Saturday, 14 April 2018 10:12

Tips for buying a laptop

I have had several people ask recently about recommendations for laptops, while we can give individual recommendations and advice to anyone if they get in touch, I thought I may help to share some of our top advice for anyone who’s considering a new one right now.

 

1. Wait, if you can wait till after summer as its likely price will be falling more than you see anywhere right now. RAM prices are starting to drop and with next generation CPUs and GPUs about to release then you could snag a bargain on one of the models out now or pay the same price for better tech. While that may be the case anytime you buy it’s been more of a problem over the last year than ever before. Also, by the end of year Intel should be replacing CPU architecture to be Spectre resistant at a hardware level not just a software patch so would be best to have that protection built in.

 

2. Go SSD. Ten years ago the top tip for improving your computer was upgrade your RAM. While if you are running with 4GB that’s still probably good advice, now SSD makes such a difference to your computer I don’t recommend anything else. It allows your system to boot in seconds rather than minutes and opens programs in no time at all. They come in many flavours from a standard SATA based drive that replaces the position of your old HDD to M2/NVME drives which can run much quicker than SATA drives and leaves space for a high capacity HDD if you need it. I recommend 500GB on the SSD which is enough for the operating system, programs, games and documents. If you need more than that then 1-4TB options are available but come at a premium. My recommendation is if you have the room us a higher capacity but lower price HDD as a second drive for documents, music and photos that don’t really need the fast opening times of SSD.

 

3. Which leads on to RAM, if you are considering long term 16GB of RAM is what I would recommend. While most people would be happy with 8GB, as software gets updated and more programs get put on your computer then that may not be enough. While you can upgrade your RAM later it’s not as simple as just adding another 8GB stick. If that 8GB is made up of two 4GB sticks then both will have to be replaced with two new 8GB sticks. If you only have one 8GB stick and one empty slot then you are unlikely getting the best from your computer as most processors are optimised for duel channel memory which means if you only have one stick you only use one channel which cuts memory bandwidth. Also its always recommended to have exact matching sticks of RAM to prevent compatibility issues and slower speeds. So we recommend future proofing now with 16GB rather than paying more later.

 

4. Don’t worry about a disk drive. As many of you already know not many laptops or even desktops come with disk drives anymore. Everything is downloadable these days and very rarely used, if you do need a drive for something like converting old CD’s then go with a USB plugin drive. They can be plugged in as needed, left at home when not and can always be sold if you no longer use it. Plus it makes your laptop much lighter and allows room for other parts.

 

5. Consider what ports you require, as recommendation I would say 2-3 USB 3.0+ ports are a must with a Thunderbolt 3 port as a nice extra. That gives you plenty of options for devices and with thunderbolt, expansion hubs if needed, usually Thunderbolt 3 is also a USB 3.1 type C port too. Type C is the one that small and looks like the Apple lightning connector. Many devices are now switching over to Type C so is a great thing to have. Other ports you should consider if you need them; HDMI, Display ports (usually mini display ports on laptops), SD card reader, Ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks. It really does depend on what you want to do with it

 

6. No Apples for me. Apple has its place and for anyone with the money who enjoys using nothing but Apple then go for it. For anyone else it’s something I can’t recommend. They cost far more than PC equivalents in spec and performance, they are becoming impossible to service and upgrade with newer models and that means if there a problem its likely to cost even more of a fortune with Apple own support or you will have to buy a brand-new machine.

 

7. If you do want a bit more power in your Laptop for gaming, consider one with more than just integrated graphics. NVidia 1070 and 1080 are available in laptops with the very same GPU chips found in Desktop equivalents. While you won’t get the exact same performance due to cooling, power and memory restrictions they are the best you will see this generation in a laptop. Look out for the Max-Q tag with 1070 or 1080 as they reach a higher level of performance with less noise than others without it. While having a discreet GPU helps with gaming it also benefits those who edit photos and video. If it has its own memory, then it will take some of the load from your RAM.

 

8. Get a processor that suits you needs, both Intel and AMD have adopted a system that should help determine what level of processor you need. On intel’s side you have the i3, i5 and i7. i3 is the low end, tends to have lower core count and lower frequency. There are many other factors that make its performance take a hit over higher end but general rule of thumb is this if for those who are looking to use it for basic emails and programs and are unlikely to be using it for more demanding work based programs. i5 is very much mid-range with good performance while not too expensive. i7 give the best performance for those into gaming or those with heavy CPU tasks such as rendering or video editing. With AMD Ryzen Chips they follow a similar pattern with their 3/5/7 series so should give you some idea what to expect without knowing all the spec on a CPU. With performance usually comes the drawbacks, more heat and more power consumption so if looking for the ultra-portable with a long battery then go for the lower series, if you need the extra power then go higher it’s that simple.

 

Hopefully these tips can help make you decision, if you still can't or want further advice then feel free to email us or give us a call. 

Read 276 times Last modified on Saturday, 14 April 2018 11:41

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