Before You Choose a Notebook PC

August 24, 2007

Notebook systems have grown in popularity due to their increasing performance and portability. Many systems are even now being marketed as replacements for desktop systems, but few can perform at the same level as a desktop system particularly when it comes to graphics. This guide will help you to look at some of the key items you want to look at before you purchase your next PC notebook system.

Size and Weight

Obviously the size and weight of a notebook is important. Ultraportables offer light weight and sizes but sacrifice items such as drives. Desktop replacements have equivalent power to desktop systems, but they are heavy and bulky making them difficult to carry around. When shopping for a laptop, make sure to pick up the systems and verify its something you are willing to carry. Don’t forget to also consider the weight of accessories such as AC adapter when carrying around the notebook.

Processors (CPU)

Notebook processors typically were slower than desktop CPUs, but that has changed. Dual-core processors are starting to become common and help with multitasking. The type of processors found in the notebook will vary based upon the size and purpose of the notebook. They have a direct impact on performance as well as battery life so comparison can be difficult. Check out my listings for suggested processors for the various types of notebook PCs available.

Memory (RAM)

Notebooks are generally more restricted in the amount of memory they can have compared to desktops. When looking at computers you want to make sure to check out the maximum memory the system can handle as well as the amount that is installed in the computer. It’s also useful to find out if a memory upgrade can be done yourself or if it has to be done by a technician. 512MB should really be the minimum amount of memory to consider with at least 1GB for improved performance.

Displays and Video

The video on a notebook computer is comprised of the display and the video processor. The display is comprised of the screen size and the native resolution. The larger the display, the higher the resolution will typically be, but it also will impact how portable the system is. Wide screen displays are also becoming more popular. The graphics processor will determine the performance of the computer in things such as 3D graphics and PC gaming.

Drives

How much storage space will you need? Hard drives are fairly straight forward in terms of the size and the performance may be impacted by the rotational speed. Optical drives play a more important role when purchasing a notebook PC. These can either be fairly simple CD-ROM drives for installing software all the way up to the latest high definition DVD burners. In most cases, it is best to at least get a drive that is capable or reading DVDs and burning CDs or DVDs.

Networking

The ability to connect to the net is integral to most notebooks today. Look for systems that include a built in 56Kbps modem and Fast Ethernet. With the rise of wireless networking, this is also found in most new notebooks. For the minimum amount of wireless connectivity, look at getting a notebook with 802.11b/g. Systems with an 802.11a/b/g will give you the most amount of connectivity.

Battery Life

How good is a portable computer going to be if you are only able to get 30 minutes of computing time on a single charge? Try to find the manufacturer’s listed battery life for the standard battery. Look to get a system with at least 2 hours of battery life under normal conditions. If you need extended time unplugged, look for laptops with media bays that can double as extra battery slots or have extended life batteries that can be purchased.

Warranty Plans

Laptops take a lot of abuse and are more prone to breakdowns due to their portability. When buying a system, make sure to get at least a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer. If you will be using the system heavily, a system that comes with a 3 year warranty might be a better choice but it will cost more. Third party extended plans are not a good choice unless service is done through the manufacturer.

From: Mark Kyrnin

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One Response to “Before You Choose a Notebook PC”


  1. […] News by allinone1 for Notebook Review Before You Choose a Notebook […]


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