If you own a laptop, chances are it’s your go-to device for work, play, and maybe even school work if you’re a student. You use it for social media, studying, completing projects, gaming, and likely, watching media.
Given the fact that it’s your most important tool in today’s work and school environment, you’ll want to do your research to find the best laptop computer for your lifestyle and budget.
Here are a few things to consider before making this important purchase.
Screen size, power, and portability
Before we get down to business, you’ll want to have a sense of what you’re looking for in a laptop.
Do you need something lighter you can easily carry around with you? Or do you want a larger model with more flexibility than your office desktop? Will you be running multiple power-hungry programs at once?
Here are a few things to consider before you begin your search.
If you’re concerned with portability, aim for a laptop that’s between 12 and 13 inches. Anything smaller, like a tablet, won’t be as effective as an all-around tool. If something around this size is in your sights, start your search with something like the super-thin and versatile HP EliteBook x360.
At the larger end of the spectrum - 15-inch to 17-inch laptops - you begin to lose some portability, though this range makes sense if you use your laptop as a desktop replacement, and don’t bring it with you everywhere you go.
Aside from size, the other thing you’ll want to think about is how much power you need. Faster, more capable machines require heavier components to keep them cool. In turn, heavier hardware may drain the laptop battery faster.
While heavier may not be an ideal quality in a laptop, many of the more powerful gaming PCs are on the heavier side. So your device may end up being a bit more difficult to carry around, but in exchange you’ll get amazing graphics and a computer that won’t overheat easily.
Consider the CPU
The central processing unit, or CPU, is essentially the brains of the whole operation and controls all of the calculations your computer needs to do in order to carry out its functions.
Processor quality plays a role in performance, but what you’ll need depends on your usage.
An Intel® Core™ i5, for example will work for most users, while an i7 processor, found for instance in the HP Pavilion gaming laptop, brings more power to the table and is best for people using high-demand programs or playing a lot of games.
AMD Ryzen™ Mobile CPUs are on par with the i5s and i7s, while an AMD A - available in the HP ProBook 645 - is a lower-cost chip that can easily handle word processing, web surfing, and casual gaming. The A series should be able to handle most modern games, too, but you won’t get the high level of detail you’d find with the Ryzen.
You’ll be looking at your laptop for several hours at a time, which means you want to make sure you’re getting something you can comfortably view whether you’re watching a show, playing games, or hammering out your latest assignment.
If you’re concerned about reflections, you may want to steer away from touch screen laptops, because they typically have a glossy display.
You’ll also want to consider the resolution of your screen. For example, a low-res screen means it’ll be harder to read text online or watch videos. A 1080p screen is ideal for most people, while a 4K monitor is better for photo and video editing.
You will need a minimum of 4GB of RAM to run basic programs on your computer. For most people, 4GB means that your computer will slow down dramatically if you have too many tabs or programs open at once.
That’s why 8GB is the sweet spot for most users. With this amount of RAM, you’re able to browse and download with minimal slowdowns. We recommend looking for a 16GB RAM laptop if you’re a gamer or a power user.
What kind of operating system do you want?
Windows is a familiar option that you’ll find on most HP computers in our lineup.
Equipped with the latest version, Windows 10 laptops offer a range of current tools like Cortana, the return of the start menu, and Microsoft Edge, which replaces Internet Explorer.
Chrome is Google’s operating system, which you’ll find in HP Chromebooks.
They include a variety of the aforementioned HP Chromebooks, which start at $199.
While they may not have the computing power of a gaming laptop or their commercial counterparts, these computers definitely get the job done. Also, this price point contains some of our lighter options that you could potentially utilize as a complement to your desktop PC or heavier laptop.
Best HP laptops for college students
The right laptop for a college student depends greatly on your major, especially if you’re going for a graphic design or programming degree.
If you want to put some parameters on this category, we’re looking at computers that are affordable, dependable, and portable.
A college student who uses their computer primarily for writing papers needs some essential functions, such as space for programs you may need to download and use in the classroom.
You can find all that in an HP Chromebook, one of the best laptops for college students. And if you go for a slightly upgraded version, it comes equipped with Windows 10, 8GB RAM, and a selection of collaboration tools.
The HP 17-inch Laptop is another strong choice and features 8GB of memory, Windows 10, and a powerful AMD Ryzen processor. This unit provides reliable performance and a long-lasting battery, perfect for those days spent studying and working on campus.
Best HP gaming laptop vs professional-class computers
If you love gaming, and that means you’ll need a more powerful laptop than you would if you were mostly using it to browse the web and do homework. If you’re a serious gamer and are sick of being tied down to a desk, we recommend HP OMEN X laptops.
The HP OMEN X boasts the NVIDIA™ GeForce® GTX 10 Series graphics card, which brings 4K, Full High Definition (FHD), and VR capabilities to a portable computer. Additionally, the laptop includes an Intel Core processor and stays cool with the power of advanced thermals, so your computer can power through the most demanding games without lag.
The HP OMEN also supports fast-charge and can get up to a 50% charge within 30 minutes. We strongly recommend the HP OMEN X if your ideal computer has incredible graphics and a ton of power.
If you’re after sharp graphics but aren’t exactly a hardcore gamer, then we’d recommend the HP EliteBook 1050, a stunning premium laptop built for a heavy workload.
HP EliteBooks come with varying degrees of security features, Windows 10 Pro, and the option to upgrade to the 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor.
Another option for the professional is the HP ZBook Studio mobile workstation, a more portable but still powerful laptop that’s geared toward designers, architects, and other multimedia workers. Here, you’ll get 32GB of RAM, fast charging, and certified NVIDIA Quadro® P1000 graphics.
In the end, we encourage you to look around to find what makes sense for you. Just factor in everything from how often you're commuting with your computer to how much memory and power you'll need.
We also offer weekly PC deals, so be sure to check out all of our laptops on sale. You never know, maybe the computer of your dreams is now at the right price point, too.
About the Author: Dan Marzullo is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dan produces strategic marketing content for startups, digital agencies, and established brands. His work can be found in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, YFS Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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