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Everything you need to know to buy the best laptop for you!

Published 13th December 2022
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Buying a laptop can be an overwhelming experience. With so many different models and features to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. The purpose of this guide is to provide you with comprehensive information about what to look for when buying a laptop in the UK. This guide will cover the important factors to consider, such as internal components, size, battery life, display, connectivity and price. It will also provide helpful advice on selecting the right laptop for your needs.

Processors

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a laptop is performance, and that's strongly tied to what sort of processor is inside. The processor is like the the brain of the laptop; it determines how quickly and efficiently it can carry out tasks.

There are two processor brands used in modern laptops, Intel's Core iX series and AMD's Ryzen series. Both brands make a range of processors with different power capabilities. The more powerful the processor, the more you'll be able to do but the more expensive your laptop will be.

Generally, Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processors are suitable for basic tasks like web browsing and word processing. For more intensive tasks such as video editing or gaming, an Intel Core i5 or i7 or a Ryzen 7 or 9 processor is recommended.

However, you also need to look at the model number - that's the long number after the core number (one example for Intel processors is 12400F while for Ryzen it's 5800X). The higher the number the more modern the processor is, which is important because a fresh Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processor will be more powerful than an old Core i7 or Ryzen 9.

RAM

RAM (which stands for Random Access Memory) is another important factor to consider when selecting a laptop. RAM is the memory that allows your laptop to run multiple applications at once. The more RAM you have, the faster your laptop will be able to run applications and games. For general use laptops 4GB RAM should suffice but if multitasking is important then 8GB RAM would be recommended; gamers should opt for 16GB RAM or higher depending on their specific requirements while video editors should look at 32GB RAM or higher depending on their needs.

Storage

Storage is a vital factor, because it's much harder to upgrade the main storage drive of a laptop than it is with a desktop. PC Storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB); 1TB equals 1,000GB. There are three types of storage drives you'll come across in laptops:

Hard disk drives (HDD)

The established, old-school storage system. The advantage of a hard drive is that large storage options are far cheaper than the other two. If you're looking for max storage space on a budget, choose a laptop with a hard drive. The weaknesses of HDDs are their slow speeds and moving parts, which can fail if the laptop is dropped or if used for long enough.

Solid state drives (SSD)

The successor to hard drives, solid state drives are more expensive than their forebears, but are better in every way. Faster read-write speeds means your laptop will turn on faster and your programs will run quicker. Additionally, there's no moving parts in an SSD so they're less prone to failures.

Embedded multi-media card (eMMC)

eMMC is a type of flash drive, the storage type developed for memory sticks. It's the default type of storage used in smartphones and tablets, but it crops up in Chromebooks and other lightweight, low performance laptops. eMMC is cheap and lightning fast when used for light applications like browsing the web, but it will get overwhelmed if you do anything more serious with it. Capacities are limited too, with the most common being just 64GB.

So which should you buy? Well, it depends on what sort of programs you'll be using. For example, if you're only going to be using your laptop for basic tasks, eMMC storage or a HDD drive will be fine for you, but if you'll be editing photos or videos an SSD is required.

In terms of capacity, this will depend on how much data you need to store. Bear in mind this isn't just about how many videos or photos you'll save on your computer, but how many programs you'll install, since each one will take up a few gigabytes at least. 256GB is enough for most people, but you can get away with 128GB on a Windows laptop if you're careful. Netbooks and Chromebooks will have a tiny capacity by contrast - 64GB is common - since most of their programs run from cloud services.

If you want even more space, you can expand your laptop's storage with a detachable drive. Powered by USB, an external hard drive can give you massive quantities of extra space for chunky video files or to act as an important backup option to protect your most precious files.

Screen size

The size of a laptop's screen will determine its portability and usability. If you are looking for something that you can easily carry around with you, then smaller laptops such as 11-13 inches are ideal. These are lightweight and compact enough to fit into most bags without adding too much bulk.

If you need something more powerful or plan on using it regularly at home or in the office, then larger laptops such as 14-17 inches are recommended. These are typically heavier but offer more screen space and better performance for tasks such as video editing or gaming.

Battery life

Battery life is an important factor to consider when buying a laptop. Most laptops have an estimated battery life of around 6-8 hours, but this can vary depending on how you use it. If you plan on using your laptop on the go or away from a power source for extended periods of time, then it’s important to select one with good battery life so that it doesn’t die on you unexpectedly. Many laptops come with additional features such as ‘power saver mode’ which can help extend the battery life even further.

Display

The display is another key factor in deciding which laptop to buy. Most laptops now come with HD displays which provide clear and vibrant images for watching movies or playing games. If you want something even better then there are also laptops available with 4K displays which offer even sharper images and colours than HD displays do.

Read reviews - including those left by our own customers - and pay attention to viewing angles, which tells you how far away from dead centre you can get before the picture is affected. This is important if you'll use your laptop to watch TV shows or movies with your friends, since those on the edges will see only a black screen.

It’s also worth considering whether you want a touch screen laptop or not; this may be useful if you plan on using your laptop for drawing or graphic design work as it makes it easier to interact with applications directly on screen rather than using a mouse or trackpad.

Connectivity

Connectivity options are also important when selecting a laptop in the UK; there are certain ports and connectors that will be necessary depending on what type of devices you plan on connecting your laptop to, with the most common being USB-A ports. Every laptop will have at least some way of connecting peripherals like headsets or computer mice, but the number and variety is up to the manufacturer.

Wireless connectivity options are important too; every modern model of laptop will have Wi-Fi, but other aerials such as Bluetooth aren't as standard but are essential if you plan on connecting your laptop wirelessly to other devices such as phones or tablets.

Price

Finally, price should always be taken into consideration when buying any type of technology product; laptops range in price from budget models costing around £200 up to high-end models costing several thousand pounds depending on their specs and features.

It’s important to make sure that whatever model you choose has all of the features that you need without breaking the bank; if there are certain features that aren’t essential but would still be useful then try looking for deals with bundled accessories such as extra storage capacity or extended warranties which may save some money in the long run. Another way of saving money is browsing for refurbished laptops.

Best laptop brands

There are plenty of choice for laptops, since almost every large tech brand offers their own spin on a portable PC. Here's some of the most popular:

Buying a laptop can be daunting but hopefully this guide has provided some useful information about what to look for when buying one in the UK; performance, size, battery life, display, connectivity and price are all important factors to consider before making your decision so make sure that whatever model you choose has all of these features in order to ensure that it meets your needs now and in the future.

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