You are looking for a new laptop, but where do you begin? When shopping around you will be faced with a variety of specifications to choose from: screen size, screen resolution, processor and hard drive storage are a few of the common specs that will crop up. If you aren’t tech minded, it can be a little overwhelming when faced with a list of specs that you don’t understand. With that in mind, we are going to breakdown the most important factors to consider when buying a new laptop and explain it in a way we can all understand.
This may seem like an obvious one, the bigger the number the bigger the screen, but that doesn’t make it any easier when trying to decide what size to go for. Laptop screen sizes range from 11 up to 17.3 inches, with the most common being between 13 to 15 inches. The size of the screen typically determines the overall weight of the laptop – so if portability is a big factor then you are better to go for a smaller screen – we would suggest a 13 inch. However, if you require a slightly larger working space there are a variety of 15-inch machines available that weigh less than 2kg. Newer Dell Latitudes are significantly lighter than their predecessors.
If portability isn’t important, you might consider getting the biggest screen available for your budget. However, it is worth bearing in mind a bigger screen doesn’t necessarily mean more content – this is where screen resolution comes in.
Everything you see on your computer screen is made up from pixels. What are pixels? Basically, pixels are little square dots that make up images. The resolution refers to the number of pixels the screen is able to display, therefore determining the amount of information you are able to see on the screen. The higher the resolution, the more you can see.
For example, if you have a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen and a monitor with a 22-inch screen but they have the same resolution of 1920 x 1080 you will be able to see the same amount of content on each screen, the only difference being the content on the monitor screen will appear bigger.
Similarly, if you have two screens of the same size but with different resolutions you will be able to see more on the screen with the higher resolution, reducing your need to scroll, but the content will appear smaller.
The screen resolutions you are most likely to come across are:
HD (1366 x 768)
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
There are higher resolutions available, such as: 3840 x 2160 and 3840 x 2400 but unless you are planning on carrying out extensive design work or using several media applications at one time, the HD or Full HD resolution will be more than sufficient.
OK, now we are getting into the slightly more technical part. The processor (or CPU) is what runs your laptop, it dictates the speed at which applications are run and how many can be run at the same time.
On the EuroPC website, processor information is displayed in the following format –
Intel Core i3-10110U (2 Core), 2.1 GHz (4.1 GHz Max Turbo)
Which translates to –
Make/Model (the number of independent CPUs), the speed at which the base frequency operates
When looking at all the numbers and details of a processor, it can be quite intimidating and a lot of information to process (no pun intended). A general rule of thumb to take away is – if you expect to be operating several applications at one time the higher the number of independent CPUs you want within the processor. As with most things, the higher the number the more powerful the processor.
Hard Drive Storage
eMMC or SSD? Both are types of hard drive storage for your laptop and essentially serve the same purpose – to provide long term storage for your files and applications. As with the processor, the higher the number, the more storage your machine will have.
eMMCs (Embedded MultiMedia Cards) are relatively new and often found in smartphones and tablets. Recent years have seen their use in laptops as they offer a cost-effective storage solution for smaller machines. Typically, eMMC’s are found on smaller, more portable machines which are perfect if you need a laptop for basic web browsing needs.
SSDs (Solid State Drives) are more commonly found within computers and have more options when choosing storage capacity, but as with most things the higher the number the higher the cost. The two most common SSD sizes are 256GB and 512GB – either of these will be more than enough for day-to-day use, but if you are planning on using your laptop for gaming or running larger applications such as photoshop or any design software, go for a machine with as much storage as you can afford.