Byte Me Article 267 – Laptop Purchase

Opt for a Good Laptop, Not a Lemon

This week has seen a huge number of laptop sales completed and it brings up some interesting points for the basis of this article.  With so much choice around and manufacturers turning out new models on a near monthly basis what separates a good laptop from a lemon.

I can hear some of you saying that any modern laptop should be pretty good however in reality this is far from the truth.  There is rarely ever more greed than corporate greed e.g. witness the current VW emissions dodge debacle – so you will not be surprised to hear that computer manufacturers are tarred with the same brush.  There is a lot of junk out there parading as worthwhile equipment.

When considering a laptop, besides physical screen size there are 3 main parameters to take notice of.  They are the CPU, RAM and Hard Drive with the first two having the most influence on performance.  The CPU is the brain of the computer and at any one time there are literally dozens of models available for sale.  New models are getting released all of the time and their different price points reflect their performance.

In the last few years we have seen CPU’s that were originally designed for smart phones and base tablets being used in budget laptops with the resulting performance being even optimistically described as ‘extremely slow’.  These CPU’s should never be allowed into the laptop market and are to be dodged.  Again the handy website will list the relative power of each model.

Our base laptops use the latest Intel i3 CPU which has a benchmark rating of around 2500 however some modern laptops are powered by CPU’s that are rated at as little as 600 – which is one quarter as powerful!  More upmarket laptops have power ratings as high as 7000 so you can see that there is a giant disparity here.

As far as RAM is concerned we also see some budget laptops still coming out with only 2GB and the majority with 4GB however we upgrade these before sale and have not supplied ANY laptop for the last 5 years with less than 8GB of RAM which again makes a huge difference to performance.  Also RAM is cheap with an upgrade from 4 to 8 costing as little as $50.

Next on the list are hard drives and here we also need to consider solid state drives (SSD) as they do have a very positive effect on speed.  Traditionally the hard drive models mostly differed in capacity however now SSD’s can offer similar capacity to a normal hard drive but with significantly increased speed and reliability.  Budget laptops still only come with normal hard drives however check on the capacity of these as they should be around 500GB.

For some of the laptop sales this week we have upgraded the standard hard drive to a solid state drive because the customer wanted great speed and performance without having to purchase a premium laptop model.  This works well and even our base i3 laptop model absolutely flys with 8GB of RAM and a 250 or 500GB SSD.

Next week we will consider brand names and models as well as talking about build quality and warranty concerns as this part of our industry also shows some great disparities.  

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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