Laptop Buying Guide – pt 2

acer laptopHere is the part 2 of my laptop buying guide. Part 1 was all about the processor and this part is about the RAM, hard drive, display and built in adapters.

RAM: If your laptop runs Windows Vista, then you’ll need at least 2GB of memory (the more the better) – preferably DDR2, PC6400 (800Mhz) or faster (1333Mhz). If you are happy to keep working with Windows XP, then you can get away with 1GB. How much RAM your laptop will need also depends on what you’ll be using it for. For example, if you want to do video editing, programming, 3d design, rendering or gaming, I suggest 4GB of RAM.

Hard drive: This is fairly simple: the higher the capacity, the better. I suggest at least 500GB. Netbooks include a new generation, solid state drives, which don’t include any moving parts. This makes them safer against damage (if you drop it accidentally), however they have a smaller capacity.

Video: If you’ll use your laptop mainly for typing and Internet surfing, then an integrated Intel graphic card (256MB or 512MB) should be just fine. If you want something better, so your videos and movies look better and something that will handle a 3D game, then go with non-Intel integrated graphics. For gamers and HD movie enthusiasts who need high performance, choose a high end ATI Mobility Radeon or Nvidia chipset with at least 1GB of Video RAM.

Screen: Now that all laptops have a wide screen, you should go with at least 15.4”, or if you are into gaming and watching movies, 17”. If you get the bigger screen, keep in mind that the laptop will be bigger and heavier too.

Battery: Some laptop manufacturers misrepresent the amount of time that the laptop can run on battery, but most new laptops should give you a few hours of working time. If you’re not sure, do some research on a particular model on the Internet and try to find reviews. Again, battery time will be affected by what you do with the laptop. Watching DVDs and using wireless connection will drain the battery quicker than just typing.

Extra Features: Your laptop should have an integrated Wireless LAN adapter (WiFi), 56k modem, LAN connection, SD card reader, Web camera, Firewire and USB connections and Blue Ray/CD or DVD/CD burner.

Part 3 follows…

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