What to look for in a laptop
Shopping for a laptop can be confusing. Here are a few of the most important features to look out for.
Most laptops come with either 13.3-inch or 15.6-inch screens. The 13-inch option is a lot more portable, but it may be too cramped for intensive work or gaming. A 15-inch laptop offers more real estate at the expense of size and weight. Choosing a size comes down to whether you’ll mostly be using the device at a desk or on the go.
Aim for at least 1080p (Full HD) resolution on whatever laptop you choose. This will give you a better experience watching videos, and text will appear sharper. Many laptops are available with higher resolution displays—even up to 4K—you’ll just pay for it with a shorter battery life.
The processor in your laptop impacts performance. Most computers use Intel processors, and we’d recommend looking for a model with a Core i5 or Core i7 processor for the best performance.
That’s not to say other options are bad: AMD makes solid processors as well. But the Intel Core series is the gold standard for performance and battery life.
Look for a laptop with at least seven hours of battery life to ensure you can make it through the day without a charge.
The major exception is portable gaming laptops: these are really meant to be used plugged in—it’s hard to find one that can get far without that. The powerful processors and demanding games melt battery life otherwise.
If you’re planning to use your laptop in situations with slower-than-average internet, like many satellite plans, local storage is crucial. Downloading your music, movies, and other media so they’re ready to go can make your experience much better—just make sure you have room to store them.