Here’s how you can pick the right laptop—from processors to graphic cards—according to the usage of applications on the job

  • Tech talk with Gadgetbyte
- Johnson Shrestha, Kathmandu

Apr 23, 2019-

For today’s office-goers, laptops have become an indispensable part of daily life. Even though you might have a desktop machine at work, incidental work at home and on the go require portable laptops that are light, easy-to-use, up-to-scratch and affordable.

But how to go about choosing a laptop from the plethora of options available? Google, of course, will give you a list of the best laptops for 2019, while your colleague or friend in-the-know will ask for your budget. But they all will give you options and how to ultimately decide on one? Here’s how:

A typical office

If your line of work involves spreadsheets, word documents, casual web surfing, and media consumption, a simple mid-tier laptop will do fine. This means that you won’t need any dedicated graphics card on your laptop.

A laptop with an i5 processor with medium clock speeds from 1.6 GHz to 2.4 GHz, with about 4 GB of RAM will do for you. Be advised that an i3 processor will work too, but they’ll soon become outdated. So, if you want your machine to last for at least another three years, get an i5.

There are many types and generations of i5 processors too. But if you get into that, you’re bound to be overwhelmed by the numbers. It’s better to go for the latest generation rather than a hierarchy. For example, an i5 HQ processor will work better than an i7U processor. If you have to choose between an eighth gen i5 and a seventh gen i7, go for the i5. And if this is already a head-scratcher, simply keep in mind that an i5 is good enough for your average office workload.

You also need not worry about getting a laptop with a Solid State Drive (SSD). These hard drives are way more expensive than a regular one and offer less storage. You should be fine with a simple hard drive for your office work.

The size and screen resolution should be to your liking. In terms of size, if you tend to travel a lot, get a smaller one. But if it’s mostly a desk a job, a larger screen can be more convenient to work with.

Social media management / Accounting / Web research

When your work involves a lot of web research, you’ll want something that can handle multiple browser windows and tabs, while also enabling you to work with other software. You probably know how demanding eight to ten open tabs on Google Chrome can be.

If you tend to use niche accounting software on your device, you will need the power, and multi-tasking calls for a computer with a processor that has more cores and a higher thread count. While the number of cores is limited to a maximum 18 cores on the latest Intel i9, most CPUs are quad- and octa-cores.

For work that can sometimes be demanding, you should get a laptop that rests in the middle. Either an i5 or an i7 will do, depending on the amount of money you want to spend. As mentioned earlier, the latest gen is always better than an older generation processor. But do make sure you get  one with at least 6 GB of RAM, while 8 GB is optimum. Any more than that is a waste of money.

Other specifications remain the same—a hard drive will work fine, anywhere from 500 GB to 1 TB will do. You can opt for an SDD, which will make your computer faster, but for work environments such as this, you need not worry about that either.

As for display, try to get a 1920 x 1080 display. A 1366 x 768 res is most common, but it’s not good enough for 2019. If you can, go for a full HD panel as that can make a huge difference. But if there are restraints, a 1366 x 768 screen should work too.

Content creation / Heavy set users / Gamers

Finally, if your line of work is content creation and editing, you’ll need a lot of power, and a dedicated graphics setup too. Try getting one with more cores and a higher thermal design power (TDP) rating—the higher the rating, the less heat produced.

Here too, you can get processors starting from the latest gen i5. But I’d recommend the latest gen i7, and anything better than an i7U. Eight GB of RAM is the bare minimum for content creators, and while that may be usable, do yourself a favour and get 16 GB. You also need to look at the speed of the RAM—anything above 2,400 MHz is good enough.

Also, an SSD is necessary. There are various types of SSDs, but NVMe SSDs are the fastest, and the most expensive. If possible, get yourself a laptop that has both an SSD and a normal hard drive. Use the drive to store what you need—movies, completed work, games, and the SSD for booting and work-in-progress.

Graphic cards are another vital part of the system. The latest graphic card is the RTX 20 series, but it hasn’t made its way into laptops just yet. So, right now, the best graphics you can get is the NVidia GTX 1080, which again is only for those who wouldn’t mind spending a fortune. For wise spenders, a GTX 1070 should be enough.

Depending on the amount of editing you have to do, a GTX 1060 or 1050Ti are both pretty capable. However, if your work only involves photography and light editing, you won’t need such graphical power, but it’s always better to have.

The most important thing to keep in mind for editors and designers is the display quality and colour accuracy. A full HD display is a must, but a 4K display is even better. If you can, get yourself a unit with high Adobe RGB colour accuracy, as Adobe is the primary editing software, and that will make a huge difference in your work.

There’s always a trade-off between various elements on a laptop. Laptops with great displays don’t really have good internals, and a gaming laptop with high power will have less colour accuracy. It all depends on what you need most, and what part you are willing to compromise on to get the best of something else.

Published: 23-04-2019 08:34

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