There’s a great video on PCWorld entitled: Buy the Best PC Laptop: 5 Gotchas to avoid. While I think the video is worth watching, I’d like to add some other tips for the consumer.
1. Determine your computing needs before going to the store and don’t be afraid to spend enough to meet your requirements. Picking a bargain-bin laptop might sound like a good idea now, but consider how you will feel after 3 or more years of use. On the flip-side, be careful not to over-buy, especially when faced with a sales person. When it comes to laptop design, comfort is always more important than aesthetics. Consider taking a “test-drive” at a local retailer before making your final decision.
2. RAM: One question I get on a regular basis is: “How much memory should I have” While there are many factors to consider here, most average users don’t need anything over 8GB. Unless you have specialized needs, this is my recommended benchmark.
3. SSD: An SSD, or Solid State Hard Drive is one of the best “upgrades” you can make to your computer. An SSD-Equipped PC will boot faster, launches apps faster, and has better overall performance. An SSD Hard Drive also has no moving parts so it’s inherently more durable. Also, SSDs don’t suffer fragmentation like HDD drives (an SSD doesn’t care where data is stored on it’s chips). There are however some down-sides to SSDs:
A. Price: SSD Hard Drives are somewhat new to the market and carry a higher price tag than HDD drives which are based on mature technology.
B. Maximum Size: Currently, the maximum size for an SSD is 1TB.
4. Laptop Size: There will always be a trade-off between performance and portability. An ultra-thin laptop will be easier to carry to work each day, but will not perform as well as it’s larger competition. Some other factors to consider when spec’ing out your machine are: Display size and resolution, location/size of the touch pad and whether or not it has an internal optical drive (DVD) and Ethernet port.