Laptops balance portability with the performance and power you need. Start your search for the perfect laptop with our overview of the most important features to consider.
All laptops are designed to be portable, but just how portable they are depends on their size and weight. The smaller and lighter they are, the less computing power and functionality they can include.
- 1,3kg or less: These streamlined laptops are great for students and travelers who need to perform basic e-mailing and internet searching on the go.
- Midrange: This selection provides a balance between power and portability, great for users who work on the move.
- 2kg or more: These workhorses provide powerful processing and larger screens, ideal for gamers and professionals who rarely use their laptops away from their desks.
Laptop screen sizes range from about 11 to 17 inches. A larger screen is ideal for gaming, watching movies, photo and video editing, and viewing documents side by side. However, a big screen can increase the overall size, weight and power consumption of a laptop.
The operating system manages all software and hardware, including files, memory, and connected devices. It lets you interact with your laptop in a visual way.
- Chrome OS
- OS X (Macbook only
Higher resolution equals better picture quality. Laptop screens come in a range of resolutions.
- HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on mainstream laptops. Good for Web-surfing, e-mail, and basic computing tasks.
- HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
- Retina display: 2304 x 1440, 2560 x 1600, and 2880 x 1800 resolutions are found in Apple’s 12″, 13.3″ and 15.6″ laptop displays, respectively.
- QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively, the extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and sharp text, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
- 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 resolution boasts four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.
Different display technologies yield different colours and brightness levels. Many laptops employ LED backlighting, which can display bright colours without draining the battery.
If you plan to use your laptop to watch movies and shows with a friend, choose a display with an IPS panel for wider viewing angles. Screens with a glossy finish generally provide richer colours and darker blacks, while matte displays will reduce glare if you frequently work outdoors or near windows.
Touch-screen laptops make navigating on your computer more intuitive. Tap to select, hold and drag to move items, swipe to scroll and pinch to zoom, just as you would on a smartphone or tablet.
Your laptop’s processor is like its brain. Working in combination with system memory, the power of the processor determines the complexity of software you can run, how many programs you can have open at the same time, and how fast those programs will run. Most laptops feature an Intel® or AMD processor.
Random-access memory, or RAM, helps your processor tackle multiple tasks at once. A minimum of 4GB is required for basic computing, but 8GB or more is recommended if you’re into graphics and advanced photo or video editing. Most laptops have 4GB–8GB pre-installed, and some have up to 32 GB. If you think you might need more memory later, choose a model that lets you expand the RAM.
For heavy graphics work or gaming, choose a laptop with a dedicated graphics card and video memory. Having separate resources for your graphics allows for faster, smoother processing while you’re watching movies, playing games or multitasking.
Traditional hard disk drives offer larger storage capacities but add to a laptop’s weight and thickness while generating heat and noise. Alternatively, solid-state drives (also known as SSDs) are lighter, faster, cooler and quieter but are more expensive per GB. Some laptops feature a hybrid drive, which combines the benefits of both.
Increased processing power, larger and higher resolution screens, and faster hard drives will drain your battery more quickly.
Ports and Connectivity
Most laptops provide the latest wireless standards plus Bluetooth capabilities so you can easily sync your smartphone, speakers and other portable devices.
If you are a frequent traveller, consider a laptop that connects to the 4G LTE network so you can access the Web even when you’re not near a Wi-Fi hotspot. The following port options are available.
- USB 2.0: Connects external drives, gaming controllers, smartphones, MP3 players and other accessories.
- USB 3.0: Transfers data faster than USB 2.0, but only when used with USB 3.0 devices.
- USB Type-C: Provides blazing speeds and versatile power, featuring connectors with identical ends that plug in upside down or right-side up. Adapters allow for video as well as backward compatibility.
- Thunderbolt: Ultra-high bandwidth for fast data transfer between devices featuring a Thunderbolt or MiniDisplayPort connection.
- HDMI: Connect a projector or display HD media on your flat-screen TV.
- Media-card slots: Transfer photos from your digital camera or camcorder.