How to choose the right laptop

 

We are often asked how you go about choosing the right laptop. Obviously because of the technological understanding required as well as the plethora of brands and new laptops out there, it can be very confusing and daunting.

So here is some brief advice on how to go about it:

Firstly decide what you are going to use the laptop for?. For example, if it is just to be used for internet, email access and documents then your requirements are very different from someone planning to run processor and memory intensive applications such as games, media applications or CAD. An entry level laptop may be more than adequate for your needs! So why pay for more?

Price:

Broadly speaking, we categorize laptops as “entry level” < R10k, mid-range (> R10k < R20k) and top of the range > R20k. Nowadays we even see laptops retailing up to R50k  because of the weak rand, dollar exchange rate. But we think the best “value for money” price point usually lies in the > R8k to R15k area if this is in your budget range. But you need to decide on the best laptop features possible based on a specific budget.

Specifications:

Once you have a budget in mind, the next consideration is what features are important for your needs. For example, someone who needs to run graphical applications such as games and Cad, then lots of Ram, a dedicated graphics module, decent screen, and Core i7 processor may be crucial considerations. And as SSD drives become more commonplace, these could also enter into your consideration because harddrive speed is often the performance bottleneck. For example you could buy a laptop with a slower spinning harddrive and then buy and replace it with a SSD drive.

A Mac could also be worth considering for people working with media/graphical based applications.

Carefully consider the specifications and features of various models and decide what is important for your needs. I.e. harddrive size, harddrive speed (SSD – highly recommended), processor spec, memory size (nowadays minimum of 8 Gigs for Windows 10), operating system (Windows or Mac), numeric keypad, inbuilt 3G, screen size, built in camera spec, docking capability, weight, brand, touch screen capability, IO ports, your needs etc.

When comparing models which have similar specifications go for the one with the highest performance processor as well as the maximum amount of ram you can afford. The better the processor (Core i3, i5, i7) and the more ram, the faster the laptop will run. We would recommend at least 8 Gigabytes with Windows 10 laptops (default option nowadays).

While you should not buy IT based on “lots of features”, it is worth ensuring that you get the best “value for money” with features that are important. Weight and battery size can also be a deciding factor. If you travel frequently, then a light laptop with a 12”/14″ screen may be preferable to lugging around the world with a dead weight.

Brand and Preferences:

Choosing the laptop brand is always a personal thing. Sometimes you just like the “look and feel” of a particular brand, for example if you prefer Macs over Windows based laptops although Macs come at a premium. Other times it’s a recommendation from a particular person. Note a particular brand preference does not always mean a standard “look n feel” for a laptop.

There is a significant variation of how the different branded laptops look from the same Vendor of which some we like and others we avoid. Also note that ongoing support of the laptop is something worth considering and that some laptop models are sold exclusively by some re sellers and you may be locked into their stores for on-going support.

In South Africa and in our experience Dell offers the best onsite warranty support because after diagnosing a problem over the phone, a technician will be deployed to your location if a hardware fix is required. Hence the bulk of laptops we supply are Dells.

Other brands have warranty options but these usually have to be sent to a dedicated repair company and we find working with them very frustrating.

Installation:

As well as choosing the right laptop, the initial configuration of the laptop is also important. If it is not set up right, it may never run optimally.

Precision Technology offers this as a value added service for our clients, where we do the initial configuration and set up all the software, updates, email, anti virus, etc and ensure the laptop runs optimally right from the start. Also it is important to ensure your laptop has all the latest hardware drivers and windows updates.

Brands we usually sell include: Dell (preferred option because of best warranty support), Acer, HP, Gigabyte and Lenovo. Please feel free to contact us for any help in choosing the right laptop for you.