Before you make a decision to buy the specific laptop, you have to know: what it is going to be used for
and what do you expect from it
You have to answer at least the following basic questions:
- Is it going to used to browse the internet, work with emails, for basic office work, to work with hardware demanding software like graphics or video creation, for video streaming, for playing games etc. ?
- Do you plan to use it daily or occasionally ?
- Is it going to be regulary used at home, in office or when you travel ?
- Is it going to be used by one or more users ?
Cheap laptops are usually good enough for internet browsing and basic office work. They also can work with less hardware demanding software. To work with more hardware demanding software or playing games, you will probably need a laptop with dedicated graphics card.
When buying a laptop, in general you have to focus on:
- Laptop size — larger laptops have larger screens, but it can be more difficult to transport them.
- Screen resolution — determines the number of pixels a screen can show. It is recommended to have at least 1920 x 1080 Full HD or similar resolution.
- Screen surface — matte screens are better at preventing reflections, on the other side glossy screens provide better color intensity and contrasts.
- Operating system — Windows or Mac
- CPU — central processing unit or processor. The higher frequency and more CPU cores make CPU better in general. I recommend to get a computer with 64-bit CPU.
- RAM — random access memory is an operative memory. It is good to have at least 4 GB.
- Storage capacity — for software and your files. Choose HDD, eMMC or better SSD flash memory. It is recommended to have at least 64 GB.
- Graphic card — cheap laptops usually have integrated graphics card, which is good enough for internet browsing and office work. When you plan to use advanced graphics software, stream video or play games, it is recommended to have dedicated graphics card with GPU and own memory.
- Battery capacity — basic battery life is around 4 hours. When you need to use PC for a long time without access to electricity, check the battery life.
- CD-ROM or DVD-ROM — do you plan to use CDs or DVDs ?
- USB ports — are used to connect external devices. If you plan to use more external devices at the same time, there should be at least 3 USB ports.
- LAN port — is also known as Ethernet port. It is used to connect to internet or local network by using a cable. Some computers don't have it, but there is often a possibility to buy an external adapter to use the cable connection.
- HDMI port and VGA port — these ports are often used to connect a projector or another monitor. New laptops usually don't have both ports. HDMI is considered as a new standard. You can also buy a HDMI - VGA adapter.
- Keyboard — do you need to have a keyboard backlight ? Do you prefer to use numeric keyboard ?
- Speakers — cheaper laptops often have basic speakers with lower sound level and quality.
- Web camera — is the quality of video important ?
- Fingerprint reader — is used to secure the computer. Can be useful when laptop is used by multiple users.