A guide to buying laptops6 min read . Updated: 29 Jun 2016, 12:01 PM IST
We've handpicked the best laptops that money can buy right now
We've handpicked the best laptops that money can buy right now
Buying a computing device these days can be quite hard—the traditional big and small laptops compete with the hybrids and convertibles which have screens that either detach or fold away, and tablets that can become laptop replacements if you attach the optional keyboard accessory. You will need to take into account the screen size, the tasks you specifically need the machine for, and the budget. Here are our picks.
BASIC COMPUTING, AT HOME AND AT WORK
Many consumers need a laptop for the most basic-use cases, such as document editing, Internet browsing or Skype chat sessions with friends and relatives abroad. Affordable laptops generally pack in adequate processing power and enough RAM and storage, but do not expect these to be able to run a lot of apps at the same time or handle graphic-intensive games. The smart thing to do is to buy a laptop that comes with Windows 10 preloaded.
Weighing just 1kg, the Lapbook L1160 has a compact footprint. It has an 11.6-inch display and runs the Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor, with 2 GB RAM. This may not seem much, but the fast 32 GB flash storage boosts performance. The real attraction is the excellent battery life.
This is a more conventional 15.6-inch screen laptop with 1,366x768 resolution . It comes with 4 GB RAM, which gives it an advantage over a lot of rivals that still offer just 2 GB RAM. It runs the Intel Pentium N3700 quad-core processor, and has a 500 GB hard drive as well as an optical disc drive.
SIZE ZERO LAPTOPS
These machines, the slimmest and lightest money can buy, have an undeniable style quotient.
The highlight of this slim-line beauty is the extremely thin border around the 13.3-inch Full HD screen, which gives the illusion of an edge-to-edge viewing experience. It is made of CNC (computerized numerical control) machined aluminium, and weighs 1.2kg. It runs the latest generation Intel Core processors, and the real highlight is the superb battery life.
This is the newest MacBook, and one for the future. The 12-inch IPS (in-plane switching) screen has 2,304x1,440 resolution, and is one of the best in the business. It weighs just 0.92kg. This was the first laptop with the USB Type-C ports, for power as well as connecting external accessories. It’s ideal for someone who needs a stylish laptop that allows super-smooth performance and battery life. Power users, however, might not find the single USB port and the need for external accessories convenient.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A convertible offers something from the world of tablets as well as laptops. They provide a certain amount of versatility, but will generally be a bit more expensive than conventional laptops or tablets with comparable specifications.
The display can be flipped over completely, and the laptop becomes a sort of tablet. The 14-inch touch screen has Full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution, and the entire package weighs 1.8kg. The rest of the specifications include the Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 4 GB RAM, a 1 TB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce 920M (2 GB) graphics.
The Surface Pro 4 weighs just 786g, less than even the thinnest laptops money can buy, and is only 8.4mm thick, matching most smartphones—all this despite a magnesium casing. The 12.3-inch screen (2,736x1,824 pixels) is bright and sharp. There is no shortage of power and, depending on the usage, the battery can last as long as 12 hours. The keyboard is well spaced out, so typing documents is quite a breeze.
The tbook’s magnesium and aluminium chassis feels premium. The 12.2-inch IPS display (2,560x1,600 pixels) is sharp, with rich colour reproduction. It is pretty much an all-rounder in terms of usability. It runs on Intel’s low-power consumption Core M processor and has 128 GB flash storage—boot into Windows in around 10 seconds. The battery life is impressive.
There are a lot of gamers who still swear that a gaming laptop or PC offers a better experience than even the latest generation gaming consoles. The reason is that the processing power keeps evolving with every new chip and the graphics also keep getting better. The best gaming laptops will run the latest high-end processors and graphics. Even though we do get gaming laptops in smaller screen sizes, anything less than a 15.6-inch screen would not be ideal.
This is the surprise gaming laptop of the year. It has a 15.6-inch Full HD screen, the very powerful Nvidia GeForce 960M (4 GB) graphics and the latest generation Intel Core i7-6700 processor. The hybrid storage means there is 128 GB flash storage, to boot up and open programs quickly, along with a 1 TB hard drive.
This has the most sedate design among all the gaming laptops we have reviewed. The bright and rich 15.6-inch screen has 4K resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels). It runs the Intel Core i7-6700 processor with the whopping 16 GB RAM. The Nvidia GTX 960M (4 GB) graphics are very powerful, though you may need to turn down some in-game display effects to compensate for the high-resolution screen.
No gaming-laptop buyer guide can be complete without an Alienware. These rigs run the latest processors, and we are specifically recommending the Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 16 GB RAM and 15.6-inch Full HD variant. The Nvidia GTX 980M (4 GB) graphics are top-of-the-line, and the 256 GB storage plus 1 TB hard drive enhances performance.
These laptops are all about the ultimate in utility. Business laptops should have the latest specifications and security features, as well as the ability to run professional software. And for those who travel a lot, good battery life is a must.
This is the closest any laptop has come to the Apple MacBook Air thus far, complete with the aluminium chassis. It runs the latest generation Intel Core M and the very quick 256 GB M.2 SATA SSD storage. If you need to use it for entertainment apps too, the Bang & Olufsen audio sounds sweeter than what the tiny speakers in most laptops can even dream of managing. Battery life upwards of 5 hours, even though dependent on usage, will be relevant for frequent travellers.
ThinkPad laptops are perhaps the first devices that come to mind when we talk about business laptops. The T460 follows up on that strong heritage, with the latest specifications. More importantly, the 14-inch display is non-reflective, which reduces eye strain as you ponder over the numbers on a spreadsheet. The security features include biometric authentication and a Trusted Platform Module chip for data encryption.
A step up from the basic machines, these will offer more powerful specifications and, in some cases, can be efficient desktop replacements as well because of their ability to handle work and entertainment apps better.
This laptop packs in a serious amount of grunt—an Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 8 GB RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. While it is a tad disappointing that the 15.6-inch screen is not Full HD (it is 1,366x768 pixels), what makes up for it is the audio set-up designed by Bang & Olufsen. It runs the Nvidia GeForce 940 (2 GB) graphics, which makes it an all-rounder.
This laptop truly surprised us with the specifications it packs in at this price. It runs the latest generation Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 4 GB RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, 15.6-inch screen and Nvidia GeForce 930M (2 GB) graphics. The graphics card means this can handle some lightweight gaming as well, and also play HD movie files smoothly.
*Prices may vary
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