Looking for a new laptop or computer, and don’t know what to look for in one? Here’s what you need to know.
Your CPU is the brain behind your computer, so naturally this one needs to be a good one. However, it depends on what you intend to do with it. Cpu’s have two things to consider.
Cores are processors within the central processing unit. Each core is capable of handling its own task, so if you’re doing a lot of multitasking or are utilizing very heavy applications such as intense renders, more cores are going to treat you better.
Clock speeds, plain and simple, are the speed at which your CPU operates. Seen in GHZ, The speed required is VERY finicky and all depends on what you intend to do with the pc. Surfing the web, you don’t need a lot of speed for that. Gaming/video editing, you want some more performance.
Threads are like cores, except on a smaller scale. Threads are the independent processes a processor can handle at once, a subdivision of cores. However there is multi thread technology, which allows an individual core to create multiple threads, to boost multitasking performance.
Ram is a type of storage used by applications to store and access short term data. This data, is used by the computer so frequently that it needs to tap into the data very quickly, warranting the use of Ram. Used to open and close applications, respond to the keyboard, analyze commands such as editing documents, it’s used for everything.
Quite simply, ram storage is simply the amount of data that can be used by the system for short term data access. 8gb has become the standard nowadays and 16+ becomes the premium option. For basic computer usage, 8gb should suffice. However keeping multiple browser tabs open, or simply multiple applications opens will require a large amount of ram. 16 is more expensive, but worth the extra breathability.
Seen in MHz, similarly to CPU clock speed, ram speed is how fast the ram can operate. This speed effects the amount of data that can be transferred within your computer, so you want this speed relatively high. 3200 is more than enough. If your computer in ever really slow, ram could also be the culprit.
Storage is the amount of space your computer has in order to house it’s operating system, and applications. The more applications you will use on a regular basis, the more storage you will need. However, there are 2 different types of storage devices to be aware of.
A SSD, or a Solid State Drive is a type of storage that is completely digitalized. This means, there’s little to no down time or delay, SSDs work spontaneously. In quite a few cases, a SSD is used to house the operating system due to it’s higher speed, however using an SSD for programs will also give those programs an edge on speed. Although, quite a bit more expensive.
A HDD, or Hard Disk drive, is another type of storage that works sort of like a record player. The hard drive had moving parts within it, a set of “needles” that are in charge of reading or writing data. Due to the hard drive possessing physically moving parts, it is by nature slower than an SSD. These drives are however cheaper, and are generally available in higher storage options. They aren’t incredibly slow, most hdd’s have tolerable speeds, so you’ll be fine if you choose to take a HDD.
A GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit is one of the most important pieces of your computer. The GPU or commonly referred to as a graphics card, is used to process all graphical aspects of applications, such as rendering, modeling, even simply displaying the pixels on your screen. Naturally, this needs to be a good one. Computers can come with integrated graphics, or a separate card. Deciding on which model of graphic card to use, is highly dependent on workload and cpu pairs. There are a lot of technical aspects of a GPU, but this is mainly what you need to know.
Integrated graphics means, the GPU is built into the CPU. This means that the GPU shares all the resources that it needs, with the CPU and with the rest of the system. Integrated GPU’s are simply not very powerful, however depending on the use of the computer they can suffice. For vanilla computer usage such as browsing, general office work, playing 2D games, and watching videos, most integrated graphics processors will work.
A dedicated graphics card, is simply a separate graphics card from the CPU. A separate graphics card has its own dedicated memory that is not shared with the CPU. Say you have 8gb of ram (we talked about this before), and a graphics card with 4 gb of ram. That 4gb is completely independent from the 8gb of ram that the system uses. The graphics card will instead tap into it’s own 4gb instead of eating away at it’s system’s ram. This causes these dedicated graphics cards to be much more powerful, however these are really only needed when used for serious rendering, professional graphic design, or high-end gaming.
Motherboards are a bit iffy. On full desktop computers, your motherboard houses every part in your computer. It sets all the parameters, such as which CPU’s it can use, what speed of Ram sticks it can use, number of storage ports, usb ports, audio jacks, everything. In desktop PC building, picking the motherboard is fairly easy. Pick what other parts you want, then pick a motherboard that will support all of them. In laptops however, the motherboard is something you have little to no control about.
The rest is up to you now. Quite a few people want touchscreen laptops, or laptops with 360 hinges so that it turns into a tablet. Maybe you want a backlit keyboard to see better, perhaps a good quality camera or amazing speakers. Maybe you need 6 different USB ports, a headphone jack, ethernet, HDMI, display port or more. Everything past the initial core parts list seen above is all up to you. Looking for extra features will vary the price of the laptop, so be weary. It’s better to have an amazing set of core specs and no touchscreen, rather than the other way around. But of course, it depends on what you want to use your laptop for.