Are you going to be spending more time working remotely in 2021? Have you decided to throw in the towel with that office job and take up one of the many digital nomad roles available online? If you have answered yes, you are probably in the market for a new laptop!
Getting The Perfect Balance
When considering which laptop to buy, it is always going to be a balancing act between power (the laptop’s ability to handle system-intensive tasks), portability, and battery life. It is often said that you can have two out of the three, but not all three together.
These days, most laptops on the market are more than capable of handling everyday tasks such as web browsing, checking emails, and even watching videos. More specific tasks such as video editing and gaming will require a specialist machine, this inevitably drives the price up with most brands.
Portability means different things to different people, and the compromise will always be portability over power, with more powerful laptops generally being heavier than underpowered laptops.
The most portable laptops on the market are not much bigger than a smartphone, fitting into a standard jacket pocket and, with 8GB of RAM running on Windows 10, these are actually great little devices for traveling.
For more serious users, consider a smaller 13-inch laptop that can be powered from a USB C charger for the most flexibility.
Battery life is always dependent on what the machine is doing. If you are a heavy gamer or spend time creating or watching media, you cannot expect the battery to hold up for very long.
For most people, getting around 5 hours out of a laptop is good going, but if you are a light user (web browsing and using an office suite) then you may be able to push this further towards the 7-8 hour mark.
Laptops that are designed specifically for graphics-intensive tasks like gaming and video editing tend to fare worst on battery life, you will be lucky to get more than 4 hours out of them, much less if you are working.
A top tip for battery life is to consider how your laptop can be charged. Most standard laptops run at around 60-65W, meaning they can be charged off of specifically designed USB C power bricks and smaller wall chargers. Laptops that are designed for heavy users may run closer to a 200W peak and need a specific adaptor.
Power comes in many forms and you will need to consider what you will be using your laptop for.
For most users, a minimum of 8GB RAM and a quad-core processor is necessary. This will mean operating systems like Windows will run ok without too much delay.
Gamers, video editors, 3D animators, and photographers will want to go for a minimum of 16GB RAM and a six-core fast processor with a dedicated graphics card such as the NVidia RTX 2060 and beyond. These laptops will usually come with better fans but may need an external cooling pad to keep them cool while they are working hard.