General Question

2davidc8's avatar

I'm in the market for a new laptop. What features do you consider absolutely necessary?

Asked by 2davidc8 (10189points) April 27th, 2020

My laptop is 8 years old. It still works, and I’m glad it’s lasted this long. But now I’m looking to buy a new one, preferably a 15”. I think 13” is too small, and 17” or 19” probably too heavy.
I’m sure that by now many cool new features are available. Which ones do you consider essential?

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22 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

How are you going to use it? That makes a big difference.

If it’s for gaming, you want a lot of memory and a high end processor. If it’s for email and web surfing, speed doesn’t matter as much.

If you download a lot of files, get one with a larger hard drive (not a SSD, which are smaller).

It really depends on you. Note- very few laptops come with CD/DVD drives these days. You have to really look for them.

2davidc8's avatar

I realize that I should elaborate. BTW, I will consider a 17” if it’s a good fit for me.

I want lots of storage but am not interested in gaming. OK, if the laptop is not upgradable, hardware-wise. I won’t be doing stuff like adding memory, storage, etc. I’ll just buy a new one. (Next time I won’t wait so long. :-))

I notice that laptops these days do not come with an optical drive anymore. I’ve got lots of CDs and DVDs. What to do? Can I get an external optical drive? That would be OK with me.

What’s the diff between USB-C and Thunderbolt?

Thanks for your advice.

elbanditoroso's avatar


- you can still find laptops with CD/DVD drives, you just need to look a little more for them. An external (USB) optical drive is a perfectly acceptable alternative, particularly if the laptop is going to sit in one place.

- SSD (Solid State Disk) computers are a bit faster, but most laptops, they max out at 256 or 512 GB. You can still find lots of laptops with 1TB or even 2 TB hard drives.

I don’t know about Thunderbolt.

I just bought a laptop about 3 months ago – I recommend Newegg ( because they have a really good search/narrowing interface, and they represent a lot of different manufacturers. Give them a look

Tropical_Willie's avatar

What brand of laptop do you own now? If it is Apple you have programs on your laptop that will only work on an Apple.

2davidc8's avatar

A little more detail…
In addition to web surfing and all the usual office stuff (Word, Excel, PPT), I’d like to do photo and video editing (a la Photoshop, etc.), and audio file editing. I need lots of storage space for documents, photos, videos, audio files, etc.
Video conferencing (Zoom, etc.)
Multi-tasking (i.e., several apps open at the same time)
No Apple. I’m looking for a Windows laptop.
How many and what kind of ports do I need?

Cupcake's avatar

Solid state hard drive
As lightweight as possible

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Get the best processor you can get, solid state hard drive and discreet video card.
Also a fair amount of memory is a good thing but you can upgrade that later.

elbanditoroso's avatar

A discrete one is more useful, @lucillelucillelucille

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@elbanditoroso -Your correction was not very discreet!:P

SEKA's avatar

I’m mostly a web surfer who prefers to store a lot of crap on my computer. I have tons of good music that I’ve collected over the years and I have tons of family photos that can’t be replaced. So a large HDD of at least 1 or 2 TB is mandatory for me at this point in time. I’ve also discovered that having up to 16 GB of memory is more necessary that it used to be. I’ve recently purchased an HP Envy X360 that met both of my listed needs. Sadly, it doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive but I solved that with a quick shopping excursion on Amazon. Out of extreme paranoia, I also purchased a 4 GB external hard drive to keep a backup of my 2 TB hard drive on my laptop. Another good thing with the Envy is that it folds back to also make a tablet. I used that feature a lot when I first bought it, but not near as much now. When in tablet mode, you have an on screen keyboard that I find annoying. When I bought mine, they offered an Intel i5 or i7 processor. The i7 didn’t cost that much more than the i5 so I decided to opt for the i7. My husband insists that I always choose an Intel over the AMD processor, so that has always been prominent in my mind.

Zaku's avatar

Personally, I want it to be able to run Linux (and not to be a PITA to do that), and to have a lot of RAM and an SSD. Those tend to affect processor speed more than RAM. At least one USB 3.0 port. Ideally 3+ USB ports.

Caravanfan's avatar

It totally and completely depends on what you want to use it for. There is no reason to spend more for extra RAM or a high speed processor if you’re just going to do basic stuff. I do more than just basic stuff so I need more horsepower. You can spend anywhere between $400 and $4000.

Also, no need for an SSD if you’re just going to regular stuff. High capacity SSDs are expensive.

The CD/DVD issue is easily solved by an external drive plugged into a USB drive.

I’ve had generally good luck with Lenovo laptops.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Are you sure you need a new one? If you have not upgraded your current hard drive to a SS drive and given it sufficient RAM then you may find you’re not quite ready to put it out to pasture yet if you do those cheap upgrades. SSDs have come down in price and the performance gains are profound. You don’t need a huge one usually. If you need more space you can just get an external drive case for your old standard drive if you have one in your machine now.

My laptop is a ten year old macbook pro running Linux and virtual box for Windows 10 so I can get the driver support. Other than the SSD and new battery it’s still rocking just fine.

If it’s your only machine I could see wanting something new though. Biggest thing is don’t cheap out on a budget laptop. What Large companies issue out to their employees as business class machines are usually dependable and capable for everyday use. They’re still hit or miss but all the budget Walmart machines are miss regardless of the name slapped on them. It’s not hard to find a good business class laptop on say Newegg for less than a thousand. They sell off lease machines that are a few years old for just three or four hundred dollars too. I have a couple of those for myself (work machine) and my wife and they have been tough, reliable workhorses.

jca2's avatar

Touch screen is what I got with my most recent netbook purchases. My current one is a Lenovo, bought from Costco online. Most things at Costco online you don’t have to be a member to purchase. I don’t do much other than internet, email and stream shows.

dabbler's avatar

I’d want an HDMI output so that I can share the screen with a TV to play netflix while traveling.

2davidc8's avatar

A big thank you to all who responded!
BTW, by “several apps open at the same time”, I mean that I can imagine having Word, Excel, a browser with YouTube, Dropbox, Skype or Zoom, TurboTax, Audacity, and maybe Photoshop all open and switching back and forth among them. Does adding this information change things?

I think that HDMI and USB-A would be important, but what about USB-C or Thunderbolt? How many?

Also, I’m leaning against a 2-in-1 if it’s already a touchscreen. If it’s a touchscreen, using it in tablet mode would be pointless, no? And I think 2-in-1’s would probably be heavier.

Your opinions?

2davidc8's avatar

Oh, one more question:

Should I stick with the big 3 makers, HP, Dell, or Lenovo, or are others like Asus and Acer worth considerting?

Reliability is important to me.

dabbler's avatar

I would add the Microsoft surface for consideration.
Asus and Acer make good hardware but check reviews as some of their systems are great but
others not so much.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Depends on what you are wanting to spend.

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