Tips for using laptop that you don’t know

Tips for using laptop that you don’t know

March 12, 2024

Laptops are compact enough to carry with you, yet powerful enough to run demanding applications. Notebooks are the best tool for doing serious work or play whether you're at home, on the road, or in a college classroom. 

Whether you are just browsing the web, need to type a research paper, work on video production, or play some of the best PC games, it's all best done on a laptop. So how do you know what to look for in a laptop? Well, we've put together this laptop buying guide to help answer that question for you.

Quick tips

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12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don't travel much and smaller models are great for kids.

If you're spending over $700, shoot for these minimum specs: 

  • CPU: Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 
  • Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • RAM: 8GB 
  • Storage: 128GB SSD

10+ hours of battery life in our test is ideal if you will regularly be working away from an outlet.

Consider a 2-in-1 laptop (either a convertible or detachable) if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook is a better choice.

Chromebooks are excellent options for kids, students, or as secondary laptops, but their functionality keeps growing so if web browsing, content consumption, and light productivity are all you want, don't rule them out. If you need access to more powerful software and hardware then Windows 11 laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal with NHSDiscountCode




1. Pick a platform: Windows vs. macOS vs. ChromeOS?

Depending on your needs this could be an easy choice, but if you don't have any existing loyalties to a platform or specific software that you need this can be a challenging question to answer. If you are in that latter camp here's a quick overview of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses to help you decide.

The most flexible operating system, Windows 11, runs on more laptop models than Chrome OS or macOS. Windows notebooks range in price from under $150 to several thousand dollars and offer a wide array of features from touch screens to fingerprint readers to dual graphics chips. Windows 11, the latest version of Microsoft's flagship operating system, provides a number of improvements over Windows 10, including the revised interface, the new Microsoft Store, handy features like Snap View.

Since its launch in October 2021, Windows 11 has also added a host of improvements, including Focus Sessions and a Do Not Disturb mode. The 22H2 update also came with notable performance and battery optimization enhancements. Windows 11 laptops are great for students, researchers, and business users, and they're still the only gaming laptops anyone should consider. 

All MacBooks come with Apple's latest desktop operating system, macOS Sonoma. Overall, the operating system offers similar functionality to Windows 11, but with a different take on the interface that substitutes an apps dock at the bottom of the screen for Microsoft's Start menu and taskbar. Instead of the Cortana digital assistant, Mac users get Siri. They can also perform transactions with Apple Pay, take calls or texts from their phones, and unlock their laptops with an Apple Watch

However, macOS isn't made for touch, because no MacBook comes with a touch screen. While Apple did bring iPad apps to its laptops starting with macOS Big Sur  (iPad and iPadOS apps can run natively on M1, M2, and M3 Macs), you have to rely on a touchpad or mouse to navigate them. macOS Ventura brought Apple's Stage Manager for handling multitasking, which is an upgrade, but much more difficult to master than Windows solution. Save with Blue Light Discount

2. Decide if you want a 2-in-1

Many PC laptops fall into the category of 2-in-1 laptops, hybrid devices that can switch between traditional clamshell mode, tablet mode and other positions in between such as tent or stand modes. 2-in-1s generally come in two different styles: detachables with screens that come off the keyboard entirely and convertible laptops with hinges that bend back 360 degrees to change modes. 

Most of these touchscreen laptops are much better at serving one purpose than the other, with convertibles being laptops first and detachables offering a superior tablet experience. However, if you don't see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you'll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.

3. Choose the right size


Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be. Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes:

  • 11 to 12 inches: Maximum portability, but outside of cheap laptops and detachable we rarely see this size class as new materials and slimmer bezels made the next size class easily portable as well.
  • 13 to 14 inches: This is the sweet spot for a lot of laptop users as it gives you enough screen real estate while typically 3 pounds or less and easily fitting in any laptop bag.
  • 15 to 16 inches: The most common size remains 15-inch laptops, usually weighing between 3 and 5.5 pounds, while 16-inch laptops like the MacBook Pro 16 are increasingly popular. Consider these sizes if you want a larger screen and you're not planning to carry your notebook around often. 
  • 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop is basically a desktop that you only occasionally pick up and go. A 17-inch laptop or the newly emerging 18-inch laptops could provide you with the power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level tasks. Get deal with Black Friday Deals




4. Don’t Skimp on Battery Life


If you're buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you'll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don't have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it's at home and or work, you'll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with 9+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook's expected battery life, don't take the manufacturer's word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as our reviews.

MORE: Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

5. Plan Based on Your Budget

These days, you can buy a usable laptop for under $200, but if you can budget more, you'll get a system with better build quality, stronger performance and a better display. Here's what you can get for each price range.

  • $150 to $250: The least-expensive notebooks are either Chromebooks, which run Google's browser-centric OS, or low-end Windows systems with minimal storage and slower processors, such as the HP Stream 11 and the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. Use these as secondary computers only or give them to the kids.
  • $350 to $600: For under $600, you can get a notebook with an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5000 CPU, 4 to 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, all respectable specs. However, there are sure to be some trade-offs to hit that price. There are outliers like the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook or the Samsung Galaxy Book.
  • $600 to $900: As you get above $600, you'll start to see more premium designs, such as metal finishes. Manufacturers also start to add in other features as you climb the price ladder, including higher-resolution displays and SSDs. The Apple MacBook Air M1 is typically in this price range along with Asus ZenBook 13 UM3402.
  • Above $900: At this price range, expect notebooks that are more portable, more powerful or both. Expect higher-resolution screens, faster processors, and possibly discrete graphics. The lightest, longest-lasting ultraportables, like the MacBook Air M2 or Asus Zenbook S13 OLED (2023), tend to cost more than $1,000. High-end gaming systems and mobile workstations usually cost upward of $1,500 or even as much as $2,500 or $3,000.get Deal wirth Student Discount

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

6. Mind the Brand

Your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it. Accurate and timely technical support is paramount, which is why Laptop Mag evaluates every major brand in our annual Tech Support Showdown. This year Apple claimed first place, followed by Razer in second and Lenovo in third.

Support is only part of what makes a notebook brand worth your money. You also have to consider how the manufacturer stacks up to the competition in terms of design, value and selection, review performance, and other criteria save with NHS Discount Voucher


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