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Buying a new computer requires reading through and dealing with a lot of jargon. From different types of processors to knowing the difference between memory and storage, there is a lot of information. But the process does not have to be scary. Without a doubt, we have never had so many valuable options for a laptop or desktop.
When you start researching your next PC, let’s help. Below you will find not only recommendations for laptops, Chromebooks and gaming PCs, but also some tips on what to look for.
So let’s start with the recommendations, and then move on to our wise counsel.
Microsoft’s Surface line introduced 2-in-1s that easily switch between tablet and laptop modes, and with the latest generation Surface Pro, Microsoft has built an impressive set. The Pro 8 is suitable for being a versatile device for creative, students or professionals with a newer design that has slim frames around a 13-inch 120Hz screen.
Inside the 2-in-1 is an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage. You can customize the building for improved performance, and add more memory or storage if you need something more powerful. But for most people, this configuration is enough for most work tasks or personal tasks.
The one catch? The Surface Pro 8 does not come with a keyboard, so you have to buy the Surface Pro Signature keyboards for $ 79 separately.
Do you need a Windows laptop with more horsepower than the Surface Pro 8? Dell’s portable XPS 13 Touch matches the shape with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage. The slim, thin design not only looks good, but is suitable for portability. The XPS 13 weighs just 2.64 pounds and is only 0.58 inches thick. It has a 13.4-inch touch screen that you can use to push and swipe around Windows.
For those who are always on the go, the XPS 13 makes a lot of sense. But if you plan to connect a lot of accessories to it, you will find a USB-C hub or docking station since there are only a few ports built in here.
The MacBook Air has long been a top recommendation for students and those who need a reliable computer that integrates with Apple’s ecosystem of services and hardware. And in 2022, the $ 999 price tag provides a lot of computing power and battery life. MacBook Air uses Apple’s own M1 Apple Silicon processor, 8 GB of memory and a 256 GB SSD for storage. There is plenty of power for basic tasks, image editing, multi-tasking and even video projects.
There is a Touch ID sensor that acts as the power button, making it easy to log in to your MacBook Air with a fingerprint. The biggest drawback? It only has two USB-C ports, so you need some kind of USB-C hub or adapter if you need to connect multiple devices to it at the same time. But hey, it has a headphone jack!
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Apple’s latest MacBook Pro models offer more power than the MacBook Air and a design that goes back to the good old days. They took back the MagSafe magnetic charging socket, an SD card reader and an HDMI port. You can choose between a 14-inch or 16-inch design, and either way you can choose between two new Apple Silicon processors.
The M1 Pro and M1 Max both add impressive performance options, with the Max version better suited for heavy video editing and other resource-intensive tasks. The base model 14-inch MacBook Pro comes with an M1 Pro processor, 16 GB of memory and 512 GB of storage.
Acer Chromebook Spin 713 ($ 699; bestbuy.com)
Chrome OS and by extension Chromebook is no longer referred to as a laptop that only runs the Chrome browser. They are now akin to a full-fledged operating system, albeit one based on Chrome and Android. The Chromebook Spin 713 has a 13.5-inch screen powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, 256 GB of storage and 8 GB of memory. And as the name implies, you can spin the screen to transfer the 713 from a standard laptop to a tablet, using Android and Chrome OS apps.
Chromebooks are ideal for someone who does not want to spend a lot of money on a computer or someone who relies on Google services, such as Disk and Gmail, for work, school or daily computer tasks.
Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is an impressively affordable Chromebook that will not exactly impress you when it comes to performance, but it can easily handle everyday tasks such as checking email, watching videos or working in Google Docs.
Its 2-in-1 design comes with a keyboard and stand that quickly detaches to convert the Duet into a full-fledged tablet. It has a 10.1-inch screen, MediaTek Helio P60T processor, 4 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage. From young students studying at home to those who do not really need a full-fledged computer, Duet is a solid choice that does not blow the bank.
NZXT Starter Plus Gaming PC ($ 1,349; nzxt.com)
NZXT’s range consists of several gaming PC buildings, each designed to fit a budget and performance requirements. The Starter Plus PC comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3060, 16 GB of memory and a 500 GB SSD. There is more than enough power to play any game you choose and reach that reference at 60 frames per second.
If you would rather build your own gaming PC, but do not want to handle the purchase of the components, you can check out NZXT’s BLD KITs. You get all the parts, tools and instructions to guide you through putting it all together. Prices start at $ 1,399 for a Starter Pro and go up from there – and yes, it’s an entertaining design.
Asus ROG Strix G15 ($ 1516; amazon.com)
Looking for a powerful gaming PC that you can take with you on the go? The Asus ROG Strix G15 offers just that at a respectable price. It has a 15.6-inch 1080p FHD 300Hz display powered by a Ryzen R7-5800H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti (aka a dedicated graphics card), 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage.
All of these specifications translate into a powerful laptop for work and play. There is even a row of RGB lighting along the bottom deck, and everyone knows that the more RGB you have on a gaming PC, the better you are at playing.
There are many factors to consider when looking for a computer. Keep in mind that this computer will probably last for several years (maybe longer!), So look not only at how you use one right now, but also what you may end up needing in the future. By securing your investment for the future, you save money and keep headaches to a minimum.
Look at the processor included in the building and google the model number. For example, if the processor is an i7-1165G7, look it up to see how old it is. I can tell you just by looking at the number that it is an 11th generation processor, so it supports Windows 11 and all the security features it requires. But you will not find a good deal on a computer only to later find out that it uses an older processor that does not allow you to install or upgrade to Windows 11.
If you’re shopping for a Mac, Apple is moving away from Intel processors to its own Apple Silicon processors. Apple will support its Intel models well into the future, but I recommend buying a Mac with Apple’s M1 chips. We’re already starting to see some features in software updates that are limited to Apple Silicon processors, and that trend is likely to continue with each major update.
For both Windows and Mac computers, you want something with at least 8 GB of memory or RAM. If you do a lot of video editing, image editing and multitasking, consider upgrading to 16 GB of memory.
When it comes to storage, I would shy away from a computer with 128 GB of storage. The exception to that rule is for Chromebooks, simply because most of your files are automatically synced to your Google Drive account and do not take up space on your device.
It’s surprising how fast a hard drive fills up, so either have a plan to download extra files and folders to a cloud storage provider like iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive or get a hard drive that’s bigger than you think you need. Remember, with the exception of gaming computers and some laptops, you are stuck with the specifications of the device you buy – it is not an option to add more storage or memory yourself.
The prices are accurate and are in stock at the time of publication.