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Laptop buying guide

The 5 most important things to consider when choosing your new laptop.

Laptops are an easy way of taking the power of a desktop computer with you. As well as the improved graphics and processing capabilities over something like a laptop, modern laptops are sleek and stylish, with longer battery lives to keep you working, creating or enjoying media on the go. They’re also handy for when you just want to lie on the sofa and surf the web too!


The processor is the real brains of the computing operation. The processing power is measured using Gigahertz (GHz), with a higher number meaning it will work quicker and smoother. If you want the ultimate in powerful performance then Intel®’s i9 processor will be perfect for high end gaming and 4K video viewing. A 2-3Ghz processor, like an Intel® Celeron®, is fine for basic computing, but if you want something that can multitask with ease and load up quickly, consider one of the Core™ i3, i5 or i7 processors.

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What will it be used for?

Before you even look at models and brands, think about what you want to use your new laptop for. If you’re going to be using it for work, or browsing the web, then a netbook like the 11.6 inch Acer Chromebook may be the answer. If you plan on playing the latest games and streaming HD or even 4K movies, then you’re going to need something with a bit more oomph. Once you’ve decided on the tasks it’ll need to manage, then it’s time to start thinking about what specifications you’re going to need.

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Hard Drive

Hard drives are used to store everything, from pictures and videos to software and games. Acting like a virtual library, the capacity of hard drives is measured in Gigabytes (GB), or even Terabytes (TB, 1,000 GB), with a higher number meaning you can store more stuff. Some laptops come with a solid state drive, ideal if you plan on playing the latest games or watching HD movies, thanks to faster and responsive access to files. You don’t need to get a solid state drive, but it definitely helps everything to run quicker and smoother.

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Random Access Memory, or RAM, acts a bit like our short term memory, helping to display things on-screen more quickly. A computer with more RAM can run more programs at the same time, and allow you to play more demanding games. A good starting point for basic laptop use is anywhere from 2GB to 4GB, but with RAM the higher the number, the better. Gamers will need at least 8GB to keep up with the latest titles.

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Laptops all have a graphics chip or card, which deals with any images on screen. From simple photos to videos, games and other 3D software, the graphics card will make sure everything is displayed as it should be. Most standard laptops come with integrated graphics, which is fine for streaming movies and more typical laptop use. But if you’re a gamer, or you want to edit home movies, then you’ll want to look at a more powerful dedicated graphics card.

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