Laptop Buying Guide

Laptop Buying Advice

Introduction

Home and Student

Office

Music & Video Editing

Gaming

 

Laptop or Tablet

A Tablet is a useful device to have as they’re very light have great battery life and so are very portable.

However they do have many shortcomings that make them only useful as a secondary device and really only useful for browsing internet and checking emails and facebook.

So if you plan on having only 1 device then its highly recommended you get a laptop.

Apple or PC

Well that’s up to you, but in summary here are some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Apple

+ Reputation of having the highest customer satisfaction of all laptop manufacturers

+ OSX is much much less prone to viruses

+ You can install Windows if needed.

– there is no low spec model. So whilst PC laptops start at £250, Apple laptops start at £850.

– You do pay a premium with like to like models

– OSX itself has less programs available for it.

PC

+ Start off much cheaper

+ Cost less like for like

+ Many many more options and variety of laptops available.

+ TWO buttons. Some people hate multi-touch (i.e. me) and that alone is off putting enough to not get an Apple. Just put a second button in Apple!

– Windows is bombarded by internet attacks and requires a lot more maintenance and protection than OSX.

– Windows has to cater to a lot more types of hardware and software and its not always successful. So basically it is less stable than OSX and crashes more often.

 

In terms of reliability Apple do have a reputation of being the best. But statistically Asus and Toshiba do have a better track record, and Apple sit alongside Sony in that regards. But in terms of service, if your system breaks within the warranty period Apple service is excellent, and its also very good if you get Apple care extended warranty. With other laptop manufacturers, service is more hit and miss.

 

Screen Size

10″

These are generally called Netbooks. They have basic processors and are generally not very fast. However they are very small and portable and have a battery life of up to 11hours on some models.

Great portable machines, but due to the small screen can make it awkward to browse some larger websites, and the slightly smaller keys and touchpad can make it more awkward to work on.

Not recommended as a main computer, but very good as a secondary PC.

 

CPU

Nearly all modern processors can handle the task listed above, so if you really want to save money just get the cheapest you can find.

However a dual core processor such as the Intel Pentium Dual Core or AMD Athlon II X2 series is still highly recommended. For a bit more processing power AMD Athlon II X4 gives good processing power at low prices as does the Intel i3.

Intel i5, i7 and AMD Phenom series of chips may be a bit unnecessary and you may rarely use their speed if you’re sticking the applications above.

RAM

2GB is absolute minimum

3GB is a good amount

4GB is recommended.

6GB and more probably unnecessary.

Hard Disk

500GB Sata II is a good amount

1TB recommended if you plan on having a lot of videos on your PC

Solid State Disks (SSD) will make the use of windows and its applications very pleasant and fast, but it comes at a premium, and with limited storage. Can be combined with a large secondary storage hard disk which is the ideal situation.

Graphics Card

On board graphics should suffice.
All new PCs have on board graphics capable of HD video playback and playing online games and some of the older games at low settings.

Screen

Any screen size that suits your needs should be adequate.

If you buy a computer with DVI match it with a screen that has DVI for a sharper image.

Software

Operating System – Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows Professional and above are for businesses where the PC is connected to a domain so probably unnecessary.

Open Office – Free alternative to MS Office and has majority of the same features.

Google Documents – Free online word processor that saves documents online

Microsoft Office Home & Student – Best value package. Provides word excel and powerpoint.

 

Office

 

Uses Microsoft office applications and Outlook Exchange
CPU

Minimum of an Intel i3 or AMD Athlon II X4.

Intel i5, i7 and AMD Phenom series of chips may be a bit unnecessary and you may rarely use their speed but can be useful to have.

RAM

4GB is minimum, especially with large outlook files

6GB and more would help, but is not essential

Hard Disk

500GB Sata II is enough. Most office files do not use up a lot of data.

Solid State Disks (SSD) will speed things up significantly but it does come at a premium. But we would recommend it.

Graphics Card

On board graphics should suffice, however would recommend one with either a DVI or HDMI connection for extra video clarity

However for dual display purposes so you can work on two screens a basic minimum specification graphics card with Dual DVI outputs is required.

For multi display uses a more advanced graphics card would be required.

Screen

Any screen size that suits your needs should be adequate but a DVI connection matched with the computers DVI connection provides a sharper a far sharper image.

Software

Operating System – Windows 7 Home Professional.

Other software depends on what your company requires you to do.

 

Music,. Photo & Video Editing

 

CPU

Processing picture and audio quickly needs a good processor. an Intel i7 would be highly recommended, with an i5 Sandy Bridge being the minimum processor to look for.

RAM

4GB is minimum

8GB is enough for music and photo editing and a good amount for Video Editing

16GB would make video editing a smoother process if combined with a fast processor.

Hard Disk

1TB minimum

Dual 256GB SSD drives combined with 2TB Sata drive is recommended if very expensive but would add a lot of speed to the processing.

 

Graphics Card

On board is fine for music and photo editing

For Video editing a graphics card with 512MB of Video Memory is minimum.

An Nvidia GTX 470/570 or Quadro 2000+ is highly recommended if matched with the right software.

 

Screen

Any screen size that suits your needs should be adequate for music editing.

For picture and video editing an IPS screen provides better colour matching than a basic cheap TN panel screen so would be highly recommended.

Software

Operating System – Windows 7 Home premium for home editing, or Professional if work is in an office.

Gaming

 

CPU

Minimum- Intel Core i3-2100 3.10GHz

Recommended – Intel i5 2500k 3.30GHz (Sandybridge)

High – Intel i7 2600K 3.40GHz (Sandybridge)

RAM

Minimum- 4GB DDR3

Recommended – 8GB DDR3

High – 8GB DDR3

 

Hard Disk

1TB 7200RPM SATA3 Hard disk is both the minimum and the recommended.

SSD’s do not affect gaming too much but have a big effect on the windows experience.

Graphics Card

Minimum- Nvidia GTX 460 1GB

Recommended – AMD HD6950 2GB

High – Nvidia GTX580

Screen

TN panels provide faster response and less shadowing, whilst IPS screens provide better picture quality.

New generation IP Screens have reduced the response times so are very good but come at a big price premium.

3D gaming screens are also available at not too high a premium.

Or ideally just plug the PC into your HDTV for big screen gaming.

For full HD multi screen gaming, 2 fast graphics cards are recommended.

Software

Operating System – Windows 7 Home premium