Laptop buying guide: 6 essential tips

Laptop buying guide: 6 essential tips

Here’s what to look for if you want to buy the best laptop possible.

Woman laptop coffee shop

There's a wide variety of sizes, features and prices, which makes choosing the right laptop a challenge. That's why you need to figure out what your needs are. 

Use our guide to help you make the right choice.

1. Size

Yes, size does matter. Before you look at specs or pricing, you need to figure out just how portable you need your laptop to be. With most people always on the go, if portability is your main concern, then you need to consider a laptop that has a small-ish screen and lightweight to carry. The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 2 to 3kg. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you're not planning to carry your laptop around often.

2. Screen quality

You’ll be staring at your laptop for many hours every day, so you want to make sure you get a screen that is comfortable to look at. If your laptop stays on your desk all day, a 17- or 18-inch system will likely provide everything you need for work and play ( The 12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability.  Wondering what would work for the kids? Larger screens are fine if you don't travel much and smaller models are great for kids.

3. Keyboard quality

For long typing sessions, you must get a laptop that has a comfortable keyboard. Most laptops tend to use island-style keyboards (keys in the shape of small squares with rounded corners and straight sides), with extra spacing between the keys. Think about the core purpose of your laptop (so will you be using it for work all day or for university or just when you need to browse the web and connect with friends on Facebook), this will help you decide on the comfortability and functionality of the keyboard. Remember, you don’t want to spend hours trying to find the space bar.

4. Battery life

The size and power of a laptop affect how much room there is in the body for a battery. The thinner the laptop, the smaller the battery. Eight hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all. If you decide you want a 2-in-1 (shares characteristics of both tablets and laptops), note that the bendable versions usually have far better battery life than the detachable options. 

5. RAM

If you are not planning on storing all your files in the cloud somewhere, you need 4GB of RAM or more to get the best out of your system. According to, more RAM allows for more applications to be run at the same time, and for more data to be quickly accessible by the system at any one time, which comes in handy for tasks such as editing photos, making those special family movies or running that sideline home business.

6. Ports

There are several ports to consider. Most computers come standard with a USB port, but you also need to consider what other functions you would like from your laptop. Do you want HDMI to output video to a TV? Do you need an SD card slot for downloading digital camera photos to your laptop? Will you need a spot for your headphones for those private Skype sessions and Youtube videos? Will you need an Ethernet port for internet or will a laptop's built-in WiFi connection be enough?

Your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it. May is electronics month on the ECR shop. The Mecer Xpress Executive is the best of both worlds. Get all the functionality of a notebook with the mobility of a tablet. We have an exclusive bundled deal of the 2-in-1 tablet together with the aluminium tablet PC tilt stand, 5 port USB power charger and 6 months subscription to MyCybercare. All this for just R 3 915. *Available while stocks last and includes free delivery.

ALSO READ: 6 tips for better online shopping

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