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How to buy a laptop

Processor (CPU)

The processor or CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain of your laptop. Single-core processors are ideal for basic tasks like browsing the web. Dual-core processors are designed to let you simultaneously multitask with basic applications without slowing down your computer. Quad-core and Hexacore processors rival some desktop computers in performance, allowing you to simultaneously run graphics-hungry 3D games, processor-crushing video editing applications, and seamlessly play HD media content.

Memory (RAM)

Random access memory (RAM), also known as system memory , provides space for your computer to process data to help applications run efficiently. If you have less than 2GB of RAM, you might find that the more you try to multitask, the slower your machine performs. Everyday use will require less power than intense gaming or photo editing, and you don’t want to pay for RAM that you won’t use. We recommend at least 2GB of RAM for basic tasks, while lightning-fast multitasking and more intensive applications require 8GB of RAM or more.

Data Storage Capacity

Documents, software, vacation photos, movie collections, music files, and games can take up a large amount of space on a laptop's hard drive. Accordingly, opt for a laptop with at least 500GB of storage space. A solid state drive (SSD), although a bit more expensive, can help a laptop boot up faster, wake up more quickly after sleep mode, and reduce load-up times for games and other programs. For example, a game that typically takes 20 to 30 seconds to load may come up in 10 seconds or less with a SSD.

Connection Type

A wired connection refers to built-in ports on your laptop such as speaker jacks, USB ports, and HDMI input. Wireless connections allow you to connect to just about anything from your mouse, external speakers, to a printer. A wireless connection offers amore flexibility without being tethered to cables. The most common wireless technologies include WiFi (wirelessly browse the web), Bluetooth (wirelessly connect peripherals), WiDi (wirelessly transfer your laptop screen to a TV), and DLNA (wireless transfer content through a network).


The screen size of your laptop will influence your viewing experience and determine how easy it is to carry around. A small screen size will make your laptop lighter and more compact, perfect for people on the go. A larger screen will make a laptop heavier, but give you plenty of room to work and play. If you watch lots of movies, play games, or need the desktop real estate, a 15” or 17” laptop is recommended, but it won’t be as portable as an 11” or 13” model.

Want to learn more about laptops?

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Take Life on the Go with a Laptop

For life on the go, a laptop can keep up with your demands wherever you are. With the functionality of a desktop computer packed into a portable device, a laptop lets you connect to the web, watch movies, play games, edit photos and so much more. Whether you’re looking for a standard laptop, 2 in 1laptop or Ultrabook, Best Buy has a wide selection from ASUS, Samsung, HP, Toshiba and Apple to suit your needs.


The processor is the brain of the laptop, interpreting and performing all its commands. Intel and AMD both make processors that are tailor-made for different needs—from basic tasks like sending emails to demanding ones like 3D games. To ensure you’ve got the right processor for your needs, consider individual specs like number of cores, overclockability and speed.

Screen Size and Resolution

Size matters when it comes to laptops. A larger screen will likely make the device heavier but will give you plenty of room to work and play. A smaller screen size will make it lighter and more compact, perfect for taking on the go. Most laptops have a screen resolution of at least HD 720p (1280 x 720), but to make the most of your entertainment, Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution is ideal.

Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks

Coined by Intel, Ultrabooks are essentially thin and lightweight laptops with high performance that’ll breeze through a variety of tasks. Because of their slimness, they’re not usually equipped with extras like optical drives, but offer ultraportability for those on the go. Windows 10 touchscreen Ultrabooks feature the touch capabilities of a tablet, so you can swipe, tap and pinch your way through pages. Ultrathin laptops like HP’s Sleekbook boast the super-slim design of an Ultrabook but have slightly different specs to a true Ultrabook.

2 in 1 and Hybrid Laptops

A 2 in 1 (also called convertible or hybrid laptop) combines the functionality of a laptop with the convenience of a tablet. Equipped with both a touchscreen and a keyboard, a convertible laptop can transform from laptop to tablet in various ways—by folding back, rotating or detaching the screen, depending on the model. A 2 in 1 is perfect when you want both a laptop and a tablet without having to buy two separate devices.

Want more info about laptops? Check out some of our resources:

Laptop Buying Guide

Best laptops for 2017


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