How to choose the right laptop

Laptop: Lenovo, Acer, Sony, Samsung, Dell, HP, AsusWe are often asked how you go about choosing the right laptop. Obviously because of the technological understanding required as well as the plethora of brands and new laptops out there, it can be very confusing and daunting.

So here is some brief advice on how to go about it:

Firstly decide what you are going to use the laptop for. For example, if it is just to be used for internet, email access and documents then your requirements are very different from someone planning to run processor and memory intensive applications such as games, media applications or CAD. An entry level laptop may be more than adequate for your needs! So why pay for more?

Broadly speaking, we categorize laptops as “entry level” < R6k,  mid-range (> R6k < R15k) and top of the range > R15k. Nowadays we even see laptops retailing up to R30k  because of the weak rand, dollar exchange rate. But we think the best “value for money” price point usually lies in the > R9k to R13k area if this is in your budget range. But you need to decide on the best laptop features possible based on a specific budget.

Once you have a budget in mind, the next consideration is what features are important for your needs. For example, someone who needs to run graphical applications such as games and Cad, then lots of Ram, a dedicated graphics module, decent screen, and Core i7 processor may be crucial considerations. And as SSD drives become more commonplace, these could also enter into your consideration because harddrive speed is often the performance bottleneck. A Mac could also be worth considering for people working with media/graphical based applications.

But don’t buy a laptop just because it has “lots of features”. This is because you will most likely end up paying for features that you don’t need. A good example of what I mean by “lots of features” and where this used to happen a lot is with older cellular phones. Many people mostly used them for calls and sms’s, yet ended up paying prices for fancy phones with features never used. Nowadays this has changed somewhat as Smartphones (Apple, Samsungs) become commonplace with technology charging on, so you are generally lumped with lots of “features” whether you need them or not.

Rather carefully consider the specifications and features of various models and decide what is important for your needs. I.e. wireless standards (a,b,g,n), bluetooth, harddrive size, harddrive speed (SSD), processor spec, memory size (nowadays minimum of 8 Gigs), operating system (Windows or Mac), numeric keypad, inbuilt 3G, screen size, built in camera spec, docking capability, weight, brand, touch screen capability, IO ports, your needs etc.

When comparing models which have similar specifications go for the one with the highest performance processor as well as the maximum amount of ram you can afford. The better the processor (Core i3, i5, i7) and the more ram, the faster the laptop will run. For example with Windows 7, 64 bits you can increase the Ram significantly beyond 4 Megabytes, i.e. often up to 32 Megabytes, if you can justify the need and the laptop can support the ram. We would recommend at least 8 Megabytes with Windows 8, 64 bit laptops. While you should not buy IT based on “lots of features”, it is worth ensuring that you get the best “value for money” with features that are important.

Weight and battery size can also be a deciding factor. If you travel frequently, then a light laptop with a 12”/14″ screen may be preferable to lugging around the world with a dead weight. For example we loved the GIGABYTE U2442D 14″ Ultrabook which has a decent spec and looks good. 

Choosing the laptop brand is always a personal thing. Sometimes you just like the “look and feel” of a particular brand, for example you prefers Macs over Windows based laptops although Macs come at a premium. Other times it’s a recommendation from a particular person. Note a particular brand preference does not always mean a standard “look n feel” for a laptop. There is a significant variation of how the different branded laptops look from the same Vendor of which some we like and others we avoid.

Also note that ongoing support of the laptop is something worth considering and that some laptop models are sold exclusively by re sellers such as Incredible Connection and you may be locked into their stores for ongoing support.

As well as choosing the right laptop, the initial configuration of the laptop is also important. If it is not set up right, it may never run optimally. Precision Networks offers this as a value added service for our clients, where we do the initial configuration and set up all the software, updates, email, anti virus, etc and ensure the laptop runs optimally right from the start. It usually it takes about 3 hours to get the laptop in an optimal configuration.

Brands we usually sell include: Acer, Samsung, Dell, HP, Sony, Gigabyte and Lenovo. Please feel free to contact us for any help in choosing the right laptop for you.

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