Laptop Buying Guide 2021

If you are looking to buy a new laptop in 2021, you would be confused with all the tech names you see online. Often times you would be confused to choose which chipset and processor, and what resolution screen and all you would want in your laptop. This simple guide will help you understand what’s going on in the Laptop and Computer world and help you buy a new laptop that suits your needs.

Which chipset/processor do I need to look for when buying a Laptop?

When you look to buy laptops online from Flipkart and Amazon.in, you would often see a lot of different generation Intel processors out there. To keep it simple, the newer the generation, the better and faster the processor is. As of this writing, the 11th Gen Intel processors are the latest and you can recognize them by looking at the names. For eg Core i5-1135G7. The first two digits after the i3 / i5 / i7 / i9 denote the generation. We still see many laptops from major manufacturers shipping with 10th Gen Intel processors as well.

We often see older 9th Gen Intel laptops on offer on Amazon.in and Flipkart. Even though they are not that bad, it is recommeded you get a laptop with newer 10th Gen and 11th Gen processors. The price difference won’t be that different, so it would be foolish to go with older gen models.

Apart from Intel, AMD makes some fantastic processors. In fact, in recent times, AMD has leapfrogged Intel in many areas. For eg, many of the chipsets from AMD are 7nm build while Intel still use the 10nm. They often have more cores as well. For eg the Ryzen 5900HX from AMD has 8 cores and supports 16 threads while most 11th Gen Core i7 chipsets are quad-core processors.

If you are buying AMD-based laptops, look for Ryzen 5000 Series of chipsets – eg Ryzen 5 5500U, Ryzen 7 5700U, Ryzen 9 5900HX, etc. Laptops with these chipsets are starting to arrive in India online. AMD 4000 Series chipsets are quite good as well – eg Ryzen 7 4700U, Ryzen 5 4500U, Ryzen 5 4600H etc.

Do i need a 4K UHD Screen in my Laptop ?

A Full HD resolution on a 15.6-inch screen is quite enough to have on a laptop. There are some laptops that come with a 4K UHD screen, which are often very expensive, and in my opinion a bit overkill. Stick with Full HD, or get a bit more resolution with a QHD display. Also, if you are not on a budget, look for laptops with touchscreen support. They are often a bit more expensive which is to be expected.

How much ram i need ? and What about Storage?

Avoid buying 4GB ram laptops in 2021. Get a laptop with a minimum of 8GB ram. A 16GB would be idle if you work with a lot of tabs open in Google Chrome or other browsers. Look at the specs to see if they are upgradable. Many laptops nowadays ship with the soldered ram. Some have an extra SO-DIMM slot to add more ram, while many don’t.

About storage, even though HDD laptops are cheaper, you should consider getting a laptop with SSD storage. Get one with a 512GB NVMe SSD. You can also look for laptops with hybrid storage – For eg 1TB HDD + 256GB/512GB SSD. Often times it is the storage drive that slows the system more than the ram. I have used laptops with 12GB+ Ram and 1TB HDD storage, and it took ages to boot. I swapped the HDD for a new SSD and it now boots and the performance is much much better. 512GB SSD won’t be enough if you download a lot of things, so If you want more storage to store a lot of files, I recommend you get a 4TB or more external drive.

Do i need a 144hz or 300hz refresh rate screen?

The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the visual experience is. A high refresh rate screen is often highly sought out by serious gamers. On a normal laptop, the refresh rate is 60hz or 75Hz, which is good enough for general purpose use. There are many laptops from Lenovo, Asus, etc with 144hz screens. You can also get a 300hz one like you see on the new Asus ROG Strix 15 / 17 2021 models. If you are a casual gamer and are not seriously into it, I recommend you still with the regular 60hz.

Do i need a graphics card ? If so which one should i buy ?

If you are a media professional, and you work a lot in Photo and Video editing on the move, you would want to get a good laptop with a good graphics GPU. Regular laptops use integrated GPUs like Intel Iris Xe, Iris Plus, Intel UHD, AMD Radeon etc, which are good enough for general purpose usage and casual editing. But if you are a Pro, or is a gaming addict, you will have to get a laptop with an Nvidia GPU.

Nvidia GTX 1650 and 1660 models are entry-level graphics cards. Then you have RTX 20 series like RTX 2060, 2070, 2080. Many high-end gaming laptops launched in 2020 came with RTX 2080 and 2070 GPUs. However, in 2021, Nvidia’s RTX 30 series – RTX 3060, RTX 3070, RTX 3080, and RTX 3090 – offer better performance than previous-generation models. Laptops with these new GPUs are starting to arrive in India. However, due to the global chip shortage, these laptops would go out of stock fast and are often much pricier than what they should be selling for.

WiFI and Bluetooth – Do i need the latest versions?

I would suggest you look for the WiFi 6 mentioned in the Laptop spec sheet. There are many laptops launching in 2021 shipping with older WiFi 5 networks. Don’t get me wrong here, you can perfectly browse the internet with WiFi 5 laptops, but it’s better to get a laptop with a newer tech as many routers support WiFi 6 networks.

There is also a new standard – WiFi 6E, which uses the less congested 6Ghz frequency offering better performance. However, there are only a very few laptops that have this now on board. A WiFi 6E router costs a lot as well. So let’s wait for another year for this new tech.to be added to the must-have in a Laptop list.

In the Bluetooth department, BT 5.0 and 5.1 are fine. Some newer laptops have newer Bluetooth 5.2 as well. Many budget Laptops still use the older BT 4.2. It’s better to go for a Laptop with a newer Bluetooth version to get the best out of the newer Bluetooth accessories.

General Purpose Laptops Specs – 2021 – What features you should look for ?

For general purpose Home and Office use, I would suggest you get a 10th Gen or 11th Gen Core i5 laptop with integrated Intel graphics. You can also get a Laptop with Hexa-core AMD Ryzen 4000 Series processor onboard which offers more value for the money. A 15.6 inch IPS screen with an anti-glare screen would be good. I recommend you avoid HD ( 720P ) and TN panel displays. Unless you work with colors, a 45% NTSC color gamut is OK, but if you find one with 100% sRGB at a good price, grab that. Look for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 or higher. For the operating systems, get one with Windows 10 Home – you don’t need Windows 10 Pro for your general use. A 3-cell 48whr battery or higher would be good to have as well. If you plan to do a lot of zoom calls and all, look for a 720P HD webcam and integrated array mics as well. An approximate price for a laptop with the above specs is between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000.

Check out the latest launches in Laptops and ongoing offers online on Amazon.in here.

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