How do you pick the best laptop computer? How do you choose the best laptop computer to buy? To say it’s difficult is an understatement. There are so many brands and so many models it can be hard to compare models of the same brand let alone different models from different brands. Many models differ only by the amount of memory they have or the size of their hard disk or the size of their screen.
Not to mention the fact that you could choose a PC or Mac laptop. Whether you buy a PC or Mac may depend as much on whom you know as it does on which one is best. In other words, if all your friends are Mac users and have iPhone and iPads, that’s going to make it very difficult for you to choose a PC laptop and vice versa.
So with that in mind, even though this article is titled Top Laptop Pick, we are going to choose two different laptops as our top pick; one PC and one Mac. Hopefully this will make it easier to choose the best laptop computer to buy no matter which side of the laptop world you claim.
These days there isn’t as much difference between PC and Mac hardware as there are differences in their operating systems (OS). PC laptops of course run Windows 8.1 now and Macs are running whatever the latest version of OS X is available. So if you’re already on one side of the fence or the other, you can go immediately to your section and peruse what we have to say.
Top PC Laptop
If you’re used to Windows 7 on your PC laptop and you buy a new laptop, undoubtedly it will come with the Windows 8.1 OS. That can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Personally we think Windows 8.1 is great, but it has a learning curve like everything new. So, it’s taking a lot of flack and even PC reviews are downgrading PCs because they don’t like Windows 8.1.
So we’re not going to talk about Windows 8.1 only to say that some of the newer PCs have built-in features that are designed to take advantage of 8.1 and you should probably consider that when you purchase.
There are several models of convertible laptops available that convert from laptops to tablets by folding their screens. The big advantage of a convertible comes if you’re already considering buying a tablet, too. This could save you a lot of money over buying two completely separate devices and is certainly more convenient that having to carry both. We recommend a convertible for the same reason we recommend a touchscreen. It’s a must have as we move forward into the modern era of portable computing.
What makes a great PC laptop these days? In a word, price. The price of competitively equipped laptops has come down and down until models less than $1,000 have all the capability and features you could ever want.
A second word we would use is touchscreen. If you’re even thinking of a model without a touchscreen, you should hold that thought and buy a touchscreen laptop. Why? As adapted for touchscreen laptops the current version of Windows is, it will only get more touchscreen-friendly as time goes on. Whereas the mouse used to be the input companion of choice for your PC, the touchscreen is the new kid on the block and the new kid is strong.
You also shouldn’t skimp on the processor. While you could buy a Core i3 or even a Core i5 processor, if you want to stave off obsolescence for the longest time possible, you really should get an i7 processor. Otherwise, the i5 is a nice compromise for less money.
To run Windows 8 properly we recommend at least 6 GB of RAM, but lean towards 8 GB for heavy users.
Today with the endless bounty of smartphone users, pictures and video have taken over hard drives everywhere. We would almost recommend going with a minimalist internal drive to handle the operating system and applications and buying a large external drive (or 2 for a backup) to house your pictures, videos, and documents. You can expect to get a 256 GB or larger drive with a more powerful computer, but we wouldn’t upgrade above what you already get.
If you’re planning to play a lot of games then what kind of graphics adapter you get is important to you. Otherwise for the average user or even power user the graphics adapter that comes with a top laptop should be fine. Gamers should check out our articles ASUS Gaming Laptop: Most Powerful ASUS Gaming Laptop 2013 , Best Gaming Laptop: Best Value Gaming Laptop 2013, and ASUS Laptop: G750 Series ASUS Gaming Laptop for a good look at some laptops designed specifically for gaming.ss
Which display to choose depends, like a lot of things in life, what you’re going to use it for. If you plan to use your laptop as a desktop replacement at home or at your office desk mostly, then you should buy an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse and get a smaller size screen. If you like the larger screens and you’re very mobile then you might have to go with a 15.6-inch screen or larger. For the ultimate in mobility without regard to screen size a 14-inch screen is a nice compromise.
You should be considering a high-resolution screen in any case because it will give you the best user experience and again will keep your laptop from becoming a dinosaur well before it’s time.
Connectivity is becoming more and more important with our mobile lifestyles. Connectivity can mean your WiFi connection or Bluetooth or even your connection to your TV or webcam capability. The best laptops give you all of the connectivity you could want.
So here is the profile of a top PC laptop pick.
- Convertible configuration
- Core i5 or i7 processor
- 8 GB or more of RAM
- Touchscreen equal to or greater than 12 inches depending on what you will use it for
- 250 GB of storage or more
- Great connectivity options
Laptop Showdown: Best Laptop Computer To Buy
Best Laptop Computer To Buy: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Our Top Pick for PC laptop is the easily the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It has the features, the portability, the processing power, and the display to make it the wave of the future in PCs. Look at its future-driven features.
PC: Best Laptop Computer To Buy Features
- Convertible between laptop and tablet and comes with a handy kickstand
- 4th Generation Intel Core i5 processor
- Unbelievable 2160 x 1440 resolution 12-inch Full HD Plus display
- Runs all MS Windows programs
- 256 GB of storage
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n
- Built-in digital compass
- Up to 9 hours of battery life during web browsing
- 5.0 MP front- and rear-facing cameras, stereo microphones, and Dolby stereo speakers
- Windows 8.1 Pro operating system
- Built-in sensors include:
- Ambient light sensor
- Ports include:
- Full-size USB 3.0
- microSD™ card reader
- Headset jack
- Mini DisplayPort
- Cover port
- Surface pen included
- Compact at 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches and ultra-lightweight at 1.76 lbs.
- Sleek magnesium frame
- Great screen resolution
- Long battery life
- Replaces laptop and tablet
- Extremely thin and lightweight
- Could use more than one USB port
- Gets hot with intense use
- Pricey compared to basic laptops and convertibles
- Keyboard a little cramped
Top Mac Laptop: Apple MacBook Air MD712LL/B
Choosing the top Mac laptop is somewhat easier than the PC because there is only one brand and you just have to choose among the models. We chose the Apple MacBook Air MD712LL/B because it’s similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in price and configuration and is Apple’s newest effort at pushing the laptop envelope. We would like to use similar comparison points that we used for the PC laptop, but the MacBook Air (or no MacBook for that matter) is not convertible to a tablet and does not have a touchscreen.
Beyond that here are some of the great features of the Apple MacBook Air MD712LL/B.
Apple MacBook Air MD712LL/B Features
- 1.4 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache
- 4 GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory
- 11.6-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display
- Intel HD Graphics 5000
- 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
- Integrated HD 720p FaceTime camera
- OS X Mavericks
- Up to 9 hours of battery life
- New 802.11ac Wi-Fi support
- Thunderbolt port
- 2 – USB 3.0 ports
- MagSafe 2 power port
Measures 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.68 inches and weighs in at 2.38 lbs.
- Sleek design
- Solid State Drive really helps performance
- Keyboard feel is only adequate
- Plastic hinges feels like poor quality
- RAM not upgradable so opt for 8 GB
- Battery life not as advertised
Top Picks Comparison Chart
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