Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Buying a Laptop on a Tight Budget : A quickfire guide for dummies

- Bibhu Krishna Talukdar.


A laptop means a lot of things to many people. Some use it for work. Others for entertainment purposes, be it watching movies or playing games.  A student mostly uses it for both. Since a student mostly  has a tight budget for the laptop ( say, on either side of 35 K ) , he/she gets compelled to compromise on one or more specs and ends up being dissatisfied after buying the laptop. Does the story seem all too familiar? Well.. cheer up.. I'm here to help you with that. In the following paragraphs, I'm gonna teach you some tricks of the trade for buying an all-round laptop on a tight budget. The article has been divided into certain parts for easy understanding.Hope it helps.

1) The Processor:
A processor is the logic circuit that responds to and processes the basic instructions that drive a computer. Basically speaking, a lot of your computer's performance depends on the processor. I'm mainly focusing on the Intel processors as most of the laptops come fitted with it.

The 5th Gen i3/i5/i7 processors are really fast. Since on our budget we are most likely to get i3, so we'll only focus on it. i3 has two cores and at the price range you'll get either 5005u(2.00 GHz )  or 5010u ( 2.1 GHz).  Some people may say that i3 can't run games properly and is slow but as a guy who has recently bought an i3 powered  laptop I can tell you it runs okay. I can run most of the games on medium or high graphics settings ( even Fallout 4 runs smoothly ). There is hardly any lag. For an average gamer, i3 will do just fine. As for other tasks, it's super fast. Plus the 5th Gen processors have a good battery life. One can expect it to have a battery life of at least  3-4 hours.  

2) RAM :
In this price range one will get 4 GB of RAM. Now, when you combine i3 with 4 GB of RAM, I admit there maybe a bit of lag (especially while playing games). However, at our price range there is no chance of getting a factory fitted 8GB laptop. The trick here is to buy a laptop with 4GB of RAM and then crank it up to 8GB i.e. add another 4GB of RAM after buying the laptop. In the market, 4GB of RAM will cost only about 1500-2000 bucks.  Do ensure that you have a 64-bit OS ( As 32-bit OS can't use more than 4GB of RAM ).Increasing the RAM will do wonders especially in graphic intensive tasks like gaming, photoshop, audio/video editing,etc..

3) Dedicated graphic card :
A dedicated graphic card is an absolute must for playing games. Many videos also don't run properly on an integrated graphic card. Make sure that the laptop has an in-built dedicated graphic card as one can't upgrade to a dedicated graphic card after buying the laptop.

At our price range, one will most likely get an ATI Radeon  R5 M330 2GB graphic card (the series may vary) which is quite capable. Nvidia although more preferred will be very difficult to get at our price range.

4) Screen size and hard drive capacity :
Your laptop is your workstation. Make sure the display is sharp and of ample size so as not to put too much strain on your eyes. I personally prefer the standard 15.6 inch display.  For the ones who spend a considerable amount of time in front of the laptop or for an average gamer , anything less than a 15.6 inch display is not suggested. Most of the laptops have similar display quality at our price range. So, choice of brands won't matter much here.

The hard drive should have ample space. We are consuming information like never before. We live in the era of portable hard drives where CDs and DVDs have become obsolete. Most of the games now require at least 20 GB of space. BluRay/HD movies too consume of a lot of space. I personally recommend having a hard drive capacity of 1TB. Anything less may cause some storage problems.

5) Choice of seller :
Now choosing from where to buy is very important and it is where you will make the savings. I suggest you buy your laptops online. The price is incomparable when you compare it to your local computer shop. One need not be skeptical about buying from online since most of the reputed sites have a good exchange and refund policy. Moreover, the cheap laptops don't come with a genuine Windows OS when you buy it from local shops. But, most of the online sites provide genuine OS on top of giving 3-4 K discount. The advantage of having a genuine OS is that it is upgradable to the latest version of Windows. So, do try to buy a genuine OS. Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal are all reputed sites and have a good collection of laptops at fair prices. The above sites are highly recommended. Always check the laptop specs carefully before buying and never forget to look for a dedicated graphic card.

6) Choice of Brand :
At our price range, one should look for either Lenovo or HP. One can hardly get an all-round laptop from Dell at this price. Lenovo and HP are both reputable companies and have good customer support. However, I must say HP laptops look and feel significantly better then the Lenovo laptops. The Lenovo laptops, however outperform some HP laptops in a few technical aspects. Which brand you buy is your choice. Its a win-win situation.

Brands like Asus and Acer may provide attractive specs at lesser price but their durability is sometimes questionable. Moreover, the after-sales support is not up to the mark and claiming warranty on them is often a very long and frustrating experience. So I personally won't recommend these brands to you.

7) HP 15-ac120TX : My personal experience of buying a new laptop
A few months back I bought a new laptop. Having a modest budget ( 35000-38000) , I was really wondering whether I would get a decent laptop or not. I looked  over the internet for hours to learn what to buy and what not to. Finally, I decided to  buy HP 15-ac120TX. It has Intel 5th Gen 5005u ( 2.00 GHz) , 8GB of Ram ( I boosted the RAM from 4 to 8GB ), AMD Radeon R5 M330 dedicated graphic card and a 15.6 inch display. I wanted to buy the white coloured one but since my room is not the neatest I finally decided that turbo silver would do just fine for fear of cleaning the laptop repeatedly.

The look and feel of the laptop was refreshing. It certainly didn't feel cheap. The keyboard was really good with the letters having appropriate space between them. The boot up time of less than 15s was very impressive. I loved the 15.6 inch display, not too big not too small. However, since the screen was a bit reflective in the daytime, I had to change to thicker curtains to cut the sunlight. I mostly used the computer for watching movies or series . As for playing games, I first installed Fallout 4. Surprisingly, I was able to run the game smoothly in medium graphics setting. Apart from that I played  games like Call of Duty: World at War, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Battlefield 3, Battlefield: Hardline, Watchdogs, Fifa 15, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, WWE 2K15, etc. among others. And apart from what my friends told me, I was able to run all of the games. The battery life is pretty average at 3-4 hours.

8) Conclusion :
Make sure to check up on all the points mentioned above before buying your laptop. As for playing games, do ensure that you buy a keyboard separately for gaming as the laptop keyboards get damaged often. Links to a few laptops are given below which you may consider buying.  Hope you get your desired laptop.






# HP 15-ACO31TX

  






 





# Lenovo G50-80 80E502ULIN
 













# HP 15-AC116TX