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Laptop Buying Guide

"Hey, I'm Kay and I'm here to explain everything that you need to know about Laptops."

Laptops (sometimes called notebooks) are an essential part of everyday life now and it's not surprising that pretty much every household has at least one if not more laptops.

In this section, we will discuss what to look for in a laptop and hopefully shed a light on which laptop is right for you!

When buying a laptop, there are a few key factors to consider, from screen size and power to graphics memory and connections.

  • Great for Gaming and Entertainment
  • Suitable for heavy workloads
  • Large viewing screen

Key Feature: Screen Size

Firstly, you need to think what you are going to use your laptop for, you may need your laptop to be ultra portable from 10.1" to 13" or maybe you want it to have a larger screen at around 17.3" which is one of the first choices for gamers, graphics and CAD, therefore becoming a desktop replacement.

The average screen size is around the 15.6" mark; these are light enough to occasionally carry around and are where the prices are most keen.

Other features to consider

Processor: The processor or central processing unit (CPU) generally determines the speed and power of your laptop. The processor plays the role of the brain; it tells your laptop what to do and when to do it - But which processor is right for you?

We don't want to drown you in the technical jargon, so here’s a brief summary.

You can choose from a variety of different CPU chips from a number of brands, but you’re more likely to bump into AMD and Intel ®.

AMD processors will usually be slightly cheaper and range from the E300 dual core and Athlon, which are ideal for general home usage to the quad core A8, perfect for multiple tasks and heavy multimedia usage.

Intel CPU's are a well more known brand ranging from the lower end Celeron and Pentium processors, great again for the general home tasks and lighter usage, all the way up to the Core i5 and Core i7 which is very popular between gaming enthusiasts and multimedia fiends thanks to their Turbo Boost technology.

The Intel Core i3 is the popular go-between, a powerful processor – a good choice for regular users who want a fast and responsive processor at an affordable price.

Memory (RAM): The more RAM your laptop has, the faster it will run.

RAM is mainly used when multitasking or when you have a number of programs running simultaneously. For those of you who like to multi-task, around 4GB RAM will be ideal. For the gaming fanatics among you, 4GB and above will suit you down to the ground for all your entertainment needs.

If all you're going to be doing is a cheeky email here and there, surfing the web and maybe word processing, you should look for something with around 2-3GB RAM.

Please remember – most laptops will be upgradable. So if you have seen a laptop that catches your eye but would like a little extra memory, feel free to call our dedicated sales team on 0871 971 0005 and they will be more than happy to help you out!

Hard Drive: The hard drive on a laptop is where you store all your music, videos, photos and data.

Hard drives commonly range from 160GB to 2,000GB (2TB). Now external hard drives and online cloud services are getting increasingly popular, don’t feel like you need to spend more than you need to on cranking up the size of the hard drive.

Operating System (OS): The two main types of OS are Windows and Mac OS, both are very advanced systems and run common software packages including Microsoft Office, internet browsers, audio and video players.

Windows based operating systems are the largest selling OS in the world and offer more choice and lower prices. Whereas Mac OS is popular for its graphics and publishing capabilities it is likely to cost you at least two or three times as much.

Optical Drive: The optical drive is a very important part of the laptop, usually combining a CD & DVD drive, the optical drive is used for playing and recording on to a CD or DVD. There are higher end laptops that include Blu-Ray drives for Full HD movies and internet content.

Graphics: Required for gaming and intense image work such as photoshop. A lot of gaming laptops are large and packed with power, discrete graphics cards and advanced features.

A lot of new games on the market require dedicated or discrete graphics cards (GPU), so if gaming or design/video/photo work or is your thing, then the graphics card will be an integral part of your purchase. This is what is going to create that accurate image clarity and super fast, seamless graphic performance.

Look out for NVidia graphics cards with dedicated memory, generally 1GB or above. You’ll need at least 4GB or RAM and a powerful multi core processor like the Intel Core i3, i5 or i7.

Battery: Batteries on laptops are rechargeable but do vary on how long they last, you must bear in mind that the battery life depends on usage so will decrease faster if you are on there for longer. Batteries will range from around 3 hours to up to 8 hours. If you are out on the road all day, it’s probably safe to say that you are going to be away from a plug socket, so it may be useful to invest in a spare, any help you need – give our sales guys a quick buzz with the model of the laptop and they should be able to help you out with that extra life saver.

Connectivity: Whether you want to transfer files, amplify your music or videos, connect up to external devices such as a monitor, TV, printer etc, the ports on a laptop are essential and very useful.

The most common ports you are likely to find on a laptop are USB 2.0 to connect external devices such as keyboards, mice and audio players. VGA or HDMI for video output, headphone and microphone for audio, and card readers (most commonly used in cameras).

Sometimes the ports down the side, back and even underneath a laptop can be very confusing. This rough guide should clear a few things up so you are slightly more clued up on what is what.