Laptop Hardware Guide 2021
In this article we offer tips for buying laptops and explain what aspects and characteristics of the equipment are necessary for application purposes.
A more detailed general guide to buying laptops can be found in the laptop buying guide (coming soon). There all the important aspects of a laptop are discussed, which are significant apart from the technical aspects.
The laptop should be used mostly for internet and office. For this type of notebook, arithmetic performance is not as important as graphics performance. It is important that you can handle the keyboard optimally – therefore it is recommended to do a typing test before purchasing.
Weaker mobile processors are usually sufficient for these applications. However, current VIA and Transmeta processors are slower than the equivalent AMD or Intel processors. Here patience is required when starting the mobile computer. Here our recommendation is the Intel Celeron M.
It lacks the power saving features of the Pentium M (thus the battery runtime is shorter), but the price/value ratio – is very good. Of course, also AMD Sempron, AMD, Intel Pentium M, and Intel Core Duo are suitable. Also, see our processor comparison for more information on the processor.
Video cards with “shared memory” are sufficient for these applications and modern integrated graphics solutions such as the Intel GMA 950 or ATI Xpress 1100 should not cause speed loss when using dual-channel memory. But also the worst video cards are enough to navigate.
Also, see our video card comparison for video card ranking.
The laptop should have 512 MB RAM (especially with shared video cards, which take up a lot of memory). However, more than 1024 MB would be a waste and not necessary. In addition, there is the dual-channel (2 equivalent memory chips are used simultaneously) of advantage with integrated graphics.
The bigger the better. Be careful, for many people a very fine resolution is very difficult to read in the long term. Here 85 – 100 DPI (Dots Per Inch) is a good solution (for example 15 “1024×768 pixels or 15.4” 1280×800 pixels). Also see in our DPI list, how the different screens are solved.
The question about widescreen or standard (4: 3) is not that important. If you enjoy working with your laptop frequently outdoors, pay attention to a screen with an anti-reflective cover and free of reflections.
Wireless LAN – a wireless network is a very useful feature for laptops and should not be missing. An 802.11bg standard is sufficient (although the “b” standard is sufficient for browsing).
At least two USB ports should be available.
Portable for Games and Multimedia
The mobile computer should be used for annoying games and applications. The arithmetic performance here is almost as important as the crucial graphics performance. Also, the screen must be fast and large enough.
Here one must choose the higher performance models, as modern games require some processor performance, too. With a processor starting at 1.8 GHz, modern games will be enjoyed without image lag.
The types Intel Pentium M, Intel Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, AMD Turion 64 (X2) in their major variants are recommended. Currently, 64 support does not use anything yet and also dual-core processors are hardly fully used in games. However, a multi-processor is a good investment for the future. At the moment Core 2 Duo is the most powerful processor available on the market and therefore highly recommended.
Also, see our processor comparison for more information on the processor.
The video card is pretty much the main item in a modern gaming computer. Here a card of performance class 1 or 2 is recommended (see our video card comparison). The performance of the various mobile video cards can be purchased from our benchmark list of mobile video cards.
Graphics cards of performance class 3 should be considered as a minimum, otherwise, you will have to accept drastic restrictions on game settings (shared memory is prohibited!).
Also, video card memory must be fully present, so more than 256 MB are not yet useful at present. Really fast are models with 256 MB instead of 128 MB even if only the textures (or antialiasing settings) are selected very high and there is a lack of memory. Otherwise, models with less memory can be even faster (because here the memory has a higher frequency).
Modern games already need 1024 MB RAM. At present, 2 GB RAM still does not contribute much to games. But 6 months ago, this could be said for 1GB. Therefore a good solution is to implement only a 1 x of 1024 module to be able to improve easily.
Here too the bigger the better. Be careful, for many people a good resolution is very difficult to read in the long run. Here 85 – 100 DPI (dots per inch) is a good solution (for example 15 “1024×768 pixels or 15.4” 1280×800 pixels). Also see in our DPI list, where screens are finely resolved. The widescreen or standard screen is no longer a question since Best Vertical Monitor are manufactured almost exclusively with 16:10 widescreen displays.
However, sometimes older games do not support the resolution of widescreen displays and are elongated (or have black bars – which can be adjusted in the video card driver). Reflective screens are used pleasantly here, as they offer greater brightness and contrast. However, with continued use, the reflection can be somewhat annoying.
Wireless LAN – Wireless network is a very useful feature for notebooks and should not be missing. Especially during network game matches, it allows a fast connection to the network. Take care that the arrow keys are large enough (for racing games). Good audio outputs and powerful speakers are important to many gamers because they enhance the atmosphere of the game greatly.