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Buying a new laptop? Here's a guide on specs and other factors to consider

By AYIE LICSI Published Sep 01, 2021 9:52 am

Buying a new laptop can be complicated—there is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to it.

Different people use laptops for different things. Some rely on these devices heavily for school and work—whether that's number-crunching, writing documents, or creating content—while others for entertainment like long hours of binge-watching or gaming.

Laptops also vary vastly based on specs and understanding these numbers and jargon can be a bit confusing. Sure, you can find recommendations online, but it's actually better if you understand the specs yourself so you can find a device that will suit your needs.

To give you a general idea, most entry-level budget laptops for casual use are priced at P30,000 and below. Considered great all-around workhorses, mainstream laptops go for around P30k to P60k. Meanwhile, the more high-end specced laptops offering the best performance, premium laptops, will set you back P60k and above.

Computers 101
  • CPU or processor

A CPU or processor is the main chip of your laptop—think of it as your device's brain. It does most of the general work so the better the CPU, the faster your laptop will run.

Most entry-level or budget laptops have Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 processors, which can handle everyday tasks like word processing and web browsing.

If you want a laptop that can do gaming, too, go for at least a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 typically found in mainstream machines. For heavy-duty use like intense video editing, animation, or hardcore gaming, you might want to opt for the more high-end AMD Ryzen 9 and Core i9 processors.

This high-end Dell XPS 17 9700 Touch (P169,990) boasts a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD.
  • Memory or RAM

Basically, your system's random access memory (RAM) determines its capacity to multitask. The rule of thumb is the bigger the RAM, the better, but buying bigger memory is quite pricey. 

Most productivity apps will run fine with 8GB of memory—to give you an idea, this is the minimum RAM requirement for Adobe Premiere Pro. If you're not even going to use video editing apps like that, 4GB will be enough. If you're a heavy multitasker or PC gamer, you can configure your laptop with 16GB. 

  • GPU or graphics

If you aren't going to be using your laptop for photo and video editing or gaming, you don't need to focus too heavily on this spec (unless you want to mine bitcoin). You don't really need a graphics card if you're just emailing and surfing the web on your laptop.

  • Storage

There are two types of storage drives: solid state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD). SSDs are generally better because they are faster and more reliable than a hard drive, and they also don't heat up your laptop as much. They, however, come in smaller capacities and are more expensive.

Again, the choice between SSD and HDD will depend on how you will use your laptop. But if you will be downloading and collecting a lot of video files, a hard drive might be the cheaper option.

The Acer Aspire 3 (P22,999) comes with 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD.
Other considerations
    • Display

    Laptops come in different screen sizes ranging from 13- to 17-inch displays. Your eyes are going to be glued to this screen for hours so it's best to go with a screen size that won't strain your eyes after staring at it for a while.

    Creatives will want a display offering better color accuracy that supports a wider color gamut. Meanwhile, gamers will enjoy their playthroughs better on a screen with higher refresh rates.

    • Ports

    Most laptops on the higher-end (e.g. the newer MacBooks and other ultrabooks) are getting rid of certain ports for a slimmer machine. Users will need to buy a separate dongle just to connect an HDMI cable or USB-A flash drives, which can be a hassle.

    Other useful connections include a 3.5mm audio jack, SD card slots, Ethernet ports. Make sure to check on the different ports a laptop offers before purchasing it. 

    The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 (P51,995) is powered by an AMD Ryzen 4600H processor and NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti GPU.
    • A good webcam

    With most classes and meetings now online, a trusty webcam has become a laptop necessity. Although you can buy external webcams from brands like Logitech, having a good webcam on your laptop will help you skip the additional purchase.

    A 720p resolution webcam is fine for Zoom/Skype/Teams video calls but if you want to record yourself while streaming games, try a 1080p or 4K one.

    • After-sales service

    Make sure there are service centers for your new laptop near your place. This way, if ever you encounter any issues or hiccups with your laptop, you can just bring it to them for repairs.