Laptop Specifications 101: Your Inside Guide When Buying the Best Laptop

Laptop Specifications 101: Your Inside Guide When Buying the Best Laptop

Sep 24, 2018, 3:58:04 PM Tech and Science

Buying a new laptop can be a bit overwhelming with the number of options out there. There are ultrabooks, hybrids, gaming laptops, and even workstations you can buy from a ton of manufacturers. What's perhaps going to help you in making a decision is to get a better sense of laptop specifications through this inside guide in order to get the best one for you. However, your priority should be getting a laptop for your primary use for it; all the other fancy features will just be secondary.

Big brands such as HP continue to dominate the market in terms of PC and laptop sales. North America didn't experience a rise or fall in overall shipments as compared with previous years. This is a sign of stability, which means the industry is alive and well – a good sign for you and other prospective buyers. Popular computer brands include HP (22.6%), Lenovo (20.4%), Dell (16.9%), Acer (6.8%), and Apple (6.6). HP, with 4.3% growth, is poised to continue heading the pack in terms of PC and laptop development, so you might want to keep an eye on their products.

Laptop Specifications 101: What You Need to Know

If you want to get the best laptop for your needs, you need to look for a laptop buying guide that takes into account not just the latest brands and specifications but also the performance of the device based on your particular needs. Instead of focusing on brands and their respective products, let's focus on what exactly you should look for in your next laptop:

CPU: Specifications can be the trickiest part of the bunch, given laptop size affects the kind of specs placed inside the rig.

  • Intel Celeron and Pentium are common for a lot of low- to mid-grade laptops. They are low performance but can be enough if you're not doing anything heavy.
  • Intel Core i3, performance-wise, is a step below the Core i5. As such, its price point is also a touch lower. However, it's recommended you get the Core i5 if you have the money for it.
  • Intel Core M and the Intel Core i5/i7 "Y Series" tend to give low heat and low power, but are a touch higher than Celeron. They're still not Core i5 U quality, though.
  • Intel Core i5 is perhaps the safest in terms of meeting the balance between quality and price. Models that have the U in them are more common, while Y models have lower power and as such lower performance. Kaby Lake Refresh models and i5 models beginning with 8- tend to have more cores, which translates to improved performance.
  • Intel Core i7 or Intel Xeon are more heavy-duty CPUs and are best if you're doing intensive graphic design or even computation. These tend to cost you more power, though. AMD Ryzen Mobile are chips designed to compete with this quality.


RAM and storage drive: RAM and storage drives are intricately related to one another. Storage drives provide memory for your file storage needs, while the RAM determines just how fast your laptop can process requests at any given time.

  • If you need a ton of storage, get a laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD), as it can get you a fast laptop with thrice the speed of a hard drive. Get the NVMe or the PCIe x4, as it can give you thrice the speed of conventional SATA drives.
  • For RAM, 4GB or 8GB are extremely ideal for optimum performance. 2GB might be a bit low unless you're not doing anything heavy duty, while 16GB can be a bit too much unless you're doing intensive computing or gaming.
  • Decide on the display you want to have. The display really depends on the kind of laptop size you have. However, it's also better if you're aware of different display options to suit your particular needs.
  • The more pixels you have, the more you can theoretically place on your screen. This means the sharper things will look. 1366×768 is the default display for a lot of mainstream and budget laptops. So, if you want better displays, it's recommended you buy those that can support 1920×1080 or get to 1080p in Full HD.
  • Some laptops are actually capable of giving you 3200×1800, 2560×1600, or even 3840×2160. These tend to consume more power, though.


Graphics cards: Regardless if you're a gamer or not, a graphics chip can be your saving grace when it comes to viewing media appropriately. This is important, especially if you’re working with colors.

  • AMD and Nvidia are the two parties fighting for graphics card dominance. It really now depends on the kind of graphical performance you need. Do you need high-resolution video editing assistance or creating 3D objects? Then you may need discrete graphics processors.
  • Workstations that serve low-end gaming can live with Nvidia GTX 1050. Other higher-end models have GTX 1050 Ti or GTX 1060, while super-high-end models have GTX 1070 or 1080.


Ports and drives: Laptops come in an assortment of varieties, most of them equipped with different ports and drives. Knowing what sort of ports you need is extremely important because it can also influence your laptop experience.

  • How picky are you with your discs? If you need to read or write discs such as Blu-ray and DVD, then you might be bummed out if your laptop of choice doesn't the right accessory for these, although there are also external disc readers that can be connected via USB.
  • How picky are you with your ports? Some laptops may or may not have ports that are specific for your needs. A lot of mainstream laptops have HDMI and USB 3.0 ports, although Thunderbolt 3 and Type-C ports are starting to be more common in a lot of modern laptops. You ought to get Type-C for a lot of your devices, given it's more of a universal port for docks and chargers.


The Takeaway: Buying a Laptop Needs Careful Planning

When buying a laptop, do not just look into the brand and the aesthetics. Take note of its specifications and the way it can help you achieve your intended goals as well. Take into account the price, the specifications, and its overall way of helping you in your everyday tasks, and you might end up having not just the laptop of your dreams, but a laptop designed to make you more productive in whatever you use it for.


Published by Elena Tahora

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