Once you’ve chosen the type and size laptop that best suits your needs, it’s time to select performance components. All of the abbreviations—such as GB, HD or GHz—associated with choosing a laptop can be a bit confusing, making it difficult to pick out what’s best for you. So here’s an overview of the under-the-hood features that you should consider when making a purchase.
Processor: Processors are the brains of the computer. For a portable laptop, you should focus on a processor that gives you a balance of speed and energy efficiency, such as an AMD Turion II. A desktop replacement laptop will typically have a powerful processor, such as an Intel Core i7. Processors are very technical, and a higher advertised gigahertz (GHz) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a faster processor. For more information on processor selection, make sure to consult a knowledgeable sales rep to guide you in the right direction.
Memory: Contrary to popular belief, memory—technically known as RAM—does not store all of your songs, pictures and other files. Instead, memory is used to store and run active processes from your operating system and programs, such as Microsoft Office or iTunes. This is what allows your computer to quickly open programs and keep them active, while still remembering your work in progress. Most computers come with a minimum of two gigabytes (GB) of RAM; however, you can enhance the longevity of your system by upgrading to anywhere from four to eight GB.
Hard Drive: The hard drive (HD) stores everything on your computer, including songs, videos, games, documents and operating system. Laptops typically have smaller drives than desktops, but size options are constantly increasing. A standard hard drive for a laptop is typically 250 GB, which should be more than sufficient for a large number of songs and files, with ample videos and games. If you’re looking to use your laptop for heavy gaming or storing a large number of videos, choose a larger option, such as a 500 GB drive.
Graphics Card: The major thing to consider with a graphics card is whether you want integrated or discrete graphics. Integrated graphics are not very powerful, but are energy savvy. For more power, look for computers that include graphics cards from companies like AMD (formerly ATI) and Nvidia to give you the best gaming and video performance.
Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: Wireless internet, also known as Wi-Fi, is included in virtually all laptops; however, there are a few different versions. For everyday use, 802.11 b/g is more than sufficient, but 802.11 b/g/n is the best wireless range. Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly connect peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard or game controller. Although not critical, it’s a great feature to rid your desk of wire clutter.