The digital age allows everyone to work how they want, when they want – but you need a reliable computer to do it. When it’s time to start shopping for a new one, it’s critical to find one that meets your needs – and doesn’t break the bank. While there’s a lot to weigh, choosing a laptop doesn’t need to be an intimidating affair.
Everyone’s computing needs are unique, and finding a laptop that suits yours is largely a matter of understanding your own.
- Budget: You’re running a business, so there’s no beating around the bush. You need to make a cost-effective purchase when you’re choosing a laptop. It’s usually most productive to determine what you can spend, then work to maximize your purchase from there. Don’t think you need to spend a ton, either. Quality laptops are more affordable than ever.
- Operating System: By now, you’re probably a devoted Mac or PC user and have answered personal computing’s biggest question for yourself. If you’re not already devoted to a system, Macs tend to be more expensive up front, but last longer and are typically cheaper to operate than a PC. That said, PCs are affordable and offer a suite of software designed for most business users. Ready to try something new? Netbooks like Chromebooks are the most affordable option, but you’ll need constant internet access to use them, and will likely need to learn Android-based productivity apps.
- Processing Power and CPU: If you’re going with a PC, you’ll need to determine which CPU – essentially your computer’s brain – is right for you. As of late 2017, Intel Core i5 chips offer the perfect balance of speed, reliability, and cost; Core i7s run better, while Core i3s are a little slower. AMD offers an alternative to Intel chips, and most lines offer acceptable performance for typical office use. Intel Pentium and Celeron chips are acceptable for light use, but aren’t recommended if you can afford something more powerful.
- RAM: For most professionals, 4GB-8GB is the sweet spot for RAM. Opt for a budget 2GB system, and you’ll lag. 16GB is typically only needed for graphic-intensive applications like graphic design and CAD programs – or gaming. You’re likely overspending if you go large.
- Screen Size: It’s just easier to get things done on a big screen. Large displays also cost more and, unless you’re willing to go top-shelf, are heavier and clumsier than small ones. If you find yourself switching between windows on your current laptop constantly, you may benefit from a screen upgrade. A lot of business users opt for a 15.6- or 16-inch screen as the sweet spot between portability, usability, and cost.
- Battery Life: While you’ll have an ample power supply while you’re at desk chair™, outlets aren’t always easy to find in the wild. Battery is a you-get-what-you-pay-for option, but you’ll likely want one that can operate for eight hours, a typical workday, without a charge.
- Other Hardware: Do you really need a Blu-ray player on your business machine? Is a touch screen going to improve your productivity? Watch out for upsells, as peripherals can drive up the price tag when you’re choosing a laptop.
You probably have a great grasp of what your computing needs are. It’s just a matter of finding one that meets them – and your budget – when choosing a laptop.