Choosing a... Laptop
A basic laptop costing around £300 will run everyday office, multimedia and education software, but it won’t be suitable for 3D gaming or processor-intensive tasks such as video editing. Many laptops at this price have a 15.4in screen and weigh around 2.4kg, so they’re best used around the house and for occasional journeys.
If you want to play modern games, you’ll need a laptop with a dedicated graphics chip such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060M. Good gaming laptops tend to have large 17in screens and weigh around 3kg, so they’re best suited to use at home.
If you want a laptop that you can take everywhere, look for a model that weighs less than 2kg. For the best portability, buy one that has an 11in or 13in screen. In general, the smaller and lighter the laptop, the more expensive it is, especially if it has plenty of processing power.
Battery life is extremely important for a laptop, particularly if you’ll be carrying it around. We’d expect all but the biggest and heaviest to last for at least five hours on a single charge, but for an ultraportable that you carry everywhere, eight hours and above is more desirable.
Laptops use mobile versions of processors to conserve power, and these lag behind desktop chips when it comes to performance. For a budget Windows laptop, an Intel Core i3 processor will do the job, but if you want better performance, you should look for an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 model instead. We recommend a minimum of 4GB of RAM, although 8GB is better for multitasking.
Most budget and mid-range laptops use a mechanical hard disk for storage. You’ll want at least 500GB, but 1TB or more is better. Solid-state drives (SSDs) have faster performance, making your computer quicker to boot and more responsive. They have lower capacities, though. You’ll need at least 128GB.
Netbooks are a type of small, low-cost ultra-portable laptop. They’re fine for light use, but avoid them if you want to do complicated tasks.