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Buying Your New Laptop in 2022

Author Andrew H
Published on May 06, 2022
by Andrew H

So you’re in the market for a new laptop, but it’s been a while since you’ve purchased one, and have no clue what’s “the best” as of late. No worries, this guide will shed some light.

Brands

There is no best laptop brand, but some brands specialize in certain laptops over others. In general, the price of the laptop will determine its performance a lot more than what brand it is. If you're looking for a gaming laptop you might want to consider Asus, Alienware, Razer, Lenovo, or Gigabyte. If you're looking for a school/work or home use laptop, check out Dell, HP, Apple, or Acer laptops.

Price

Low End - The low end price for laptops is under $600. This should cover the most basic use cases like web browsing, checking email, listen to music, or using video conference calls.

Mid-Range - The mid-range price for laptops is $600-1000. This provides a solid foundation like decent memory, storage space, and processor speed. Mid-range laptops often lack any solid graphics cards, but make for great office laptops.

High-End - The high end price for laptops is over $1000. These laptops typically come loaded with a dedicated graphics card designed for gaming or creative work. These laptops usually come with lots of memory, fast storage (NVMe M2 SSD), a fast processor, and good graphics card.

Display Type

Display Type
LCD - The LCD screen type typically refers to a liquid crystal display that has a single cathode backlight. This means your entire screen is illuminated by 1 light, so there’s no variation in brightness across the screen. These screens have bad contrast and no true blacks.

LED - Although the LED screen type is also LCD, the “LED” part refers to the different backlight. LEDs come with hundreds (if not thousands) of small LEDs that illuminate the LCD screen. This is a big improvement because each LED can be controlled individually, so darker parts of the screen can simply be dimmed to provide better contrast. There are improvements in black colors, but still not excellent.

OLED - The OLED type screen has no backlight. Each pixel emits its own light, and can be dimmed or turned off when blacks need to be rendered on screen. This provides perfect contrast because to get true blacks you just turn the pixels off.

Screen Size

The screen size you need depends on how you use your laptop. If you’re traveling a lot and need your laptop on-the-go, look for a 15 inch or lower. This makes sure the laptop is small and comfortable. If your laptop is more stationary or you want a better viewing experience, go for a 16 inch or higher. In general, the bigger the screen size, the heavier the laptop.

Storage

Laptops need storage to read from and save to all of your precious files. Not all storage devices are created equal. Choosing the right storage type and size is vital.

Hard Drive - Hard drives are quickly disappearing, but still exist today. They contain spinning disks with a seek head that needs to physically be moved to the location of the file to read or change it. Hard drives can offer a huge amount of storage, but are quite slow. Hard drives are usually identified with "2TB HDD" or "2TB Hard Drive" in the product title or description. If you see "HDD or Hard Drive", think "Lots of cheap, slow storage".

Solid State Drives - Solid state drives (or SSDs) is a newer technology that offers faster speeds because there’s no more spinning disks involved. It’s all solid with no moving parts -hence the name. Solid state drives offer mid-range speeds and mid-range storage size. Compared to traditional hard drives, solid state drives offer 5x speeds or higher. When you see "SSD", think "faster than traditional hard drive".

NVMe SSDs - NVMe solid state drives are SSDs on steroids. What makes NVMe faster is the ability to bypass the traditional SATA bus that SSD uses, and hook directly into the PCI bus. What this mumbo jumbo means is that you SSD can communicate directly with the processor at lightning speeds. If storage speed is extremely important, look for NVMe SSD for the fastest storage possible. When you see "NVMe" or "PCI/PCIe" in reference to SSDs, think "lightning speed storage".

Processor & Cores

Laptop cores determine how many processors the laptop comes with. More cores are generally better because the laptop can juggle more stuff at once, which means it’s faster, but only to a point. I suggest laptops with at least 2 cores for the low end, 4-6 cores mid-range, or 8 cores for high end, as a general rule.

The processor is rarely the bottleneck when it comes to laptop use. You are much more likely to lack sufficient memory, storage space, or graphics card processing rather than CPU bottlenecking. Still, if you want a faster processor, look for Core i7 / i9 from Intel, or Ryzen 7 / Ryzen 9 from AMD.

Operating System

If you’re a fan of Apple, you might want to look into Macbooks for their proprietary MacOS operating system. Apple produces gorgeous laptops with fast processors and high quality screens. If you like Windows, most laptops come with Windows 10 or the newer Windows 11 operating system.

Memory

Laptop memory, also known as “RAM”, is how much stuff your laptop can run at once. Every program you run uses memory, and how much depends on each program and how you use that program. If you’re using a web browser but you have 50 tabs open, that might consume a whole lot of memory as opposed to having 2 or 3 tabs. The kind of content you load in each of those tabs also determines how much memory is consumed. For instance, a single webpage could consume anywhere from 10MB to 500MB of memory. If you keep a lot of tabs open that can add up quickly.

Up to 4GB - This is the low end for laptop memory. In these days, 4GB is easy to fill up even with the most basic tasks like simple web browsing. Anything below 4GB is quite impossible to use.

6GB to 12GB - The mid-range for laptop memory is 6GB to 12GB. This is sufficient for most tasks for school work, office work, and every day home use. Unless you work with photo/video editing or some other creative endeavor, the mid-range RAM is great.

16GB or more - The high range for laptop memory is 16GB or more. If you’re gaming, photo/video editing, programming, game developing, or using any other high demand production software, you want to hit at least 16GB, preferably 32GB of memory.

Features

Laptops come with various features you need to look out for. You may want to include some of those features in your laptop as well. While virtually every laptop comes with WiFi, not every laptop comes with certain features.

Bluetooth - Most laptops come with a Bluetooth adapter so that you can connect your wireless headphones, but not all of them do. If you plan on connecting Bluetooth devices to your laptop and you don’t want to buy an additional adapter, look for one with Bluetooth capability.

Touchscreen - Some laptops come with a touch screen that allows you to use your finger or a pen to navigate. In my experience, touch screens on laptops are subpar, and you’re better off getting a separate USB mouse if you don’t like to use the touchpad, but these laptops are out there.

OLED Display - If you want a superior screen, some laptops come with an OLED display. These displays offer impeccable contrast ratio which makes them great for playing games, watching movies, or doing creative work.

144Hz Refresh - If you’re into gaming, consider a 144Hz refresh rate on your laptop instead of the traditional 60. A 144Hz refresh rate means that the pixels update on the screen much more quickly, giving you a smoother experience when there’s a lot of action going on. When a 1 second explosion happens in a game, you can see 144 changes per second, instead of the normal 60. Needless to say, you need a graphics card powerful enough to render 144 frames per second to take advantage of this refresh rate.