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How to choose a good laptop for college use and Gaming.

Best way to choose laptop for normal usage in college and for gaming in terms of price and other specifications.

So you are in the market for a new laptop for the first time before you go off to college. And you are looking for a machine that will last you a long time and is powerful enough to play some cool new games, stream video and do whatever else you want. How to you know what kind of computer, graphics card, processor and other specs that you will need?

It will depend on your budget and what type of games you want to be able to play. HP Probooks are good beginner options that cost between $400-500.

There are many types of games out there. These include AAA titles like COD, Battlefield, Titanfall and others ike minecraft, Europa Universalis, or League of Legends. For bigger games like battlefield, you would need to spend probably S800 on a laptop that would run games of that nature on higher graphics settings. If 800$ is in your price range, look for options that have a dedicated graphics card, and not integrated graphics.

These are the areas you'll want to look at specifically:

Storage Type: You have three options for storage, an HDD(hard drive disk) , SSD (solid state drive), or a combo drive. A HDD will have a much lower price for the amount of storage you get, around S45 for a 500GB, and are the standard as far as typical computer use goes. A SSD will have a much higher price for the amount of storage you can get, around S65 for a 120GB, but will be immensely faster at writing/reading information than an HDD. A combo drive is, as the name implies, a combination of the two. A typical configuration would be 30GB of SSD storage and 500GB of HDD storage. You would normally have your OS on the SSD for ultra-quick boot times and everything else on the HDD.

Memory capacity is fairly simple, for everyday computing 4GB will be plenty, for moderate gaming 6GB will be plenty, and for heavy program usage/gaming 8GB will be fine.

Processors are a little complicated, but in lay man's terms, the higher the GHz the faster the speed, as will more cores.

Battery Life is only important if you want to be mobile with your laptop. That can come in handy, just know that battery life will degrade a lot over time. I would say a good amount would be anything over 6 hours.

If you have the funds to do it, another idea is to get a low spec laptop for normal usage and then build a gaming rig. You can build one for as little as $550. It's a lot easier than you would think, and there are plenty of people who will help you out.

If you are a gamer and want to get the best deal in a gaming laptop/PC, sites like Futureshop(now Bestbuy), Newegg, Staples, wherever you want to buy your laptop from and then, then do the following:

- Pick a Display Size to sort by (15.4 is pretty standard)
- Sort by Price - Lowest to Highest
- Determine your maximum price (Ex $800 before tax)
- Start at the cheapest laptop, open it in a new tab
- Look first at the graphics card.
- If it says Intel anything, it will not play games. Skip this one.
- If it says AMD or Nvidia copy the graphics name and Google it.
- First result usually is Notebookcheck, click in here
- This site shows graphics card performances by benchmark software and by certain games.
- Review this to see if it matches what you're looking for.
- Keep any laptop you're considering open in a tab
- Continue to do this until you hit your price maximum.
- Compare all laptops still in open tabs at the end (this is where you will look at processor, keyboard layout, USB slots etc to narrow your choice down.)

It is recommended to choose AMD and Nvidia for graphics because Intel only makes integrated graphics chips. They maximize battery life at the expense of performance. Basically, they're made for mild graphics intensive applications, like movies or photo editing. AMD and Nvidia make actual graphics cards that can give you the performance you need for gaming.

Always check on Youtube for the laptop model you're looking at before you buy. There are numerous technical reviews for different models. Watch all of them for your potential model. Also, there's a big difference between 'anti-glare / matte' dislpays and 'glare / glossy' displays. Glossy don't work well outside or in any kind of lighted room. Go to a computer store to get a feel for the difference between these displays.

Going off to college, you may have a roommate who wants to sleep while you work. Ensure your laptop has a lighted keyboard.

The biggest things that are going to make or break a laptop are size/weight, battery life, accessibility, and processing power. Are you going to carry this with you everywhere? Do you mind taking a charger with you? Is a touchscreen or numpad important to you?

Before you buy, please look for reviews online, and go into real electronics stores. Microcenter is excellent for this, the people there are knowledgeable and happy to help. Just make sure you have at least some idea of what you want and have looked at some ballpark laptops to compare to.

Size and weight is something that I've never had a problem with, but if you're going above notebook size, consider investing in either a good laptop case or a backpack with a laptop pocket. Swiss backpacks are good for this. Seriously don't underestimate this if you need this thing to last. Also consider getting an extended warranty, especially if you plan on taking it everywhere.

As far as memory (RAM) goes, 4 gigs is fairly standard and should be plenty for office work and sufficient for light gaming. If you're going to run more intense programs, consider stepping up to 8 gigs of ram.

Accessibility again is something you simply have to decide for yourself and weigh it against your other options. Just keep in mind what you'll be using it for. A touchscreen might be really cool but do you really need it?

Now the big one: CPU. The two big names are AMD and Intel. The best way I've found to compare cpus is to go to cpubenchmark.com (Google cpu benchmark and go to the full list of cpus). This is a great resource to compare specific cpus in terms of performance, rank, and price. Note that xenon cpus are for servers, so you can more or less ignore those.

But to give some concrete recommendations, you probably want either an Intel i5 or i7. These chips have either 4 or 6 cores, but the i7 also has hyperthreading, which lets each core act like 2 separate cores. But not all chips are created equal, so be sure to compare the specific cpus, and don't just go by the series. Some i5s are faster than some i7s.

Helpful retailers include staples, office depot, Microcenterand Best Buy. They tend to have good warranties for accidental damage.

One last thing! You want to make sure you have your priorities straight when you go shopping. What's more important to you, battery life or processing power? How tight is your budget? These are thing you have to keep in mind while you're looking. Best way I've found is to browse online and find two or three you like that together represent what you think you want, and then go to Microcenter or similar and see what they come up with.


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