Must read guide before buying a new laptop/notebook

AlphaGenericStarred Page By AlphaGeneric, 7th Feb 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Technology>Computer Hardware

Computers are a very important part of our life as we use them to perform many of our daily activities, that's why when we are going to purchase one it is important to analyze several alternatives in order to get the best cost-benefit out of it. The objective of this guide is to present you with tips that will help you find the best computer according to your budget. This guide is intended for notebook computers but might work with desktop computers too.

What to look for?

Many times I have had people come to me to ask for my advice as for what computer they should purchase, normally they will come with 2 or 3 options. What I have learn from this is that people will likely look for the computers that have the largest hard drive, fastest processor or the ones which come with more RAM memory, although these are main components which conform a computer it does not necessary mean that they will end up forming the best notebook.

In order to pick the right computer you need to break it up into components. These components include:

  • Processor
  • RAM Memory
  • Video Card
  • Hard Drive
  • Battery
  • Assembly Quality
  • Cooling System
  • Ports
  • Screen (Resolution)
  • Operating System (Version)

The order of the components are according to their importance (in my opinion).

Great power comes with great responsibility... and sacrifices

All these components are very important and the reason these components should be analyzed with care is that if you have a tight budget you will have to sacrifice one of them in order to obtain the best of the others.

First of all we need to ask What do we want? Do we want speed to work in documents and surf the internet? Do we want power to run graphic applications and see high quality videos? Do we want high battery life?

Companies often tend to hype one of these components but secretly lower the others in order to offer good price. I will do my best to put what components will be affected when one of them is hyped, by this I mean which components will not be that great when one of the others is powerful.

***Note: All examples given may become obsolete over time.***


The processor is the brain of the computer, probably the most important component. It will normally be presented in two flavors Intel and AMD . Try to get multi-core processors with high Hz velocity. ie. Intel i5 2.6 Ghz

High speed processors in low budget computers will normally lead to an integrated video card which will probably fail to perform very well when running intense graphic applications such as games and video edition software. RAM Memory may not be affected in quantity but in quality ie. (DDR2 instead of DDR3). Hard Drive may be reduced in size (if type is Solid State) or in speed to 5900 rpm. Reduced battery life.

RAM Memory

RAM Memory is important as it will help run several applications at a time and make them responsive. Having more ram will make our computer responsive in intense work loads. I recommend that if you are into speed mix high ram with high processor speed which will lead to just a little increase in price, you will have to sacrifice Video Card as it will probably be integrated. Check that RAM is of good quality and technology. Right now 4 to 6 GB of RAM are more than enough. Good battery life.

Video Card

Many costumers, specially teenagers will complain that they bought a high performance computer but are not able to run applications like games or watch high quality movies without their computer becoming unresponsive. This is the result of not choosing a computer with an external video card (external meaning not integrated with the processor). When we talk about video cards you will find two major companies NVIDIA and ATI Radeon. If you are into gaming or a professional that tend to use graphical editing applications you NEED a computer with a good Video Card. No matter the brand try to choose one with at least 1 GB.

Better video card will make an increase in the price, normally the processor will have lower speed but not that to be worried about. Sometimes RAM will be lower than other computers. Reduced battery life.

High Budget
Intel i7, 6GB RAM, 2GB Video Card
Medium Budget Speed
Intel i5 or AMD FX, 4GB Integrated video card.
Medium Budget Graphics
Intel i5, 4GB, 1GB Video Card
Low Budget Speed
AMD or Intel i3 Processor, 4GB RAM, Integrated Video Card
Low Budget Graphics
AMD, 2 to 4 GB, 1 GB Video Card

What comes next?

There are computer manufacturers that offer powerful computers at a relative low price. How do they do that?

Well the sad truth is that they sacrifice assembly quality, screen type and resolution, often come with a cheap operating system version ie. Windows Starter, lack of useful ports like HDMI and normally the ports that are included are of old technology.

This will ultimately lower your computer lifespan. Specially cheap computers that come with a good external video card will often have a poor cooling system resulting in your computer literally melting overtime.

This does not mean that you cannot obtain a good computer at a good price, in fact it just means that you need to proper analyze your options before purchasing one of them. There are computer manufacturers that often good computers where the whole quality of their components are balanced so you get a very good deal.

I did not mention Apple Computers in this article as their price is a little higher than the budget I based this article on. The truth is that Apple offers very good quality but tends to overprice their products. Anyway these are great computers too and may be what you are looking for, I recommend you research them too before purchasing one though as the operating system is different from normal computers which often come with a version of Microsoft Windows.

There are also high performance computers that will have a very good performance but will result in a high price increase such as Alienware computers or Asus Gaming computers.

Good Luck
Enjoy Computers!-- alphaGeneric


Buy, Buying, Computer, Computer Brands, Hard Drive, Hardware, Laptop, Memory, Notebook, Processor, Ram, Smartbook, Video, Video Card

Meet the author

author avatar AlphaGeneric
Professional Computer Engineer.
I love computer and like to transmit my knowledge to other people so they can benefit from new technologies.

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author avatar Retired
7th Feb 2013 (#)

You really only need dedicated graphics if your running high resolution games, or programs like CAD or Photoshop, and laptops only really need dual core processors. RAM and SSD wilI benefit you more for speed. I just built a desktop with the Fx-6200 six-core and Radeon HD-7850 GPU, 16 gb RAM and I can run anything on it. As far as motherboards anything with UEFI BIOS is your best bet, as that is the easiest and most stable BIOS Iv'e used yet. By far the cheapest way to get a GREAT computer is to build it yourself. And as far as Apple goes, do not waste your time or money! you can build a WAY better computer for a fraction of the cost and it will be more compatible

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author avatar AlphaGeneric
7th Feb 2013 (#)

Good point with the motherboard, it is very important too. Not all people have the skill to build a computer though. I agree that Apple is overpriced but some people like the OS their computers have good quality. I would not buy one though. I'll stick with my Samsung hehe.

Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Retired
7th Feb 2013 (#)

yes the OS and hardware has its advantages... but the the price outweighs them. and yes Samsung and Toshiba both make great affordable laptops.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
10th Feb 2013 (#)

Yeah, one needs to know what we use them for - and then leave out those that we don't need and just concentrate on the essentials. Good tips, thanks - siva

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