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The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide - How to Choose the Best Laptop

  • Highlights

  • Using the laptop buying guide, choose the right screen size

  • Ensure the display type & resolution suits your needs

  • Select the right OS, processor, and ports to get the best use

  • Buy the best laptop on No Cost EMI from the EMI Network

Buying a laptop can be both exciting and daunting. With so many technological advancements you may find yourself asking others, ‘what laptop should I buy?’ or ‘what is the best laptop to buy within a specific price range?’ To help you undertake this journey of picking the best laptop, consider this laptop buying guide. It takes you through the essential aspects of a laptop, makes some of the terms you will encounter reader-friendly and offers you a neat and concise cheat-sheet that you can refer to while shopping. To streamline your search, read this laptop buying guide and get the best for your money’s worth.

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop

This laptop buying guide with the cheat sheet upfront elucidates some of the key factors that you need to look out for, which are mainly to do with technical specifications. However, when buying personal taste also plays an important role. So, go for the best laptop specifications that your budget can handle, but also, be ensure that you get the brand, design and the colour that you desire. That way you compromise on nothing: neither laptop performance nor customer service or personal satisfaction.

The purpose of a laptop buying guide is to help you get the most from your laptop at a given price point. Since festive seasons come with offers galore, look for a steal deal during a popular festival. That way you get more from your assigned budget.

Now that you know when is the best time to buy a laptop and have it in mind to keep an eye for your personal preferences, proceed to the more technical aspects of this laptop guide.

Laptop Display

Laptop displays comprise three main elements: screen size, screen resolution, and display type. Picking the right display boils down to what you want the laptop for. For instance, if you are a gamer a widescreen display is of utmost importance. However, the same may prove to be less portable for a business owner. So, as you consider these 3 main aspects, keep the end-use in mind and filter what’s best for you.

How to buy the best laptops?

Laptop Buying Guide Cheat Sheet

  • Screen size: 15.6 is standard, but 12 to 14 inches may be more portable

  • Display resolution: HD is the standard, FHD is better

  • Display type: Pick IPS for great viewing angles

  • Operating System: Windows for general users, Linux for coders

  • Processor: Go for at least an i3 for everyday tasks

  • RAM: Choose 8GB or more for seamless multitasking

  • ROM: As much as you need but with at least 128GB SSD storage

  • Ports: Verify that you get all you require (USB, HDMI, Card reader, etc.)

  • Battery life: Look for around 8 hours of battery life

  • Value for money: Evaluate brand offerings to get the best bargain

 

Screen Size

A laptop’s dimensions comprise width, depth and height. It might seem that the screen size is the same thing as the width, which is the length between the left and right corner, but it is not. Screen size is measured diagonally. That is from the bottom left to the top right corner, excluding bezels, or the body around the laptop. As such, you have screen sizes measuring 10.1, 11.6, 12.1, 13.3, 14, 15.6, 16.0 and 17.3 inches.

However, screen size alone doesn’t give you the entire picture. After all, you could have a 12.1-inch display with a height of 7.3 inches and a width of 9.6 inches or a height of 6.4 inches and a width of 10.2 inches. What tells you how square-like or rectangular-like your screen will look is a term called aspect ratio. While 4:3 ratios are the older variants, 16:9 are the ones most used today and provide wider viewing.

What is the standard size of a laptop screen?

In terms of popularity, 15-inch screens, typically 15.6 inches, or a screen falling in the 14-inch to 16-inch bracket can be considered standard. The displays here are large making it easy to work with and view media. They house larger keyboards, and all-in-all provide a convenient experience for people of all ages, young and elderly alike.

However, what’s standard for the general public may not be so for a particular segment. For instance, entrepreneurs who need a blend of performance and portability may prefer something in the 12-inch to 14-inch segment and professional gamers may consider the best laptop screen sizes to be anything above 17 inches to ensure uncompromised visuals.

Display resolution

Display resolution indicates the number of pixels that comprise an image on screen. As you may expect, the more the pixels, the better or sharper the image. Similarly, the higher the pixel count, the more the content that can be shown on screen, thus enabling better side-by-side window use. Display resolutions are classified as per their pixel counts measured horizontally and vertically. The most common are HD or 720p, FHD or 1080p and UHD 4k.

  • HD: Also called HD ready, these displays give you a 1280 x 720 pixel or simply 720p resolution. Here you get close to 1 million pixels. Most budget laptops carry a HD display, giving decent visuals, quality and colour density.

  • Full HD: FHD displays offer you a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Also called 1080p, this screen gives a much sharper display than an HD variant as it comprises around 2 million pixels.

  • Ultra HD 4K: Here you have a display packed with 3840 x 2160 pixels. With around 8 million pixels, these displays feature a 4 time increase from FHD variants. UHD 4K displays are found on high-end laptops and many a time find themselves at the hands of professional gamers.

Display Type

Beyond a laptop’s screen size and resolution, another important parameter is the display type. This tells you the technology behind your LCD screen panel. Two of the most commonly used technologies are- In Plane Switching or IPS and Twisted Nematic or TN. Further, there is the Vertical Alignment or VA panel that promises a mean between IPS and TN. Without getting into the science behind the screens, when buying a new laptop it’s important that you know the benefits of having one screen over another.

  • IPS: Provide wide viewing angles, better colour depth and reproduction. Can suffer from ‘IPS glow’, a disturbance wherein the backlight is visible from certain angles.

  • TN: Budget-friendly and has quicker response time. Better then IPS and a top choice for gamers. However, it gives poor horizontal viewing experience. Colours may appear inverted and the image washed out.

  • VA: Great contrast with rich deep black levels. Beats IPS displays in this domain. Good colour reproduction but poor response times.

Operating System

The operating system refers to the software platform that enables or facilitates the laptop’s basic functions. This software coordinates functions between other software and your laptop’s hardware. A quick glance at your laptop specification sheet will tell you the type of OS that is pre-loaded on your machine. Verifying the OS is one of the most important steps when buying a new laptop, as it determines the environment you will work in. Further, certain software work with a specific OS only. Therefore, verify that the pre-loaded OS meets your end-use needs.

An operating system allows you to communicate with or operate the laptop. Some operating systems are straightforward and easy to use while others involve a steeper learning curve, but may be better suited to computer experts. Here are the most common operating systems available in the market:

Windows

Windows is an operating system offered by Microsoft. At present, the latest version is Windows 10. The advantage of having a Windows OS is that it puts you in a familiar environment instantly, as the chances are high that a previous laptop or PC you owned came with a version of Windows installed. The OS is easy to use, comes with an intuitive GUI and has an air of familiarity about it, no matter which version you use. There are tons of programmes written specifically for Windows making it an ideal platform for work or study use. Further, hardware manufactures make their devices Windows compatible by offering software support. For the majority, Windows as OS is the default choice.

MacOS

The OS that comes loaded on Apple laptops, the MacOS promises a simplified user interface compared to Windows. Susceptibility to security lapses are considerably less here too. Further, the software platform works with the laptop’s hardware seamlessly. Apple, which helms both software and hardware aspects of the laptop, can optimise the laptop’s specifications to provide efficient integration. Another standout benefit of the MacOS is the degree and ease of multitasking it facilitates. You can create different workspaces and organise your work accordingly. If you are working in a setup that has a predominantly Apple-based ecosystem then a MacOS will be worth its price tag.

LINUX

Linux is an open-source operating system. It is free to use. You can install Ubuntu or Fedora without needing to spend a penny. That said, a laptop pre-loaded with Linux is sure to be cheaper than one that comes with proprietary software on it. Being opensource, you can peer into the its source code if you’d like to. When compared to Windows, Linux is built in a way that makes it secure and less vulnerable to malicious programmes. As an operating system, Linux is a great companion for computer programmers as it has support for a wide range of programming languages. Further, it keeps you part of the open source community, one wherein source code is shared and developing skills fostered. Finally, Linux is said to be reliable, and does not compromise performance even after long use.

DOS

DOS stands for Disk Operating System. Developed by Microsoft, this is a very basic and practically outdated operating system. It supports basic functionality, is fast and boots quickly. Even though limited in its operations, DOS OSes come pre-loaded on some of the best laptops in India. Instead of being a disadvantage, this can be taken positively as the platform provides flexibility in terms of OS upgradation. In this way you can get great laptop specifications at a cheaper price and then install a free OS like Fedora, Ubuntu, Linux Lite or Crunchbag, later.

Performance: What performance do you need?

You approach the act of buying a laptop from a specific purpose be it recreational, business or academic. Beyond display and the OS, you want a machine that meets your needs. At no rate should it underperform. To ascertain performance, three factors you should pay attention to are- processor, RAM and storage. A faster processor means more computations, better speed of operations. Larger RAM translates to better multitasking abilities. An SSD storage means quicker reads and writes.

To make things more practical, consider what to look for in a laptop in as per your usage.

Light Use:

If your usage majorly comprises browsing websites, watching videos online, staying active on social media platforms and doing light office work, then a budget laptop with average but decent specifications will suffice. Here, an Atom/ Celeron machine with a minimum of 4GB RAM and around 128GB SSD storage should fit the bill.

Medium Use:

IIf you consider that your usage is a step more intensive, specifications like a Core i3 processor with 4GB to 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage should suffice. A laptop with this hardware will enable you to do jobs like photo editing, work with multiple windows simultaneously, and run semi-demanding office programmes.

Heavy and demanding use:

If your business demands high performance or if you are a professional gamer, then you need the specifications to meet your needs. Video editing and rendering, working with large number of images, animation and graphic design work or running intensive games require a laptop that comes with a minimum of Core i7, 16 to 32GB RAM and a top-end SSD storage unit.

Processor: How fast you want to make your laptop?

The processor speed indicated on the laptop specification sheet indicates how many instructions your computer can handle per second. It is measured in giga hertz. Today processors comprise not one but multiple cores. A core is a separate processing unit within the CPU capable of handling instructions. So, larger the amount of cores, the more the number of tasks your laptop can handle efficiently at the same time. Similarly, the faster your CPU is the quicker each core can work on the task requests.

Which is the best processor?

The best CPU processor is the one with the fastest processor speed and the most number of cores. Choosing between the two can be difficult as both are vital to performance. High speed but less cores means that you can do fewer tasks, albeit quickly. More cores but lower speed means that you can do many tasks, though at a slower pace.

When not knowing how to choose a laptop, make a decision on cores vs speed, it can be a good idea to start from another angle and consider the processor variant on offer.

  • Atom/ Celeron/ Pentium: Budget processors that allow for everyday basic computing tasks like surfing, streaming and light office work.

  • Core i3: Supports seamless execution of everyday tasks including 4K, 360 ° and HD viewing.

  • Core i5: Best if you want a laptop for both personal and business use. Gives you more than i3 with more power and more responsiveness.

  • Core i7: Made for more intensive business use, demanding games, and multitasking.

 

Storage: How much storage do you need?

In terms of performance, storage comprises two elements: RAM and ROM. The larger the amount of RAM your laptop has, the smoother your experience will be. More RAM means that you carry out multiple tasks seamlessly. It allows your laptop to perform actions in the background without compromising on the action in the foreground. 8GB RAM should be the minimum to settle for.

In terms of ROM, again more is better. However, here quality is also of importance and it is recommended that you have at least some amount of SSD storage along with your regular hard disk drive. Typically, you should have 128GB SSD as a boot drive as this significantly load times and OS performance. For storage and general purposes, a 512GB to 1 to 2TB regular hard disk drive is plenty.

Port and Connectivity: Decide the right connectivity

Good laptops offer both usability and portability. One factor that determines a laptop’s usability is the ports it come with. For example, a photographer would require an SD card reader to transfer and edit pictures on the go and a businessperson would need a VGA/HDMI slots to allow for projecting presentations. Similarly, if you prefer to use a wireless mouse and frequently connect an internet stick then multiple USB ports is of importance. The right connectivity then can be determined as per use case.

  • USB: Short for Universal Serial Bus, USB allows you to connect with compatible interfaces such as a printer, external hard drives, cameras, joysticks, scanners, smartphones and other peripherals.

  • Card reader: This port allows you to read data on a memory card and write data on to it as well.

  • HDMI: Short for High-Definition Multimedia Interface, HDMI allows you to transmit/ receive both video and audio content, that too of a high quality.

  • VGA port: Short for Video Graphics Array, VGA is an analogue port widely used before HDMI entered the market. Settle for it only if you need to connect to monitors or projectors that have VGA-only compatibility.


Battery life

Unless you plan to remain plugged in all day, battery life is one of the crucial aspects you want to get right when buying a new laptop. Look for a battery that offers you around 500 charge cycles and 6 to 8 hours of run time over Wi-Fi. A long battery allows you to work when there’s no power, as you travel or even when you forget your charger back at home.

Extended warranty: Save your money

Retailers and e-commerce stores often give you the option to signup for an additional extended warranty plan. These plans tend to cover mechanical and electronic defects that come under your manufacturer’s warranty plan. Further, they let you enjoy coverage even after your standard warranty expires. However, are they worth your money?

When compared to other devices, laptops do succumb to some amount of wear and tear. However, laptops of reputable make can and should work fine well beyond the extended warranty’s expiry date. Further, you should be wary of duplication. That is, do not go for a plan from a third party when your manufacturer is already covering the defects that the plan proposes to cover. Season-time may be the best time to buy a laptop as your manufacturer may offer you added benefits. If extended warranty is one of them, check for duplication.

Further, find out if the plan will offer assistance in case of significant damage or only small wear and tear. Lastly, look into customer service and hidden costs. If you deem an extended warranty not worth the extra pennies, devote the additional finances to getting better laptop specifications.

Pay the right price: Buy a laptop on EMI

Today, buying a sleek, powerful laptop is easy thanks to EMI facility. One place where you can choose from some of the most reliable laptop brands and buy a device on EMIs is the Bajaj Finserv EMI Network. Here you get a wide range of Dell laptops, iBall laptops, Lenovo laptops, HP laptops and devices by brands like Asus, on No Cost EMI, an option that ensures that you pay nothing over the product’s purchase price. To make your purchase, simply use your EMI Network Card online or offline and make sure you read this laptop buying guide to choose the best one for yourself.

With EMI financing of up to Rs. 4 lakh the Bajaj Finserv EMI Network is truly one of the best places to buy a laptop from. Lastly, purchasing your laptop on No Cost EMI allows you to pay for your product over a flexible tenor of 3 to 24 months.

Now that you know what to look for when buying a laptop, pick the right model when shopping on the EMI Network. To get started with EMI financing, check your pre-approved loan offer. Doing so gives you instant approval through a customised deal.

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