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Laptop Buying Guide

Everything you need to find a laptop you’ll love.

In this guide we cover the most important things to consider before buying a new laptop, along with all the information you need to make sure your new laptop does exactly what you want it to do.

If you still have questions or want to see the latest features and tech for yourself, why not call into your nearest store and speak to one of our colleagues, who will happily help you find the perfect laptop.

osOperating system

A laptop’s operating system determines the way the interface looks, how it works, and the types of software you can use. There are three main operating systems, each with their own benefits.

Windows 10

Windows is the most popular of the three main operating systems, so if you’ve used a PC before, chances are it ran on Windows.

Windows 10 has a familiar look and feel, with innovations in security, personalisation and productivity. It’s powerful yet easy to use, with all your files and important documents within easy access. If you’re looking for a new PC for university, gaming or creative computing, Windows is a great place to start.

  • Works with all your devices: Whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, 2 in 1 or PC, Windows works the same way. Navigation and finding files is simple, regardless of what device you’re using.
  • Windows 10 works with the software and hardware that you already own, so you don’t need to buy new programs or devices.
  • Throughout the supported lifetime of your device you’re protected against viruses, malware and phishing attacks.
  • The gamer’s choice: Windows has the most games available and is the only real choice for a gaming PC.
  • If you’ve never used a PC before, it can take a while to learn the layout and navigation.

OS X

OS X is an operating system exclusive to Apple computers. It features a clear desktop layout that’s focused on ease-of-use and stability. If you’re new to computing or prefer simple navigation, OS X is a good choice.

  • Works with all your Apple devices: OS X is designed to work flawlessly with other Apple devices, so if you have an iPhone or iPad transferring files, contacts and apps between them is simple. They share a similar layout too, so you’ll be much more at home and find navigation easier.
  • Ideal for design: Some of the most popular design software, such as Photoshop and InDesign, is optimised for OS X and can give you improved stability and performance.
  • Some popular software and accessories aren’t compatible with OS X, so if you want to use a specific piece of software or accessory, you may need to find an alternative.

Chrome OS

Chrome OS is a web-focused operating system that’s designed to get you to your online content as quickly and as easily as possible.

Anything unnecessary has been removed, making it ideal for people that want a simple way to get online.

  • Easy web-access: Chrome OS makes it easy to get online and to your documents – ideal for web-based computing
  • Google Play: Chrome OS is the only operating system to give you access to over 1 million apps – Google Play is the same app store used by Android smartphones and tablets
  • Most PC software isn’t compatible with Chrome OS, so it isn’t a great choice for anything other than web-based computing

laptopsTypes of laptops

There are different types of laptops to suit different people and uses – have a look at the varieties below to see which one suits you best.

Windows laptops

Windows laptops are available in a huge variety of different specifications. From great-value laptops for college work to powerful workstations for media editing, there’s a Windows laptop to help you get things done.

2 in 1

A 2 in 1 combines the best of a laptop and tablet in one device. You can type notes, essays and reports using the keyboard and then transform the 2 in 1 into a tablet in seconds for browsing the web or watching a film. All 2 in 1s run on Windows 10, so whatever you would normally use your laptop for, a 2 in 1 can make it easier.

MacBooks

MacBooks look great and are ideal for everything from browsing the web to graphics design. They’re constructed from premium materials and feature Apple’s exclusive OS X operating system. If you’re looking for a laptop with distinctive styling and enough power to run demanding software quickly and easily, a MacBook is ideal.

Gaming laptops

Gaming laptops are focused on performance. They feature the powerful processors and dedicated graphics cards needed to run today’s most demanding games. Like normal Windows laptops they’re available in a variety of different specifications, so whether you’re just getting into PC gaming or want the most powerful laptop possible, we have you covered.

Chromebooks

Chromebooks are designed to get you online as easily as possible. They feature the stripped-back Chrome OS operating system that makes navigation simple, making them a great choice if your daily computing is entirely web-based. They’re the only laptops with access to Google Play (the same app store used by Android phones), so you have access to over a million apps along with music, films, and books.

processorsProcessor

The processor is the brain of your laptop. Whenever you move the mouse, open a program, or load a file the processor makes it happen. On our product pages we give you all the information necessary to decide whether a processor is powerful enough for your needs.

How many cores do I need?

Every laptop we sell has at least a dual-core processor. This allows it to handle several things at once so you can move quickly between different windows, with more apps and tabs running at once. Quad-core processors are great for running demanding software quickly, such as photo editing and music production programs. Modern creative software is optimised to run best with multi-core setups.

What is the clock speed?

This is measured in GHz, and determines how fast the processor runs. A higher clock speed means your laptop can load software and files faster and that it will run smoother during normal use.

Some processors feature Turbo Boost (Intel®) or Turbo Core (AMD) technology, which increases the speed of the processor to match the task at hand. This means the laptop consumes less power during light computing tasks, which reduces power consumption and increases battery life.

What is the Memory cache?

Before tasks are managed by the processor, they queue up in the memory cache. A bigger memory cache allows the processor to work through demanding tasks quickly. You only really need to worry about this if you plan on running professional-level creative software like Cubase or Photoshop – if you are, look for 4 MB and over.

Should I choose an Intel® or AMD processor?

All of our laptops come with either Intel® or AMD processors. If you’re looking for an everyday PC for browsing the web and typing essays, there isn’t really much difference between the two brands. Instead, make sure the laptop you choose has the screen size, hard drive capacity and design to suit the way you work. If you’re more focused on performance, here are the pros and cons of both processor brands:

Intel™ processors are typically more powerful than their AMD counterparts. If you’re looking for pure performance, a quad-core Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processor is the ideal choice. These processors feature Hyper-Threading technology, which allows them to double the amount of information they can handle at once. For example, a quad-core processor with Hyper-Threading gives the performance of an eight-core processor, which is perfect for running complicated software or the latest PC games at their best.

Most of AMD’s processors are known as accelerated processing units (APU). An APU combines a processor and graphics card in one chip, so you can enjoy great-quality visuals without the need for a dedicated graphics card. If you love watching films on the go or are looking for a great-value laptop capable of occasional photo editing, an AMD-powered laptop is worth considering.

What is the right processor for me?

Intel Processors AMD Processors Perfect for
Atom Lightweight and highly portable devices
Celeron / Pentium E1 / A4 Great value home computing
Core™ i3 A6 / A8 Quick, reliable everyday performance
Core™ M Fast, responsive processing for the thinnest and most portable laptops ever made
Core™ i5 (dual-core) A8 / A10 The ideal combination of fast performance and efficiency for most users
Core™ i5 (quad-core) A10 Black Edition Gaming, creating and working without restriction
Core™ i7 High performance processing, for serious gaming, professional media creation and business computing
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