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2015 Laptop Buying Guide

Valuable tips and recommendations for buying the best laptop in 2015.

2015 Laptop Computer Buying Guides

By Mark B.

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New & Used Laptop Deals

This comprehensive laptop buying guide was created for you.

Read more to learn about key laptop components, and narrow down your unique laptop needs via our digital lifestyle recommendations.

Are you a student, world traveler, or business professional looking for the perfect digital companion? What about a multimedia expert or avid video gamer? Our laptop buying guide will steer you on the right path for the perfect laptop computer.

Narrowing Down Your Laptop Lifestyle

Since we all have unique needs, the laptop buying guide starts off by helping you to pinpoint your unique laptop digital lifestyle requirements.

To begin, simply continue on this page to first narrow down your digital lifestyle. 

Once you've pinpointed your digital lifestyle needs, come back up here and click on any laptop component listed below for specific information, tips, and advice.

We're confident our laptop guide will help you narrow down your unique lifestyle needs, and we're also confident it will educate you in computing component basics so that you can hone in on that perfect laptop.

Congratulations! You're now on your way to buying the best laptop.

2015 Laptop Buying Guide - Components Selection

Processor  |  Memory  |  Hard Drive  |  Video Card  |  Screen  |  Wireless

CD/DVD Drive  |  Battery  |  Expansion  |  Warranty  |  Speakers  |

Docking Stations  |  Laptop Cases  Keyboard  |  Accessories

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What laptop is right for me?

Asking yourself this question is always a great first step when looking for a new laptop.

After all you are unique, and you will need a laptop that specifically suits you, right?

So to start the laptop buying guide off, we are going to make this first step as painless as possible by reviewing five common laptop lifestyles.

But before you continue forward we want to remind you to check out the Laptop Comparisons page after you've finished this Laptop Buying Guide. 

The laptop comparisons page compliments the lifestyles listed below by detailing various laptop sizes including desktop replacement, mid-size, thin & light, and ultra-portable.

And once you are confident that you've narrowed down the perfect laptop, check out the Amazon.com shopping recommendations throughout our site to access their gigantic inventory of popular laptops and technology gadgets.  

Colored Laptop Shopping

Pink Laptops, Red Laptops, Purple Laptops, Green Laptops, Colored Notebook Accessories & More

Online Vendor Shopping Category Vendor Rating
Amazon.com Pink Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Purple Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Red Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Green Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Blue Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Black Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Yellow Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Orange Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com Brown Colored Laptops & Accessories A+
Amazon.com White Colored Laptops & Accessories A+

User Profile - Lifestyle Selection

Home User  |  Student  |  Traveler  |  Business Professional

Gamer / Multimedia Power User

Home User - Laptop Buying Guide Lifestyle #1

Most of you searching for a new laptop will fall into this category. Laptops are becoming the computer of choice for many these days and prices are lower than ever, performance is higher than ever, and the list goes on.

Unlike a desktop laptops can be moved from room to room with ease, and wireless technology is more popular than ever making it just as easy to roam your home while downloading your favorite MP3 at the same time. The benefits of purchasing a laptop these days are astronomical.

While almost any notebook type will do for most of you home users, we typically recommend a standard midsize or desktop replacement laptop type if you are going to use it almost entirely at home. If you are only going to take it on the go from time to time, we recommend either a 14.1 inch or light 15.4 midsize.

Be sure to read our Laptop Comparisons guide to get details on these and the other laptop types.

Key Features - Laptop Buying Guide Home User Features at a Glance

  • Home users should look for at least an Intel Core i5, Core i3, or even a Core 2 Duo processor. AMD Phenom II or Turion II processors are also very decent for home use laptops. These days it is not really worth it to purchase a single core processor unless you are an absolute basic user or on a tight budget.

  • Home users should pick up at the minimum 2GB of memory, especially for Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems, though 4GB or more is recommended.  And 1GB is still adequate for Windows XP systems if you happen to come accross an older, say, refurbished laptop.

  • A 160GB to 320GB hard drive is a good starting point for home user laptops, though more space doesn't exactly hurt, especially if the price increase isn't substantial. This will ensure you have a decent amount of storage for digital photos, music, and videos.

  • A 15.4, or 15.6-inch laptop is good if you are only going to take your laptop on the go from time to time, but for a permanent stay at home computer any 15.4 or even a 17 inch display is you best bet. If you plan on using it for home but also are going to lug it around town, you may want to look for a 14.1 inch laptop for a better balance of size and weight.

  • A DVD burner is pretty much standard on notebooks these days but be sure to pick one up if not a default option for they are useful for data backup, home movie creations, and more. And if you have a huge collection of Blu-Ray movies and your laptop is your primary computer it may not hurt to upgrade to a Blu-Ray drive if the price increase isn't too substantial. This will allow you to have a portable Blu-Ray player that you can hook up to any television in your home.

  • Windows Vista Home Premium at the minimum, though Windows 7 Home Premium or better is preferred for home users. Windows 7 Home versions offer home user focused applications such as photo and media applications, etc.

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Student - Laptop Buying Guide Lifestyle #2

A great first step for many of you will be to look for a laptop that delivers a good value. Its crazy enough that books these days cost a fortune.

When we say good value we definitely don't mean purchase a laptop that is going to under perform though. After all, many of you are going to be using your laptop throughout college and also as your primary computing machine.

Another key element to look for if you are a student is a laptop that isn't going to cause you to need to see a chiropractor each week. Something small and light is often a great option so lugging it around campus isn't a chore.

Key Features - Laptop Buying Guide Student Features at a Glance

  • We recommend you look for any Intel Core i7, i5, or i3 processor depending on your budget.  i7 processors offer the best performance with i5's being a close second. Core i3 processors also offer good performance though at a much lower price than i7 and i5 configurations.  An Intel Core Duo is an older processor but also decent, and AMDs Turion II or Phenom II are also solid contenders to the Intel Core i line.

  • Many laptops are either running Windows Vista or Windows 7 so we recommend 4GB of memory for you guys unless maybe you are on a budget. If this is the case 2GB may save you a bit of cash but because memory these days is cheaper than ever it isn't really worth it. Windows Vista is honestly a memory glutton so more is going to be better in the long run, especially if you are going to use you laptop through college.  Windows 7 is found in most laptops these days and it has been improved over vista but 2GB at the bare minimum is what you should still look for.

  • A 160GB to 320GB hard drive is also a good starting point for student laptops. We know you guys are going to rack up that MP3 collection, right?

  • A 14.1 inch laptop or even smaller is going to be ideal for students who are going to lug it around campus all day. A 15.4 inch laptop is going to be ok for students who aren't going to lug it around campus as much, or if they don't prefer smaller screens. However, many 15.4 inch laptops are lighter than they've ever been so if you look around you may find a good weight to screen size balance.

  • A DVD burner is pretty much standard on mid-sized notebooks and some thin-and-lights, so be sure to pick one up so you can backup important class projects or other data. A Blu-Ray equipped laptop will be great for many students, especially if they are living in a dorm.  A Blu-Ray drive equipped laptop makes a fantastic portable HD movie player, perfect for student downtime.

  • Windows Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional are both perfect for students.
See also:

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Traveler - Laptop Buying Guide Lifestyle #3

Since you are going to be spending a lot of time on the road, pay special attention to size and weight. Typically this also means you will have to sacrifice a bit of performance and features, but the good news is that thin & light and ultra-portable laptops offer more performance than ever these days.

Many thin & light or ultra-portable laptops use lower voltage mobile processors so they often get the best battery life. This is going to be great for airplane trips, business meetings, or even outings on the beach or rest at the local coffee shop in Tahiti. Because they are light, carrying it around isn't going to be a chore either.

There are of course other factors to consider for not every traveler is going to benefit from a smaller laptop. The smaller screen may not be fit for some, the typically slower performance may be a drag to others, and they often have smaller keyboards which will be bothersome for traveling typists.

If a smaller screen isn't your taste or you need something a bit more powerful, and a small keyboard just won't cut it, picking up a 14.1 inch or even a light 15.4-inch may be a great compromise.

So in a nutshell, the general rule of thumb for travelers is to look for a laptop that is going to be thin & light, but if you are the occasional traveler or someone who simply doesn't like the shortcomings of a smaller laptop finding the right balance is often easy enough because of today's laptop selection.

Key Features - Laptop Buying Guide Traveler Features at a Glance

  • We recommend travelers look for a laptop with pretty much any modern day Intel Core i5, i7, or i3 processor. An older Intel Core 2 Duo will also offer great performance and battery life. It's worth noting, laptops with the absolute best battery life often come with slower processors including special lower voltage mobile processors.  Don't let this deter you though, low voltage modern processors are plenty fast for the average traveler.

  • Many laptops are still running Windows Vista but most will be running Windows 7 so we pretty much recommend 4GB of memory for travelers too. Of course if you primary perform word processing or other light duty tasks, 2GB should be sufficient. If the price premium isn't much go for 4GB or more though.

  • A 160GB or larger hard drive is a great starting point for any traveler laptop.

  • For the typical traveler we don't really recommend anything bigger than a 14.1 inch laptop. Remember smaller is going to normally be lighter and easier to stuff in your carry on luggage, not to mention they will typically get the best battery life too. Of course many 15.4 inch laptops are lighter than ever so there are plenty of options for pretty much any traveler.

  • Definitely pick up an extra battery or two for cross country flights or even outings on the beach. Also look for batteries with more internal cells. Typically these longer life batteries are called Extended/Hi-Capacity batteries.

  • Most ultra portable or thin-and-light laptops won't include a built-in optical drive because their small frame often cannot accommodate one, but many may offer an optional external CD/DVD drive. If you do have external optical drive options, go for at the least a DVD-RW drive because they are still useful for backing up data.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium is ok for most travelers, but if you are a business traveler you may benefit from Windows Vista Business or Windows 7 Professional since those versions were designed with the business user in mind.
See also:

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Business Professional - Laptop Buying Guide Lifestyle #4

As a professional your work demands the utmost productivity. To keep up with your intense demands you are going to want to look for a powerful but well balanced laptop computer system.

We advise you look for a laptop that has the performance to tackle all your applications, but with the portability to keep you focused on your work when on the move.

A great option for many of you will be a thin-and-light laptop. Most are powerful enough to handle all your day to day tasks, small enough to be perfect for business meetings or travel, and most have excellent battery life to boot.

Key Features - Laptop Buying Guide Business Professional Features at a Glance

  • For all around performance in speed and battery life, we recommend any flavor of the Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Intel's older Core 2 Duo are great performers as well, but you should be able to find a newer Intel i line equipped laptop for the same price these days.

  • You laptop will most likely ship with Windows 7 or possibly even Windows Vista, so we highly recommend at least 4GB of memory. If your primary business is word processing or other light duty business tasks, 2GB may however be sufficient. Of course if the price premium isn't much, definitely get 4GB.

  • A 160GB hard drive is a good starting point for business laptops, however we wouldn't go for less than 160GB because of the increased storage demands of today's business applications. Bigger is better when shopping for a hard drive in a business class laptop.

  • For business laptops a good balance of screen size and notebook weight is a 14.1 inch laptop, especially if business travel is required. On the other hand, a laptop smaller than 14.1 will be even lighter and it will also typically get better battery life. So if you travel a lot for business, smaller than 14.1 may be beneficial to you. Now if you are a business power user, you may even want to upsize to a lightweight 15.4 inch laptop to reap such benefits as more on screen real-estate.

  • Definitely pick up an extra battery or two for cross country flights, business meetings, and Starbucks business. Also look for batteries with more internal cells, also called Extended/Hi-Capacity batteries.  The extra juice may just come in handy, especially when your professional needs push mobile boundaries.

  • As a business professional, we recommend you purchase a laptop with the latest wireless networking standards built-in. Wireless N is the newest standard and it offers longer range and faster data rates over previous standards. Standards include 802.11 a/b/g/n, and all are backwards compatible with each other. And if your line of work demands Internet access anywhere, you may want to consider getting a laptop with wireless Internet 3G or 4G built-in or purchase an add-on 3G/4G card if the laptop doesn't offer built-in options. Research Wireless Internet Providers to find the best options in your area.

  • We recommend at the least a DVD-RW drive for most laptops, including business machines. A DVD burner will be useful for important data backups and other business needs. If you are purchasing a thin-and-light laptop and it doesn't include a built-in optical drive because its small frame cannot accommodate one, you may alternately want to purchase an external optical drive. One will definitely come in handy when you need to install new business apps or back up critical business data.

  • Windows 7 Professional is designed for the business professional. On the other hand if you are a business power user, Windows 7 Ultimate may be beneficial to you since it offers drive encryption, useful to protect your sensitive data in the event your laptop gets lost or stolen.
See also:

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Gaming/Multimedia - Laptop Buying Guide Lifestyle #5

For gaming and multimedia duties you are going to want the best components period. Gamers especially these days need insane hardware to push 3D graphics. For more great info on laptop gaming be sure to check out our Gaming Laptops and Laptop Gaming Field Guide.

In a nutshell all you gamers or multimedia power users will want to get powerful graphics cards, the fastest processors, very large hard drives, tons of memory, and gorgeous screens among other things.

A desktop replacement notebook is going to be the most likely choice for you. They are among the most feature and performance rich portable systems on the planet.

Key Features - Laptop Buying Guide Gaming/Multimedia Features at a Glance

  • Advanced NVIDIA or ATI dedicated graphics card with 512MB or more dedicated memory. For ultimate gaming performance a dual NVIDIA SLI graphics solution is recommended.

  • Intel Core i7 or better is recommend for the best performance hands down.

  • 4GB of memory recommended at the bare minimum, but get as much as you can afford to have the most rewarding gaming or multimedia experience.

  • Get the largest and fasted hard drive that you can afford. A 320GB capacity hard drive at a 7200RPM rotational speed is our minimum recommendation for hardcore gaming and multimedia systems. Bigger is better for a mobile gaming rig when you're talking hard disk drives. And if you want the ultimate in performance, also look for a Solid State Drive equipped laptop computer.

  • Most gaming notebooks are going to have at least a 15.4-inch screen or larger. A 17-inch or bigger is a must for hardcore gamers since battery life isn't exactly top priority with the typical gaming notebook.

  • We recommend a dual-layer DVD burner or Blu-Ray drive if you can afford or have the need for one. Currently Blu-Ray isn't going to be worth the price premium for everyone but for an already expensive gaming laptop, we say go for it!

  • Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional is perfect for this class of notebook.

See also:

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Laptop Buying Guide - Additional Advice

Now that you have a better idea to what your specific laptop needs are, there is honestly a bit more research beyond this laptop buying guide that is necessary if you want to find your perfect laptop computer.

Because of this we have many more useful resources throughout our site that you don't want to miss. We highly recommend you check them out after you are finished with this laptop buying guide.

But for your next step if you haven't already done so Click Here to jump to the top of this page to access our Laptop Buying Guide - Components List. It is here that you will find valuable details and advice regarding specific laptop components.

Brain power and motivation is the key to finding the best laptop just as it is the key for success. We are confident that you will find the best laptop if you are patient and persistent with your research.

We hope you are enjoying your Laptop Buying Guide!

Online Shopping Specials

Colored Notebooks, Pink Netbooks, Colored Netbooks, Trendy Pink Notebooks, Accessories & More

Online Vendor Shopping Category Vendor Rating
Amazon.com Apple Laptops A+
Amazon.com Dell Laptops A+
Amazon.com HP Laptops A+
Amazon.com Toshiba Laptops A+
Amazon.com Sony Laptops A+
Amazon.com Acer Laptops A+
Amazon.com Asus Laptops A+
Amazon.com Samsung Laptops A+
Amazon.com Lenovo Laptops A+
Amazon.com Gateway Laptops A+

See also:

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