Question What's your best advice when shopping for a laptop?

shaines

Community Manager
Staff member
Apr 1, 2019
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Hey there,

The Tom's Guide community is an incredible resource for making good decisions for big tech purchases. Let's use the power of your expertise to help others make smart decisions when looking for a laptop.

What's your best advice for someone when shopping for a laptop?

Feel free to cover a variety of things such as what machine works fine for email and video conferencing alone. Then talk about important features for people who want to use it for gaming, video editing, or other high power tasks.

Any advice for laptop shoppers is appreciated!
 
If you have specific things you want to do with it (certain programs or games) make sure you look at the specs for that/those and then compare it to the laptop you are wanting to get. If the laptop you are looking at is just barely at the minimums for that game/program or is not even enough for it, then I would be looking at another device. One that is well over what you need.

And don't think you can just upgrade later. Upgrading parts in laptops is not like with desktops. You are very limited with laptops. So keep all that in mind.
 
Reactions: sirbebop
Mar 20, 2020
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I would say what I keep in mind while buying I fix the last range I can pay and in that range, I search for laptop and then my requirements are full filled or not.
 

Lisapatrick

Great
Apr 8, 2020
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  1. Prefer a small screen which should be lighter and easy to carry.
  2. The screen resolution should be 1080p
  3. Have a long-life battery for at least 8 hours.
4)check the wireless connectivity
  1. check webcam and speaker
  2. also check RAM, processor, Graphic card(if you need)
 

darkmatter2

Distinguished
Dec 28, 2011
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  1. Top of the list should be setting a budget and sticking to it. Everything else in this order:
  2. Get the best possible laptop for your money at the screen size and weight class you want and also decide all-in-one (converts to tablet) versus traditional notebook/laptop.
  3. If SSD is in your budget for the main OS drive, include it, 256GB minimum if so - otherwise skip it and go HDD imo.
  4. If HDD's are in your budget, check to make sure it's a 7200RPM drive.
  5. 8GB minimum RAM, 16 preferred.
  6. Again, based on your budget, integrated graphics versus dedicated video card (better) and I'd stick to 1080p unless you really need 4K for editing hi-res video on the go.
Everything else is intuitive for me but there you go!
 
Apr 12, 2020
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if you are technically savvy you should buy a laptop that has at least 8-16 GB of RAM... SSD drives are cheap and very easy to swap out using a #0 Phillips screwdriver and a USB cable that you can buy anywhere. I would suggest that you also buy a portable optical drive because very few, if any laptops include disc readers. For the money buy either an HP or IBM Lenovo depending on your needs but either way avoid google chromecast or dell PCs simply because they are basic and under-powered.
 
Keep in mind that upgrade options are limited when it comes to laptops. Often, only the storage device (SSD/HDD) and memory are the only things you can upgrade.

Don't purchase low-end (consumer) products and then expect to upgrade them to much higher levels of performance. It may simply not be possible.
 

rhyalus

Distinguished
Apr 24, 2011
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I recommend first reading articles on the internet about all of the things that you need to consider. Take notes about what be meaningful to you.

Identify exactly what you will do with the laptop... don't buy something based only on the price.

Since SSDs are so common these days, it is almost a given that you should purchase one only with an SSD (though you can add HDDs on larger laptops if you really need the storage).

So the biggest decisions are;
  1. Screen quality and size...this will greatly effect the price, battery life and ability to do your work.
  2. CPU power - do you need an i3 or an i7 or better? This depends on your work and number of apps you need to run at the same time. My recommendation at the time of this post is a quad core i7. The other CPUs are not that much better for office work and the cost is much higher, in general.
  3. Go for 16GB of RAM if you can afford it. 8GB is minimum.
  4. Upgrade-ability - watch YouTube reviews and learn about what can be upgraded (RAM and SSD being the most important). If you want to keep the unit for many years, you will want the ability to upgrade some aspect of the system.
  5. Don't buy a computer from a store without knowing "which" CPU you are buying... and if you are going for the new Intel CPUs with the confusing names, print out a table from the Intel site so you know what you are buying.
R
 
Reactions: sirbebop

bhargrave

Estimable
Dec 14, 2015
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Unhelpful as this may sound, my response is to plan ahead to buy a wireless keyboard and roller-ball mouse. It took about a month before my expensive gaming ASUS laptop's touchpad became erratic, making the cursor jump all around when typing on the keyboard. Even a light touch on the keyboard seems to affect the adjacent touchpad. changed sensitivity settings to no end, and to no improvement. I Mostly I now keep my fingers away from the laptop keyboard and touchpad and just use my wireless substitutes.
 
Apr 7, 2020
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Plan for tomorrow. Buy a system that shall still be useful in the years to come. Not forever but for the next 3-4 years at least if not more. Take your time to hunt for the best one, don't buy one in rush.
 
Reactions: sirbebop
Apr 24, 2020
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In my opinion what you want to do with the computer is the most important thing to consider. For the basic use, a 4GB RAM and 500 GB hard drive will suffice but if planning to play games with the machine, you will need to pay attention to the graphics card and other bells and whistles. I would advice you to buy a machine that is slightly more powerful than the tasks you are currently planning to tackle as interests change and grow with time.
 
Apr 25, 2020
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If your truly in the market for a good laptop, and just dont want one because its cool, and really dont need the portability. Buy a good desktop. But if you must have a laptop, and this will be your only pc. Get one with the most memory, biggest hard drive, and a 3 year manufacturer warranty .
 
Reactions: sirbebop
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