Advice from Wisbech computer business on buying a laptop for Christmas
In his fortnightly column, the I.T Crowd, Philip Brooks of Diamond Byte Solutions, Wisbech, discusses buying a laptop for Christmas.
With Christmas just around the corner, the usual Black Friday and pre-Christmas sales will soon be in full swing with a sparkly new version of Windows available.
But please don’t be fooled by cheap prices – cheap really doesn’t always mean cheerful. Have a read through the following buying guide to help you choose the right laptop and to hopefully avoid disappointment.
Windows 10 or 11
This year I’d be making sure that I get one that’s compatible with Windows 11. It doesn’t necessarily have to have it now, but I’d make sure it’s compatible.
Processor – CPU
As the “brains” of your computer, the processor does influence performance, although the choice will depend on what you need to do. If you’re looking for a standard laptop with the best combination of price and performance, buy a Core i3 or Ryzen 3. Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs and Ryzen 5 or 7 will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, but are more expensive.
Storage – Hard Drive
This is where all your data is stored. Most people struggle to fill a 250GB Hard Drive with photos, programmes and music since the average size of a photo or MP3 is about 4MB (you can store about 62,500 photos or MP3’s on a small 250GB Hard Drive). However, if you play around with video files 250GB will be hugely insufficient and you should look to 1,000 GB (1TB) drives which can store about 24 hours of HD video. Warning: Be very wary of buying a laptop/netbook with less than 64Gb of storage space. Windows 10 and 11 have regular sizeable updates that you will have difficulty installing them. In fact, Windows 11 insists on a minimum 64Gb of storage. We advise getting a laptop with at least a 120GB Solid State Disk (SSD) – see our previous articles about SSDs.
Memory – RAM
RAM is fast, temporary storage that Windows uses to load both itself and whatever it is you are doing at the time. If you are surfing the internet, you are using some RAM for Windows, a little more for the web browser, a little more for your anti-virus program, etc. 4GB is the bare minimum amount of RAM you should have in a laptop, 8GB is ideal.
New or Refurbished
We sell both. Personally, I’m the kind of person who likes a bargain and would rather buy a faster older laptop that was refurbished than a new one, but I also understand the want for something new and sparkly. Just make sure you buy your refurbished ones from someone that gives them a 12-month guarantee and has installed a fresh copy of Windows and ALL the drivers.