“You should have seen the specs before buying that laptop bro”.
This line has become pretty common nowadays in the tech world. A lot of people buy laptops without even considering all the specs and more importantly match them with what they want to use them for which they obviously regret later on.
The only great way to choose the best laptop for yourself is by knowing the needs for which you want to buy a laptop (gaming, document editing, movies, etc.) and then checking out the specs of the laptop from wherever you are buying it, online or offline. After you understand what those specs mean, match them with your requirements and buy the laptop if it matches your needs as well as pockets.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. WHAT ARE SPECS?
2. HOW ARE SPECS HELPFUL?
3. ANSWER THIS TO YOURSELF: WHY DO I NEED A LAPTOP?
4. IMPORTANT SPECS YOU NEED TO CARE ABOUT
5. SPECS FOR BUSINESSMEN/ PROFESSIONALS/ EMPLOYEES
6. SPECS FOR GAMERS
7. SPECS FOR ARTISTS/ VIDEO EDITORS/ PHOTO EDITORS
8. SPECS FOR PROGRAMMERS/ DEVELOPERS
9. SPECS FOR STUDENTS
From the side of the buyer (you), specs are the features/characteristics/details that are mentioned while advertising, to keep you informed about the product (in this case, a laptop).
For example, height, weight, storage space, etc. all are the specs of a laptop. In an overview, every detail of a laptop that you are going to buy is a spec.
“Putting it in simple terms, specifications are requirements a product must meet to fulfill a contract of sale“
Remember anything that you have bought, let’s say watermelons. The moment you reached towards a vendor, you asked him those three beautiful words, “are they sweet?” to which he agreed, of course, and you demanded to cut out a piece to taste it yourself.
But ask yourself, would you have bought them if it didn’t taste sweet? Of course not.
This proves that you would not even buy a watermelon if its features did not fulfill your requirements. So how come did you or someone you know bought a laptop without its details fulfilling your needs?
The answer is correct knowledge.Its not usually available and gets replaced by hearsay.
You have to admit that once in a lifetime (or maybe more) someone is going to tell you,” brand x is the best, buy its laptops”.
The fact is that it does not work this way always, since buying watermelons from a famous shop does not guarantee that you can blindly pick one and it is always going to be sweet.
You need to know the qualities that make a watermelon sweet. But it is simpler with laptops because they come with already defined specs. And these specs are going to determine how big programs the laptop can handle, how fast can it work. Basically, your future experience with a laptop is going to be determined by its specs.
Enough of watermelons, let’s get down to laptops and how you are going to benefit by knowing about their details.
To begin with, you should know why you need a laptop? For example, Gaming, Graphics designing and Photoshop, Programming, Software Developing, Journalism and Professional work/Business, Movie watching, etc.
It is not necessary to have only one use, but cutting out why you would not need a laptop will help you cut out the details that you don’t have to focus on.
For instance, a businessman will rarely care about a high-end graphics card (because businessmen are very busy, literally) but will always want a lightweight laptop to carry around for meetings and visits.
After knowing about your desires and wants, you need a good guide to help you what sort of specs you need to look for in a laptop to get those desires fulfilled.
This is exactly what you are going to receive from this article. Simplified technical knowledge about specs or specifications, however, you say it.
There are zillions of jargon words in the world of devices like LPDDR3, Coffee Lake, SATA, etc. that are ready to confuse you the moment you turn up to the details section of any given laptop. But there are about 50-60% of those details that actually matter to a given user.
These details, if looked properly can save your time and prevent disappointment, for at least 3-4 years of usage. They define what you can expect from a laptop’s technology at a given time. Sure, the types of specs are bound to update, but the main perimeters like design, display, etc. remain the same.
You are going to look at the screen of a laptop more than anything else. So wouldn’t you want it to look beautiful, or bright, or vibrant, or at the least, good? Yes, you do. But most of us consider only the screen size, that’s it. Checking out some of the details below can save you from an awful display.
- Type of display: All laptops have different types of displays that fall into categories like IPS, LED, LCD and so on. IPS displays have more warmth in their colors as compared to others.
- Screen size and resolution: Laptops come in all screen sizes, from 10- inch Netbooks to 17-inch Gaming stations. If you are going to use one for emails/browsing/documents and other work stuff, 13-15 inches are good. Bigger screen sizes mean bigger screen resolutions and higher-quality graphics.
- Color reproduction: Laymen rarely talk about this, but there is a way to ascertain how well a screen generates colors. Adobe RGB and sRGB percentages (could be less than 100 or even more) of a screen. Anything more than 80-85% in both suggests a significantly better color reproduction.
- Brightness: Brightness of screens is measured in nits. High brightness limits help in outdoor work. Some screens even have an antiglare coating to prevent sunlight reflection. 280+ nits of brightness are enough if you want to use a laptop under the sun.
There is no point reminding you about what a CPU does in a Computer. The same is what we refer to as a processor or chip inside a laptop. The most important fact about processors is that they change, they update and older ones become irrelevant with the blink of an eye, which is why it is highly recommended to go for newly made laptops with updated CPUs.
BUT, BUT, BUT there is no need to spend your hard-earned money on very latest CPUs because they are overpriced in the year they release. The key is to go for the ones that were released 2-3 years ago. Like for 2020, an Intel i5 8th gen, AMD Radeon 5 or an i7 7th gen (if you have a good budget) are pretty relevant and great choices but 2 years ago even i3 7th gen was a good deal.
If you think you want to get your hands on the i9, better use your old Intel for 2 more years to see drop in i9’s prices.
If you want to always be able to buy a speedy laptop that never hangs, you need to see this carefully.
RAM or Memory is the space in which any program, file, folder or an application is stored while you open it on the front-end. Low RAM space, or high number of powerful software running together is the basic reason why your laptop hangs or lags.
How to prevent this? Buy a laptop with a bigger RAM. If you play games and watch videos a lot, then an 8 GB RAM works fine. Also, always look for laptops that offer an upgradable RAM, so you can upgrade the RAM instead of buying a new laptop. If you just want to do basic browsing or MS Office work, then even a 4 GB RAM is fine. But gaming/graphic designing requires at least 8 gigs of RAM, if not more.
Pro tip: Always choose DDR4 over DDR3 RAM, since it is more efficient.
Coming to the Graphics Card/GPU/Graphics, however you say it, we need to know what they are. Every PC or laptop has an extra unit for handling graphics known as the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The GPU comes in two types, integrated- the internal GPU that takes up a part of the CPU and dedicated- the external GPU that is designed especially for big graphics and is connected to the CPU. Which one to choose, depends on who you are?
Most of the basic questions regarding integrated and dedicated graphics can be answered through the above illustration. Still, there are some things that need to be talked about, like Video RAM or VRAM. VRAM is similar to RAM, but as the name suggests, it is the space in a GPU in which photos, videos, and graphics function. As a user who works with graphics, a 4 GB VRAM in a GPU is a must.
Intel is the most prominent in integrated graphics, with its HD 620 and UHD 620 as the most popular ones. For dedicated graphics, NVIDIA and AMD are the big sharks. NVIDIA GTX and RTX series are the most popular among gamers.
One big thing that separates laptops from PCs is mobility. You can take them anywhere. But a laptop with a short battery life feels nothing else but a PC. As a business person or a student or even an on-field employee, one needs a long-lasting laptop so that they can be one the go, and a long 7+ hour battery life fulfills that purpose easily
“Then why would anyone choose a battery life that is short?”. Determining battery life seems simple, but it is tough if you haven’t used the laptop before. To begin with, the actual battery life in every laptop is usually 2-3 hours less than the one mentioned in the advertisements, because they measure it on minimal usage, and consumers mostly open a laptop for doing something big. Which is why it is a safe practice to expect reduced battery life instead of the advertised one.
Modern laptops use lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries that are effective and take up much less space, which is why they are becoming thinner and thinner. There are laptops widely known just for their battery life, but you would have to sacrifice more important things like processor and RAM.
The biggest reason why people turn to a laptop for work purposes and not a smartphone, after display, of course, is the keyboard. You can type much much faster with the help of your fingers on the keyboard as compared to your thumbs. But wouldn’t you want to have a great typing experience if you use a laptop primarily for typing?
But when people look the words such as actuation force, that resembles a scary scientific term you would fail to remember in an exam, they tend to overlook the keyboard specs with a “f*** it”. Here’s what these words really mean.
Actuation force means the force used to push a key from 0 to the point where it recognizes the letter typed
The keyboards that require lesser actuation force are smooth but the click sound is not audible in them. It depends on what you like more. People with an interest in PC keyboards (who are mostly gamers) would love to hear the click, and for them, an actuation force above 60 grams is suitable. For the ones who love quiet and fast keyboards, 40 grams or less in actuation force would give results.
Travel refers to the vertical distance between a key at rest and the key when you push it fully to its base.
Travel is a much more important feature because it is related to comfort and speed that directly helps you type better or worse. A laptop keyboard’s travel ranges from 1 mm to 2.5 mm generally. 1.6 mm is a sweet point to get the best typing experience.
DIFFERENT SPECS FOR DIFFERENT USERS
If you are someone who needs a laptop for work, you are going to spend every day of your job working on it. Which takes you to the following things you need in your laptop:
- Long term functionality: You’re literally putting up your occupation on a laptop. Would you like if something unusual happens like files becoming corrupt suddenly or speed becoming sluggish or anything else? I know you won’t.
- Thus always look for laptops with trusted brands, great customer support and updated Operating Systems like Windows 10 or Mac OS Mojave.
- Classic design and colour schemes: Since you will be found with your laptop most of the time, it would be really satisfying to have a good looking laptop instead of an ancient box that makes you yawn every time you look at it.
- Newer laptops come with different design and colour skins, which is up to you. But you can always ask for metal bodies since they last long.
- Long term battery usage: Always look for customer reviews before buying a laptop. Consumers are the ones who know how the laptop is going to turn out in a few months or years because of experience.
- Usually, there is a difference between the advertised battery life and the real battery life, which becomes less and less with more and more usage.
- Portability: Portability is all about compact sizes and lightweight, which are the two things to look out on a laptop if you travel a lot.
- Business people and employees usually get the best deals at 13-14 inch screen sizes. The latest laptops with such screen sizes weigh about 1.5 kg which is pretty easy to carry around single-handedly.
- Keyboard: Typing is a primary purpose for buying a laptop. And nobody likes typing on a keyboard which is uncomfortable.
- The travel (vertical distance between the normal position of a key and the position when you fully press it) is a prominent factor too look for comfortable typing. It should be about 1.5-2.5 mm for the best typing experience.
- But there is an easy way too. Just go to a shop and try to type on it for a few minutes to check if its comfy or not
Games require the best of everything in a laptop. However, gamers have to compromise on battery life since games are bound to take up battery. Gaming laptops weigh much much more which is inevitable to date. Hence they can focus on other things like these:
- Storage space: A single game takes up 10+ GB of storage space, hence it is advisable to ask for at least 512 GB space it is an SSD or 1 TB space at least for an HDD.
- Solid State Drive (SSD) is more efficient and speedy than a Hard Disc Drive (HDD). But it also makes a laptop expensive.
- Display: Any screen size of more than 15 inches is optimal to have the best gaming experience on a laptop. Displays such as Full HD or better give the most detailed gaming experience.
- Best performance: Gaming is best done on Windows OS laptops, so make sure to have windows supported a laptop.
- Plus updated processors like 8th gen Intel i7, 8 plus GB of RAM and at least 2 plus GB Graphics card (NVIDIA/AMD even we cannot decide) are must-have specs for a gaming laptop.
Editing Videos/photos is a tough task. Tougher is doing the same task with a display that sucks and to put that out, even some high budget laptops struggle with the display.
- Display quality: Videos, photos, movies, etc. look the best with a colourful and detailed display (Full HD). Hence a good screen size and a colorful high-quality display are what you need to look for before choosing a laptop.
- Good performance: 2020 offers really powerful processors that handle Graphic editing very well. Processors like Intel i9 9900k or AMD Ryzen 7 are the most updated ones. You even need a discrete GPU (better known by graphics card ) as well to run Ultra HD 4k videos without lag.
Although it depends a lot on the type of programming you are going to do, but still, there are a few must-have features you need on your laptop such as:
- Pre-installed Ubuntu: Ubuntu is a very imperative OS for programmers. So instead of paying hefty fees for Windows OS (that you are not really going to need for programming), you can go for laptops that offer a preinstalled Ubuntu. Instead, buy an SSD to increase the efficiency of your laptop’s CPU.
- Powerful performance: This strategy works if you already own a laptop and think of buying a new one. If your program takes more time than you want to load, then you should look for a laptop with higher storage space, RAM and a better processor since the specs are not matching with your software requirement.
- Also, software like AutoCAD (for Engineers) won’t work well in laptops with older generation CPUs (up to 6th generation). So if you’re into this, you should buy the laptop with at least an Intel 7th gen i3 processor.
Most guys buy their first laptops as school or college students. At that time, you tend to push yourself more towards gaming and graphics and cater for almost all good features in a value for money laptop. Some of the very common requirements are:
- Affordability: An affordable laptop is the one which has a great performance, but costs the least among its peers. Generally, less famous brands tend to offer such laptops.
- Storage space: Storage capacity is THE need for a lot of people who want laptops. Interestingly it can be increased using external hard drives or upgrade. Anything above 512 GB calls for a good storage device.
- Great overall performance: Mentioning it again, performance depends upon RAM size (8GB is optimal), updated CPUs like Intel 8th gen or AMD Ryzen 7 and a good dedicated GPU (NVIDIA, AMD or even an Intel UHD) combined. A good laptop costing 45-55000 gives good versions in all three of these spheres.
Now that you have understood what kind of a user you are and what specs you need to focus on and the specs that you don’t have to focus on much, you just need to search for laptops that offer the same specs that you need in your ‘ideal laptop’.
You can always find that information on the internet by searching for news releases or reviews about new laptops. Or simply search the specs you need and add “laptop” after your specs. Google will do its job.