How Can I Select the Right Laptop for My Needs?

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Answered by: Mark, An Expert in the Laptops Category
When you’re in the market for a new laptop, you’ll notice there are a wide array of choices available. So many choices, in fact, that you might become a bit frustrated unless you knew exactly what you wanted. In order to select the right laptop for your needs, you first have to sit down and think about what you want out of your new laptop, as well as how much laptop you’re able to afford.

Think about where and when you intend to use your laptop. If you want to carry your laptop around everywhere you go, you may be interested in a laptop that isn’t heavy and is compact enough to fit inside of a tote bag. Netbooks and “ultraportable” laptops feature a small and lightweight design for excellent portability and long battery life, but with limitations in processor speed and graphics capability.

If you plan to leave your laptop parked on a desk or at some other stationary location most of the time, you might be able to get away with having a heavier laptop with a larger screen. Desktop replacements are much heavier and burn through battery power in just a couple of hours, but they offer screen sizes beyond 17-inches and pack a wallop in regards to processor power, graphics and memory. Keep in mind that the larger the laptop, the heavier and more cumbersome it may be to lug it around.

Now think about what you plan to do with your laptop most of the time. Checking emails and surfing the web doesn’t take much processor or graphics power to do, so you’ll be able to look at laptops that are not only less expensive, but also more energy efficient. Budget laptops offer bare bones specifications that allow for Web browsing, email and social networking, but not much else. On the other hand, it’s easy to purchase a new budget laptop for as little as $400.

If you’re an avid gamer who wants to play the latest computer games on the go and cost is no object, you can look at laptops featuring the best processors and dedicated graphics cards with the highest specs possible. However, having the best graphics and processing power comes at the expense of affordability, battery life and weight. Gaming laptops offer unique exterior designs, large screens with high resolutions and the best specs available of any other laptop, but with a starting price of $1500, poor battery life and the heaviest weights of any laptop available, you’re not going to get much portability or affordability out of one.

A number of mainstream laptops present a compromise in memory, processor power, graphics options and overall size, while remaining affordable for many. Some laptops add features at the expense of others in order to keep costs down. When selecting a mainstream laptop, you will ultimately have to decide what options fit your needs the best and what you can comfortably leave out.

Keep in mind how much you’re willing to spend on a laptop. If the laptop you want is out of your budget, you may have to increase your spending limits or compromise on a lesser laptop that’s within your budget. Remember that hard drives, memory modules and even internal wireless cards in many laptops are upgradeable features that are not only easy to replace, but also relatively inexpensive to purchase. Keep those factors in mind as you select the right laptop for your needs.

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