MI Technology Management

Modern Technology

So, you’re looking for a laptop.

Nobody wants to spend $500+ dollars on a lemon, so here’s our guide on how to make sure the laptop you decide on will be snappy and reliable for years to come. We’re going to address three key elements to a good laptop: Storage, CPU, and RAM. By the end of this article you will have a good understanding of what these are and how they effect your machine’s overall performance.


Storage: Hard Drive vs Solid State

When looking for a laptop the BIGGEST performance consideration is whether your using a Hard Drive or a Solid State Drive. This is a bit counter intuitive because people might seek out the fastest processors or most amount of RAM first for performance, but even the most expensive computer will be sluggish if it has the wrong type of drive in it.


Whats the difference?

Hard Drives (often abbreviated as HDD) are based on an older technology. The information is stored on spinning disks and a needle reads the information off sort of like a record player; If you want to play a specific part of a song you’d have to pick up the needle, wait for the disk to spin around to the right part and put it back down. The files on your computer are sort of like the music on a record player, when you want to get the information from a file your operating system asks the hard drive for the data and the hard drive has to wait for the disks inside it to spin around to the right part. This is made worse by a problem known as Disk Fragmentation in which a file has it’s data split into multiple parts in multiple areas of the disk resulting in even more waiting.

Solid State Drives (abbreviated SSD) are much newer. The information is stored in electrical circuits and it takes the same amount of time to access information no matter where it is because there are no moving parts. This means even if a file becomes fragmented there is no performance cost.


Why does it Matter?

When you open a file, run a program, or boot your computer information has to be loaded from your storage. If you’re using a hard drive then this process will be slow no matter how fast your CPU is. It is very important for the speed of your machine that your primary drive (the place where your operating system is stored) is a solid state drive because your computer constantly has to access files in your Windows Folder and your Programs Folder. We’ve seen laptops which take 10 seconds to open chrome improve to less than 1 second just from switching from a Hard Drive to Solid State! Hard Drives are best used to store pictures and videos because you only need to access them occasionally and Hard Drive storage is cheaper.

So When you’re deciding on which laptop to get make sure that the storage is SSD and not HDD!




CPU / Processor : What to look for

Processor performance is a very complicated topic which is beyond the scope of this article because it is a combination of Clock Speed, Core Count, Thread Count, Architecture, and Extensions. Most modern laptops have CPU’s which are plenty capable, but make sure that your CPU has at least 4 Cores and a clock speed of at least 2.5Ghz. If you plan to do intensive things like Gaming, Video Editing, or Photo Editing you will likely want even more cores and a higher clock speed. We recommend you check the recommended requirements for the software you plan to use.





RAM : How Much?

Ram is your computer’s scratch paper where programs can store data that they need fast access to. When your computer runs out of this super high speed memory your operating system will start using your storage disk as scratch space which causes a MASSIVE slow down — RAM access is 100,000x faster then hard drive access.

Nowadays, programs are very memory hungry. Your web browser can easily take up more than 2 Gigabytes of RAM! We suggest all users have at least 8GB of RAM and we recommend users have 16GB for comfort.


Now you know what to look for

Pay attention to these three key things when buying a laptop and you’ll be picking like a pro. Of course, always make sure to check the reviews as well.