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Thinking Of Getting A New Laptop? Here’s What You Need To Consider Before Making A Decision.

by Neil H. |

Is your old laptop slowing down?‌ Often breaking down in times of need?‌ Or are you planning on travelling with your files? Ever caught yourself eyeing over your local IT‌ store, browsing around their laptops?‌ Ever got stuck on thinking which one to get?‌‌ ‌‌‌Worry not, here are some of the things you could consider before making your final decision.

1. Usability

A‌ common problem for most buyers is to be taken into the vacuum of marketing. ‘Newest’,’ fastest’ and the likes; another common worry is that they’re too expensive, but do take into consideration what it might do for you or what you might do with it in the long run, then decide if it’s worth your money.

Always know what you’re using a laptop for, here are some questions you can ask yourself: Are you planning on spending most of your time on it?‌ Is it a mobile workstation when you’re not at home? Does battery performance affect your work? Will you be needing it to run heavy software on the move? Then you probably need a power-heavy laptop but with higher battery usage. Will you be using it in a casual setting? If you think you’ll be carrying your laptop 70% of the time, then you probably need to consider its weight. Will you be carrying it on your backpack or messenger bag? If so, size should be a priority. It's the small things that count when you’re choosing your next laptop.

As advanced as technology gets, it’s also important to know your limits when you’re using them. If you’re planning on playing demanding games, video editing, or designing?, then you’ll definitely need a better (oftentimes more expensive) laptop; but if not, reconsider your options. I’ve seen colleagues getting gaming laptops with high-end specs only to be used casually during college. Why waste more when you can do the same for half the price, right?‌ If you’re not a tech person, just keep your eyes on the simple stuff such as the GPU‌ (your graphic card), processor, and ram, and you’re good to go.

Top tip! Not sure how to start? Look up your favourite video games or software and check out its recommended requirements. Or, browse around your local IT store and list down the specifications of certain laptops you’re eyeing. From here, use the information you got as a benchmark before you compare the prices online and do further research.

2. The possibility of an upgrade

If you have decided on getting a new laptop or replacing your old one, you can skip this part. If not, lounge around. 

A common possibility most users tend to forget are upgrades. I, myself, am still using my 5 years old laptop for my daily gaming and writing needs. It’s not the best, but it works, and that allows some leeway for me to think about my next purchase.

Before you fling your old laptop to the corner and search for a new one in the market, think about why you gave up on it, then consider these alternatives:

  • Lacking storage? Get a bigger hard drive. 1Terabyte (TB) HDD (Hard disk drive) storage is cheap now considering that SSD has taken up the market. Recent research shows that for around RM200, you can get 1TB of HDD and only 250GB of SSD (Quarter of the size!) for the same price. However, there are also benefits of an SSD.

  • Laptop slowing down?‌ Upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD). Trust me, I don’t even have to hibernate my laptop anymore. It boots up as quickly. ‘What’s the difference?’ HDDs are your everyday storage device with mechanical moving parts, while SSDs are flash memory with none of the mechanical parts. In return, SSDs are smaller, lighter, and faster due to newer technology. SSDs help your laptop boot-up faster and allow better performance on installed software. However, SSD does come at lower storage with higher price points. Consider which do you need most before upgrading. (Speed vs Space) If you need both, consider getting a mix of both. (Say, 250GB of SSD, and 1TB of HDD). Consult with your local computer store before making your decision.

  • Laptop slowing down when multitasking?‌ Upgrade your RAM (Random access memory). As the name suggests, RAMs are short-term memory. Whenever you’re using your computer, regardless whether you’re browsing, playing video games, or editing, your computer is using RAM to store information. That said, a couple of gigabytes of extra ram always helps especially if you’re working with heavy loads. Before proceeding, do consult your local computer store as certain laptops, including older models, have no RAM slots. 

If you’re set on getting a new laptop, you can also upgrade that *audible gasp*. Yes! Maybe split your budget for a cheaper laptop with possible upgrades instead of spending much more on another laptop. Maybe your initial choice has less than desirable USB ports or a small amount of ram. Some even come with a DVD drive, which is hilarious since who still uses DVDs nowadays? You don’t? Then change it up for another hard drive. More space!

3. Budget

Again, avoid marketing ploys. Do your research. Now you have your priorities and your limits set, the next would be your budget. Unless you’re planning on heavily relying on your laptop for demanding usage, avoid anything above‌ RM3000. 

‘But what if I‌ do want a laptop around that price?’ You might ask. Then I’m sure you would have done your research at that point and I fully trust your decision.

Now, price is always a factor when buying new gadgets. Some would even consider splurging a bit more to get the better model. But do remember to scout around. With a keen eye, you can spot minor differences in the models and prices. Some even come with software bundles that greatly help users in the long run.

Always do your legwork to avoid finding a better deal somewhere else and regretting it later; also, do keep in mind that unless you really use your laptop to its fullest, those extra specs can be unnecessary.

4. If the newest model is really better for you

A friend of mine shared this tip when I‌ was still studying. “I’m waiting for the new model to come out, and by then the price of the old one would drop.”

For a couple hundred off, you can get a slightly older model that still functions perfectly. Especially if you’re looking for something that fits right by your budget. Don’t be afraid to learn more about the devices; ask questions and pay attention to the sellers, their opinions and knowledge matter.

Once you find out your possible future laptop, spend some time reading its reviews and unboxing, and list the pros and cons. Unfavourable reviews are hidden gems in cases like this, use it to fit your situation and try to see yourself adapting to those shortcomings.

Like my mom always says, if you can live comfortably with the cons, then the pros are pretty much a bonus at that point. 

5. The overall impression

Getting a laptop is like going on a blind date. You check out all the possibilities, get to know their pros and cons, their quirks, and their weird laughs. And just like in real life, the little details do count. Check if the laptop is easy to handle if it has a full-length keyboard if you actually need a full-length keyboard. Other aspects to consider are if the screen is bright enough for you, or if you need keyboard lighting, more USB ports, etc.

One would say that size doesn’t matter. Well, it’s somewhat true, but do keep it in mind in case you’re planning on bringing it around with you often. Most backpacks can carry 15-inch laptops and some will fit up to 17-inch. Be advised that the laptop won’t be the only thing you’re carrying, with the chargers, peripherals, etc, your bag might become cumbersome. If you think ‘I’ll just get the biggest one so I can fit any laptop’, consider a laptop-sleeve (One of those socks you put your laptop in) as I found out that smaller laptops within bigger bags allow the laptop to swing around while moving. 

Do take your time before making your decision. Can’t decide today?‌ It’s okay, give it a few more days to gather more information and do your research. If it’s going to cost you, it’s better to make sure it’s worth it.

Good luck!

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