Laptop Understandings in 2021

by | Sep 15, 2021 | 0 comments

Computers in general are still a complex beast as we add more capabilities of what they can do and less of what they can’t. However, when you don’t need all that “extra” today with zero plans of moving towards that extra in the future, then perhaps you need a quick refresher on Laptops.

Generally, the recommended idea here is if you plan to have 1 dedicated computer in your home or office, you will want it to be a desktop. The simple reason is that you would always have the way you want for a computer right there, and generally, it’s a bit more powerful than typical with the chance to upgrade. Unless of course, you get a prebuild from a manufacture, then that chance of upgrade can lessen.

But in the mobility element, you may come to this decision because you frequently go outside the confines of your Desktop which is either because your work requires it or just trying to separate personal and work, or you may need one for your child for school reasons.

Chromebooks are decent pieces of laptops as long as you’re either 100% online (on Chrome or similar browsers) or that there are compatible apps for your needs in the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, we stop there because when you get to doing Zoom calls as an example, you may find that they can’t work that well, especially if you have multiple people in the same call. It isn’t an issue on your end in many cases or what you bought in terms of hardware as there aren’t many options for the devices. Sometimes depending on the mobile phone, they too can have issues unless you’re on the high-end phone devices.

Macbooks can run well depending on your preferences. Now the only problem with new ones today is that they use ARM CPUs instead of x86 or x86_64 CPUs. What is the difference? Well in simple terms, it’s the language. Think of x86 as English and ARM as Spanish. Two completely different languages with certain grammar rule changes between each. That is what ARM CPUs are. Apple has provided a translation layer to run x86 which is similar to the idea of having a translator for someone who only speaks Spanish, but that doesn’t mean the performance is as good. Also, whatever you purchase meant for Windows machines may not be available without repurchasing on Mac and same vice-versa. And if ongoing support is what you seek, you may be limited on whom to go to. Even we here at Whispering Dragons can provide so much support on Macs, but ultimately, Apple makes the rules.

Then there are Windows-based laptops. The wonders of the land that has a plethora of different types. What you may use however differs depending on your needs. Make no mistake, just about any Windows-based laptop can work. But getting the one you need to work is a different story. Lets elaborate.

Up until 2016, it was known that if you need fast, you talk with any Salesfloor rep at some store selling a computer, and they bring you to some device with Intel in it for around $1400 or more because it has more bells and whistles, but you got your fast speed. For the most part, that was true as there are few things you can do to make them better.

Even during the lockdowns, your options weren’t limited, but your methods were. But with the chip shortages, it is unsurprising that whatever brand you did go to, may not have something you like, or if it did, it could be 2 or more weeks before it even gets shipped unless you just went with the deal happening at a store. And we’re now at a weird point that most laptops on the consumer front made before 2018 may not even work with Windows 11 all because of a hardware requirement.

So ideally if going new, here is what you should consider:
1. If you are going to be on frequent video calls for work or school reasons, perhaps go ahead and skip the Chromebooks until at least next year (where maybe the newer model will handle that).
2. If you’re gonna go with a Mac-based laptop, consider if it’s also going to work with your entire infrastructure. I don’t just mean if it will work with your iPhone, I also mean with all your programs.
3. When not going with Chromebooks or Macbooks, consider the CPU.
(a) For most needs today, you may be fine with an i5 or i7 long term on the 11th gen. An i5-11400H should be more than enough for a while, but you could go for a 11500H for the V Pro extra security.
(b) If you are finding yourself on AMD’s platform, not everyone will need a Ryzen PRO (But they do help). But if you want a number to work with, as long as it’s at minimum the 4000 series, but preferably the 5000 series (i.e. Ryzen 5 4500U or Ryzen 3 5400U). Of the newest gen, a Ryzen 3 5400U is minimum, but a Ryzen 5 5600U should be even better, if not just for the graphics power, especially if you plan to be hooking it up to a 4K Display.
(c) Unless you’re gaming, there are not many compelling arguments to go with an AMD Ryzen 7 or an Intel i7 at this time.
(d) As far as the variants outside of the ones named here, if you’re wondering if the names of the CPU having “HK” or “M” or “HS” matter, they do, but often don’t pertain to you much. But for reference:
▪ “HS” on AMD CPUs will have more power use but will mean more performance so you sacrifice a little bit of battery power.
▪ “H” on AMD CPUs will use more power than the “HS” use but will add more performance. Typically this will only really matter on gaming level laptops.
▪ “HX” on AMD CPUs means that they use about the same amount of power as H or HS, but can also be overclocked. Usually will matter for a gamer looking to squeeze the performance at the expense of lack of battery life.
▪ “M” on Intel CPUs is normally just meaning “Mobile” variant.
▪ “HK” on Intel CPUs just normally means you wish to overclock, like the HX on AMD CPUs. Usually for a gamer.
▪ “G7” on Intel CPUs just usually means it’s gonna be minimum power with as much burst in performance as it can get, but will be limited to 4 cores and 8 threads. It will work, for anything still, but expect them to also up the price a bit.
4. Storage is also key. Sometimes to cut the price, they may offer you a laptop that isn’t as slim as the ones that are for $200 more, but it might also be because they gave them a Hard Disk Drive or HDD instead of a Solid-State Drive or SSD. In most cases, if it says something like “1 TB HDD” then try to look elsewhere or you will think I’m lying to you on performance. In most cases, the Storage CAN BE UPGRADED as the worst-case scenario even if it is a little extra down the road.
5. Touch screen may not be as fluent as some of the mobile phones at times, but that also depends on the screen itself. Generally, there isn’t much point in a touch screen unless you plan to actively use it. But if you’re going very budget-oriented, leaving this out could save you $100 or more on cost.
6. If at all possible (and this will be harder), make sure your memory is not only at least 16 GB, but also with at least 2 memory modules. This could say “2×8 GB” or could say “Dual Channel”. At least you then are more future proof per se as the need for online access arises. Some will say 8GB is fine, but since many people prefer to use Google Chrome, well you may as well understand that Chrome loves memory so the more you have, the better off you will be. Especially since many CPUs with built-in Graphics Cards will take a part of the memory. Thus, your 8GB of RAM could actually be 6GB or less after the memory gets its dedicated amount. Also, memory is not always upgradable depending on the brand and the type, so you may be better off with going for 16GB now instead of later.
7. Brand could be important at times. Typically, we have found if you go with HP, depending on the cost, you may be looking to replace that HP within 2 years. Sometimes, a simple wipe and install from scratch may fix any little problems you were having with them. Sometimes they won’t. But typically, they are the most found laptops for anything. If possible, we suggest Lenovo, Dell, Asus, or HP. Usually in that order with Asus and HP being fairly equal. If you’re going for MSI, then you are looking for a gaming system that may not be bad, but unless you plan to game on it more, you probably don’t need that hardware.
8. And finally, this may be a good time to check whether you can obtain a Sim Card reader if you need to connect to cell phone towers for your internet. Obviously, this is a “check with your provider” scenario, but if you need to connect online on the go, maybe that will be your best bet instead of WiFi if you are that Internet-driven.

Remember, when you’re not sure, we can be around for narrowing down for business needs, but sometimes if you are just that person that absolutely needs to do it themselves, hopefully, this helps you along with your needs.