Whether youre looking for a portable option or a full-size laptop, the right model can help take your work space to the next level.

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What to Consider When Choosing the Best Laptop

Before choosing a laptop, consider how much storage and processing power you need. Keep in mind that some laptops are better suited for gaming than others, so its important to find one with the right combination of features.

Size/Weight

Laptop size is measured in inches and can affect your work or gaming experience. Manufacturers arent always consistent in their descriptions, but generally speaking, small- to medium-size laptops will be between 12 and 15 inches, while larger ones might measure up to 17 inches.

The weight of the laptop will also affect your experience, especially if youre already carrying around an extra 15 pounds or so thanks to your desktop computer and peripherals. A lightweight laptop might feel more comfortable to carry, while a heavier one could make your back and shoulders hurt after a long period of use.

Screen Size/Resolution

A laptop screen can range dramatically in size, from tiny sub-10-inch panels to large 15-inch models. The resolution of the screen can have a big impact on how well it displays text and graphics.

Standard definition (SD) screens have a resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, which gives them a modestly sharp picture. However, many newer laptops now come with high-definition (HD) screens, which offer a much higher resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. This can give a much sharper image.

Some manufacturers may describe these higher resolutions as being super-clear, ultra-sharp, or having exceptional contrast ratios, but they really mean they have a higher pixel density. In simpler terms, this means there are more pixels available for the video to render. These fancier screens tend to be pricier, though.

Battery Life

If theres one aspect of a laptop thats likely to limit your activities, its likely to be battery life. Battery capacity varies considerably, from 200mAh for some budget models to over 600mAh for some premium devices. Its not just the bigger batteries that matter, either; the configuration can also affect how much runtime you get from a particular source.

For example, a laptop with two smaller batteries in series will often run for longer than a single larger battery alone. Similarly, a laptop with two smaller individual batteries will often run for longer than a single, larger battery.

Note that battery life can vary considerably depending on the tasks you’ll be doing. Heavy gamers who demand lots of graphics and audio power will get less battery life out of a laptop than someone who doesnt use those features as much.

Storage Capacity

One obvious difference between some laptops is the amount of storage available. For instance, some Chromebooks dont even come with a hard drive, relying entirely on the cloud for storage. Other devices might include a small SSD (solid state drive) for faster boot times and temporary files, plus a traditional hard drive for long-term data storage.

Manufacturers arent always clear about what they include in their storage capacities, so be sure to check the products details for the actual storage space available. Also consider how much storage you will eventually need, and look for a device with that kind of capacity.

Processor Speed

As processors become more powerful, they require more energy to operate. Some manufacturers try to bridge this gap with battery technology, but the best way to ensure you get the performance you want is to find a laptop with a fast processor.

The speed of the processor can have a big impact on how well a laptop performs certain tasks. For example, a laptop with a slower processor might struggle to maintain a constant frame rate when playing games.

However, the processor speed will usually be described in terms of megahertz (MHz), kilohertz (kHz), or gigahertz (GHz). While MHz remains the same, the unit khz and GHz can increase significantly in power.

Operating System

The operating system (OS) of the laptop will also have an effect on its functionality. Windows and Mac OS X are the two most common systems, and each has different requirements when it comes to hardware support and software features.

  • Windows: As long as the hardware meets minimum requirements, Windows will run on any PC or laptop. However, older machines might find that Windows 7 or 8 isnt as efficient as it used to be.
  • Mac OS X: Only Apple-made computers can run Mac OS X, but since the company focuses on high-end hardware, most macs will meet minimum requirements. However, older models might find that Mac OS 9 or 10 runs more slowly than expected.

Additional Features

Finally, consider whether any additional features would help make the decision easier. For instance, some manufacturers might include a built-in webcam or mic, allowing you to make video calls without needing a separate app.

Other features might include built-in 3D printers or scanners, giving budding tech hobbyists the tools to create their own gadgets.