You know how in an African home, if you are studying engineering then you are the person who’ll fix the toilet, transformer and maybe the broken roof because “that’s why you went to school.. ” I studied computer science and anytime a family member, Cracks their Phone screen, Crashes a laptop, discovers a virus, just doesn’t feel like typing: Guess who is called to help? Yes!! Me!!!
We all know that laptop repairs and maintenance aren’t in any schools computer science curriculum but my parents don’t exactly seem to care… so here I am.. Lol. I try not to complain too much because if I’m being honest, This has done me more good than harm. Because of this, I became quite proficient in IT Operations and just anything Tech related. I am also great at recommending devices for people based on their IT needs.
I have decided to share a guide I use when recommending laptops and what everyone needs to know before buying a PC. Funny enough, it just dawned on my that I don’t own a laptop. Hmmn.. that needs to change.
Let’s get to it. To get a laptop you need to ask some basic questions:
- What do you need it for/ what do you want to use it for: This determines everything. it determines the size, the spec, the quality etc. A regular laptop cannot be used for high-end gaming. You need a different spec of Laptop if you plan to be a DJ or If you need it for your final year project.
- Then consider your budget: So that you don’t carry gbese ontop laptop. This just means don’t go bankrupt trying to buy a device. What’s your budget? How much Cash are you willing to spend? Don’t forget that apart from purchase costs, there are alternate costs to maintaining a PC like replacing a charger etc. There are banks that offer financing schemes for laptops and devices, would you be interested in this?
- How long do you plan to have it: Some People say you should use a Laptop for 2 years, others say 4 years. Don’t let brands dictate this to you. How long do you personally intend to use your device for? Devices have a lifespan and for most that end at 5 years. I don’t advice you use any device for that long TBH. How long you plan to use a device for will determine the quality and brand to purchase.
- Your Location: Brands and OEMs bring in laptops based on local consumer behaviour, demands, regulations, etc. just because you saw a sweet laptop in the USA doesn’t mean you can use it in Nigeria, the language on the OS can be different, the keyboard arrangement can also be different, you might also not have a warranty.
- Look and Feel: Laptops come in different sizes, with different displays, screen sizes and resolutions, you shouldn’t go and buy one that the screen shines like halogen bulb when you know you are as blind as a bat. I kid. Field Engineers need a ruggedized laptop some laptops also come with glare protection and some don’t, so will you be using this under the sun or at night (then you need a backlit keyboard)? You need to take things like these into consideration.
Also put these into consideration
- Deals: Beware of deals that sound too good to be true? is someone advertizing a laptop to you for NGN 30k only? watch out!! it’s probably second-hand, refurbished or it doesn’t have all the specs advertised. Buy only from reputable retailers so you know who to hold accountable for discrepancies.
- Ports and peripherals: Don’t go for an extra thin laptop because of aesthetics when you know your school still shares lecture notes in CDs or you need to project presentations every week. Manufacturers sacrifice laptop ports for thinness, so look well and get a PC that works with your situation.
- Touchscreen laptops might be a tad expensive but offer a better experience. Macbooks don’t have touchscreens at the moment.
- D.O.S PCs: this means empty/naked Laptop. This PC doesn’t come with an operating system. Please and please except you are an advanced system administrator who plans to install Linux, or your personal Operating system, Never buy a dos Machine. People buy them to put in pirated software which is very harmful to use. Hackers monitor what you do when you connect to the Internet from a pirated software and they could steal important information. Make sure that you check that your Operating system is genuine when you buy your system.
- Mac or PC: For Nigeria, because of most of the programs available for use and cost of maintenance, I recommend a PC. there are states in Nigeria where no one knows how to fix a Macbook. A lot of the software available are also made for windows. But if the applications you use really require a MacBook (advanced video editing maybe) then pls get one.
- Service centres: Always find out about the closest service centre to you as soon as or before you buy your laptop
- Security: Are you moving around or not? do they steal very well in your area or do you have nosey siblings or you need to do some private work? do you need a desktop so nobody will steal it or encryption software or fingerprint login?
- Warranty: all laptops should come with at least 1 years warranty except its grey, or pirated. always ask for your warranty card or confirm your warranty.
- Processor: The processor is almost like the brain of your laptop. Get educated about it.
The cheapest laptop may not be the best but You might also not need a very expensive laptop to do what you want to do.
You see now that budget is not the only thing you need to consider when purchasing a PC.
Things/terms you need to know
These are terms that from my experience, get a lot of people confused or frustrated with Laptops. I have tried to break it down as much as I can.
RAM: Read Access Memory: this determines how fast programs start-up on your computer. Think about it like a temp flash drive. 1 GB ram can only run 1gb of applications and activities in its memory before it gives up or starts to make your computer freeze, same with 2gb. for ultimate peace of mind, go with a minimum of 4gB Ram. if your RAM is too small, you will be able to multi-task well neither will you enjoy your PC.
ROM: Read Only Memory: this is the permanent storage that comes with your laptop. The laptops hard disk. here you have the choice of SSD or HDD: while SSD is quieter, lighter and faster, it is smaller and quite expensive for manufacturers. You’ll most likely see HDD because it’s cheaper and bigger. SSD usually comes in 32-64GB while HDD comes in 500GB-1 terabyte. Pick your choice, based on the space you need. You can do a minimum of 500GB so you don’t start looking for external hard drives in 6 months.
GHZ: Gigahertz: The ghz of a laptop determines how fast it is. Technically a 2.5ghz laptop should be faster than a 2.0ghz laptop, but in reality, we see that it’s affected by other factors. It looks like this competes with the RAM up there but they all work together. The speed is also influenced by the type of processor.
Cores: processors come in Cores. This is when you see dual-core, quad crore laptops. Dual-core means 2 cores, Quad means 4. In the simplest term, when you run a program, it runs on a core. The more cores you have the more programs you can run simultaneously. It gets more complex but this is the basic explanation. Processor Cores also come in different types. For Intel, It is Core i7: quite expensive, for power users and the highest, for now, core i5: a little bit lower, then core i3: before we see Celeron, Pentium etc. These i3,i5 are also made up of cores and some extra technology but that’s not for this basic class. For example,
- a dual-core, core i3 computer = 2.5 GH fast with 2 sets of core i3
- a quad-core, core i3 computer = 2.5 GH fast with 4 sets of core i3
Battery Life: a trick some people swear by is ‘the smaller the screen of a laptop the longer the batter life‘. I don’t know about this o. it makes sense since smaller screens might use less power, but a bigger battery technically equals a bigger laptop. Of course, bigger processing power and higher resolutions take more battery. Just make sure you know the MilliAmps of your laptop battery. Its usually on the battery itself or the carton. Battery life is directly influenced by usage.
Screen Resolution: The more pixels, the sharper the pictures on your screen. 1,366×768 pixels (HD) should be your minimum, with 1,920×1,080 (Full HD) usually being ideal. here’s a breakdown
- HD: 1366 x 768 basic computing tasks not very fantastic but very ok.
- HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
- Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
- Retina display: 2304 x 1440, 2560 x 1600 and 2880 x 1800 resolutions are found in Apple’s 12″, 13.3″ and 15.6″ laptop displays, respectively.
- QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
- 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 resolution for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.
Video cards and speakers: you don’t have so much to worry about here except you are a power computer user or audio editor of which this post is not for you. :). Most Laptops have pretty Okish video cards and audio outputs.
I’ll stop here so I don’t lose you. I really hope you get these terms with the understanding that they are not so difficult and that this post really helps someone. Let me know your thoughts below. I won’t call myself an expert, this post is mostly from my own experience so if you find any mistake(s) kindly call out.
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