Introspection: What type of computer user are you? Are you a creator or are you a consumer? Creators of content are going to require very different hardware than a consumer of content.
If you are a consumer of content you aren’t going to need the fastest or most powerful laptop. Your needs are going to be fulfilled by a high-quality screen and easy usability.
If you are in this category, you might be best suited for a tablet/laptop hybrid. Most manufacturers have at least one 2-in-1 option available and reputable manufacturers like Dell, HP, ASUS or Lenovo are the best places to look for purchasing such a device.
Amazon and other online retailers are excellent sources for user reviews of products. Research each option thoroughly to find which one is most highly rated by users.
Specifications to look out for include: high-resolution screen (1080p or better), hybrid design (detachable keyboard for example), touch based interface, Solid-State-Drive (SSD).
*NOTE: Most laptops/netbooks/2-in-1 devices do not have an optical drive anymore. If you plan on watching DVDs or installing software from a disk, make sure to purchase a laptop with an optical drive or plan on purchasing an external optical drive.
‘Creator’ is a broad category with a variety of different types of needs but as a baseline: people in this category should look at ultrabooks and laptops. As of February 2015, you should look for machines that have a minimum of 8GB of RAM (16 is better), a SSD, and at least a 2.4 Ghz i5 CPU with an i7 being a better long term investment.
Depending on the content you intend to create, you might have more specific needs. Graphics intensive work will necessitate a dedicated Graphics Card (GPU) with at least 2GB of VRAM. Graphics work also tends to require more disk space, which would mean a larger SSD. Alternatively, you could get an external drive*.
Useful additions to any laptop include:
Mini-Display Port, Thunderbolt Port, HDMI Port, USB 3.0 Support, SD Card reader.
An Average Consumer laptop should look something like this:
- Intel i3 2.0Ghz CPU
- 128 GB SSD
- 8GB 1600 Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
- 13-15.6″ 1080P Screen
An Average Creator laptop should look something like this:
- Intel i5 2.6Ghz CPU
- Nvidia 730M w/ 2GBs VRAM
- Intel 256 GB SSD
- 8GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
- 15.6″ 1080p Screen
A Powerful Creator laptop should look something like this:
- Intel i7 3.4Ghz CPU
- Nvidia 760M w/ 2Gbs VRAM
- Intel 512GB SSD
- 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
- 17.1″ 1080P Screen.
Of course it goes without saying that netEffx technicians would be happy to answer any of your questions (no question is a bad question) and are ready and able to build your specific computer.
*If you purchase a laptop with a small SSD and have a Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 port, you can effectively use an external drive to increase your computer’s storage capacity.