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Choosing the Right Laptop: 2 Things you Need to Know

Storage, RAM, processor… What???

I’m not a techie. Purchasing a laptop is all pain and no pleasure: what if I get it wrong, and the laptop doesn’t work for me, and I’ve spent all this money, and I can’t get a critical piece of work done, and now I can’t exchange the laptop for another one, and…. ☹

Over time, I’ve been forced to get to grips with what it all means. And it turns out, you need to know just 2 things: 1) what you need the laptop for, and 2) what the options are. You’ve already got the first bit covered – and so you are half way there!

Here are the 3 options that will help you to get the device that’s right for you.

Option 1: it’s all about affordability

You want a decent device that is going to cost you as little as possible. You want to be able to write documents in Word, crunch some numbers in Excel, throw together a PowerPoint presentation. You want to browse the internet, send some emails, and connect on Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Google Meet, and maybe stream movies on your laptop.

You will want to choose an older device (say 6 to 8 years old) with:

Processor: Intel i5
RAM: 4 GB
Memory: 128 GB

Your laptop may slow down a little if you have multiple programmes or documents open, but will be a good workhorse for getting your day-to-day work and study tasks done.

Option 2: efficiency is the name of the game

You want a solid laptop that will be responsive and reliable. You spend most of your time each day in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You want to stream movies, chat frequently on Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Google Meet, and browse the internet quickly and easily.

Here, you want to find a device that is between 2 and 5 years old with:

Processor: Intel i5 or i7
RAM: 8 GB
Memory: 128 GB to 256 GB

With these specifications, your laptop will perform well if you are browsing a large number of pages on the internet, or working across multiple programmes at the same time. If you select a device on the higher end (Intel i7 and/or 256 GB), your device will run a little faster but it won’t be particularly noticeable. Unless you have special technical requirements (see Option 3), these specifications will be all your need and more.

Option 3: big computing power

You work on big creative projects with lots of images/videos, run large mathematical or computational models, or are a big gamer. If this is the case, you require a device with greater processing power, memory, and storage. As you might expect, this comes at a cost.

You will need to look at devices between 2 and 6 years old with the following:

Processor: Intel i7
RAM: 16 GB and up
Memory: 512 GB and up

In this category, screen size may be pretty important to you. Many higher-spec laptops have larger screens, but you can also use a separate monitor in which case the size of your laptop screen isn’t particularly relevant.

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