|Specific Uses For Product||Personal|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|Human Interface Input|
|Graphics Card Description||Integrated|
|Special Feature||Anti reflective|
Before you begin to look at laptops, you must figure out which operating system (OS) works best for you. Thinking through what software you need to run and on which operating systems that software runs will help you determine the hardware you need.
Once you know which operating system you want and have some idea of the software you’re going to run, you can figure out the minimum hardware specifications you’ll need. The first thing we suggest looking at is the processor, also referred to as the chip or the CPU.
If you’re a typical user who runs a web browser, Microsoft’s Office Suite, and perhaps even some photo editing software, we recommend a laptop with an Intel Core i5 eighth-generation or later processor. That would be displayed something like “Intel Core i5-8350U.”
All laptops technically have graphics cards (also called “discrete” graphics and GPU), but most are bundled into the motherboard with the processor. This approach, known as “integrated graphics” is fine for most users. You’ll be able to watch HD movies and even play casual games without issue.
The more the merrier! Random-access memory, known as RAM, is what your laptop uses to hold data while the processor does things with it. Think of RAM as your desk. All the things you’re working right now should be able to fit on your desk. If your desk is too small, things fall off and you can’t work on them. In the same way, if you run out of RAM you won’t be able to open any more browser tabs or finish compiling your video. Eventually your laptop will freeze up and need to be restarted.
Eight gigabytes of RAM should be plenty for the average Windows user, though upgrading to 16 GB will make your laptop much more capable (and is a necessity for gaming). One thing to investigate before you buy is whether the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. If it is soldered you won’t be able to upgrade the RAM yourself.
The hard drive is where you’ll store all your data. Think of this as the filing cabinet next to your desk. The most common choice these days is a solid state drive (SSD), although some budget laptops still use spinning drives.
While the CPU, RAM, and hard drive will have the biggest impact on performance, the amount and types of ports on your laptop are important. Ports are the various ways of plugging things in to your laptop, like USB devices, or recharging it.
You will want at least one 1 USB-C, at least one 1 USB-A, and a microphone/headset jack. Look into USB-C charging, and an SD reader too.
Your laptop should have a webcam. For some reason, there are still laptops in 2021 that don’t have them. Most webcams are still 720p, especially on lower-priced laptops. That’s fine if you’re not using it much, but with Zoom being a way of life for many folks these days, you might be happier with a 1080p camera.
Once you’ve narrowed the field to a few models, read some reviews and look for things beyond the specifications, like how the hinge holds up over time, how the keyboard feels, how the trackpad performs, and even how hot the bottom gets in your lap. Reading reviews like those here at WIRED is helpful, because looking at specs won’t tell you if a hinge is poorly made or feels sticky, or if the lid scratches easily.