How to choose a laptop

I recently recommended some laptops for a friend of mine and it got me to thinking, what is the best way to choose a laptop for you.  There are lots of options out there now when choosing a laptop.  I will go through some of the basics to help narrow down those selections.

Choosing a laptop can be easy

Laptop or Desktop

The first and foremost decision to make is whether you want a laptop or a desktop.  Desktops are generally less expensive for equivalent specs and easier (read cheaper) to repair.  However, laptops are portable and can be used anywhere.  So if you travel a lot, or do not have space to dedicate to a stationary desk for a full computer then a laptop is for you.

Laptop or All-in-one

A recent trend in laptops have been the all-in-one or convertible types.  These are laptops that in some way convert into tablets.  Some have keyboards that detach others have a screen that flips or swivels onto itself.
If you spend time browsing the web from the couch, then the all-in-one might be for you.  But be careful, the less expensive all-in-ones are notorious for failing at the hinge location making the laptop unusable.

Screen size

The next decision to make is screen size.  A standard laptop is typically a 15” or 15.6” LCD screen.  For those who opt for the all-in-ones then the smaller screen sizes are recommended.  What is a nice sized laptop, may become an unwieldy tablet.

If you primarily use your computer for work and it stays on a desk, you might look at the larger sized laptops.  Ultimately the decision is yours but be careful on the extreme ends, what looks good in the store may be impractical for daily use.


The last thing that I usually discuss with someone looking for a laptop are the actual specifications of the machine.  Make a decision on all of the previous topics, then look for a laptop with the right specifications with those features.

There are three basic specs for any computer CPU, RAM (memory), and Hard Drive (storage).

CPU – Any of the i3/i5/i7 Intel processors will fit your needs. 

RAM – Do not get anything with less the 4GB RAM, I prefer 6GB+.  With RAM it is always the more the better.

Hard Drive – The hard drive is a bit of a decision.  500GB is a very common size and sufficient for most people.  It will hold family pictures, movies and music easily.  Or you may go with an SSD, it has no moving parts, one less thing that can break on your laptop.  However, the storage size of these is usually less than 256GB.

Other things to consider…

DVD-Drive – Not really necessary in today’s world, nearly all software can be downloaded

USB 3.0 – Recommended to have at least one port.  Makes transferring data on and off the computer faster

Wireless – It should have at least 802.11N protocol, 802.11AC would be a bonus.


Purchasing a laptop can be a frustrating and confusing ordeal.  Make your decisions up front about what kind of laptop you want, then go find the one that meets requirements with the best specifications and fits in your budget.