Choosing a Laptop

We had an old windows assembled desktop. At that time we purchased what one could call minimum viable specs: an i3, 4th generation processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD space. It was connected to an existing monitor and had cost about Rupees eighteen thousand. It started life with Windows 7 and was upgraded to Windows 10 when it was being offered free.

Used for testing project work or some software to explore suitability for our work, it had no fixed space in the work area. It had a name, was trusted and stable. Work from home requirements changed things. We donated it to someone who needed a machine for online classes. This machine was replaced with a virtualised instance on one of my colleague’s machine. There are no complaints, just some minor changes in the workflow.

We purchased 8GB RAM back then, we could have added more over the years but didn’t need to. A common configuration back then didn’t offer as much RAM. That extra RAM added more to PC performance and productive longevity. Less RAM and we might have looked at other alternatives sooner.

Money is not unlimited, most customers buy an optimal level of performance within the budget they have. Currently most laptops irrespective of brand or OS offer 8GB RAM. When someone asks me what laptop or configuration to purchase, I often share the following thumb rule

  • RAM – 16GB or Higher. Always more of this because most laptops do not have the ability to add more RAM Later. If buying an 8GB config then look at models which offer the ability add more later
  • Space – SSD type drive with 512GB or higher. Conventional drives offer more space but are slower than SSD. You can store your data on an external drive or in one of the cloud services
  • Display : Evaluate 16:10 ratio displays as the aspect ratio of these screens make for productivity boosters. What matters most your preference, so experimentation is key.

Productivity laptops brand and processor options are an interesting conundrum. Brand wise they seem to have similar naming conventions

  • AMD – Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9
  • Intel – Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Core i9

Budget being key, it is apparent that the higher number signifies higher capability. The salesperson is likely to talk about budget and one of these processors and expecting you to make a choice. Interestingly each of the processors has generations and laptops with previous generations may well be on offer. Your choices include

  • New laptops with the latest Intel’s 12th generation are rubbing shoulders with the 11th generation processor of the same type e.g. Core i5. A similar situation exists for AMD as well. Their generation naming is different and in fact they have and interesting chart on naming and number conventions.
  • In fact Core i5 and Ryzen 5 or any of the other processors have sub category within them too. This is highlighted with an alphabet suffix at the end of the processor name e.g. AMD Ryzen™ 7 5800U or Intel Core i7-11800H. When choosing Intel, U based laptops are most common but you can also choose H and P processors. AMD names them U, HS and HX.

It is difficult to discern one device’s performance over another but knowing this and exploring them at the store will certainly give you an idea about what’s best for you.

An opportunity for the company to make their brand experience shine. It is also time to rethink the whole concept of ‘planned obsolescence’. Laptops and devices need to last longer through the right feature fix, longer software updates and support and recycle services

Explore

If you are interested in exploring these points in product description – Inspiron 16 Plus, HP Envy 16, Omen 16

To know more about AMD Processors and Intel Processors

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