Our tech advancements are moving at light speed, and with that, our needs in various industries continue to change.
What once could be done with a simple Dell system now requires the best GPU, at least 8 GB RAM, and eye-catching resolution.
I wanted to write this article to help people looking for an updated laptop for uses like avid gaming, design, virtual architecture mockups, customer service roles, and other careers and hobbies.
Each laptop — HP, Apple, Acer, ASUS, Lenovo, etc. — has different advantages depending on the release date, GPU, CPU, resolution, operating system, and condition (new, refurbished, or used).
Whether you’re searching for a simple solution to routine work or a complete rig for your nightly gaming, this guide will point you in the right direction.
What Components To Consider
Depending on how familiar you are with tech in 2023, the previous vocabulary of GPU, CPU, and other foreign words may be slightly confusing.
Not to stress, as my entire degree and current career has prepared me to answer these tough questions.
Some essential components to look for when browsing for laptops include:
The processor is the brain of the computer, and it determines the overall performance. Recent releases like Intel and AMD tend to work much better and faster than older models, an important factor when carrying out complex processes like gaming or designing. Examples include Intel Core i5/i7/i9 or AMD Ryzen 5/7.
Random Access Memory (RAM) affects multitasking capabilities and the smoothness of running multiple applications simultaneously, such as various Adobe programs or games and web browsers. You should aim for at least 8 GB, but 16 GB or more is preferable for better overall performance. This is especially true for editing, gaming, and creating virtual interior design mockups with AutoCAD.
The type of storage and capacity your laptop holds can make all the difference. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are faster and more reliable than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), and some models have both. A 256GB solid-state drive is the minimum you should look for, as you’ll be able to keep more files without noticeable slowing down your pc.
Screen size and resolution plays a big part, particularly with video editing and gaming. Typical laptop screen sizes range from 13 to 15 inches, but larger or smaller options are available — larger will be beneficial for precise work with attention-to-detail required. Higher resolutions (Full HD or higher) offer better clarity, and anything lower than 1366x768 will look ancient. Even that resolution is pretty unrealistic. It’s better to look for 1920x1080 or 4K. OLED is another option that offers true blacks and vivid colors, which could help with the design process or enhance your gaming experience. Additionally, features like IPS panels or high refresh rates (for gaming) may be important to some users.
Graphics Card (GPU)
If you plan to use your laptop for gaming, video editing, or other graphics-intensive tasks, having a dedicated GPU can significantly improve performance. Popular options include NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics cards. Most people prefer a 40 series at this point, but a 30 series will also get the job done.
Battery life is important when it comes to traveling, working away from home, or completing battery-intensive tasks when you need the product for extended periods without access to a power outlet.
Longer battery rating laptops are ideal for a majority of users, and you can view this spec on product pages or FAQ’s on the manufacturer/supplier’s site. Keep in mind that battery life can vary depending on usage and settings.
Ports and Connectivity
The available ports and connectivity option vary based on products. Some macs have no USB ports, while other have one or two. Some laptops allow you to enter SD cards (essential for photographers), while other have no slots on the body of the computer.
Look for USB ports (preferably USB 3.0 or higher), HDMI or DisplayPort for external displays, an audio jack, and an SD card slot. If you need specific ports like Thunderbolt, make sure the laptop supports them.
The various operating systems include Windows, macOS, or Linux, and each one has benefits for different groups of people. Windows works better for avid gamers and designers, but Mac is usually preferred by music producers and casual users. Consider the ecosystem, software compatibility, and user experience offered by each operating system.
Price and Budget
Last but not least, it’s best to be realistic with your budget and your requirements. You won’t be able to get a brand new laptop with a 40 series graphic card and 4K OLED resolution for under $1000. So ensure that you align your available funds with a model that works for you. Remember- used but affordable is not always better.
What’s The Best Laptop For Me?
While keeping all of the previously mentioned components in mind, let’s discuss what specific laptops work best for various careers and hobbies.
With more than 2.8 billion gamers in the world, a well-performing laptop is essential to run programs like Final Fantasy, League Of Legends, Fortnite, and more.
Here are a few suggestions for budget-friendly gaming laptops:
ASUS — ROG Zephyrus G14:
With a Ryzen 9 CPU, 1920x1080 resolution, 16 GB of RAM, and a RTX 2060 GPU, this $1,800 is a great affordable gaming laptop.
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop:
This $2,000 product has a 30 Series graphics card, a 15.6 inch screen, and an Intel Core i7 processor. These components are premium, especially for the price, and offer an unbeatable gaming experience.
Design & Editing
Design is another popular career and hobby choice all over the globe, and in order to provide the best results, you need adequate hardware.
Some models that I would use include:
Apple 2023 MacBook Pro:
Apple is an awesome choice for design and editing purposes. This specific release has a 12-core CPU, various RAM choices (16 GB, 32 GB, etc.), and can render 100 FPS!
It also has an SD slot and USB ports for importing photos, videos, and previous design sketches.
The price varies depending on your preferences, but the average is between $1700 and $2500.
HP Spectre 16 x360 2-in-1 Laptop:
This one is spectacular, and I actually recently owned one. This laptop folds into a tablet with a beautiful touchscreen and stylus. You can also use it with the keyboard, perfect for streaming, working, editing, and designing.
There’s a 4K OLED option with the most beautiful colors I’ve ever seen.
The speakers have a surround sound feature for better streaming and working experiences, and the CPU is Intel Core i7.
My laptop was about $1,800 brand new, but you can find decent refurbished models for $1,000+ on marketplaces.
This purpose requires less complex components, but you should still consider both speed and resolution for a better experience.
I would recommend some of the following products for studying:
HP Pavilion Plus Laptop:
Studying laptops are much more budget friendly, and this specific release costs $600 brand new from HP. Some of the key features include a Core i5 processor, up to 4.4 GHz speed, and a 256 GB SSD.
IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon (14” AMD) Laptop:
If you’re looking for a light-weight option you can carry around campus, this Lenovo product may be perfect for you!
A 15 minute charge session will get you over 3 hours of power, and the 14 inch QHD + touchscreen display makes note-taking a dream come true.
This model typically costs $900 brand new.
Tech is evolving more each day with the strides in AI and machine learning, and even seasoned laptop users are beginning to get confused.
Use this guide when searching for the perfect laptop to ensure you can perform all the necessary tasks for your career or hobbies with ease!