New Windows laptop - memory, speed, SSD- what is needed?

Oct 25, 2018
Hi, I am actually looking to buy 2 new laptops. The ones I have are "Ancient" and not worth, time, money aggravation to try and upgrade.
I have been on all the major brands websites trying to compare, contrast, build, the memory, speed cores, ssd, ddr, dedicated/not card, How many usb ports, etc etc and it gets more confusing every time. I use windows, prefer intel,

Both laptops will have similar use:
Home, home business (spreadsheets), run other business software, take with when travel - watch movies, play music, basic photo editing - Heavy gaming no or not now but kids do have access so maybe at some point they will be more into gaming. - budget is around 1k, I don't want to have to look to buy another laptop for another 3-5 years so meaning if there are specs out there that bring the price to 1,200.00 I am open to that as well. I think having a dedicated graphics card puts me up to this price, which i am fine with as long as it is a good card. (ok maybe I would go to 1.3/4k for a great system and not have to look for 5 years ;) .. thanks for the help!!


No dedicated graphics card will be "good" 5 years from now. Buying a laptop with a GTX 1080 now that generally cost $2,000+ now will give mediocre performance in 5 years. A budget of $1,200 will get you at best a laptop with a GTX 1060. Laptops with a GTX 1070 generally starts at about $1,500.

Are you looking for two identical laptops with dedicated GPUs just in case your kids want to play games? Or are you looking for a gaming laptop and a work laptop?
Oct 25, 2018

too make it easier I am looking for two identical laptops.... .. however if you (or anyone else) wants to give their thoughts on a gaming and a work laptop -thank you in advance!
12-16gb ram - DDR3,4 ?? no idea here
Quad-core - Which intel generation processor, speed, cache should I have/need?
256 SSD - what kind? saw this from NewEgg today - 256GB M.2 PCIe NVME Solid State Drive SSD -- Is this any good? (just using as a reference)
Wifi/Blue tooth - Is there much difference in the latest versions of either?
What about USB ports? how many and which ones? Thanks



Since you do basic photo editing... how important is color accuracy to you, how basic is "basic"? If you plan on doing color corrections / filtering, then it is important to buy a laptop with a good IPS screen that has good color accuracy characteristic. Some people naturally assume that all IPS screens are the same and they are all have good color accuracy. That is definitely not the case; they are kinda like cars where different models have difference performance characteristics or lack thereof depending on the price tag.

Most laptops using 8th generation Intel CPU use DDR4 RAM, though few of the cheaper models still use DDR3 RAM. Not much of a difference for average daily usage. However, if playing games using integrated graphics, then there is probably a 10% or 15% difference using DDR4 RAM since it is faster; but that is just a ballpark guess. I generally recommend at least 8GB of RAM, 16GB if you work with large files or do multitasking.

SSDs comes in two different formats; 2.5" to fit in hard drive bays and the "gum stick" m.2 format. They have two different interfaces PCIe NVMe and SATA III. PCIe NVMe is the faster and more expensive version, but the average user will generally not notice much of a difference between the two. If you are accessing very large files (like editing multiple high resolution videos into a single video), then PCIe NVMe all the way.

I do not really keep up with WiFi and BluTooth. Currently 802.11 a/c is the standard for WiFi, your "ancient" laptop may use the older 802.11 b/g/n protocol which has lower bandwidth. Note that your wireless router must support 802.11 a/c as well otherwise the laptop will be using 802/11 b/g/n instead. As for BluTooth... as long as my Blutooth mice and headphone still connects I do not pay much attention to it.

USB-C is the "wave of the future". It has much higher bandwidth compared to USB 3.0 and the more expensive laptop have USB-C ports that are Thunderbolt 3 enabled. Most USB devices out there still follows the USB 3.0 (or below) standard. USB-C devices are still not very common. Samsung recently released a portable SSD storage device that is exclusively USB-C; it transfers data a lot faster than USB 3.0, it can get hot and it is more expensive compared to the same capacity portable SSD drive using USB 3.0. Some laptops are charge thru the USB-C port and do not have a "standard" charging port. The most talked about function of Thunderbolt 3 is that it allows the laptop to be connected to an external docking station with a desktop graphics card which allows the laptop to play demanding games. How many USB ports a laptop should have depends on how many USB devices you plan on connecting to it.


Let's start off first with a probable laptop for work...

The following links are for 15.6" Asus Vivobook laptops which are basically the same with different configurations. This laptops have thin bezels which means they are the size of an average 14" laptop; that makes them light at 3.7lbs, but you do sacrifice the numeric pad. Both have the quad core Intel 8th generation i5-8250u CPU and 8GB of RAM. The difference is storage and price. The $640 version has a 256GB SSD drive while the $510 version has a standard 1TB hard drive. The m.2 port is only compatible with SATA III SSDs, but for the average person that really is fast enough.

I would go for the less expensive $510 and simply install my own SATA III m.2 SSD which have become expensive recently. Western Digital "Blue" SSDs have gotten many good reviews from tech sites and a 500GB stick costs $85. That works out to $595 which is both cheaper and you also end up with much higher capacity than simply purchasing the Asus Vivobook for $640.

What you want to do is clone the hard drive to the m.2 SSD and use the SSD to boot up the laptop. For that you will need to use cloning software like Macrium Reflect Free. You basically need to install the software and the SSD. Then use the software to clone the hard drive on to the SSD. Lastly, you want to remove the hard drive so that the laptop will boot from the SSD. You also want to go into the BIOS to see if you can select the m.2 interface as the 1st boot option.

For the short term simply use the laptop without the hard drive to ensure everything works fine. Apply all the updates to Windows, then use Macrium Reflect Free to make an image of the C: drive. I believe the software now requires you to create a USB boot drive in order to be able to re-image the SSD (or hard drive) in case Windows suffers some type of catastrophic corruption. An 8GB USB drive should be more than enough and I am pretty sure I bought one from Best Buy on sale for like $5.

Keep the original drive as is until after the 1 year warranty has ended. If you need to get your laptop serviced under warranty, then you need to ship it back to them with the original hardware. Meaning you need to install the hard drive and remove the SSD. After the warranty on the laptop is expired, you can install the hard drive back in the laptop. It should still boost from the SSD at this point. Then simply format the hard drive and use it as a storage drive.
Oct 25, 2018

thank you for taking the time for the detailed info.. I have not had a chance to dig in on all of it but wanted to to say thanks!

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