Weekend Digest: The ultimate buyers guide for laptops—how to choose the best one and which ones you should buy
In search of a new laptop? We've got you covered. This weekend, we take a look at some of the many different laptops and offer tips on how to choose one. Read on to check out our laptop buyers guide and find the device that's right for you.
Walk into any Best Buy or similar retailer and you’ll stumble upon a vast department of computer products. What you’ll also find is a sea of laptops so large that makes it impossible to remember what each of them offers before you reach the end.
That’s largely what makes shopping for laptops so frustrating: with the plethora of wonderful options comes the curse of indecision. So how exactly are you supposed to choose the best one? Which out of this grand mountain of devices are you supposed to walk away with?
We’re here to help you with that today. This is our ultimate laptop buyers guide for fall 2021.
Define your needs and budget to decide
Since choosing a laptop from the endless selection available is so hard, it helps to try and narrow things down. We always recommend that you consider your unique needs and goals. This way, you can lock down what kind of laptop will be a better fit for you.
For example, if you require a machine for general work tasks, a business computer might be your target. Perhaps you’re an artist or content creator who needs a powerful enough system to run demanding high-performance software. You may also be a gamer who wants a laptop that can provide the specs necessary to stand up to your online opponents. Either way, these are factors you’ll want to take into consideration while shopping around.
Then, of course, we suggest setting some kind of parameters for your budget so you know what you can afford. Laptops can range dramatically in price, so it’s worth knowing ahead of time where you’re willing to spend more or sacrifice features to reach a fair balance between these things.
With these two factors worked out, you’ll be well on your way to picking out the absolute perfect laptop to reign supreme on top of your desk.
Choose between Apple and everything else
It’s worth pointing out that if you want or need a laptop capable of using programs exclusive to Apple, you’ll be limited to Apple products. If that doesn’t really apply to you, then the bright side is you have plenty of options still.
Of course, it also means your decision is that much more difficult. Whoops! No worries, though, because we’re about to get down to business. Ready to explore some laptops? Let’s go!
Pick an Apple laptop to meets your needs
Apple makes some seriously high-end machines that are popular and powerful. Even the least expensive one can sting your wallet. Thankfully, with so few options to choose between, your decision doesn’t have to be all that hard.
Take a look at the following MacBook Pros. It probably won’t take long to pick which best accommodates your needs (and budget).
Apple MacBook Pro (2021)
If you’re an Apple power user and want the absolute best of the best, you should check out the latest Apple MacBook Pro. It comes available in 13, 14, and 16-inch sizes, and the two larger models feature the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
They also have 10-core processing with 16 GPU cores. There are HDMI, Thunderbolt 4, and SD ports, along with a headphone jack and MagSafe 3 support. It even has 32 GB of unified memory. Of course, if that still isn’t enough, the larger more advanced model brings even higher specs to the table. That’s serious power.
You can get the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch from Apple for $1,200. The 14-inch and 16-inch models are also available on the official website for $1,999 and $2,499, respectively.
Game with power to annihilate competition
PC gaming can be particularly demanding. Oftentimes games (especially AAA-quality titles) require some heavy-duty computing to enjoy the way it was intended to be.
Because of this, these advanced gaming machines can also be rather pricey. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a range of affordability, though. Check out the following laptops and see if one can deliver the experience you seek while meeting your spending target.
This gaming-centered laptop has everything you need to kick some digital behind. It’s actually quite thin and includes Cryo-Tech heat dispersion technology, which helps balance and regulate core temperatures.
It also features an 11th-Gen Intel Core H-Series processor and Direct X raytracing. Not only that, but there’s also AlienFX stadium lighting and an option for a Cherry MX keyboard, though this applies to only the largest model.
You can get the Alienware X-Series gaming laptop from Dell starting at $2,218.99.
This nifty gaming laptop comes with an 11th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor and an effective, flexible keyboard. It also includes an incredibly fast refresh rate, which should go a long way during intense gaming sessions.
There’s even an enhanced cooling system to keep things from overheating. Best of all, the laptop is far more affordable, so you won’t have to feel so guilty about dropping your hard-earned money on it.
You can get the HP Victus 16.1-inch gaming laptop from the official website for $909.99.
Create content and art with the right tools
If you’re an artist or creative, there’s a good chance you use your computer to make content. If that sounds like you, it’s safe to say you need a laptop that can handle creative tasks and software.
Depending on what kind of content you make, you may want something heavier on graphics and processing power. Extra RAM will go a long way. These are just a couple things to consider, which the following laptops provide.
This exciting laptop from Microsoft is loaded with interesting features. It has a dynamic woven hinge that can bend to a full 180 degrees, and it uses the Windows 11 operating system.
It includes a 14.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen with a 120 Hz refresh rate. The keyboard features precision haptic feedback, and the entire device can turn into a tablet. It even has support for the Surface Slim Pen 2. This is a creative powerhouse that justifies its price tag.
You can get the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio from the official website for $1,512.99.
Another great laptop that’s perfect for creatives is this versatile option from Acer. It features Windows operating system with Intel Core i5 2.50 GHz quad-core processor and UHD graphics.
Included is a 14-inch LCD Full HD 1920 x 1080 display. With 8 GB of RAM and 256 drive capacity, this is a perfect economy workhorse that should rise to the challenge while you digitally express yourself.
You can find the Acer ConceptD 3 creative laptop on the official website for $999.99.
Work from your remote home office setup
Sometimes you don’t require a wildly advanced setup at all. However, you do need enough to handle business functions, Zoom calls, and other professional activities.
So what are a good couple of laptops that are perfect for your remote home office setup? Take a look at the following picks and see for yourself.
This fancy laptop is a great fit for any office setting. It includes Express Sign-In functionality with Windows Hello. It also features express charging. That way, you can charge a significant portion of the battery in a short amount of time.
It has a 13-inch screen and Intelligent Audio that works great for video conferences. There’s even built-in blue light reduction support to help reduce eye strain after long hours of office work.
You can get the Dell Latitude 7320 Detachable from the official website for $1,829.
This is a great option if you’re looking to fine-tune your business laptop purchase. The HP Envy 17 comes in a wide range of versions that offer a myriad of different spec types. For example, the least expensive model has 8 GB of RAM while the more expensive models double that. If you want a solid business laptop and know what kind of specs you need out of it, check out HP’s Envy 17 laptops.
You can find the HP Envy 17 laptop on the official website starting at $649.99.
Kick back and browse or watch videos
Lastly, there are those of us who don’t need much at all. If you aren’t looking for anything that can carry the weight of gaming or keep up with advanced creation software, you might just want something simple. The following are laptops that you can casually kick back with and enjoy browsing the internet or streaming videos.
How about a Samsung laptop with Wi-Fi 6E compatibility and 65 W fast charging? This handy laptop features a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 Full HD touchscreen display and 8 GB of RAM. The Galaxy Book also includes the 11th Gen Intel Core processor with Intel Iris XE Max graphics and weighs only 3.5 lbs.
You can get the Samsung Galaxy Book starting at $499.99.
Another great option for a general-use laptop is the Pavilion Aero by HP. It weighs only 2.2 lbs and is manufactured using sustainable materials. A full aluminum and magnesium housing makes the device significantly more durable.
The screen uses a 16:9 ratio and 2.5K resolution with 100% sRGB and a 90% screen-to-body ratio. How about the processor? The Aero 13 includes an AMD Ryzen 7 5800U processor with AMD Radeon graphics. Also, did we mention it has 10.5 hours of battery life? You just can’t beat it for an effective everyday laptop.
You can get the HP Pavilion Aero 13 from the official website for $549.99.
Decide on a laptop with confidence
If picking out a laptop is confusing or even overwhelming, trust us, we get it. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there to make that decision easier. Whether it’s a buyers guide like this one or a handful of product reviews, there’s no shortage of information available at your fingertips.
Even still, there are lots of other ways to help narrow your search. In fact, understanding what the purpose of your laptop purchase is all about can make all the difference.
For example, if you need your laptop for work because you’re a professional writer, things like keyboards might suddenly carry more meaning to you. Looking for a machine that’s entirely entertainment-focused? A gaming PC can always deliver.
Sometimes a brand preference is all it takes to influence your decision. Are you loyal to a certain company name? Maybe browse its website’s inventory.
Being invested in an existing platform’s ecosystem can be a huge factor, too, since having already put time and money into a platform’s exclusive content can be all the sway you need to keep you using it. In fact, Apple and Samsung are perfect examples of belonging to a platform that benefits users who stick with their products. It’s a small thing that’s absolutely worth your consideration.
All-in-all, we hope we’ve left you with more than enough suggestions and strategies while you shop for that perfect new laptop. Don’t forget to keep checking back with Gadget Flow in the meantime. We’re always updating our site with fantastic new gadgets and products. After all, whenever you get that laptop, you just might find a ton of cool accessories here too.
Have a suggestion for a great laptop you’d like to recommend to other readers? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
Check out our web story here.
The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe ➜