Laptop Buying Guide

You don't have to sacrifice power for portability

What will you be using your laptop for? This is an important question to ask as you search for the right laptop for you. Your laptop computer can be used for both work and play, at home or on the go. Determine your laptop?s primary use and consider the factors listed here as you move forward with your purchase decision.

How Do You Plan to Use Your Laptop?

Basic task laptops

I want to:
∙ Check email.
∙ Browse the web.
∙ Post to social media.

Travel Laptops

I want to:
∙ Have something light and portable for frequent traveling.
∙ Access the internet for work or leisure while on a trip.
∙ Watch movies while on an airplane, bus, train, etc.

Students Laptops

I want to:
∙ Transport my laptop to and from school in my bag.
∙ Take notes in class and connect on the go.
∙ Have a battery life that lasts all day while in school.

Professional Laptops

I want to:
∙ Have powerful processing features and a fast operating system.
∙ Access all files with ease and secure private work-related documents.
∙ Use a webcam to connect with colleagues and/or clients while working remotely.

Gaming Laptops

I want to:
∙ Play computer games wherever I am.
∙ Have enough storage space to download games.
∙ Use a webcam or headset when playing interactive games.

Design / Multimedia

I want to:
∙ Design graphics and websites.
∙ Edit videos and other multimedia content.
∙ Save all of my creative work to my hard drive to show potential clients.

Determine Your Laptop’s Portability

One of the main features of a laptop is its portability. Weight and screen size play important roles in determining just how portable your laptop is.


3.9 lbs or less: 

This laptop is good for day-to-day tasks, especially if you’re carrying it around often, such as meeting clients at different locations or in your backpack at school.

4 to 5.9 lbs: 

This is helpful when you need a laptop with more power but have to carry it regularly.

6 lbs or more:

When power is more important than portability, you need a larger screen, or work from a desk but don’t want all the equipment required for a desktop computer, this laptop might be the right fit.


Screen Size

13–13.9 inches:

This screen size is good for traveling and basic tasks.

14–14.9 inches:

Pick this screen size when you need a laptop with a slightly larger screen but use it for travel.

15–16.9 inches:

A laptop with this screen size is good for everyday use at home or in the office.

17 inches and up:

This screen size is good for multitasking, gaming, and creative work.

Screen Features

Screen Sizes

Although the screen size is an important factor when determining your laptop’s portability, there are additional screen features to consider that can make or break visual quality.

Full HD (1920 x 1080)

4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160)

Screen Resolutions

Your laptop’s screen resolution will determine its picture quality. A higher resolution, measured in pixels (horizontal x vertical), means a better picture. The standard HD screen resolution is 1366 x 768 pixels, which allows for a clear picture for basic tasks like using the internet and writing emails.

If you are going to use your laptop for things that need an even better quality picture, though, consider these higher resolutions:

1600 x 900 pixels:

For standard games and movies

1920 x 1080 pixels:

For Blu-ray movies and video games with a lot of attention to detail

2256 x 1504 pixels:

For high-definition movies and games, professional graphic design, and photography and video editing

2560 x 1600 pixels:

For high-definition movies and games, professional graphic design, and photography and video editing but with an even sharper, more crisp picture

Display Options


One of the primary reasons you may want a laptop with an LED screen is to save battery life. An LED display is brighter and much more energy-efficient, which can increase your screen time on your laptop without needing to be plugged into a power source.


This technology is now available for laptops and provides even more beautiful, vibrant colors with better contrast than an LED display. It’s also a thinner panel and uses less power.

IPS Display:

This LCD screen display option is made for bright colors and wide viewing angles. An IPS panel is good if you 're using your laptop to watch TV shows or movies or play high-quality, fast-paced video games.


A touchscreen laptop allows for a more interactive and hands-on experience. With this kind of laptop display, you can control what’s happening on your screen much more intuitively. Think of these laptops like a smartphone or tablet. You can use your fingers to tap, swipe, pinch, and expand to move, open, and delete all files, programs, and documents. Popular touch-screen laptops include those made by HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft.

Operating Systems (OS)

The operating system is essentially the backbone of your laptop. It manages all of the hardware, software, and any resources and programs installed on the laptop. Two popular laptop OS are:

Microsoft Windows:

Windows can be used for your PC or Apple laptop, with a touch screen or mouse and keyboard. This user-friendly operating system is good for everyday use. It’s also good if you plan to use your laptop for activities like gaming, photo and video editing, or high-quality graphic design that requires strong, expansive bandwidth. You can check out the most recent upgrade, Windows 10, which features the latest built-in apps and software to increase productivity and efficiency.

Google Chrome:

The fundamental feature of Chrome OS is that all programs, files, and documents on the laptop are saved in the cloud instead of on the laptop itself. This means your data is stored in a web-based folder that is always accessible from your laptop. The Chromebook laptop uses this cloud-based system and its namesake Chrome browser. This operating system is good for more basic tasks like web browsing, social media, email, word processing, and spreadsheets.

Shop by operating system: Windows │ Chrome


Think of your laptop’s processor as its brain. The processor determines how information is processed and at what speed. You want to make sure the processor you select is in line with what you plan to use your laptop for. If you plan to use your laptop for high-performance tasks, you need a high-performance processor. If your laptop is used for more simple activities, something cost-effective yet efficient will do just fine.
The two main processor brands offered are Intel and AMD, but there are many processors available within each of these that can cater to your specific laptop needs.

Intel® Processors

Intel® Core™

  • Core™ i9: For responsive gameplay
  • Core™ i7: For high-end gaming, multitasking, and content creation
  • Core™ i5: For business laptops
  • Core™ i3: For everyday tasks

AMD Processors

AMD Ryzen™

  • Ryzen™ 7: For high-performance, ultrathin laptops
  • Ryzen™ 5: For high productivity and entertainment in ultrathin laptops
  • Ryzen™ 3: For basic tasks in ultrathin laptops

AMD Athlon™

  • For high-quality visuals and features in mainstream laptops

AMD A-Series

  • A10: For gaming and entertainment
  • A9: For basic activities

Shop by processor brand: Intel │AMD


System memory, also referred to as random access memory (RAM), is what your laptop’s processor uses to run data and software while using it. If you’re using your laptop for projects that require a lot of multitasking, consider starting with a high amount of memory space. The memory will also impact the speed at which your laptop runs.

Memory is measured by gigabytes (GB). Most laptops come with 8GB of RAM, and high-performance/gaming laptops often have between 16 GB and 32GB of RAM. Since memory is not automatically included in your laptop, you can always purchase more if necessary.

Bus Clock: 100-166 MHz
Prefetch: 1n
Data Rate: 100-166 MT/s
Trans. Rate: 0.8-1.3 GB/s
Voltage: 3.3 V

Bus Clock: 533-800 MHz
Prefetch: 8n
Data Rate: 1066-1600 MT/s
Trans. Rate: 8.5-14.9 GB/s
Voltage: 1.35/1.5 V

Bus Clock: 1066-1600 MHz
Prefetch: 8n
Data Rate: 2133-3200 MT/s
Trans. Rate: 17-21.3 GB/s
Voltage: 1.2 V

Shop by memory type: SDRAM │ DDR3 │ DDR4

Internal Storage

Now it’s time to choose how your data and software will be safely stored. The two main types of storage are hard disk drives (HDD) and solid-state drives (SSD).

Hard Drive Disks (HDD):

This is the most traditional option. They are inexpensive, so you can get more space for less money. You may consider going with HDD for heavy downloading, multimedia usage, graphic arts, and other tasks that need a lot of storage space. 

Solid State Drivers (SSD):

Solid-state drives use flash memory chips to store data. They’re lighter, much faster, and use less energy than a traditional hard drive but can be more expensive. You may consider going with an SSD if you’re on the go or need to work quickly.

It’s also possible to find a laptop with a hybrid of the two that combines the capacity of a larger HDD with the performance of an SSD.

Storage Size: What Can It Hold?

One of the latest technological advancements in terms of space is server-based storage, known as the cloud, in which documents and media are streamed from a remote server that you can access and share from anywhere.

If you are only going to use your laptop for basic tasks, you will be fine with storage space with a smaller capacity. However, if you are going to be storing a lot of documents, photos, videos, graphics, for example, you will want to look into a much larger storage space with enough capacity to hold all of your data and documents.

Shop by storage size: Small │ Medium │ Large

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)

Dedicated vs Integrated Graphics

All laptops are equipped with integrated graphics. The GPU handles all necessary and general graphics-related computing tasks.

A dedicated graphics card can be purchased separately and comes with its own memory. Dedicated graphics cards are used for:

  • High-performance and extreme gaming
  • Graphic design
  • Photo and video editing

Shop by preferred brand:

Ports and Connectivity

You may need specific connectivity options for your laptop, depending on what you are using it for. Consider whether there will be times when you need to hook your laptop to a large screen for a work presentation, an HDTV for larger viewing options, or any other device.

Some of these ports are standard on most laptops, but there are cables and other capabilities that may need to be purchased separately.

Common Ports Include:

• DisplayPort
• Thunderbolt
• Media card slot
• Headphones
• Ethernet

DisplayPort (screen resolution @ refresh rate)

  • DisplayPort 1.2 - capable of 3840 x 2160 (4K Resolution) @ 60Hz
  • DisplayPort 1.3 - capable of 7680 x 4320 (8K Resolution) @ 30Hz; or 4K @ 120Hz
  • DisplayPort 1.4 - capable of 7680 x 4320 (8K Resolution) @ 60Hz; or 4K @ 120Hz
  • HDMI (screen resolution @ refresh rate)
    • HDMI 1.2 - capable of 1920 x 1200p @ 60Hz
    • HDMI 1.3 - capable of 2560 x 1600p @ 60Hz
    • HDMI 1.4 - capable of 4096 x 2160p (4K Resolution) @ 30Hz
    • HDMI 2.0 - capable of 4096 x 2160p (4K Resolution) @ 60Hz

Which Type of Laptop Should You Buy?

You want your laptop to accomplish the things you need it to do. Some laptops are suited for business or professional use, some are geared more toward gaming and entertainment, and others are ideal for day-to-day tasks. Choose wisely, and you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.

Types of laptops to consider include:


Traditional laptops are ideal for most people, from students to families to business professionals. Loaded with an operating system and everything else you need to get up and go, the only thing left is to decide what to do first!


There are two different varieties of 2-in-1 laptops. Each has its own features and benefits.

Detachable 2-in-1

The screen and keyboard on this type of 2-in-1 detach from each other. This is exceptionally convenient when you're going from meeting to meeting, as it significantly reduces the weight of your laptop, yet you can still access all its functions with a touchscreen interface.

Convertible 2-in-1

Convertible 2-in-1 laptops swivel or rotate to take you from laptop to tablet mode and back. Different from a detachable 2-in-1, the keyboard and screen never separate. Some styles flip around 360 degrees so that you can use the laptop in up to four modes: laptop, stand, tent, and tablet.


A Chromebook is a great choice as your next home laptop. By reducing hard drive storage and adding cloud-based apps and programs, the laptop becomes more portable for commuting students and business professionals. Are you concerned about losing documents? There’s no need to be, thanks to cloud-based storage.


When you have to be away from your gaming station, don’t be away from your game and teammates. With fast processors, dedicated graphics, and high-definition screens, gaming laptops are optimized to keep you one step ahead of the competition.


When you choose a refurbished laptop, you’re getting both quality and value. You can have peace of mind knowing that quality refurbished laptops will keep you productive.


If you’re the kind of professional who’s ready to go down to the job site and get work done, you can’t spend time worrying about keeping your laptop clean. Rugged laptops are outfitted with strong, durable cases and covered keyboards that lock out dirt, dust, and water to keep your data safe.

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