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Planning to get a new Laptop? Here are the 10 Questions you should ask yourself

by Milicent Atieno
buying a laptop

In today’s world, having a computer seems like a must for virtually anyone. Sure smartphones do address most of your digital needs for the average user, but you can only do so much on a touchscreen. When you want heavy computing, in most cases not even a tablet with a keyboard can suffice, unless you are talking about one of the 2-in-1 devices like the Microsoft Surface line.

If you are looking to buy a laptop, the following are the basic questions you need to ask yourself to get the machine that you really need. No need of spending too much on a computer with very high specs, which you will never need. Neither should you buy a machine that will be struggling to meet your demands, leading to you buying another machine and ending up spending higher.

What do you want to do with the laptop

From the outside, you can say most laptops do look the same. The difference being aesthetics; regarding color, shape, size, logos, and design, but that is where the similarity ends. Underneath you get processors, RAM, memory storage, motherboard, video capacity, and heat sync system.

Different type of users will have a different demand from these internal components. Take, for instance, a college student needs a laptop for doing research online, writing term papers and perhaps doing occasional presentations now and then. The students will need a laptop with less powerful spec compared to a professional graphic designer, video editor, or an avid video gamer.

Before buying a laptop, first, establish what kind of work you will be doing on it, and then let that guide what type of specs you want the laptop to have.

Is the laptop for business/work or personal/leisure use

If you plan on using the laptop for work, then you need to consider top-level security and privacy protection. Well, the same goes for personal use if you will be using it to work on document/files you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. These days, cyber security is big concern, as hackers are always lurking around to steal your data or identity to either defraud you or use your identity the wrong way.

If your employer has a BYOD policy, ensure the laptop is powerful enough to run the software you will be using to execute your work. I cannot overemphasize on security, as company employees have become the soft spot for hackers to get into a company’s network.

What is your budget?

Having established the two points above, the next big question is how much do you want (can you) spend on a laptop? If you are looking for a machine for word processing and business machine, you can find a wide array of powerful-enough laptop within affordable pricing.

However, if you are looking for media-intensive and gaming, you will have to part with more money to acquire a laptop powerful enough.

Do you want an upgradable laptop?

If you are working on a tight budget, you better go for a cheaper laptop, which you can upgrade components later, when you have more spare money. It is always prudent to pick an upgradable laptop in any case, whether you plan to do some components upgrades later or not. Somewhere down the road, you might encounter work needing more resource rich computer, and it would be affordable to upgrade your current machine than going out to buy a new more powerful one.

What component of the machine will you be using the most?

Does your line of work require a lot of number crunching on Excel sheet? Is it video conferencing, word processing, video editing, graphics designing? Each of these work, tasks at least two main components in a computer. Look at which component(s) are used most, and buy a laptop that gives you the best of that compared to the rest of other components.

Take, for instance, a person doing a lot of graphic designing will need a laptop with superior graphics, RAM, and chipset compared to anything else.

What kind of peripherals/accessories will you need?

Will you need accessories like mouse, printers, external keyboard, monitors, external DVD drives, speakers, and webcam? These peripherals or accessories device enrich the functionality of your laptop.

You should consider if you need a docking station which can allow you plug everything into your laptop at once. If you need all these, then you will have to go for a laptop with as many USB ports as possible; the ports also need to be located not too close to one another and on one side of the machine.

What type of environment will you be working in?

If you will be mobile or working in an environment where your laptop is at higher risk of falling or bumping against surfaces, you will need to go for a Toughbook. If you work in a hot environment, you will need a laptop with a good heat sync system.

You might even consider getting an extra-tough padded backpack if you will be moving around with the laptop. You can also get a silicone keyboard protector skin to protect your laptop from liquid spillage. You might consider the small sized laptops that come with 10-inch displays that are easy to carry and use while on the move.

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