In our experience most laptops we see in our Service Centre do not have more that 100GB of data on them. Photos and videos take up the most space. 1TB which is 1000GB stores 200,000 5-minute songs; 310,000 pictures; or 500 hours’ worth of movies. In recent years, many Laptops are coming with SSD Hard Drives. SSD is short for Solid State Drive. These tend to be more robust and less likely to fail. They are also faster but more expensive. The big issue is that they are limited in capacity.
We would recommend a laptop with at least 128GB SSD. Some laptops now come with two hard drives a smaller SSD Hard Drive with your Windows software and a larger traditional Hard Drive for storing your documents. Laptops using eMMC or Flash storage have often ridiculously small storage capacity and as they are integrated as part of the laptop this cannot be upgraded or changed. These laptops often become completely unusable after a noticeably short period of time and therefore while they may have an appealing selling price, we would not recommend them. They have little or no space for storing anything with most of the space already taken up by your Windows software and any other programmes that you have installed. Irrespective of which laptop you have, its always really important to back up your information so that you have created a second and third copy of your most important information on the Cloud or on an External Hard Drive or USB Flash Drive.
- BATTERY LIFE
Most laptops have a battery life of 2.5 – 6 hours. When buying a laptop check the Manufacturers specifications as a general guide. How you use the laptop also determines the life of the battery. The more programmes you have running and the more devices you have connected all affect the battery life. Also getting into good habits when charging your laptop will determine how your battery continues to perform over time. You should never leave your laptop plugged in permanently and you should always plug it out when the laptop is fully charged. You should continue to use the laptop on battery until it is close to being fully drained and only then charge it.
- PORTS AND KEYBOARDS
What ports do you need on your laptop? Do you need HDMI or VGA to connect to a Projector or TV? Do you need a card reader to download your photos? How many USB ports do you need? USB ports are the most important and it good to have more than one and better still if they are at the opposite side of the laptops. You can usually get a USB converter for most other connections that you need. You will also need a keyboard that is comfortable for you. This is a personal choice and it is always good to try before you buy.
- BUILD FACTOR
Some laptops are better built that others and can survive a fall or drop. Other tend to be made of much softer plastic and tend to get damaged more easily. Some laptops come with spill resistant keyboards which can be a lifesaver.
- AFTERSALES SERVICE AND WARRANTY
What kind of aftersales service will you get? All laptops are covered by a 12 Month Hardware Manufacturer Warranty. If you have a Hardware Warranty issue, many of the bigger Computer Shops and Electrical Stores get you to contact the Manufacturer directly so this can mean a lot of time on the phone. At Niamh Barrett Computers we will always look after any Hardware Warranty issue for you. We will deal with the Manufacturer directly and if it is possible, we will back up your data if you laptop has to be sent back. We will set up your laptop on its return. If you are very stuck, we will give you a loan of another laptop while its away. However, you can have other problems with your new laptop that are not covered by warranty and we can fix these in our Service Centre. Remember we are experts on repairing laptops and computers. We generally do not sell extended warranties as we do not think they offer you good value.
- BEFORE YOU BUY
We will always give the best advice when you are buying a laptop and ensure that we sell you a laptop that meets your requirements. We will always be guided by what you want. We put a lot of thought into selecting the models and brands we sell. If you like, we fully set up the laptop for you, updating and installing software, installing Microsoft Office and good quality subscription based Anti-Virus software. In our experience this is the way to go and it eliminates all the hassle when you go home or back to your office. We can also transfer data from an old laptop and dispose of it safely and securely for you if you require.
Of course, you need to balance all this with your budget and your requirements. You might have to make some compromises though. It is unusual for a laptop that ticks all the boxes, especially when it comes to price.