5 On Your Side

Laptop buying guide. 5 On Your Side has tips

Posted November 22, 2018 4:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2018 4:41 p.m. EST

— Black Friday could be called computer deal day, especially for laptops, but before consumers buy one they should be sure it fits their needs and budget.

Laptops have replaced desktops as the go-to gift or most consumers because they're portable, more powerful and faster than they used to be.

For top speeds, Consumer Reports say consider a solid-state drive, or SSD.

They are noticeably faster than traditional hard drives although they can cost a bit more.

"If you’re going to hold on to a laptop for like five years, let’s say. Over the cost of those five years, $100 dollars will get a dramatically better computing experience," says Nicolas DeLeon, a tech editor at Consumer Reports. "I would say you should spend that extra hundred bucks.”

As for storage, the magazine says 256 gigabytes should be enough for most people.

“That’s enough space for your operating system, all the updates, all your programs, whether that’s PhotoShop or Excel, Outlook or Chrome or any of those type of things," DeLeon said.

Storage and memory, or RAM, are often confused.

Storage is where files are kept for the longterm, such as documents and photos.

Memory houses the apps or programs you run, such as your web browser or email.

Consumer Reports believes the sweet spot for memory is 8 gigabytes.

Processors, also known as chips, are the brains of a laptop.

The magazine says the best choice for most people is the Core i5, which can handle what most users need it to do and more.

As for display, experts say don't get caught up in 4K, which has four times the pixels as HD.

They say considering a laptop's small screen, the difference in sharpness is barely noticeable.