Weight, memory, speed: What to consider when buying a notebook

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 22 Jun 2019

If you plan to use your notebook computer while travelling, a smaller version is preferable, as it weighs less to tote around. — dpa

You want a notebook computer, but what exactly do you want it for? That answer will help you narrow down the many variations for sale.

Before buying something, most people usually try to first figure out what they would use it for. This is especially good advice when it comes to buying a notebook computer – the answer will help you narrow down the many choices that are currently on the market.

"If I want to write emails, edit text or surf the Internet, I don't need an expensive device," says Sebastian Kloess of German IT association Bitkom. Most notebooks should also be able to handle photo editing – video editing, however, requires more powerful devices.

Christian van de Sand from German consumer goods tester Stiftung Warentest advises people to think beforehand about which applications they'll want to run; that will help to narrow both the product and price range.

Adequate notebooks can be bought for around US$500 (RM2,076). However, if you want one of the light so-called ultrabooks, a detachable (a notebook with a detachable screen so it can double as a tablet) or a convertible (a notebook with a 360-degree hinge), you should expect to spend at least US$1,000 (RM4,153), van de Sand says.

The processor and how up-to-date it is is one of the main distinguishing features between devices and one which also determines the price. Almost all notebook processors come from either Intel or AMD.

When it comes to Intel chips, van de Sand advises the average home user to look for an i5 model. The i3 processor is the absolute basic version, while the i7 is quite advanced for home use.

AMD's Ryzen range is classified using odd numbers, and the average user "would do well with the 5," Kloess says.

In terms of RAM, experts recommend at least four gigabytes (GB) and preferably eight. When it comes to storage media, a flash memory SSD drive is superior to a hard drive. "It is robust and accesses the data faster, but is also more expensive than a classic hard drive," van de Sand says. SSD drives also use less power. The minimum storage you should look for is 128 GB.

The size of the display affects the device's price, dimensions, weight and power consumption. For longer work, a screen diagonal of 15.6in or more is more comfortable to use than a smaller screen.

However, if you work on the train on your way to and from work every day, an ultrabook with a 13in display is better, van de Sand says. That's because of the lighter weight – "you'll notice it if you carry it daily."

If you like to watch movies on the train, you could consider a convertible, which has a keyboard that folds away.

"This is also convenient for presentations in front of three or four people," van de Sand says.

If you buy a detachable, the screen can be completely removed and used like a tablet, usually with a different user interface. But if you're going to be working mainly in tablet mode, van de Sand advises buying one with an external keyboard.

When it comes to screen resolution, full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) is sufficient. Preferably the display should be matte rather than gloss, Kloess believes: "When it comes to gloss, colours and contrasts are crisper, but in a brighter environment they reflect too much." – dpa
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