TechElf guide to buying a laptop

Things to consider

RAM (Random Access Memory)

Is the memory that all your running applications use. If you are somone working with a huge number of applications open or use memory intensive applications like video editing and games then it's best to go for as much RAM as you can get. However for most people 4GB and above should suffice.

Top pick for people craving RAM is the 32GB Dell XPS 15

CPU/Processor

Intel is the dominant player in this market they have a number of chips targeted at different consumers their m series chips are energy efficient but not as fast as the i series. Generally the higher the GHz the faster the CPU but this is not always the case (we hope to offer a better CPU buying guide soon). Essentially you want to get the balance of speed vs energy consumption that suits you. If you're a gamer then speed is everything. If you are someone who travels a lot then you want an energy efficient CPU that doesn't sap all your battery juice.

Hard drive

This is where all your data is stored, such as documents, images, videos etc.

With the size of files, images, videos and games getting bigger, larger hard drives are required. However this is somewhat offset by cloud storage which allows you to offload files off your local hard drive into cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive.

The size you go for really depends on how you work. If you need access to a lot of large offline files and you don't like the idea of the cloud then you should go for as large hardrive, 512GB or more.

The other thing to consider for hard drives is their speed, If you want your computer to boot faster, load files and applications quicker, you should opt for a more expensive SSD drive.

Size and Weight

Laptops can range hugely in size and weight but it doesn't necessarily cost a lot to go for a small portable laptop these days. It only becomes expensive when you try to combine a light laptop with powerful specs. Obviously if you're someone who carries their laptop everywhere you'll want one which is as light as possible.

Battery

Battery life can vary from 3 hrs to 18hrs (at time of writing) between laptops. Again if you are someone that needs to go a whole day or whole flight without charging, you need to bear this in mind.

Top pick for people craving battery life is the 18hrs on the Dell XPS 13

Display

resolutions on modern laptops are incredible considering the sizethe screens. If clarity and screen space is important aim for 1920 x<1080>and above.

Graphics card

This will be of biggest concern to graphic/video editors and gamers. Most laptops have an integrated graphics chip. However if you're one of the aformentioned power users then you will most probably need a dedicated graphics card. We hope to publish a guide to help you decide which.

Developers

Will generally need a high spec all round machine but here are the things you should be looking for:

RAM

You're probably going to need a laptop with at least 8GB RAMif you want to run virtual machines to run different environments.

HD

This really depends on the size of data you're working with but with OS installs being so much larger these days we recommend at least 256GB of SSD space.

CPU

Again depends on specific developer needs but no developer likes lag in any of the tools they use so we recommend going for at least an Intel i5 processor.

Other things that you may consider as a developer are good battery life and weight especially if you travel a lot. Another important factor is high screen resolution 1920 x 1080 and above, to afford yourself split window working.

Gamers

Gamers will probably need the highest spec laptop possible and will have to sacrifice weight and size for this. Here's what you should be looking for:

RAM

You're probably going to need a laptop with at least 16GB RAM if you want to run virtual machines to run different environments.

HD

We recommend at least 512GB of SSD space, especially with the hard drive space modern games take up. Here's a link to the 10 biggest culprits

CPU

You'll not want to settle for anything less than an Intel i7 processor if you don't want your FPS to suffer.

Graphics Card

You'll definitely want a very good standalone graphics card rathen than an integrated one as this will have the biggest effect on how beautifully and smoothly your games will run.

Travellers

Travellers will be interested mainly in portablity and battery life so the recommendation will be to go for one of Intels energy efficient m series CPUs however some of the more expensive high end laptops such as the Dell XPS series include i7 processors and boast up to 18 hours battery life.

Hybrid models will also be of interest to people who travel a lot as you will be able to detach the screen from the keyboard to enter tablet mode. Look no further than the excellent surface range from Microsoft.

Let us help you make that choice.

Buying a new laptop can be a daunting long process especially because you want to make the right choice at the right price.

TechElf compares the best laptops on the market for any budget or user in a helpful comparison table where you can compare speed, battery life, weight, price and even more.

Once you've found your perfect laptop we'll find you that perfect price from the many trusted retailers we compare.

So make sure you're not wasting your time and money by letting TechElf to do the hard work for you!