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What to Look for When Buying an Intel Laptop

What to Look for When Buying an Intel Laptop

Tulie Finley-Moise
Reading time: 9 minutes
Buying a laptop in the midst of the digital age is a lot like buying a car. There are plenty of nitty-gritty specs to consider; the visual appeal, the processing power, storage capacity, performance speed, the operating system, efficiency, and of course, price.
The face of modern technology is fast-changing and always evolving, keeping us on our toes with every passing year. While it’s these very innovations that keep the laptop-buying landscape interesting and evergreen, it’s the same nonstop growth that complicates the buying process.
Whether you're buying your first Intel® laptop or you’re making the switch from another core processor computer, having a comprehensive grasp on what to look for will make a world of difference during decision time.
Use this guide to hunker down in your laptop-buying process and fine-tune your considerations to best suit your PC needs. We’ll walk you through the important questions and hardware specifications you’ll need to ensure you end up with the perfect Intel laptop.

What do you need out of your Intel laptop?

In an age where laptops have become increasingly niche with their categorization, it’s important to have a firm grasp on your expectations for your new computer in terms of performance, capability, and durability.
Having emerged from an age that offered only a single all-in-one solution “personal” laptop, the modern age brings plenty to the table. Business laptops, Chromebooks, gaming laptops, convertibles, and workstations are among the diverse divisions that exist within the digital sphere these days.
As you venture into your buying process, ask yourself these important questions to narrow down your search.

1. What will be the primary use for your laptop?

Will you be spending the majority of your time climbing the leaderboards of your favorite multiplayer FPS game? Will you solely depend on it for academic word processing? Will you need it to handle powerful graphics to accommodate your career projects? Surveying the primary use of your laptop allows you to better determine what specifications you need and which ones you don’t.

2. What is your price range?

With great selection comes great variability in price. One of the most exciting facets of modern computer-buying is that the choices accommodate all budgets. Those looking for an Intel laptop that simply handles web-browsing, word processing, and other basic computing tasks can find exactly what they’re looking for at an affordable price. Those looking for a high-powered PC more geared toward handling media-intensive tasks (gaming, video editing, image manipulation, etc.) will likely dish out more dough but will be surprised to find how much price variety these high-end laptops come with.

3. What is your ideal laptop size?

Many consumers treat laptop size as an afterthought, but screen real estate plays a large part in the usability of your laptop. Laptop screen sizes typically measure between 11 inches and 17 inches. The avid movie watcher or graphic designer will benefit from a larger display, whereas the frequent web surfer or PDF reader won’t need the extra inches to satisfy their needs.

4. Which operating system do you prefer?

Between Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Chrome OS, there are plenty of options to consider before deciding on the most suitable operating system for you. Those looking into Mac OS systems will be restricted to Apple’s line of Intel-powered laptops whereas Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS consumers will have the ability to explore a number of leading laptop brands including HP®.
The computer market is inundated with choices. So much so that simplifying your search can feel next to impossible when the options are truly endless. With these key questions in mind, you’ll be better guided by big-picture purpose as you tighten your PC search.

What makes an Intel processor different from the rest?

What is a CPU?

The processor is the brain of the computer. On a basic level, the job of the processor is to receive input and provide the appropriate output. This motherboard plugin is responsible for fetching, decoding, executing, and communicating with other hardware components living within the computer.
Having created the world’s first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971, Intel has been at the forefront of the tech industry for decades. It’s been nearly a half-century since Intel introduced the Intel 4004. In that time, Intel has maintained its world-industry-leading title as a microprocessor manufacturing pioneer. Despite competitors taking aim at revolutionizing the microprocessor’s capabilities, Intel has remained as the beacon of the industry for a reason.
Intel-powered laptops come with a slew of advantages over your run-of-the-mill processor. From their efficient power consumption to their integrated memory controllers, let’s run down the reasons why Intel CPUs remain on the cutting edge of modern multicore processing.

1. Lower heat generation

Intel laptop processors have a reputation for generating less heat than competitor’s processors. Having the ability to keep work capacity at a high without fear of overheating will prove most useful to power users and multi-taskers.
Computers generate heat, it’s a matter of technological fact. CPUs are typically the biggest culprits for heat generation within a computer since their temperature is directly proportional to the amount of electricity flowing through them. What that means is that the higher the work input, the higher heat generation you can expect. The reduced heat generation of an Intel CPU can help keep your computer running at its best.

2. Increased compatibility

Because Intel is such a dominant force in the tech industry, you’re likely to find a laptop within the family of your favorite brand that carries a top-quality Intel core processor. This also crosses operating systems. Those on the hunt for an 8th Generation Intel laptop are not restricted by brand or OS, there is a definite freedom in Intel’s compatibility.

3. Impressive manufacturing capacity

Though manufacturing capacity may not seem like an important element to the consumer, the simple fact that Intel operates 15 different fabrication plants across the globe has sizeable merit. Greater production means greater variety, and with expanded variety come lower prices. Room for growth shows promise for the future.

4. Higher performance ceilings

The integrated memory controller is the motherboard tech that allows a CPU to execute computing activities and optimize how instructions are stored and retrieved. When paired with a powerful Core i7 processor, these two tech components are a force to be reckoned with.

5. Efficient power consumption

Intel laptops require less electricity to function at top capacity than their close competitors. The lower the power consumption efficiency, the higher the battery life you can expect. Intel’s innovative microprocessors work hard to keep up with your PC demands on several fronts.

What Intel CPUs are available?

The tech world is no stranger to odd names for products and updates, so it should come to no surprise that each of Intel’s processors belongs to a specific family with a not-so-telling name. These families include:
  • Intel Core™ processors
  • Intel Xeon™ processors
  • Intel Xeon Phi™ processors
  • Intel Atom™ processors
  • Intel Pentium™ processors
  • Intel Celeron™ processors
  • Intel Itanium™ processors
  • Intel Quark™ processors

What do the suffixes mean on Intel laptop processors?

There are hundreds of different kinds of Intel processors on the market and living within laptops. Each comes with a different name, number, and suffix because each comes with different specialties and capabilities.
Use this guide to decipher the suffixes:
  • H - High-performance graphics
  • K - Unlocked for overclocking
  • Q - Quad-core (four physical cores)
  • T - Optimized for efficient desktop computing
  • U - Ultra low power

Which Intel processor is right for you?

Tasked with handling the vast internal computation, each of these processors tackles graphics, gaming, multi-tasking, battery life, and overall performance differently.
Intel’s Core line of processors typically own the spotlight when it comes to laptop integration. Within the Core family, names only get more complex. They're broken down into four tiers, the i3, i5, i7, i9. Let’s expand on each of these.

Core i3

Regarded as an entry-level dual-core processor, the i3 is a great solution for everyday web browsing, email, and productivity tasks. They’re an exceptional choice for people who don’t need high-powered processing to get their digital tasks squared away. i3-powered laptops typically come with affordable price tags without sacrificing any of the performance quality.
i3 processors come with integrated graphics processing units (GPUs) but typically forgo Intel Turbo Boost technology that offers higher clock speeds. Though the vast majority of Core i3s are dual-core processors, there are giant developmental steps being taken toward creating quad-core processors.

Our i3 laptop pick: HP Chromebook x360 14-inch notebook PC

The specs:
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-8130U
  • Operating system: Chrome OS
  • Graphics: Integrated: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM
  • Display: 14-inch FHD touch screen
  • Battery: Up to 13 hours and 30 minutes
Perfect for: Low-maintenance web browsing, high school students, entry-level PC users

Core i5

Those on the hunt for greater performance power just a notch under high-end processing will find precisely what they’re looking for with an i5 processor. This quad-core processor comes with an integrated graphics card and Intel Turbo Boost technology, allowing you to tap into overclocked performance speeds.
Geared toward intermediate consumers looking for above average performance and supreme affordability, the i5 delivers on both ends. Powerful enough to handle streaming, browsing, and email sending simultaneously, multi-taskers will be delighted by the i5’s sheer work capacity.

Our i5 laptop pick: HP ZBook Studio G5 mobile workstation

The specs:
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-8300H
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro 64
  • Graphics: Integrated: Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD LED-backlit
  • Battery: Up to 9 hours
Perfect for: Casual gamers, productivity, multi-tasking, intermediate users

Core i7

Hailed as the top processor choice for heavy gamers, graphic designers, photographers, and video editors, the Intel Core i7 is peak performance in its most sophisticated form. Fully equipped with Intel Turbo Boost technology, the quad-core i7 offers immersive 4K Ultra High Definition visuals, stunning gameplay, and lightning fast speeds. Serious multi-taskers with hefty agendas will meet their match when they choose an i7-powered Intel laptop.
i7 processors feature larger caches, higher clock speeds, and increased processing capability. These three elements alone are the very features that attract digital enthusiasts across the globe.

Our i7 laptop pick: HP Spectre x360 laptop

The specs:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8550U
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home 64
  • Graphics: Integrated: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM
  • Display: 15.6-inch 4K backlit touch screen with Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • Battery: 12 hours and 30 minutes
Perfect for: Power users, image manipulation, videographers, HD visual lovers, hardcore gaming

Core i9

Introduced in 2017, the Intel Core i9 became the lead model within the Core series. Based on 14 NM process technology and Skylake-X microarchitecture, the i9 microprocessor features an astounding four channels of DDR4 RAM and 44 lanes of PCI Express. Extreme speed, efficiency, and power performance are at the heart of this processor.
Go above and beyond with the impressive core capability. If you’re looking for larger-than-life power, this 8-thread processor can handle 16 threads at once. Matched with Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology, the i9 is a stand-out option for PC users looking to exponentially increase the performance capability of their digital world.

Our i9 laptop pick: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 mobile workstation

The specs:
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-8950HK processor
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro 64
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® Quadro® P1000 (4 GB GDDR5 dedicated)
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 2666
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD LED UWVA touch screen
  • Battery: Up to 16 hours
Perfect for: High-performance computing, professional gaming, technologists, extreme power users

Why choose an Intel laptop?

Because laptop-buying is such a meticulous, research-heavy, and expensive process, you will likely want to get the absolute best bang for your buck. Intel-powered laptops deliver every single time.
Whether you’re a travel blogger looking for the best lightweight laptop with lightning performance, a high-level graphic designer in search of a capable processor, or a serious gamer looking for immersive graphics and responsiveness, there’s an Intel laptop out there for you.
It’s this very flexibility that keeps Intel at the top of the microprocessor game. PC users of all experience levels, backgrounds, and desired futures can suit themselves up with the most appropriate chip that matches their expectations.
The proof is in the pudding. Intel laptops are widely recognized and loved for a reason. The continued success of the company speaks volumes to their ability to produce high-quality processors year after year. When you choose Intel, you choose innovation, trusted performance, and blazing speed - no compromises, no sacrifices.

About the Author

Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California with a passion for the latest tech and digital media news.

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