The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide for 2022
Buying a laptop means learning new terms, the function of specific components, and an understanding of the different models of essential components.
Should you get a Core i5 or Core i7 CPU? Do you need 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM? Should you pick an SSD or HDD for storage?
Navigating these terms can be confusing, so then let’s give you a rundown on how to analyze your options and buy a new laptop in 2022, whether you’re buying in bulk for your office or just looking for the most value for your money. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about buying a laptop.
A Quick Start Guide to Components and Specifications
While a beautiful chassis and a clean design contribute to an excellent product, the inner components like the CPU, RAM, and storage determine the overall performance of the machine. Considering your choices here will impact the computer’s usability and capabilities.
A CPU is the central “brain” of the computer that communicates with every other component and keeps things running at peak performance. CPU choice is one of the biggest factors that will impact system speed and responsiveness.
CPUs manufactured by Intel are the primary choice for business users today, and you’ll likely see three “tiers” offered in this regard. In order of rising performance, we have the i3, i5, and i7 lineups. Digging deeper, we can also distinguish factors like:
- Core count: CPUs today are made up of multiple “cores” working together to provide processing power. The days of single-core processors in laptops are largely over, and you want at least 2 cores for basic tasks, though 4 is probably a safer bet for business users. Core counts can go as high as 6, 8, or even 10 and more. However, higher core counts mean more heat generated in the laptop during operation and a much higher cost, and a high core count may be completely unnecessary for your needs.
- Thread count: Hyperthreading helps the CPU manage the various processing needs of each of the unit cores. Thread count is worth considering but not as important as core count and clock speed.
- Clock speed: Clock speed is measured in Hertz, and the higher the speed, the faster the processor, but also the higher the amount of heat produced. However, clock speeds should not be used to compare two CPUs coming from different generations, as this comparison does not consider that one CPU could do more work in a single clock cycle than the other CPU could.
- Generation: CPUs are released in generations, and ideally, you want one from a relatively recent generation. While old ones will still work, they will likely not support new features or be compatible with upcoming workflows. For instance, Windows 11 requires certain security features exclusive to newer CPUs. However, opting for an older generation CPU can create significant cost savings.
GPUs, or graphics processing units, are mainly used to draw the visuals you see on screen. While the CPU handles the underlying calculations and component coordination, the GPU shows you what’s going on on display.
Most users today don’t have to worry about GPUs anymore because many of them are built directly into the CPU itself in a setup known as integrated graphics, or iGPUs.
The performance of an integrated GPU is more than enough for general use, such as word processing and web browser. However, high-performance applications like computer-aided design, video editing, and 3D animation will still need a dedicated GPU.
Integrated GPUs come standard on motherboards. However, high-end users have the option of a dedicated GPU from NVidia GeForce or AMD Radeon.
RAM is the short-term memory of the machine, which is entirely separate from the long-term storage present in the hard drive. RAM is measured in gigabytes — the higher the number, the more power it will provide.
How much RAM will you need? Basic usage like web browsing and word processing won’t need much RAM; anything from 2 GB to 8 GB will be perfectly fine. Only users interested in video editing or other high-memory use cases will need more than 16 for a while.
Storage, or hard drives, are the home of all of your data and applications. Hard drives can be broken down into to overall categories: SSDs and HDDs.
HDDs are hard disc drives found in older machines. They’re cheap per gigabyte of space and come in large sizes, but they’re also slower and louder than solid-state drives (SSDs) since they rely on a spinning disc to read and write data.
SSDs are much faster, and the price difference has certainly been reduced in recent years as solid-state technology improves. SSDs have faster reading and writing speeds, which means applications installed on them will have better performance than those on HDDs.
For all types of hard drives, storage is described as gigabytes. The higher the number, the more files, and applications it can hold. It’s possible for a laptop to have multiple storage drives. You may see a listing that mentions both an HDD and SSD with differing storage amounts.
The display is an often overlooked specification that can greatly impact usability. The factors to consider here are below.
- Size: In terms of size, it’s common to see machines with 12”, 15”, and 17” displays. The larger the size, the more bulky the laptop but also, the more space you have to work with.
- Resolution: Digital screens are actually a large number of tiny little lights known as pixels. The more pixels on display, the sharper an image will look. We recommend 1920 x 1080 for new machines, though you can certainly treat yourself to a 2560 x 1440 or even a 4K screen if you’d like.
- Brightness: Display brightness is measured in nits. Make sure your laptop is bright enough to be seen in the places where you’ll be using it. Two hundred fifty nits is the minimum for most people, but numbers as high as 600 are possible.
Some laptop displays have touchscreen support, too as well as various other features you might consider.
Which Form Factors is Right for You?
Laptops are more than just numbers and specifications. We also have to think about how it will be used out in the field. Generally, laptop form factors are slim and standard. You may also want to consider 2-in-1 laptops.
A recent trend popular with both consumers and business users is thinness and lightness in their electronics, making them easy to carry around. Thin machines are still the favourite amongst frequent traveller's. You’ll typically pay more for the same performance when comparing slim laptops to standard laptops.
You can also think about multi-use devices. 2-in-1 laptops that can transform into a tablet have seen a surge in popularity, as well as tablets with keyboard attachments that can fulfill both roles.
New Refurbished Laptops?
If budget is a concern for you or you just want more value out of your money, consider refurb laptops. Refurbisher's acquire previously owned laptops, give them a thorough inspection, repair any damaged components, and carry out in-depth testing. Once completed, they’re listed for sale and often include a warranty.
Refurbishing saves you money compared to buying new while still retaining the excellent quality control and warranties/support of buying new.
Get Your Refurb Laptops from a Certified Refurbisher at Refurb.io
Now you know how to navigate the sea of laptops to find the right machines for your workforce. Alongside picking the right laptops, buying them from a certified refurbisher will help you maximize your IT budget.Refurb.io refurbishes laptops, desktops, and accessories. Our thousands of positive customer reviews and official certification from Microsoft showcase our commitment to quality refurbishment. Explore our selection of refurbished laptops today and find the right options for your workers.