Let’s start with what the consumer needs to know to actually assess the laptop market and what to look for when buying a new laptop.
This is a general introduction of the main specification of a good laptop no matter for what you want to use it.
This is the engine of your laptop and its the most important component. It will make or break your experience.
I would recommend to start with an i3 processor from intel for decent performance even if you only use your laptop for browsing.
The only scenario where you can go lower then this is if your main interest is time used on battery. You will never get more then 2-3 h on an i3 processor.
If you need something for light usage (word, browsing, email, facebook etc) you can go with a N processor series from intel or something dual. These can go for 8 hours of usage.
These days 4gb is the minimum you can get around. The more you have you will be able to keep more app in the bar at the same time. 8gb is good amount.
A lot of low end budget laptops come with a resolution of 1333x768.
I would recommend to search for one with a full hd display 1920x1080 - as they are not much more expensive over the hd ones.
Most laptops come with a diagonal of 15.4 inch that are very good for an all around usage. Gaming ones tend to go more towards 17 inches for a more immersive gaming experience and travel laptops are best found at 13 inches for a lighter package.
Hdd’s are not extinct yet so keep an eye on this. You want a ssd for your os to run on, but laptops with ssd’s can be expensive. The good thing is you can easily exchange it after you buy it so don’t let this be a deal breaker.
Storage amount really depends on your needs but you can always use an external hdd.
Unless you want to do gaming or 3d rendering for most uses an integrated graphics card is enough. Graphics chips used to be integrated in the motherboard main controller but now they are integrated directly into the cpu.
If you are interested in a gaming or rendering laptop check the article on: How to buy a laptop for gaming or 3d rendering
These come in all forms. You can find slimmer ones with flat li-ion batteries or the normal ones with a bar of cells.
You have to acknowledge that performance and battery life are in an inverse relation. If you want a gaming laptop with high specs don’t expect much battery life.
Also most laptops decrease performance while on battery to extent the time you can use them. Except if you are into a nomad lifestyle i wouldn’t put much emphasis on the size of the battery and more on the other aspects of the laptop.
This can be a very important aspect with more importance then the battery.
Hdmi is today a must need although you can still find on the cheapest models only a vga port.
Usb 3.0 is becoming the norm as well so check that you have at least 2 usb 3.0 ports.
On slimmer models they are moving to usb c already.
For internet connection wifi is the way to go today and many laptops are dropping the rj45 cable connector. Don’t worry to much about this as usb 3.0 adaptors offer plenty of bandwidth.
Card readers are also pretty standard as microsd card are accepted in all devices.
These are the standard most common ports that you will use.
The lighter laptops are always more expensive so if you want a light one expect to break the bank. 2kg or 4.4 pounds is the average laptop weight.
Gaming ones can go for around 4kg with wider screens of 17 inches.
Portables one are going for 1kg with tablets going around 700g or even lighter.
You can choose from a lighted keyboard if you work at night or a wider keyboard that has a num pad if numbers are your thing.
Independent Num pad keyboard section can be found in 15.4 laptops as well. Are almost always present on 17 inch laptop and are not present in the 13 inches or lower.
Note some laptops have a num pad section over the letters and become active by pressing the alt key / fn key or a num lock key.
Come in a large variety. Test it initially and see if it responds well and the right and left click button have a good click feel.
Watch out especially on the budget / cheaper laptops the touchpad can be bad: the button can have play and the touch surface can be a bit non responsive.
Laptops come with expansion slots for ram memory and additional storage.
The problem is same models don’t have an easy access and you have to take the whole housing appart. In case you haven’t done this before it can be very difficult and the trend is to use plastic clamps instead of screws and those tend to break when you open them, especially if you don’t have experience in opening them.
Take a look at some images with the back of the laptop before making the final decision.