Purchasing A Laptop: Considering My Requirements

I’ve wanted a laptop to replace my Lenovo S20-30 netbook for about 2 years now.

During the first 2 years of the netbook, I kinda pushed myself to accept and deal with it. But then, I got tired of optimizing my OS to run on the netbook.
Multitasking was a nightmare, and it was just a terrible terrible netbook.

Last year, I finally considered getting another laptop.
But first, I needed to get my requirements right.

So what were my requirements?

I’d like to consider myself a moderately informed person. I’m not a nerd, but I do know my way around computing devices.

Now I’m a minimalist on a tight budget. That was my first consideration. I didn’t want to buy a laptop that was overpriced.

So here’s the key points I thought of, when considering my next laptop:

1. An octa core CPU, no older than Intel’s 8th Gen, with hyperthreading

2. A decent GPU that could run GTA V smoothly. Why GTA V? Because it’s the only game with decent graphics that I watched on YouTube.
I wasn’t going to play GTA V. I wanted a GPU that would help with video editing. And I figured, if it could run GTA V, it can edit videos, right?

3. 16 Gigs of RAM, dual channel, upgradeable

4. 500 Gigs of m.2 NVMe/PCIe SSD storage

5. Dual fans to keep it cool. I’d seen a lot of laptops with 2 fans, and I thought, why not get one myself? It’s better than 1 fan, I’ll tell you that!

6. Simple design, easy repairability, and upgradability

7. Full metal body – aluminium, magnesium alloy, or carbon

Now these are a perfect specs for a powerful machine that could push through a decade.
In my opinion, any laptop that can’t last a decade isn’t worth purchasing.

So I’d decided my specs. Now it was time to start hunting for the perfect laptop.

Here’s what I found out:

1. There weren’t many laptops with 8 core processors, especially older ones. The new ones were quite expensive.
Most laptops came with 4 cores or 6 cores. New 8 core chips were too expensive.

2. Intel’s chips seemed to run hotter than AMD’s. They often experienced thermal throttling and cooling issues. They were also more expensive.

3. NVIDIA’s GPUs don’t have a proper naming system. It’s all over the place. If you’re looking for the fastest GPU, you’ll have to look it up manually and compare the results.

4. Any laptop with 16 Gigs of RAM was overpriced. Most laptops shipped with 8 gigs that you could upgrade later. Since I was coming from a 2 Gigs soldered RAM package, 8 Gigs looked pretty good to me.

5. Many laptops came with multiple storage options. You could get an SSD and add a HDD later and vice versa.

6. Design, upgradability and repairability varied with each laptop. Before purchasing, make sure you looked ’em up on YouTube.

7. Most laptops were made of plastic. Metal framed laptops were either terribly-spec’d and cheap, or incredibly-spec’d and expensive. There were no middle grounds.

8. Most sellers think a dedicated GPU means gaming laptop. That’s how they price their products and will often con you. Beware! Just because a laptop has a dedicated GPU doesn’t make it a gaming or content-creator’s laptop. The branding is just the manufacturer’s way of robbing people.
Any laptop can be used for gaming or content creation, as long as it’s spec’d properly.
When I went to the stores and asked for a laptop with dedicated graphics card, the salesmen immediately jumped on the gaming laptop section, which was, of course, overpriced.

9. A lot of stores still showcase Intel’s laptops. AMD is still not popular in the market. Sometimes, and especially if you’re explicitly asking for an AMD laptop, the stores may quote a higher price. Beware!

10. When looking at a CPU, pay attention to the TDP. It’s a good indicator of how powerful a modern CPU is, especially when you consider how U-series processors are everywhere. U-series and Y-series processors aren’t for people with serious computing requirements.

Here’s what I wish I’d known earlier:

1. NVIDIA GPUs don’t run well on Linux. If you’re a privacy oriented guy who uses Linux, look for an AMD CPU & AMD GPU combination.