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Choosing a Laptop: Looking Beyond CPU and RAM

Choosing a Laptop: Looking Beyond CPU and RAM

by May 17, 2021 0 comments

When buying a laptop for home, most people only look at specs like CPU, RAM, and Hard drive. While these are important, they’re not enough. There are many other factors to look into, like type of storage, display, wireless connectivity, number and types of ports, and manageability. That’s because you are not only choosing a laptop to handle your day-to-day tasks, but a device that delivers superior and uninterrupted computing experience.

Storage

Let’s begin with storage. You not only need ample space to store your data, but you also can’t compromise on performance. That’s why, you must go for an SSD (Solid State Drive). Their cost per GB is much higher than traditional HDDs, but the performance boost they give is definitely worth it. Let’s understand how HDDs and SSDs are different.

HDDs are rotary hard drives with spinning platters and a moving needle that reads/writes data. HDD capacity ranges from 500 GB to 16 TB. They’re good if you have huge amounts of data to store. Today’s HDDs typically come with spindle speeds of 5,400 and 7,200 RPM, where higher speed means faster data transfer speed.

The RPM is irrelevant when it comes to SSDs. While HDDs can offer transfer rates of around 200 MB/s, SSD transfer rates to up to a whopping 4000 MB/s. Their transfer rate depends on their connector/interface, which is of 3 types–PCIe NVMe, M.2, SATA and AHCI. Here, PCIe NVMe is the fastest interface/connector. Look for the type of SSD connector while choosing your laptop.

So now the question of which type of drive you should go for? SSD or HDD? If budget is not a constraint, then you should go for a laptop with a high-capacity SSD. Don’t go for anything less than 512 GB, though 1 TB would be ideal. However, if you’re hard pressed for budget and going for SSD alone looks difficult, then you can also choose a laptop with both HDD and SSD. Here you could go for a 256 GB SSD and a 1 TB SSD.

One good laptop option to consider is the HP Pavilion – 15-cs3006tx. The notebook is loaded with 1 TB hard drive and 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. The SSD will be loaded with Win 10 OS while 1 TB HDD can be used to store your data. It will enhance your overall laptop performance in terms of PC bootup and application loading time, and multitasking would also be better.

Display

Choosing the right screen is essential, especially if you need to be in front of it for long hours. Here are some factors to consider in a screen:

Resolution: Here, you’ll find both HD and FHD screens available in most of laptops while premium laptops will come with QLED displays. Here, a screen with at least FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 is recommended. It can show about 10 additional lines of text on a web page, email or document, as compared to 720p HD screens.

Videos and photos also look a lot sharper with fine details and without any graininess. For stunning images, you can look for higher resolution screens also like – 2560×1440, 3200×1800 or 3840×2160 (aka 4K) resolution.

Touch vs Non-touch: You could also look for a laptop with touch screen to interact directly with it. They not only looks cool, but can be used either as tablets or laptops. They do however, consume more power than non-touch laptops and cost higher also. The additional cost however is worth it because you get two devices in one.

Brightness: Having good resolution and good colour reproduction is essential, but you also need a screen to be visible in a very well-lit area, like when you’re out in sunlight. Here, you also need a bright screen, which is measured in nits. Higher the nits, brighter the screen. We recommend going for at least 250 Nits.

Color reproduction: To get a vibrant display that can show millions of colours, you should check the sRGB gamut of the screen. The best screen can reproduce over 95 percent of the sRGB gamut, and many exceed 100 percent. IPS (in-plane switching) technology offers better viewing angles and more vibrancy than standard TN (twisted nematic) panels.

The most colourful screen is OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode). While traditional screens have a backlight that illuminates all the pixels, with OLED, each pixel lights itself. Notebooks like HP Spectre x360 – 13-aw0188tu have a 4K UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch-screen with anti-reflection Corning Gorilla Glass NBT that supports 400 Nits brightness.

Refresh Rate and Response Time: If you are gamer, then you need to consider the Refresh Rate and response time. Refresh rate is measured in hertz, meaning how many times the screen updates itself in a second. Commonly, screens come with standard 60Hz refresh rate, while some high-end gaming models like the OMEN Laptop 15-ek0017TX come with 144 Hz panels, which are best for gaming.

Response time is the number of milliseconds it takes for a pixel to change colours. While choosing a laptop, you should look for 5 ms or less response time, but higher refresh rate, which means you will never experience problems like ghosting and tearing. Some laptops come with Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which synchronizes the panel with the video card. This helps the screen to understand the game and avoid limits ghosting and tearing by adjusting accordingly.

Anti-Glare: While making your decision, you should check if your laptop’s screen comes with anti-glare technology. This support protects your eyes from strain while working ln your laptop for long hours.

Other Factors: You should also check if the screen offers any kind of protection against smudges, scratches and accidental drops. If your display is protected with anti-reflection Corning Gorilla Glass, then it would take care of these things.

Wireless Connectivity

Whatever you do online, you need a fast and stable connection speed. While choosing a laptop, you can check its connectivity features. Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of wireless connectivity technology, which increases the speed and reliability of wireless connectivity.

Wi-Fi 6 enables you to connect more devices simultaneously and operate on the same Wi-Fi channel, which improves the efficiency, latency, and data throughput of your wireless network. The best one would be the Intel Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax technology that is said to reduce latency by up to 75% and improve download speeds by 3x. This of course will also depend on your broadband connection’s speed as well.

Bluetooth’s latest version is – 5.0, and it’s commonly used for wireless audio devices and wireless keyboards, mice, and game controllers. It is also used for communication between various smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The latest version consumes less energy, which means reduced power usage and longer battery life. It also enables you to play audio on two devices simultaneously.

With 5.0 you would get improved speed and better wireless range. Bluetooth 5.0 offer four times the range, two times the speed, and eight times the broadcasting message capacity as compared to the older versions. It offers data transfer speed up to 2 Mbps and wireless distance up to 240 meters, however, walls and other obstacles will weaken the signal.

Laptops like HP EliteBook x360 1030 G4 Notebook PC come with Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5 Combo.

Ports

Whatever accessory you want to connect to your PC, you need the right port. When choosing a laptop, you need to ensure that your system has enough ports to connect a myriad of other peripherals. Most laptops come with basic ports like HDMI, VGA, LAN, USB, etc.

Here again there are different versions of USB, starting from USB 1.1 and going to USB 2.0, 3.2 Gen 1, 2, and Gen 2.2; and finally two types of USB 4 ports. The fastest is USB 3 Gen 3×2, which offers max data transfer speed of up to 40 Gbps.

Another port to look for is Thunderbolt, with the latest one being version 4. It allows you to transmit data at up to 40 Gbps depending upon the laptop configuration, output video to two 4K monitors at 60 Hz, charge smartphones and most laptops with up to 100 Watts of power, and even connect to an external GPU.

Laptop like HP Spectre x360 Convertible 13-aw2069TU comes with latest Thunderbolt 4 with USB4 Type-C 40Gbps signaling rate, meaning superfast transfer speed.

Smart system management

A good laptop should mange various PC components to give optimum performance. Smart system management with the chipset maker’s Smart Cache tech allows the system to intelligently share cache memory between processor cores for faster and smoother operation. Also, Intel’s Dynamic Tuning enables users to customise power settings to intelligently adapt power policies based on usage and temperature.

Check out https://store.hp.com/in-en/default/hp-business-offers for some good deals by HP.

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