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2024 Laptop Buying Guide: Navigating Hardware Essentials and Practical Tips for Novice Users

Nov 22,2023 | OnSmart

Laptops have become an essential tool for everyone in study and work, with a usage frequency second only to mobile phones, playing a crucial role in our lives. However, like most electronic products, buying a laptop requires some basic knowledge. Do you still remember the confusion you felt when buying your first computer, facing numerous parameters and model ? OnSmart is here to compiled those important information, addressing common issues faced by novice buyers. 


I. Essential Hardware Knowledge for Laptop Purchase (Simplified Version)

1. CPU (Processor):

At present, all the CPU in the market are mainly design by Intel and AMD.

Intel vs AMD CPUs: Which Is Better? | by James Montantes | Medium

source from: Intel vs AMD

  • Intel Core:

    • CPU Series: i9>i7>i5>i3 (mainly i5 and i7 for laptops), please note that this performance order is valid only when comparing processors of the same generation and type.

    • CPU Generation: i5, i7 have a dash after them, and the first or first two digits after the dash represent the generation.

    • CPU Type: Indicated at the end of the CPU model, divided into low-voltage (P) and standard voltage (H) versions.

    • Latest Intel Core models:

      • 13th Gen Low Voltage: i5-1340P (4 large cores, 8 small cores, 16 threads), i7-1360P (4 large cores, 8 small cores, 16 threads), i7-1370P (6 large cores, 8 small cores, 20 threads).

      • 13th Gen Standard Voltage: i5-13500H (4 large cores, 8 small cores, 16 threads), i7-13700H (6 large cores, 8 small cores, 20 threads), i9-13900H (6 large cores, 8 small cores, 20 threads).

  • AMD Ryzen:

    • Similar to Intel Core, with R9, R7, R5, R3 series, and low-voltage and standard voltage versions.

    • Latest Ryzen processor models:

      • Low Voltage: R5-7535U (6 cores, 12 threads), R7-7735U (8 cores, 16 threads), etc.

      • Standard Voltage: R5-7640H (6 cores, 12 threads), R7-7840H (8 cores, 16 threads), R9-7940H (8 cores, 16 threads), etc.

2. GPU (Graphics Card):

The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) takes center stage in rendering graphics, ensuring seamless visual experiences crucial for tasks like gaming and video editing

Logos & Brand Guidelines | NVIDIA

source from: NVIDIA official webiste

  • Types: Integrated graphics (in CPU, no dedicated graphics card, lower performance), dedicated graphics card (separate card, designed by NVIDIA or AMD).

  • NVIDIA models (mainly for laptops):

    • Ultrabook Graphics: MX570, MX550 (entry-level graphics for ultrabooks, slightly better than integrated graphics).

    • Gaming Laptop Graphics: Performance ranking - RTX4090 > RTX4080 > RTX4070 > RTX4060 > RTX4050 > RTX3050.

The misconception that dedicated graphics (discrete GPU) are essential isn't always accurate. Integrated graphics (integrated GPU) can suffice for many users, especially students without intensive gaming needs.

3. Memory:

RAM, or Random Access Memory, temporarily stores running tasks and data. More RAM means smoother multitasking. For general use, 8GB to 16GB is adequate, while tasks like gaming or video editing may benefit from 16GB or more. Pay attention to details like single or dual-channel configurations and whether the RAM is soldered or upgradeable for future enhancements.

  • In 2023, it is recommended to choose 16GB for most users.
  • Some laptops allow memory upgrades, especially in gaming and all-purpose laptops.

4. Storage:

Choose between Solid State Drives (SSD) for speed and Hard Disk Drives (HDD) for affordability. Striking a balance or opting for SSDs for enhanced performance is a common dilemma. Pay heed to the type and size of storage that aligns seamlessly with your needs.Divided into Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD).

  • A solid-state drive (SSD) is recommended. For normal data storage needs, 512GB is sufficient, but for more storage, consider 1TB or larger.
  • Some laptops have additional slots for future upgrades or can be expanded using external hard drives.

5. Display:

Different screen types include IPS, OLED, and TN. IPS is suitable for most users, OLED offers better color but is optional, and TN screens should be avoided.

  • Resolution: Choose 1080P or 2K; 4K is not necessary for laptops.

  • Color Gamut: Choose a high color gamut screen (100% ARGB / 100% sRGB / 72% NTSC) for better color representation.
  • Refresh Rate: Standard laptops have 60Hz screens, but some high-end laptops have higher refresh rates (120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz) for smoother gaming experiences.

II. How to Find the Right Laptop for You (Key Points)

1. Determine Laptop Type:

  • Ultrabook:
    As the name suggests, the body is very thin, generally use low-voltage processors, no independent graphics card or equipped with MX series graphics card, performance can meet most of the daily and office needs, life time is better, you can play some of the configuration of the game does not require high.Suitable for office work and daily use, lightweight with good battery life.

  • Gaming laptop:
    The body is heavier compared to the thin and light book, equipped with standard voltage processor + game graphics card, strong performance. The traditional appearance of the game book are more "thick", but now the game book is also gradually pursuing the appearance of thin and light. Focuses on gaming performance, relatively thicker.

  • All-purpose laptop: Between ultrabooks and gaming laptops, suitable for content creation.

2. Application Requirements and Configurations:

Determine the type of computer needed to choose the configuration and body size, because even the same computer will have different configuration combinations (mainly CPU and graphics card)

Normal Laptop :

① CPU:
i5 or R5 can be selected, the need for strong performance of nuclear display can also choose R7, i7.

② graphics card:
If not playing games recommended nuclear, there is a need to choose RTX3050. MX550, MX570 compared to the nuclear upgrade is not a lot of so it is not particularly recommended.

③ Normally, the size will be 13,14 or 15 inches. Among them, 14-inch is the gold size, taking into account the portability and experience; the need for a large screen can also be considered 15-inch.

Gaming Laptop

① CPU:
If your purpose is to play games, then the standard pressure i5 or R5 can be, because most of the game configuration requirements are mainly focused on the graphics card rather than multi-core performance; if your needs are professional video editing, 3D modeling and other high CPU requirements of the task, then you can consider the standard pressure i7.

② Graphics card:
Students who play large games and have high requirements for image quality and frame rate can choose RTX4060 (or higher model), otherwise RTX4050 will do.

③ Sizing of gaming laptop mainly are 15, 16, 17 inches. 15, 16 is the current mainstream size; 17.3-inch body is not very portable due to the size.

3. Configuration requirements for some popular applications:

Usage Suggestion
Programming, Office No graphics card required, thin and light

Recommend Product:
Photoshop No requirements for the graphics card, it is recommended to choose a high color gamut screen

Recommend Product:
Pr, AE

- Light editing (short videos, vlogs) normal laptops can run, the graphics card can help accelerate the rendering, but not necessary.

- Professional video editing/special effects production is recommended for desktop or gaming laptop.

Recommend Product:

CAD and other 2D drawing No need for graphics cards, light & thin portable laptop will do

Recommend Product:
LOL, CSGO and similar games lower graphics card requirements, equipped with nuclear graphics or MX550 thin laptop can run

Recommend Product:
 PUBG, Battlefield and similar games the main need for graphics cards and CPU single-core performance, recommended RTX4050 and higher graphics card gaming laptop

Recommend Product:

III. Conclusion

This article aims to help people to find a suitable laptop quickly using concise language and minimal concepts. Purchasing electronic products should be within one's means, and it's crucial to choose what fits your requirements. Technological updates are swift, hope this guide assists in making more informed purchasing decisions.