How to Buy a Laptop

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Are you in the market for a new laptop? What should you be looking for and considering? Here are some tips sent in by a community member to help you with your decision.

  • Build Quality. The build quality of the laptop is more important then you might think. Not only are poorly built laptops more likely to break down, but they are more likely to have overheating problems, and therefore run slower. If your laptop is going to be leaving the house several times a week, build quality is more important then it is not going to leave the house Look closely at the laptops in stores and read reviews online.
  • Keyboard. Similar to build quality, look at the quality of the keyboard. This is especially important if you will be doing a lot of typing. A poorly constructed keyboard will become very frustrated to type on.
  • Mobility vs. Screen size. If the laptop is rarely going to leave the house(Ex: when you go on vacation) then you a laptop with a 15-17 inch screen size is probably appropriate. However, if you are going to be taking the laptop to school or a café on a regular basis, you probably want something more mobile, in the 12-14 inch range. Although you should look at the actual weight of the machine, not just the screen size.
  • Specifications. I would recommend everyone stay away from Celeron, Sempron, Core Solo and Turion(single core) processors. You might think you don’t need more than a single core processor if your only doing basic tasks and surfing the web, but you might be surprised how draining seemingly simple tasks can be when you have several opened at the same time. Further, budget dual core laptops are only slightly more expensive then the above mentioned processors. I have read a lot of conflicting information on the hierarchy of processors, so maybe Chris can get into that more then I will hear. I went with a Core 2 duo, because generally people thought they had the best performance, better battery life, and fewest overheating problems. Turion processors are the best of the AMD line. Athlon X2 and Pentium Dual Core are considered budget dual core laptops. Keep in mind though even among the same line of processors(such as Core 2 duo) there can be a substantial difference in performance between the laptops. This is especially true if you are using a Windows Vista machine, which is most of the machines on the market right now. Don’t worry too much about memory, as it can be cheaply upgraded, and is very easy to upgrade. Just make sure the laptop is upgradeable. If you play video games and/or do video/photo editing. I got a laptop with an integrated video card since I don’t do any of those activities. Don’t really know much about video cards, maybe Chris can speak more to that.
  • Features. Does the laptop have a built in memory card reader for your type of digital camera? Does it have a built in web cam? A built in microphone? Aplenty USB Ports? How loud do the speakers get? One of the most important features I was looking for was battery life. Does the computer come with a 4 cell, 6 cell, 9 cell, or 12 cell battery? If it comes with a 4 or 6 cell battery, can you buy a better battery at a reasonable price?
  • Bonus Tip! Look for good deals, the smart shopper can pay hundreds less. Check out sites like tagjag.com for good bargains, but keep in mind that these sites tend to tell you that a laptop price at a certain store is the “best they could find”, but that doesn’t mean that particular laptop is actually a good deal compared to others on the market.

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41 thoughts on “How to Buy a Laptop”

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  2. I am about to purchase a new laptop, and I have to admit, these are really good arguements for picking out a new machine. But I do have my eye set on a particular machine that I have kept an eye out for months. It has everything I could possibly want. But these tips raise new questions for me now. I don’t think any of them would make my eye stray from this particular sweet machine. I may regret it, but on the other hand since I’m getting exactly what I want, I may be happy for many years. We’ll see.

  3. already switched a month ago and im loving it; bought an imac 20″. believe it is damn worth the money. i have vids that are made as a new mac switcher and also i have mac users that i subscribed to and have been very very helpful. check em their channels and learn more. At first, its a learning process but later(depending on how u pick it up) its so so fun. u will never look at a windows os again.

  4. FIRST OFF, DONT BUY ANY RAM UPGRADE FROM APPLE BUT BUY THEIR PRODUCTS; ITS CHEAPER N WORTH THE MONEY. 2ndly, PERSONALY, i look at specs first but MOSTLY i look at BATTERY LIFE (I KNOW THEY LIE THATS Y I RELY ON USER REVIEWS TOO). I find POINTLESS buying a laptop with all best features and yet POOR BATTERY N HEAVY; it’s PORTABILITY that matters on laptops.

  5. i’ve used windows and now for a month now im using mac and i can tell you that windows is not good at multi tasking and imaging and video. Macs are very stable in that platform. I can open several media programs and work on 1 of them whilst others are still open and I manage to work smoothly with no lagging or interruption whatsoever from the programs that are opened and operating in the background

  6. I have been thinking about buying a laptop, with these tips will hopefully help me make the right choice. Good tips.

  7. My first laptop, WinBook XP from 1994, has an annoying keyboard. It was built on tacts.. meaning each keystroke is super loud.
    When buying a Mac, and you’re in college, ask if you can get a student discount on basic things like software. Photoshop CS3 can cost $80 with discount.

  8. You should also read customer reviews about the laptops you are considering. Before I got my Vaio Sz laptop, I was considering getting an Asus w7s. It looked pretty good and the specs seemed fairly good. However, I came across multiple customer feedback comments and noticed that many complained of overheating issues.
    So be sure to read customer feedback before buying one!

  9. Another Bonus Tip: When buying a laptop (or anything else expensive), use a credit card which extends standard product warranty (unless you are buying extended warranty from the vendor). Also, keep the card until the extended warranty expires. And do not lose the document (warranty card, receipt, credit card statement) which may be necessary if (when) your laptop breaks.

  10. Hey just to let u know if you are big on things like video editing and other multimedia i recommend a sony vaio laptop they are great on power, also the macbooks are a good choose for this also.

  11. Hey Chris Thanks for the help because my sister was thinking of buying a laptop thanks Chris. Chris but what would be your recomended brand?

  12. hay Thank you for the video. I just bought a laptop but it sucks that I saw this video after i bought it. 🙁 anyway keep it up. See Ya L8ter

  13. My saying is, don’t buy the cheapiest one on display. You will regret it. Keep your options open and don’t be in a hurry to purchase. Take your time, read reviews, go to the store and play around with it. Getting a hands on feel for the Laptop is one of the best things you can do. Pick it up, get a feel for its weight since you will be lugging this thing around, unless this is a desktop replacement. Screen clarity is another one to look at, are you going to be outside with it sitting under a tree or on a bench? I would recommend a pretty high resolution screen. DVD player or DVD Writer is a plus if you can afford it.

    The number one thing I would look for in a Laptop would be the processor and ram, make sure it is powerful enough for your needs. If you game, go as high as you can go, if your a student, go mid range and make sure you have atleast 1 or 2GB of ram. Hard Drive space is a must for Students, since you will be saving your homework all the time.

  14. These are great tips. I wish I would of had this when I was buying my laptop. I think its a good idea to buy a laptop thats going to be very sturdy, You don’t want it to break or fall apart when your at a meeting or walking around the house with it. I also think that getting a laptop with a reaised keyboard would be a little bit better. Another note to point out, Try to find a laptop that has really good battery life so your not always leaving plugged in. Don’t always leave your battery plugged in one your laptop, take it out and leave it charging without the battery so you can save battery life.

    Make sure the laptop you want has everything you want, don’t skimp out on features, don’t pay for a laptop that has nothing you want. Don’t miss out on what you really want.

    Buy a laptop that has the specs you want. Make sure it has everything you want in it.

    Snakeyes

  15. No, I’m going to have to disagree. Not EVERYONE wants to take their laptop everywhere with them. Some may want it for space issues, or just want one to show off. It’s really a matter of opinion and their needs. Your paragraph doesn’t really make sense and finally don’t talk in caps, its annoying, rude, and makes it hard for everyone to read.

  16. I wish I had a Mac. It’s pretty difficult when you’re young to ask your parents for 1,000 or something dollars to buy a laptop when you have a working desktop. Can’t wait till I’m older and have a job so I can buy a Mac. I do multitasking quite a lot like when I’m on the internet, listening to music, watching videos, and talking to friends. Oh and for some of the people that say Macs are so expensive, when you add all the software and hardware upgrades you get the price of a Mac.

  17. Thanks a lot Chris. I am printing this out so once I get rid of this Sony Vaio that has been damaged a lot and probably won’t last long I will use your great tips to make my computer shopping probing easier. This computer is really having problems and Best Buy doesn’t want to do anything. All the problems I had was in my warranty period and well they said that the warranty did not cover this problem blah blah blah. So thanks again.

  18. If you are good at checking out the internet, software doesn’t have to cost so much. As a matter of fact, I paid for only 2 different programs (SWiSHmax and Magix). You can find the freebie equivalent for almost everything. There’s Open Office (like MS Office), Audacity (free sound editor), and Gimp (image editor) for starters.

  19. I agree that some PCs are very bad at multi-tasking, i had an old packard bell that wouldnt do it for shit, but i find it has a lot to do with the choice of hardware.

    Im not going to pretend that windows is a brilliant operating system. What it does give you is choice, in this case the choice to select any component you chose and of course there are bad decisions.

  20. I love Apple laptops, I even have a macbook pro, and i agree with Chris when he says, you are crazy if you buy RAM from Apple. I just bought 2 2GB of RAM for 100, while, if I bought it from Apple, it would have cost me 1000!!! 900 difference!!!

  21. Very informative and to the point. Nice to see, compared to all the garbage out here on the Internet. Good show and good point on the overheating, which can be a big problem.

  22. In my experience; ALWAYS do your research beforehand. This involves not only reading official reviews but also forums, blogs, etc to ensure that there are no frequently recurring problems with particular models.

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