Confused by too many options?
what you need to think of when buying a laptop

Buying a New Laptop?  Some Things to Consider for the Non-Technical Buyer  

There are many options to consider when buying a new laptop computer.   The following are a few of the key considerations for the non-technical buyer. Additional options, features, and accessories can be evaluated separately through a manufacturer’s website, further research, and/or through a qualified technical advisor.

Personal Use and/or Business Work

A first consideration is determining if your laptop is going to be used exclusively for personal use, or will it be used for doing work for your employer as well.

If you plan to do work for your employer, in addition to personal use, you should check to find out what security protocols are being used by your employer.   Many employers can provide a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to a computer (often a server) located in the office, providing access to company files and applications. The VPN provides a secure and encrypted connection over the Internet to the office computer. Also, using credentials (Username/Password) provided by your employer, access can be authorized to designated Cloud-based business applications.

Ideally, your employer can provide you with a company-owned laptop that would be used exclusively for business purposes. This ensures that personal computer work and business-related computer work are separate. The employer should have configuration, security, and permissions standards on the laptop for the appropriate job category – such as accounting, human resources, administrative, and executive/owner positions.  The specifications of the laptop will be consistent with the standards established by your employer.

A benefit of an employer-owned laptop is that it can be used in the office and remotely, rather than having to maintain and secure an office computer and a remote computer for one user.

Laptop Software and Manufacturers

Operating Systems: Manufacturers generally include installed Microsoft Windows 10 or Windows 11 operating system software with their laptops.   Those who buy Windows 10 can later upgrade, for an additional charge, to Windows 11 to get the latest available features and support.  Apple laptops include their latest macOS software.

Apple vs. Windows-based laptop usage is mostly based on personal preference: Apple is known for its user-friendly interface that emphasizes simplicity and ease of use. It offers a clean and visually appealing design with an intuitive navigation system. It also integrates easily and seamlessly with other Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.

Windows-based laptops enjoy broad software compatibility, with a vast selection of applications and software available for Windows. This provides users with a wide range of options for productivity, creativity, gaming, and other purposes.

Software applications, such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) can be purchased on a one-time-charge basis, installed on the laptop. An option would be to sign-up for a subscription-based plan, where the Microsoft Office software is provided through a cloud-based (hosted) service through Microsoft. The subscription plan would be paid monthly or annually (or more) on an ongoing basis.

Laptop Manufacturers

There are several major laptop computer manufacturers that dominate the market, as well as smaller or niche manufacturers that cater to specific segments. Also, laptops can be procured directly through the manufacturer’s website, retail stores, or reputable authorized resellers. Key to procurement is ensuring that the seller is reputable and authorized … and that you know exactly the make/model, specifications, and warranties being provided.

Some of the major manufacturers include Dell, HP (Hewlett-Packard), Lenovo, and Apple. These, along with many others, provide high-quality products. A key consideration is obtaining the features and pricing that you want to accommodate your needs and budget.

Weight and Portability

You should determine if you want a laptop that is lightweight and portable … or, do you need a bigger screen for watching videos, such as Netflix?

Ultra-light or Featherweight: These laptops generally weigh 2.5 pounds or less. Users are travelers, students, or professionals who prioritize lightweight for portability.

Lightweight: Weight in the range of 2.5 to 4.5 pounds. These laptops offer a balance between portability and performance.   These are for users that want a lightweight device but also require a bit more power for their tasks.

Midweight: The weight of these laptops is generally 4.5 to 6.5 pounds. They are moderately portable and are often suitable for general everyday use, including multimedia consumption and light gaming.

Docking Station Option

A docking station is a device that allows a laptop computer to be connected to various peripherals (such as external monitors, printers, keyboards, mice, and external hard drives). With a docking station, you can connect all your peripherals to the docking station itself, rather than directly to the laptop. This makes it easier to manage cables and reduces the hassle of plugging and unplugging devices every time you need to use your laptop in different scenarios. Simply connecting or disconnecting your laptop to the docking station allows you to quickly switch between a stationary workstation setup and a portable laptop configuration.

A benefit is that you can get the use of one or more larger monitors when working at home, along with a full-sized keyboard. When traveling, you can simply disconnect the laptop from the docking station – and use the laptop’s built-in smaller screen and keyboard when remote.

Processing Power

The processing power of personal laptop computers can vary greatly depending on the specific model, specifications, and intended usage. The following are general guidelines associated with low, medium, and high processing power.

Low Processing Power: Single-core or low-end dual-core processors. Designed for entry-level laptops being used for basic computer tasks such as web browsing, email, and word processing.

Medium Processing Power: Dual-core or lower-end quad-core processors. Medium usage includes tasks such as web browsing, document editing, multimedia consumption, or light gaming.

High Processing Power: Multi-core processors with high clock speeds (3 GHz and above). High usage includes tasks such as gaming, content creation, video editing, 3D rendering, and professional software development.

Battery Life

The battery life of laptop computers can vary significantly depending on the laptop’s specifications, usage patterns, power settings, and battery capacity. Battery life, typically measured in hours, indicates the duration the laptop can operate on a single full charge. The following are general ranges:

Ultrabooks and Thin-and-Light Laptops:   These laptops prioritized longer battery life, typically in the range of 6 to 12 hours.

Mainstream Laptops: Generally, these laptops have battery life in the 4 to 8-hour range.

High-Performance Laptops: These laptops generally have shorter battery life, in the 2 to 6-hour range.

Manufacturers often provide estimated battery life figures based on standardized testing methods, but real-world usage may result in different outcomes.

Storage Space

Storage space should be a consideration, especially when you have a large amount of higher storage-consuming items – such as photos, videos, and music.   Also, an external hard drive (or flash/thumb drive) can be considered to supplement the built-in storage available on your laptop. An external flash/thumb drive can simply be plugged in to have more storage and possibly faster operation. Flash/thumb drives are available at reasonable prices for the amount of extra data storage needed, such as 128GB, 1TB, 2TB, etc.

The storage capacity of laptop computers can vary depending on the specific model, intended usage, and user requirements. The following are general ranges for low, medium, and high storage capacities:

Low Storage: Typically ranges from 128 GB to 256 GB. Low storage is often found in budget or entry-level laptops. This is suitable for users with basic computing needs and minimal file storage requirements – or, for users that primarily rely on cloud storage or external drives.

Medium Storage: Generally, medium storage ranges from 256GB to 512 GB. Medium storage capacities are common in mainstream laptops and cater to a wide range of users. Adequate for storing a moderate number of documents, photos, and videos, along with installing several applications or games.

High Storage: Typically ranges from 512 GB to multiple terabytes (TB). High storage capacities are often found in premium laptops, gaming laptops, and laptops designed for professionals. Suitable for users who require a significant amount of storage for large media files, extensive software installations, gaming libraries, or professional applications.


Last but not least – how much do you want to spend? The price range for personal laptop computers can vary greatly depending on various factors such as the brand, specifications, features, and build quality. Here’s a general guideline for low, medium, and high price ranges:

Low Price Range: Typically ranges from $300 to $600. Budget laptops or entry-level models with basic specifications and limited features. Suitable for users with simple computing needs such as web browsing, document editing, and media consumption.

Medium Price Range: Generally, the medium price range falls between $600 to $1,200. Mainstream laptops with a balance of performance, features, and affordability. Offers a wide range of options, including mid-range processors, ample storage, decent displays, and reasonable battery life. Suitable for users who need a reliable laptop for everyday tasks, light gaming, multimedia, and productivity.

High Price Range: Typically starts around $1,200 and can go well beyond $2,000. Premium laptops, ultrabooks, gaming laptops, and laptops targeted at professionals. Features high-end specifications, faster processors, dedicated graphics cards, high-resolution displays, solid-state drives (SSDs), and premium build quality. Suitable for demanding tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, gaming, software development, and professionals who require top-notch performance and advanced features.

Ultimately, the price you are willing to pay for a laptop depends on your budget, requirements, and desired features. It’s recommended to consider your specific needs and research different models to find the best value within your budget.

How is your state of IT? Call Us: (855) 551-7760 with any questions.