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Laptops / Notebooks

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Purchase advice for laptop/notebook

A new laptop is needed - but how do you find exactly the right product for your needs among the mass of products? This is where the purchase advice should help.

1. Requirements - what should my laptop be capable of?

Before you buy a laptop, you should consider what your requirements are for the device. Is it intended for office applications or do you want to edit pictures and videos professionally? Do you want to use the notebook to surf the Internet or for gaming?

 

Surfing, Mailing, Office applications

For office applications and for surfing, the requirements are significantly lower than for gaming or image editing. If you want to use your laptop primarily for surfing and office applications such as Word or Excel, then a notebook with an inexpensive entry-level processor such as the Intel Core i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3 will suffice. Such laptops are already available from around 300 Euros. Alternatively, a tablet comes into question if you are looking for a device primarily for media playback. Tablet PCs are already available from around 100 euros.

 

Image editing, video editing, gaming

If you edit images or even play games with your laptop, you will need more powerful hardware - at least an i5 or Ryzen 5 processor and 8 GB of memory. For elaborate 3D games it should even be an i7, i9 or Ryzen 7 processor, and for video editing, such a processor combined with a large amount of RAM is also recommended. 8 GB of RAM is the minimum here, with 16 GB everything goes a bit smoother and faster, and the laptop isn't immediately overtaxed when several applications are running in parallel. The right graphics card is also important. A graphics chip integrated on the processor is not sufficient for gaming and video editing. So make sure that the laptop you choose has a separate graphics card. It should have at least 4 GB graphics memory and be a GDDR5 graphics card.

 

Graphics card - integrated or dedicated?

When choosing a notebook, a suitable graphics card is also crucial. Especially entry-level laptops often have graphics integrated into the processor. It is sufficient for simple office applications. If you want to edit videos or use the laptop for gaming, you need a dedicated graphics card with its own video memory. A powerful graphics card is especially important for video editing. For gaming, it depends on the type of games. For 2D and retro games, a midrange graphics card, such as the Nvidia GTX 1050 with 4 GB RAM is sufficient. For high-end games with high resolution (UHD/4K) and edge smoothing as well as VR games, graphics cards like the Nvidia GTX 1070 or higher with 8 or even 16 GB RAM are necessary. These graphics cards are also suitable for video editing as well as CAD and 3D applications.

 

2. Windows, Linux, Mac OS - which operating system is right for me?

 

When buying a notebook, the operating system also plays a role. Some laptops are offered without an operating system, with these you must install the operating system yourself or at least buy it separately. Devices without operating system are usually cheaper. So if you know your way around a bit and want to save a few euros, this would be a conceivable option.

Most notebooks come with Windows 10, but there are different versions for different needs. Windows 10 Home is the basic version, but it's sufficient for many home users. Windows 10 Pro is the version for more ambitious home users and small businesses. If you're looking for a little more security, Windows 10 Pro comes with BitLocker hard disk encryption and Windows Information Protection. However, most of the additional features of Windows 10 Pro compared to the home version are aimed primarily at small businesses.

 

Linux, Android und Chrom-OS

Another alternative is the Linux operating system. It is more suitable for more experienced users, although standard programs also run under Linux. However, gamers should rely on Windows, as many games do not run under Linux. Also those who want to use Photoshop to its full extent are better off with Windows. With Linux, however, office applications and an image editing program are already available. So if you don't necessarily want to go for the usual, Linux offers an interesting alternative. Linux is also ahead in terms of security, as there is hardly any malware for Linux systems.

 

Noble alternative: Apple MacBooks

MacBooks from Apple are also an alternative to Windows notebooks. They are usually a little more expensive, but they also come with a lot of software. Office applications as well as programs for image editing and video editing are already included in laptops running Mac OS X. MacBooks come with a sleek user interface, the operating system is a little more stable than Windows, and is more secure than malware-prone Windows. But the software offering is greatest for Windows laptops.

 

3. Manufacturer

Notebooks are available from numerous manufacturers. The following table gives an overview of which manufacturers have excelled in certain categories or offer special products for the respective requirements.

Beginner and office notebooks Multimedia-Notebooks Business-Notebooks Gaming-Notebooks Convertibles
Asus Lenovo Dell Gigabyte Lenovo
Acer HP Apple MSI Acer
Lenovo Apple Lenovo HP Dell
Chuwi Toshiba HP Acer Microsoft
Medion Acer Toshiba Asus Toshiba

Table 1: Notebook manufacturers and categories

Beginner and simple office notebooks are characterized above all by low prices and easy handling. Dell laptops in particular have made a name for themselves in the business sector, as the manufacturer distinguishes itself with user-friendliness, security and support. Moreover, Dell doesn't only offer individual products, but also complete solutions for businesses. Apple's MacBooks are now also being used more frequently in companies, not only in the creative sector, because they offer advantages comparable to those of Dell devices (security, support, ease of use).

For example, Gigabyte and MSI notebooks are specifically designed to meet the needs of gamers; they rely on powerful hardware and a cool design. Multimedia laptops are available from many manufacturers in a wide range of equipment and price categories.

 

4. Screen, connections and equipment

Find the right screen size

Screen size is one of the most obvious features of a laptop. Again, it depends on the usage, which size is advisable. If you want a device that is as mobile as possible, you can opt for a smaller 13, 14 or 15 inch screen. If you want to work with it as comfortably as possible, or if it should be a gaming notebook, the larger models with 17 inches are recommendable.

Advantages of smaller notebooks (up to 15 inch) Advantages of larger notebooks (over 15 inch)
compact comfortable operation
light Replacement for a desktop PC
suitable for mobile use gentle on the eyes

Table 2: Advantages of smaller and larger notebooks

Laptops with a 15 inch screen diagonal are not only smaller but also lighter than 17 inch laptops. Also pay attention to the weight! If you use the laptop as a space-saving replacement for a desktop PC, size and weight are less important. If you want to work on the move, however, this is an important factor. The larger the screen, the more comfortable it is to work and surf, but the larger the screen size, the heavier the laptop becomes.

 

Touch screen - yes or no?

Since Windows 8, the Microsoft operating system also supports touchscreens. Convertibles in particular - laptops with detachable or foldable keyboards that can also be used as tablets - are equipped with a touch-sensitive screen. However, conventional notebooks are also increasingly relying on touch screens.

Before buying a laptop, you should consider whether you need a touch screen or not. With a convertible, the touch screen is of course essential. For a normal laptop a touch sensitive screen is less important. However, it can be useful if you work on the road a lot and don't always have a mouse with you. The touchscreen is then usually more comfortable and more accurate than the touchpad.

 

DVD drive - is that still necessary?

Many current notebook models come without a DVD drive. Since most of the software is available for download today, this is not a problem. However, if you still have older programs on CD or DVD that you want to continue using, a DVD drive is useful. If this is not the case, you can also do without it and save both the price and the weight of the notebook. If you later find that you do need a DVD drive or burner, you can also use an external device. External DVD burners are available from around 30 euros.

 

Which connections are important?

Which ports are important? when making a purchase decision, you should also consider the ports that your notebook needs. The most important thing is that there are enough USB ports. How many ports you actually need depends on how many devices you want to connect. While you can use a USB hub to provide additional connections, a laptop should have at least two. USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 provide fast data transfer, but USB 2.0 also provides smooth transfer, but takes a little longer.

A USB 2.0 device will usually connect easily to a USB 3.0 port and vice versa. For printers (USB B-Type) and for mobile phones and digital cameras (Mini-USB), things look a little different: Devices with USB 2.0 plugs can be connected to USB 3.0 sockets. However, this does not work the other way round.

If you want to connect your laptop to a larger monitor or TV, you'll need an HDMI connection. If your monitor or TV still has a VGA port, you can still connect it to the HDMI output of the notebook using an adapter.

MacBooks from Apple have a Thunderbolt interface. It bundles all of the transmission channels for picture, sound, power, and data into a single port.


Connect notebook with other devices via Bluetooth

You can also connect your notebook wirelessly to other devices. This is possible via Bluetooth, for example, when the devices are in close proximity to each other. To do this, activate Bluetooth on both devices. On your Windows laptop, you can do this via the Infocenter at the bottom right of the screen (speech bubble symbol). Select "Bluetooth" there and follow the instructions. You can connect a mouse via Bluetooth to your Windows notebook by going to the settings and selecting "Devices". If you have not already done so, activate Bluetooth. Now click on "Add Bluetooth and other devices", select "Bluetooth" and follow the instructions.


You can connect a MacBook to other Bluetooth devices in a similar way. Click the Bluetooth icon in the status menu at the top right corner of the screen and select "Enable. Now click the Bluetooth icon again. All available Bluetooth devices will appear in the drop-down menu. Select the device you want to connect to your MacBook. You will then need to authenticate the Bluetooth connection by entering the numeric code displayed on your MacBook on the device you want to connect. Once the Bluetooth device is authenticated, click the Bluetooth icon again to open the drop-down menu. Now select the device and you can connect it to your MacBook.

5. Price: The right notebook for every wallet

Cheap entry-level laptops are already available from about 200 euros. If you're looking for a notebook for surfing and office applications and don't have any demands on storage space and speed, such a low-priced device is sufficient for you. However, be aware that you will have to make sacrifices in terms of equipment and comfort as well as speed.

An alternative for small budgets are used or refurbished laptops or B-goods offers. Here you can often get a really good device for little money.

For the somewhat higher demands such as image editing, more memory and a faster speed, most mid-range notebooks from 500 Euros are suitable. A price comparison as well as a close look at the equipment is worthwhile especially for the beginner and middle class laptops.

If you want full power and gaming fun, you'll have to dig much deeper into your pocket: Gaming notebooks and laptops that are also suitable for video editing and CAD applications, for example, are available from around 1,000 euros upwards. The same applies to Apple's MacBooks.


With a tight budget, you can also fall back on devices from the pre-series. These are often already somewhat cheaper than the current models, a comparison between the older versions and the newer devices is definitely worthwhile. Especially with more expensive notebooks you can easily save a few hundred Euros.

Notebooks in comparison - prices, features and user needs

Notebooks under €300,- Asus VivoBook E12
(from €209,-) - the affordable beginner's device
Acer TravelMate B117
(from €281,-) - the mobile companion
Lenovo IdeaPad 320
(from €299,-) - the multimedia
Notebooks up to €500 HP 250 G6 SP
(from €349,-) - the business beginner
Lenovo V110
(from 379,-) - the solid all-rounder
Acer Spin 1
(from €429,-) - the versatile
Notebooks up to 1.000,- Acer Aspire V3
(from €649,-) - the entertainer
Asus FX553VD
(from €849,-) - the powerful lightweight
Apple MacBook Air 13.3
(from €969,-) - the handy all-rounder
Notebooks over €1.000,- HP Omen
(from €1.099,-) - the cool power pack
Gigabyte Aero 15X
(from €2.399,-) - the gaming machine
Apple MacBook Pro 15
(from €2.471,-) - the creative bolide

Table 3: Notebook price categories

The table gives an overview of all price categories and shows the notebooks with the best price-performance ratio. It is also important to take a close look at the equipment to see if it fits your requirements.

Most users are likely to find themselves in the two middle price classes - between 300 and 1,000 Euros. With the cheaper models, you'll have to make sacrifices, especially in terms of memory, but also in terms of speed and comfort. The models in the upper price range above 1,000 euros are, on the other hand, more special and are aimed at gamers or those who have high expectations in terms of requirements or comfort.

 

6. Hard disks, graphics cards and batteries - individual and spare parts for laptops

Replacing defective components such as a hard disk or graphics card is a little more complicated with a laptop than with a desktop PC. Sometimes special tools are necessary. Nevertheless, it can be worthwhile under certain circumstances. Replacing a hard disk is usually also possible for less experienced screwdrivers, and a defective battery can also be replaced without any problems. The graphics card requires a little more know-how.

But keep in mind that you usually lose your warranty if you open your notebook. If something breaks during the manufacturer's warranty period, it is advisable in any case to first contact the manufacturer or computeruniverse customer support. If the warranty has already expired, you should still consider whether you would like to do it yourself or whether you would rather let an experienced professional do it.

 

7. Assemble your own notebook

With desktop PCs, it is quite common to assemble the device of your choice yourself. With notebooks it looks different. Because assembling a laptop yourself is usually more expensive than buying a ready-made device. Although it is possible, we recommend using the filter function to search for notebooks that match your expectations and requirements.

 

8. Accessories - what is useful?

There are many accessories for notebooks that make your life and work easier. The most common are:

  • Bags and rucksacks
  • Mouse
  • Mouse pad
  • Powerbank
  • Laptop lock
  • Display protection film
  • Docking station
  • Car power supply unit
  • Stylus/pen for touchscreens
  • Cooling Pad
  • USB Lamp
  • Keyboard

Bags and rucksacks are particularly useful for transporting and storing the Notebook safely. A mouse can also be a helpful extra, as the input via mouse is easier and more precise than with the integrated touchpad.

If you are on the road a lot and want to use your laptop, it is worth thinking about an additional battery or a power bank. Because there isn't always a power outlet nearby where you can charge your laptop.

If you work at least occasionally in public places (library, café, hotel, train etc.) a laptop lock is also a sensible purchase. This will protect your notebook against theft.


When buying a laptop bag or backpack, make sure that the bag is the right size for your laptop! You should also keep an eye on the weight of the bag - the lightest laptop is useless if the bag is very heavy.

9. Tips and tricks for notebooks

A clean laptop lives longer

To ensure the longevity of a laptop, you need to clean it occasionally. When cleaning, make sure that the laptop is switched off and disconnected from the power cord. A fine brush is recommended for cleaning the keyboard.


Clean laptop:
Turn the laptop over first and shake it gently. Then go over the keyboard with a fine brush. The screen is best cleaned with a microfibre cloth - dry or slightly moistened.

Use laptop as hotspot

You can use your laptop as a WLAN hotspot. It requires an active Internet connection. To set up a hotspot, go to the Windows Start menu and click on Settings (the gear symbol). Now click on "Network and Internet" and select the option "Mobile Hotspot" in the left column. Set the slider to "On".

Under "Edit" you can change the hotspot name and assign a password. Make sure that you select a secure password.

 

10. Notebooks: Common problems and possible solutions

Notebook becomes slow

Common causes of laptop problems are clogged or dusty fans and defective components. If the laptop becomes slow or hangs up more often, a new installation of the operating system is recommended. You should first perform a disk cleanup. If this does not bring any improvement, a new installation of the operating system is necessary.


If a defect occurs during the warranty period, please contact the manufacturer or computeruniverse customer support.

Laptop gets hot

If the laptop gets hot, a dusty fan is often the cause. If you've already cleaned the fan and the laptop still gets hot, you can use a cooling pad to help. But always keep an eye on the temperature. The surface on which the laptop is placed can also be a cause of heat build-up. Soft surfaces such as tablecloths and duvets, your own lap, etc. are not good for regulating heat. It is best to place the laptop on a special notebook stand or cooling pad. This ensures that the fan can work properly.

 

Problems with the laptop screen

If the display remains black, first connect the laptop to an external monitor or TV set. This will help you find out whether the problem is with the screen or not. A possible error could also be a broken cable. Opening and closing the notebook puts a lot of strain on the cables over time. In this case it may be worthwhile to replace the cables. If the screen is actually defective, you should calculate exactly whether a repair is worthwhile.

 
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