After four years of using Macbook Pro as my primary machine, I switched to a non-mac laptop last year. From then on, I have scoured Amazon/ Flipkart, watched multiple youtube videos, and read reviews in my hunt for a good machine (once for myself and thrice for friends/relatives). This post is an attempt to summarize the findings.
I suppose this post will be most useful to people looking for a machine within ₹35000 - ₹60000, in India. This will help if you are not very familiar with the jargon used in laptop specs. Do have a maximum amount(at least a ballpark) in your mind before you start your search. Without it, you will waste time unnecessarily.
At least 8GB DDR4
- Check the frequency as well. Though I didn’t see any difference for laptops in the same price range.
- Windows 10 needs at least 8GB to run smoothly.
- I have 8GB DDR4. Ubuntu often freezes if I open too many tabs in browsers + run multiple dev servers.
- A friend had bought a machine with 4GB RAM two years ago. It’s unusable even for light browsing, according to him.
At least 256GB SSD
- SSDs offer significant performance improvements over HDDs.
- 256 GBs are enough to hold the OS and your files. Get more if budget permits.
- You can add a bigger HDD or use an external HDD to store large files.
AMD Ryzen series or Intel 10th generation
- AMDs are cheaper, beat their intel counterparts in performance, and gel well with onboard graphics.
- Once you have optimized for RAM, storage, and processor series, you will be left two-three processor options. You can then compare the benchmarks of those to figure out performance differences.
- If you are into gaming, go for laptops in gaming laptop sections on Flipkart/Amazon.
- Dedicated graphics cards increase weight and decrease battery life.
- Graphic cards in lower-end laptops aren’t that better than onboard GPUs.
FHD, IPS if it fits your budget
- 14inch screen is enough for regular use.
- Laptops in the same price range offer similar color gamut and refresh rates. Refresh rate should be 60Hz+. I didn’t see any laptop with more than 60% sRGB coverage in this price range.
- Manufacturers use a lot of marketing gimmicks. Find a detailed review, like the ones on laptopmedia.com, or watch multiple youtube reviews of laptop models you have shortlisted to get an idea about the display.
- Unless you intend to use them as tablets, you don’t need a foldable or touch display.
- Don’t trust numbers given in specs. Check reviews. You’ll almost never get the hours specified in specs.
Keyboard and trackpad
Backlit keyboard if it fits your budget
- Laptops in the same price range tend to have similar keyboards and trackpads. Read/watch reviews to ensure that the one you intend to buy does not have a particularly terrible keyboard or touchpad.
- Nothing to optimize here. Every laptop over 35k comes with an HDMI(1.4) and USB ports (at least one 3.1, Type A). Check for a specific type/version of USB or HDMI(or any other) ports if you need one.
- Flipkart lets you filter using a lot of parameters. Amazon is generally cheaper.
- First, shortlist a few laptops using the above-mentioned params, then watch/read reviews to narrow down to one.
- Prefer a laptop with a detailed review over one with slightly better specs but no detailed reviews.
I wish selecting a non-Apple laptop was easier. There aren’t any companies that produce no-nonsense laptops in that price range. I hope this post helps in reducing the clutter and the time you spend looking for a good laptop.
Laptops I suggested over the past year:
ASUS VivoBook 14 (₹35000) - Amazon
Acer Swift 3 (₹53000) - Flipkart
Acer Aspire 5 (₹54000) - Flipkart