5 questions to ask before buying a laptop
Find a laptop that fits like your favourite jeans with our guide to design and specs…
1. Where will I use my laptop?
This will help you decide which laptop size is right for you.
On the go - work or college
Look at a 13-inch laptop that combines screen size with portability. Look out for:
- Portable bag-friendly designs can be as thin as 13mm and weigh as little as 1kg
- Cool, quiet SSD storage and no optical (DVD) drive
- Long battery life and fast charging
- 2 in 1 design option – some laptops can also be used as a tablet
The HP Spectre 13 is the world’s thinnest laptop and is made from aluminium and carbon fibre.
Staying at home
If you’re not going to be carrying your laptop around, get more from it with a bigger 15.6-inch screen. Look out for:
- Store movies and music with a traditional 1TB hard disk drive
- Make your bigger screen better by opting for one with a high resolution
- More ports for connecting other devices like hard drives and cameras
- Rip your CDs to iTunes or watch a movie in bed with an optical DVD drive
The HP Pavilion 15 has a large 1TB storage for your movies and music and built-in Bang & Olufsen Play speakers.
2. How much power will I need?
Are you wanting a laptop for web browsing and word processing? Or do you need to run huge spreadsheets or Adobe programs like Photoshop? You can find laptops in both 13 and 15-inch sizes to suit each of these requirements. Either way you should pay attention to the processor, SSD and RAM of your laptop.
The processor is like your laptop’s brain.
- Intel Core i3: Great for everyday computing - use Microsoft Office, surf the web and stream video
- Intel Core i5: Run Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Multitask with Spotify, web browsing and Word simultaneously.
- Intel Core i7: Heavy-duty creative work such as 3D modelling, and advanced video editing
What about RAM? Your computer's internal memory. The more you have the more efficiently it will run. For an everyday laptop a minimum of 4GB, if you’re working in Photoshop or in big Excel spreadsheets look for no less than 8GB.
What about SSD? This stands for solid-state drive. It replaces a traditional hard drive and makes your laptop faster – from boot times to working in programs. The HP Pavilion 15 comes in options for Intel Core i3 and i5.
3. Operating systems: Windows, Mac or Google?
Laptops come with different operating systems. Choosing the right one for you is really important.
Windows is familiar and easy to use whether web browsing or using Word, and works on laptops from numerous manufacturers.
This only runs on Apple laptops and desktop computers. Its intuitive design is easy to use and work your way around. Other Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads can be synced for sharing calendars, music and video.
An operating system built around Google's online services. It runs on lightweight Chromebook laptops. You work in online apps for word processing and creating spreadsheets, and save your files online.
4. Will I be watching Netflix or editing photos?
If you're planning Netflix binges on your new laptop then you want one with a high-resolution screen.
The same goes if you’re a designer or a photographer working in Photoshop or Illustrator.
A screen resolution describes how many pixels are on the screen - the more pixels you have the clearer, sharper and more defined your picture will be.
There are laptops with Full HD screens, better-than-HD screens and Retina Display screens. Also look for IPS technology for improved colour and viewing angles.
5. What ports do I need?
Want to connect your laptop to cameras, TVs and hard drives? You're going to need some ports.
- HDMI:Connect your laptop to your HDTV to stream Netflix to the big screen
- USB 3.0 for fast transfers of photos and music from your camera or portable hard drive to your laptop
Thunderbolt: Like USB 3.0 but twice as fast. Thunderbolt was developed by Intel and introduced on all new Apple laptops.