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Last updated: 8th May 2024

For general use such as emails, web browsing, video streaming, light gaming, basic video and photo editing, plus general Word and Excel use

Processor

Processor Brand

There are two main brands for laptop processors: Intel and AMD. Both offer good options for general use.

Processor Model

For Intel, look for at least an Intel Core i3 of the 11th generation (or newer, like 12th or 13th) or a Pentium Gold processor.  For AMD, look for an AMD Ryzen 3 3000 series (or newer, like 4000 or 5000 series) or an Athlon 3000 series processor (avoid older Athlon models).

Number of Cores

More cores generally means better multitasking ability. Aim for at least dual-core (2 cores).

Clock Speed

This is measured in GHz and indicates how fast the processor can handle instructions. A higher clock speed is better, but it’s not the only factor. Look for a base clock speed of at least 2.5 GHz.

RAM

8Gb RAM or more, ideally upgradeable

Brand

Ideally Lenovo or Microsoft Surface but most brands are pretty good now, especially if you pay a bit more

Storage

Storage Type

Prioritise a Solid State Drive (SSD) over a Hard Disk Drive (HDD). SSDs are significantly faster, making your laptop boot up and programs launch quicker, leading to a smoother overall experience. 

Note: High performance laptops usually use an NVMe PCIe SSD but for general use, you’d be wasting your money so just stick with a standard SATA 3 SSD

Minimum Storage Space

While storage needs vary, for basic tasks,  256GB is a good minimum. This allows you to store the operating system, essential programs, and a reasonable amount of documents and files.

Trade-offs

If you find a great deal on a laptop with a lower storage capacity (like 128GB), consider it cautiously. You’ll need to be mindful of what you store on the device. Here’s how to manage with less space:

Cloud Storage

Utilize free cloud storage options like OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox to store photos, videos, and large files you don’t need readily available.

External Storage

Invest in an inexpensive external hard drive for additional storage if needed.

Remember

General use tasks don’t require a massive amount of storage.

Prioritize speed with an SSD over raw storage space with an HDD.

Manage storage effectively with cloud storage and external drives if you opt for a lower capacity SSD.

Body

Metal laptop bodies are much more robust, longer-lasting and better cooling

Ports

Factor in adding a ‘dock’ if it doesn’t come with enough ports (such as HDMI, USB, Ethernet, audio etc)

USB 3 / USB C connections

Antivirus

You don’t need third-party anti-viruses for a Windows 11 computer, the built-in anti-virus is sufficient for most people. There’s a certain retailer in Australia that gets a commission from selling you a Norton subscription.

Laptop size

If you need the portability of a laptop then don’t go larger than 14”

Screen size and resolution

1920 x 1080 pixels minimum – remember you can plug in a large monitor which will cost a lot less than a laptop with a large screen (you’ll need a display port though)

Touchscreen

If you can afford it then consider getting a laptop with a touchscreen, they are really easy to use

Charging interface

A computer that charges via USB-C will be easier to buy replacement power adapters for

Price

Don’t spend less than $500 on a brand-new laptop, you’ll most likely be disappointed. Spend more and buy less often, save the planet!

Old stock

Be aware of buying old stock, sometimes you may see a laptop that looks way cheaper than normal but that is usually because it’s already at least a year old

Software

Windows 11 comes with everything regular users would need – including it’s own security software. Just keep in mind that Windows never includes Microsoft Office software eg Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on.

Or if you want I can come shopping with you and help you out