Although tablets and smartphones are growing in popularity, for most people the functionality and reliability of a personal laptop still trumps the desire to buy into the newest gadget trends. Unfortunately, the pressure to compete with so many different types of hardware has made it somewhat difficult to choose between the many laptops out there. For any buyer, there are a number of key elements to consider before making a final decision.

Laptop Buying Guide


The biggest thing to consider is the primary function of the laptop. Is it gaming, business, word processing, or web browsing? The laptop’s intended role is the primary driver behind narrowing the field of options down, and companies often help buyers by breaking down their selection into use categories. A business user and a casual web browser usually require very different hardware, and keeping prices reasonable means trading one feature for another. A business user is likely to want plenty of USB ports and pre-loaded software for moving from office to office, ready to work at all times. A casual web browser, on the other hand, is more likely to prize a large screen size and a speedy wireless connection.

Another major consideration is longevity, and not merely in the sense of working for a long time: technology continues to improve, and a cutting edge laptop is often sorely outclassed by new models but a year into its life. For some users, this isn’t a big deal: either they can afford to buy a new one every year, or they don’t need to be able to run the newest software released. For others, the ability to easily upgrade various aspects of the laptop may trump having the best technology up front, or they may only purchase a laptop once every six years, which means they’ll want the best tech available so it will remain viable long into the future.

These are the two most significant considerations that must be made beforeĀ buying a laptop, but there are others: gamers will want a good video card, while artists and architects will want a multi-core CPU and plenty of RAM. But in general, thinking about the laptop’s function and the time it is expected to last before replacement will narrow down the field considerably.