Trying to find the best laptop for everyday use?

It’s a tad confusing, isn’t it?

All those hard disk drives, solid state drives, discrete graphics cards, and other mumbo jumbo. You just want a good everyday laptop. You don’t want a PhD in computing.

I am currently choosing a new laptop for everyday use for myself. And even though I have a degree in Interactive Entertainment Technology, I’m still not 100% certain which laptop to choose. It must be a nightmare for the average consumer.

To make life easier I’ve selected some of the best laptops for everyday use for you.

In selecting a laptop for everyday use I’ve looked at some key criteria. This is stuff you need to know before buying a new laptop. These criteria are also the main influences for price. So, let’s take a look.

Memory: I’ve Chosen 256GB of SSD. Why?

Memory is one of the most important parts of your new computer. When it comes to memory you may select HDD or SSD. HDDs have moving parts which make them a) loud, b) large (physically), and c) more liable to break. But they’re also cheaper, meaning you can get more 1TB HDD memory for the price of 128GB or SSD memory.

But here’s what you need to know: 99% of users will not use 1TB of memory. 256GB of memory is enough for almost all users except gamers. AAA, high-end video games require lots of memory. If you’re a gamer, you should get a laptop that combines at least 1TB of HDD with an SSD.

But when it comes to selecting a laptop for everyday use and the average consumer, 256GB of SSD is but large enough and fast enough to suffice.

So, the first choice I’ve made in selecting a laptop for everyday use is to choose laptops with 256GB of SSD.

However, you may also consider a 1TB HDD if price is a concern. SSDs are expensive. Many people are not concerned about the noise or the relative slowness of a HDD. So consider 1TB HDDs too, but know that a SSD is better.

 

What to look for: When choosing your laptop, find the specs page and then find “Hard Drive Size”. Go for laptops that say “SSD” (Solid State Drive) and with a minimum of 256GB.

Processor:

“What’s an ‘i7 Skylake’ anyway…?”

Processors are the most important part of your new laptop. This is like the engine that runs the ship. The faster the engine the faster the ship. The faster the processor, the faster the laptop.

If you look at new laptops you’re going to see a lot of different options for processors, ranging from old Intel Celerons to new Skylake processors.

Because the processor is so important, it’s worth getting a laptop with a good processor even if your requirements are fairly minimal.

There are three processors worth considering:

  • I5: Intel i5 is not as new or as powerful as Intel i7. However, it is still a fast and powerful processor that will meet all everyday needs.
  • I7: If you want a slightly more upmarket machine, opt for an i7, which is Intel’s top of the range processors.
  • Intel Core M: Intel Core M is a newer processor that Intel put out because it combines speed and power in a small space. While not as powerful as the i7s, Intel Core M is perfectly good for everyday laptop use and is also light, meaning it’s good in convertible laptops.

What to look for: When buying a new laptop for everyday use, find the “Processor” part of the product page. Then look for either “i5” or “i7 or “Intel Core M”. All three are good choices for everyday laptop use.

Screen Resolution

One of the biggest price differentiators is screen resolution. There are many different options here. There’s the new 4K monitors, there’s QHD (Quad HD), Full HD, regular HD, and then there’s IPS monitors, which allow for more viewing angles and better colours.

These different types of monitors will affect the cost of your laptop considerably. Going from QHD to 4k will add a good $150 onto your laptop’s overall price. So there is a direct trade-off between price and screen quality.

So what should you go for? What is a good monitor for a laptop for everyday use?

First, let’s eliminate 4K. Unless you want to use your laptop to watch movies in the absolute best resolution, then 4K will be a complete waste of money for the everyday laptop user.

  1. Regular HD is antiquated now and not really up-to-scratch in the current market place. If 4K is too good and too expensive, HD is too poor and too cheap for the average user.

You now have QHD and Full HD remaining. Either is good. And a screen with IPS (In Plain Switching technology) is best. But for your everyday laptop use, you can go with any of these options.

Do you need a transformer?

One of the easier decisions to make with regards to buying a new laptop for everyday use, is whether you want a transformer or not.

Basically, do you want your laptop to be able to be used as a tablet? And also, do you want to be able to use it in tent mode?

This is one of the most important decisions to make regarding your new laptop. And there are several things to consider.

Firstly, do you already have a good tablet? If so, you might not need a convertible laptop. Another question that I myself like to ask is this little nugget: Am I liable to break a convertible? Obviously that depends on your personality. I have a nasty habit of walking around while reading on a device and that can lead to breakages. Not good! But if you’re not as clumsy as me then you might not mind about this.

In the list of laptops below I’ve included both transformers and non-transformers.

 

What to look for: When you buy your new laptop the website you buy it off of will say whether it’s a convertible or transformer. If you opt for a convertible make sure you get one with high quality build. The Lenovo Yoga 900 and HP Spectre, for instance, feature fantastic build quality. Good quality build helps to ensure that you don’t damage the machine while constantly changing it from tablet to laptop.

Keyboard and trackpad

Retailers don’t usually tell you very much about trackpads and keyboards. That’s because the keyboard and trackpad is one of the cheaper and less impressive part s of a new laptop. Here’s the deal: keyboards and trackpads are very, very important. You use them constantly, every time you use the laptop. For comfort and ease of use, make sure you get along with the trackpad and keyboard.

Case in point. A couple of months ago I very nearly purchased a new Asus Zenbook. Great machine. Just one issue: the trackpad is absolute garbage. Trash. It makes the Zenbook un-useable. That sucks, because underneath the hood the Zenbook is a fabulous machine at a very reasonable price.

Not only do retailers not tell you about the keyboards and trackpads, but reviewers don’t either. Reviewers get bogged down in the processing speeds of laptops. They forget to tell you about the trackpad and keyboard.

For the average everyday laptop user, the keyboard and trackpad are absolutely vital aspects of the laptop. In fact I would go as far as to say that your choice of trackpad and keyboard is more important than your choice of processor. My fellow techies will deride me for that. But truth is: you won’t use most of a processor’s power, but you will always use the trackpad and keyboard.

What to look for: Your taste in trackpad and keyboard will be different to mine. This is one part of your laptop you have to try for yourself. Go to the store and try out different brands and models. Find a keyboard and trackpad combo that feel good to you.

What screen size laptop should you get?

When it comes to choosing what screen size laptop you should get, you have to weight-up the pros and the cons and determine which is best for your needs.

To choose which screen size laptop you should get, ask yourself these questions: Will you watch a lot of videos and movies? Does transportability matter to you? Does weight matter?

Naturally, the larger the screen the heavier the laptop and the harder it will be to transport and to carry. If you want a 4K or QHD screen, a large screen size will also be expensive. Then again, if you get too small a screen you may not enjoy multimedia use.

This is another aspect of your laptop that is very personal and something only you can decide. But to decide what screen size laptop you should get, consider the points above. And if all else fails, get a 15 incher (mid-size; the most popular screen size).

What I’ve Chosen: For most everyday laptop uses you will want a screen size that is large enough to let you enjoy multimedia, while being light enough to carry. 13, 14, and 15 inchers are the best.

 

How much should you spend anyway?

Naturally one of the main considerations you’ll want to make with regards to your new laptop is: How expensive should it be? What’s your price limit?

Here’s the truth about expensive laptops: You almost definitely do not need one for everyday laptop use.

Unless you’re the lucky type who just likes to spend a ton of money for the hell of it, I would strongly recommend that you discount anything above $1500. Anything above this price range should only be considered by gamers, video editors, and designers.

Almost all that technology you get in a $1500+ laptop you will never ever use; not once. If you want to edit videos while playing Call Of Duty III, then yes you are going to need a high-end computer. But if you’re interested in browsing the internet, playing basic games, watching videos, skyping, etc. then I have news for you: You can do all of that on a cheaper laptop.

To prove that point, consider what laptop you’re using right now. You can probably do 90% of your everyday needs on that machine, right? And if you’re an average laptop buyer you’ve odds are your current laptop is about 5 years old, meaning it is likely now worth sub $300. If you can already meet the majority of your needs on a $300 machine, you do not need to spend thousands on a new one, no matter what retailers and manufacturers might try to tell you.

Graphics Card for everyday laptop

Graphics cards make a huge difference in terms of price. Essentially there are two key types of graphics cards: Integrated and Dedicated. Integrated are cheaper. Dedicated are more powerful.

Now here’s the reality: For everyday laptop use you will never, ever need a dedicated graphics card.

Dedicated graphics cards are only needed for specific users: Gamers, designers, and video and photo editors. If you’re none of those three you will never need a dedicated graphics card.

That said, because graphics are still important, it is worth getting a good integrated graphics card. Anything above an Intel HD 5000 will do fine for your everyday uses.

What to look for:

When buying your new laptop for everyday use, look for “Video”. The most ideal processors (for the price) are Intel HD 5000s and upwards.

 

 

Finally; Look for laptops with good web cameras

You’re going to want to get a webcam that is high quality enough to make people on the other end of the internet want to webcam with you. Look for laptops with web cameras that offer 2 megapixels, 1080p or 720p, 8 megapixel still image, and 30 frames per second)

 

 

So, here are our specs for the best laptop for everyday use:

 

So here’s what it comes down to. The best laptop for everyday use (and a reasonable price) will have the following specifications.

 

Screen: QHD or Full HD, and IPS is a bonus.

Memory: 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD.

Processor: Either i5 or i7, or (specifically for convertibles) Intel Core M

Graphics: Anything above Intel HD 5000

Web Camera: megapixels, 1080p or 720p, 8 megapixel still image, and 30 frames per second

Trackpad and Keyboard: Test them in-store to find the ones you like.

Convertible or not? Makes a huge difference, but this is a matter of taste and lifestyle.

 

 

 

The Best Laptops For Everyday Use

I’ve put the large explanation above so you know what to look for in specs.

With those specs in mind (and from extensive research into reviews) I’ve put together this list of the best laptops for everyday use.

*These laptops meet the criteria above and are all under $1500 or teasingly close

 

Dell Inspiron 15

 

Display: 15.6 in HD LED-backlit touchscreen with TrueLife (1366 x 720), 10-finger multi-touch support

Processor: Intel Core i5-5200U 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.70 GHz

Memory: 8GB DDR3L 1600 MHz

Hard drive size: 1TB 5400 RPM SATA

Operating system: Windows 10 Home, 64-bit

Video: Intel HD Graphics 5500 with shared graphics memory

CONVERTIBLE: No

BOXING DAY SALE PRICE: CAD $499.00 (was: CAD $679.00) save: CAD $180.00

 

 

Toshiba Satellite Fusion

Display: 15.6 in diagonal LED-backlit Full HD TruBrite IPS touchscreen (1920 x 1080), 10-finger multi-touch support

Processor: Intel Core i5-5200U 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.70 GHz

Memory: 8GB DDR3L 1600MHz

Hard drive size: 1TB 5400 RPM HDD

Convertible? No

Video: Intel HD Graphics 5500 with shared graphics memory

CAD $899.00

(was: CAD $999.00) save: CAD $100.00

 

 

Acer Aspire V

Display: 15.6 in (396.24 mm) Full HD IPS touchscreen (1920 x 1080), 10-finger multi-touch support

Processor: Intel Core i7-6500U 2.50 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.10 GHz

Memory: 8GB DDR3L 1600 MHz

Hard drive size: 1TB 5400 RPM HDD

Convertible? No

Video: Intel HD Graphics 520 with shared graphics memory

 

BOXING DAY SALE: $799

 

 

TOSHIBA SATELITE

Display: 15.6 in (396.24 mm) 4K Ultra HD TruBrite LED-backlit (3840 x 2160), 10-finger multi-touch support

Processor: Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.50 GHz with Burst Technology up to 3.50 GHz

Memory: 12GB DDR3L 1600 MHz

Hard drive size: 1TB 5400 RPM HDD

Convertible? No

Video: AMD Radeon R9 M265X with 2GB graphics memory, Intel HD Graphics 4600

BOXING DAY SALE: $1199

 

 

ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH71

Display: 15.6 in (396.24 mm) Full HD LED (1920 x 1080)

Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.60 with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.50 GHz

Memory: 16GB DDR4 2133 MHz

Hard drive size: 1TB 7200 RPM HDD

CONVERTIBLE? No

Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB graphics memory, Intel HD Graphics 530

BOXING DAY SALE: $1299

 

 

ACER Aspire V17 Nitro                  

Display: 17.3 in (439.42 mm) Full HD IPS LED (1920 x 1080)

Processor: Intel Core i7-4720HQ 2.60 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.60 GHz

Memory: 16GB DDR3L 1600 MHz

Hard drive size: 256GB SSD + 1TB 5400 RPM HDD

Convertible: No

Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB graphics memory, Intel HD Graphics 4600

$1299

 

HP SPECTRE X360

Display: 13.3 in Full HD LED-backlit touchscreen (1920 x 1080), 10-finger multi-touch support

Processor: Intel Core i7-5500U 2.40 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.00 GHz

Memory: 8GB LPDDR3 1600 MHz

Hard drive size: 256GB SSD

Convertible: Yes

Video: Intel HD Graphics 5500 with shared graphics memory

BOXING DAY SALE: $1299

Categories: gaming

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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