Guide to buying a laptop

Guide to buying a laptop

Buying a laptop is an easy process. As with buying any electronics you should start by visualizing yourself using the item, try to see where and how you will be using your new laptop. Will you use it mostly at a desk? Will you travel a lot with it? Do you play games or use 3D rendering software?

As with any computer equipment the top of the line hardware costs disproportionately more than the mainstream stuff. This means it’s best to buy only what you need and not splash out too much on very expensive gear that will go out of date quickly. Having said that if you really could use a DVD burner and a high resolution screen then of course you should get them.

Are you a power user?

The majority of computer uses don’t need anything beyond Office applications, email and the Internet. So if you’re one of these people you should go for a very cheap Celeron based laptop, from Dell an entry level model such as this will be under $700. The standard 14.1″ or 15″ screen will be fine for light work, especially word processing and reading online articles. I really suggest you get at least 512mb of RAM since Windows XP is a real memory hog.

The drawbacks of an entry level laptop such as this are basically performance. These laptops use what’s called ‘integrated graphics’ or ‘shared memory graphics’ this means that the graphics subsystem shares access to the main memory with the central processor rather than having it’s own dedicated memory.

This ‘sharing’ of memory resources means that basically all 3D games won’t run on an ‘integrated graphics’ laptop and performance in graphics heavy applications will be poor (although most light users wouldn’t notice).

Another thing to remember is that Pentium 4s and Pentium 4 Celerons suffer much more of a performance hit from integrated graphics that Pentium M (Centrino) laptops. So for example if you have a digital camera and you intend to do a little bit of photography stuff on your laptop I would suggest going for an inexpensive Pentium M laptop rather than a Celeron (which is rock bottom in graphics performance).

One positive thing is that these entry level laptops are usually quite compact and generally have good battery life since they lack a lot of high drain components.

Laptops that do more

I expect most high power users will already know all of what I’m covering in this article so I’ll pitch this at first time ‘serious’ laptop buyers. If you plan on playing a few games or running multiple applications (say web designers) then you’ll want a laptop with a bit more performance.

For graphics professionals or serious hobbyists I recommend getting a Pentium 4 3Ghz or higher laptop with 128Mb of video RAM. Most filtering or rendering computations go much better on the Pentium 4 because of it’s high clock speed and memory bandwidth. While the Pentium M/Centrino is great for games and multitasking it doesn’t have the ‘legs’ for hard core tasks such as encoding DVD movies or music.

What the Pentium M/Centrino does have on it’s side is efficiency. It’s nearly as fast as the top end Pentium 4s but uses way less power and produces much less heat. This means that no matter what applications you use with your laptop, if you carry it around a lot and use it on the road I recommend you buy a Pentium M/Centrino laptop.

So if you’re after a large ‘desktop replacement’ laptop get a Pentium 4 otherwise get a Pentium M.

Mobile graphics processors

In the last year there has been a massive increase in the range and power of mobile graphics processors. Currently ATi has the edge over nVidia withe the Mobile Radeon 9700. This is a great graphics chip but unless you play games there’s no real reason to pay extra to get it. You’ll be fine with other options as long as they have at least 64mb of video memory.

Mobile hard drives

Again new 7200 rpm drives have hit the market in the last 12 months. Some notebooks such as the Sager 8890 support multiple drives in RAID arrays that can serious improve hard drive access speed. If you work with large files (such as heavy graphics, sound or video editing) then I would definitely go for a laptop that supports RAID 0 over 2 or more drives.

The mobile market is getting big

A huge number of people are switching to mobile computers since they save so much space and are so convenient. Prices are dropping fast and new technologies are coming out every 6 months. With this in mind it might be better to save a few dollars on by buying a middle of the road laptop now and upgrade in the next 12 months selling off your old laptop. That way you keep up with the latest technology and never pay through the nose for bleeding edge technology.

Top Laptops for College in 2016

Laptop for College

What is the best Laptop for College – A buying guide

College is no longer all about books and handwritten papers. Nowadays you need a great laptop in order to make the most out of your learning experience. Investing in a decent computer is pretty much an investment in your future. Keep that in mind when analyzing the next few guidelines. Because there are so many options out there for you to choose from, and so little time, we’ve decided to spare you the effort of browsing through dozens of possibilities. Your buying guide is mostly based on the most popular questions our readers have sent our way.

What is the main purpose of a laptop throughout college?

Even though a laptop should do pretty much everything, consider some particularities before starting your search. This is a great way to limit the options and narrow things down to just a few products. From our experience and based on what we have read about the best laptops for college 2016, we recommend focusing on a great internet connection, excellent keyboard layout and portability. Those characteristics will help you make the most out of your investment. You will be able to always stay connected, keep up with teachers in class and also run around campus from class to class.  Even though college is not your best time when it comes to money, try making an effort when it comes to buying a laptop. Some of the students might need some extra features depending on their major. Keep that in mind if you are an architect or a film major. We recommend the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13. For more details check out the reviews below.

How big should a college laptop be?

The best laptop for college 2016 should be between 13 and 15 inches in order not to bother you too much while running through campus. Even though displays can be as wide as 17 inches, we recommend focusing on portability rather than on size. A 14 inch laptop is just perfect for students who are always on the go. We recommend getting the ASUS Ultrabook Notebook. For more information check out the reviews below.

How much should a college laptop cost?

That depends on what you plan on doing with it. Usually you could spend around $300-$500 on a regular device which should do a great job at helping you get through all the classes. Some on the other hand might need high end performance in order to work with complex algorithms and programs. For those we recommend going above $500. One great thing you can do to save some money is to get a computer with integrated software. Don’t waste extra money on expensive licenses.

What should a college laptop look like?

We all know college is not all about studying. Why not attract some attention with your device. There are several manufacturers that make some amazing looking laptops. Also consider the fact that college might be rough for your laptop so get one which should last you forever. This way you will surely be able to enjoy it all throughout college.

What college students recommend

Not having a laptop is no longer an option for students. The vast volume of research and information needed to complete term papers and projects which count for your final grade cannot be accessed in a different way than with a computer. Choosing the best laptop for college 2016 will be difficult though as prices have dropped and the options are now endless. Our experts have tested many devices and have come up with a list of five top end products which can be affordable for most of the students out there. In order to make this list they’ve focused on a few important features which any user can find useful.

ASUS X401A-BCL0705Y Ultrabook Notebook

ASUS X401A-BCL0705Y Ultrabook NotebookThe Ultrabook by Asus is one of the most durable laptops on the market. It is not only fast but very sturdy and reliable which is a must for any college student. It comes with a fast 1.8GHz Intel Celeron processor and 4 GB DDR3 which is perfect for text editing and even basic photo and video manipulation. The 14 inch display which comes with UMA graphics is capable of producing a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. The wireless connection is very fast and it does not drain the battery as fast as other adaptors do. In terms of design this is just the right size and weight to carry around through campus without having back pain the next day.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Touchscreen Ultrabook

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Touchscreen UltrabookLenovo’s Yoga IdeaPad is one of the most cool-looking devices out there. It is incredibly slim and has the perfect features needed to satisfy even the most demanding of users. It comes with an impressive i5 processor by Intel which will handle almost everything you have to throw at it. It comes with a 128GB SSD which is a lot faster than your average HDD. This compact gadget has a 13.3 inch display which is beautifully showcased with the help of Intel’s HD graphic card. The Yoga IdeaPad has an impressive battery which will last for 8 hours straight. It also comes with a preinstalled version of Windows 8 which means you will be spared of spending extra money on a Microsoft license.

ASUS VivoBook S500CA-SI30401U Ultrabook

ASUS VivoBook S500CA-SI30401U UltrabookThe VivoBook is created especially for those who have a lot of internet browsing to do and also a lot of text editing. It has great features without going over the top. It comes with a fast 24GB SSD to help you run important software a lot faster than you would with a normal HDD. For storage you get 500GB worth of space provided by a normal HDD. This Ultrabook comes with an i3 processor and 4 GB DDR3. It is the perfect gadget for those who don’t have to deal with complex software but still want to see programs like Photoshop run smoothly. It is very user friendly with its 15 inch touchscreen display which works perfectly with the preinstalled version of Windows 8.

ASUS VivoBook S400CA-RSI5T18 Ultrabook

ASUS VivoBook S500CA-SI30401U UltrabookThis is an upgraded version of the device mentioned before. It is definitely one of the best college laptops 2016. It comes with an i5 processor by Intel and a 24 GB SSD for instant reactions. It is powered by 4GB DDR3 and it has 500GB of storage space on its 5400rpm HDD. It comes with a 14 inch screen and a battery which will easily last for 5 hours. It comes with a preinstalled version of Windows 8 and it is fitted with the latest technology in USB ports. It weighs in 4 pounds which makes it one of the most lightweight laptops on the market.

Acer S3-391-6046 Ultrabook

Acer S3-391-6046 UltrabookAcer’s Ultrabook is one of the most affordable gadgets on this list. It is also according to our experts, one of the best laptops for college 2016. It has a 13.3 inch display which is perfect if you are looking for portability. It has an i3 Intel Core processor which combined with 4GB DDR3 make it one of the fastest devices in its market range. It is perfect for communicating with your loved ones who are back home. It comes with a 1.3MP webcam and a very fast wireless connection. It is delivered with a preinstalled version of Windows 8. It weights in 3 pounds and it has one of the most durable exteriors on this list.

Best Gaming Mouse – Comparison Chart

Gaming Mouse

One of the most important peripherals for a PC gamer is their mouse. With an excellent gaming mouse you can dominate the opponent. Without one, you may be the one dominated.

If you’re interested in other gaming peripherals, check out our gaming headset section.

Column Breakdown

  • Image – picture of the mouse
  • Gaming Mouse – is the name of the specific mouse
  • Hand – indicates if only right hand, or both right and left hand versions are available
  • Buttons – number of button available, including programmable buttons
  • Max DPI – the highest DPI (dot per inch) you can adjust to
  • Connection – if the mouse uses a cable or is wireless
  • Weight – how heavy the mouse is. Some mice has additional weights that can be added to change the weight.
  • Rating – the Amazon.com rating users have rated it (5 stars is the highest)
  • Price – cost of the specific mouse in US$.

Image Gaming Mouse Hand Buttons Max DPI Connection Weight Rating Price
Razer DeathAdder 2013 Razer DeathAdder 2013 both 12 6400 wired 0.23 lbs. 4.2 52.99
Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse right 20 8200 wired 0.29 lbs. 4.1 54.99
E-Blue Mazer Type-R E-Blue Mazer Type-R right 6 2500 wired 0.35 lbs. 4.3 16.50
Razer Naga 2014 MMO Razer Naga 2014 MMO right `9 8200 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.0 69.99
Logitech G400s Optical Gaming Mouse Logitech G400s Optical Gaming Mouse right 8 4000 wired 0.29 lbs. 4.4 46.82
Razer Naga Molten Special Edition Razer Naga Molten Special Edition both 17 5600 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.0 67.98
Razer Abyssus Optical PC Gaming Mouse Razer Abyssus Optical PC Gaming Mouse both 3 3500 wired 0.16 lbs. 4.3 31.99
Razer Naga MMO PC Gaming Mouse Razer Naga MMO PC Gaming Mouse right 17 5600 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.0 60.75
Anker 8000 DPI Laser Gaming Mouse Anker 8000 DPI Laser Gaming Mouse right 9 8000 wired 0.31 lbs. 4.6 39.99
Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse right 13 5700 wired / wireless 0.32 lbs. 4.2 63.50
Razer DeathAdder PC Gaming Mouse Razer DeathAdder PC Gaming Mouse both 5 3500 wired 0.33 lbs. 4.2 46.93
Razer Naga Epic Rechargable Wireless Mouse Razer Naga Epic Rechargable Wireless Mouse right 17 5600 wired / wireless 0.30 lbs. 4.0 105.13
Razer Ouroboros Elite Razer Ouroboros Elite both 11 8200 wired / wireless 0.29 lbs. 3.7 139.99
ROCCAT Kone XTD Max Customization ROCCAT Kone XTD Max Customization right 8 8200 wired 0.31 lbs. 4.5 79.50
Razer Taipan PC Gaming Mouse Razer Taipan PC Gaming Mouse both 9 8200 wired 0.29 lbs. 4.1 61.99
SteelSeries Sensei Raw Laser Gaming Mouse SteelSeries Sensei Raw Laser Gaming Mouse both 7 5700 CPI wired 0.20 lbs. 4.3 47.99
Razer Naga Hex MOBA Razer Naga Hex MOBA right 11 5600 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.0 66.62
E-Blue Cobra Junior E-Blue Cobra Junior right 6 1600 wired 0.29 lbs. 4.3 10.34
Razer Orochi Mobile PC Gaming Mouse Razer Orochi Mobile PC Gaming Mouse both 7 6400 wired / wireless 0.16 lbs. 3.8 59.99
Logitech G300 Programmable Gaming Mouse Logitech G300 Programmable Gaming Mouse both 9 2500 wired 0.18 lbs. 4.1 26.99
Logitech G500 Programmable Gaming Mouse Logitech G500 Programmable Gaming Mouse right 10 5700 wired 0.34 lbs. 4.2 63.98
UtechSmart US-D8200-GM Laser Gaming Mouse UtechSmart US-D8200-GM Laser Gaming Mouse right 11 8200 wired n/a 4.1 31.99
Corsair Vengeance M65 Corsair Vengeance M65 right 8 8200 wired 0.32 lbs. 4.2 59.99
Razer Mamba Rechargable Wireless Razer Mamba Rechargable Wireless right 7 6400 wired / wireless 0.30 lbs. 3.4 101.98
E-Blue Mazer Wireless Optical E-Blue Mazer Wireless Optical right 6 2500 wireless 0.19 lbs. 3.8 23.85
Razer Deathadder Infrared Gaming Mouse Razer Deathadder Infrared Gaming Mouse right 5 3500 wired n/a 4.2 59.60
Razer Naga Hex League of Legends Razer Naga Hex League of Legends right 11 5600 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.0 72.98
Mad Catz R.A.T.5 Gaming Mouse Mad Catz R.A.T.5 Gaming Mouse right 6 5600 wired 0.33 lbs. 4.2 60.55
Corsair Vengeance M95 Corsair Vengeance M95 right 15 8200 wired 0.32 lbs. 3.9 69.99
Anker 5000 DPI Precision Gaming Mouse Anker 5000 DPI Precision Gaming Mouse right 11 5000 wired 0.30 lbs. 4.7 39.99
ROCCAT Lua Tri-Button Gaming Mouse ROCCAT Lua Tri-Button Gaming Mouse both 3 2000 wired 0.15 lbs. 4.5 26.48
SteelSeries Call of Duty Black Ops II SteelSeries Call of Duty Black Ops II both 7 5600 wired 0.20 lbs. 4.4 29.99
Perixx MX-2000IIB Perixx MX-2000IIB right 8 5600 wired n/a 4.6 39.54
CM Storm Spawn Gaming Mouse CM Storm Spawn Gaming Mouse claw 7 4000 wired 0.31 lbs. 4.3 33.05
CM Storm Xornet Gaming Mouse CM Storm Xornet Gaming Mouse claw 7 2000 wired 0.31 lbs. 4.3 26.34

Best Gaming Headset – Comparison Chart

Gaming Headset

Audio is a big part of playing video games, whether it’s on your laptop, online or on a console. If you want to keep the sound to yourself and get the surround sound feeling without disturbing anyone else, a gaming headset is what you need. Plus you get to converse with your friends during the game.

Column Breakdown

  • Image – a visual picture of the product.
  • Gaming Headset – the product name.
  • Cord Length – is how long the cable is in feet. Those that are wireless are indicated as such.
  • Frequency Response – represents the how high (treble) and how low (bass) the frequencies the speakers on the headset are able to achieve. For gaming, specially if you want to emphasize the booms, want a low first number.
  • Connector – Headsets come mostly with USB or 3.5mm audio jacks to connect to your laptop or desktop.
  • Rating – based on Amazon.com’s 5 star score. 5 stars is the highest score a product can receive.
  • Price – is an estimate of how much the item costs in US$.

Image
Gaming Headset
Cord Length
Frequency Response
Connector
Rating
Price
Logitech G930 Wireless Gaming Headset with 7.1 Surround Sound Logitech G930 Wireless Gaming Headset with 7.1 Surround Sound wireless 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 3.9 104.99
Plantronics Audio 478 Stereo Headset Plantronics Audio 478 Stereo Headset 6.5 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.3 28.99
Logitech ClearChat Comfort Logitech ClearChat Comfort 8 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 3.7 26.22
Sennheiser HD201 Lightweight Over-Ear Headphones Sennheiser HD201 Lightweight Over-Ear Headphones 9.8 feet 21 Hz – 18 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.1 23.96
Koss CS100 Speech Recognition Computer Headset Koss CS100 Speech Recognition Computer Headset 8 feet 30 Hz – 16 kHz USB 3.9 13.66
Logitech H800 Wireless Headset Logitech H800 Wireless Headset wireless 30 Hz – 15 kHz USB 3.8 72.60
VXi BlueParrott B250-XT Bluetooth Headset VXi BlueParrott B250-XT Bluetooth Headset wireless 20 Hz – 15 kHz n/a 4.2 78.95
Logitech G35 7.1-Channel Surround Sound Headset Logitech G35 7.1-Channel Surround Sound Headset 10 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.1 84.99
Razer Kraken Pro Over Ear PC and Music Headset Razer Kraken Pro Over Ear PC and Music Headset 4.3 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.0 64.99
Plantronics GameCom 780 Dota 2 Badged Headset Plantronics GameCom 780 Dota 2 Badged Headset 6.5 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.0 59.99
Logitech G230 Stereo Gaming Headset Logitech G230 Stereo Gaming Headset 7.5 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.1 49.99
Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo PC Gaming Headset Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo PC Gaming Headset 6.5 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.2 77.99
Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset 8 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 3.9 27.74
PS3 Ear Force P11 Gaming Headset PS3 Ear Force P11 Gaming Headset 16 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 3.9 35.78
Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 Amplified PC Gaming Headset Turtle Beach Ear Force Z22 Amplified PC Gaming Headset 16 feet 50Hz – 15kHz 3.5 mm jack / USB 4.1 71.49
Turtle Beach Call of Duty: Black Ops II Limited Edition Turtle Beach Call of Duty: Black Ops II Limited Edition 16 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.2 59.99
SteelSeries Siberia V2 Full-Size Gaming Headset SteelSeries Siberia V2 Full-Size Gaming Headset 9.8 feet 18 Hz – 28 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.3 61.73
Astro Gaming A40 Neon Color Series Astro Gaming A40 Neon Color Series 10 feet 15 Hz – 28 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.4 149.99
Corsair Vengeance 1500 with Dolby 7.1 Corsair Vengeance 1500 with Dolby 7.1 9.8 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 3.9 109.99
CM Storm Sirus with True 5.1 Surround Sound and Control Module CM Storm Sirus with True 5.1 Surround Sound and Control Module 3.9 feet 10 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack / USB 4.2 105.99
Sennheiser PC 350 Special Edition Gaming Headset Sennheiser PC 350 Special Edition Gaming Headset 9.8 feet 10 Hz – 26 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.4 181.71
Beyerdynamic 715565 PC Gaming Premium Beyerdynamic 715565 PC Gaming Premium 8.2 feet 5 Hz – 30 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.6 399.00
Turtle Beach Ear Force XP400 Turtle Beach Ear Force XP400 wireless 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 3.9 189.96
Turtle Beach Ear Force PX51 Wireless Turtle Beach Ear Force PX51 Wireless wireless 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.1 250.14
Corsair Vengeance 1300 Corsair Vengeance 1300 9.8 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 3.9 64.98
Razer Battlefield 4 Razer Battlefield 4 4.3 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.2 119.99
Sennheiser PC 310 Gaming Headset Sennheiser PC 310 Gaming Headset 9.8 feet 80 Hz – 15 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.2 68.34
Sennheiser PC 323D Gaming Headset Sennheiser PC 323D Gaming Headset 9.8 feet 15 Hz – 23 kHz 3.5 mm jack / USB 4.3 94.80
SteelSeries 3HV2 Gaming Headset SteelSeries 3HV2 Gaming Headset 3.9 feet 10 Hz – 27 kHz 3.5 mm jack 3.8 29.99
Sennheiser PC 363D Surround Sound Gaming Headset Sennheiser PC 363D Surround Sound Gaming Headset 9.8 feet 15 Hz – 28 kHz 3.5 mm jack / USB 4.5 240.87
Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Gaming Headset 16 feet 50 Hz – 15 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.3 48.00
Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 Turtle Beach Ear Force XP510 wireless 50 Hz – 15 kHz 3.5 mm jack 4.3 239.99
Sony Pulse Elite Edition Wireless Stereo Headset Sony Pulse Elite Edition Wireless Stereo Headset wireless 3.5 mm jack 4.3 121.0
Turtle Beach Ear Force PX22 Universal Gaming Headset Turtle Beach Ear Force PX22 Universal Gaming Headset 16 feet 20 Hz – 20 kHz USB 4.3 74.7

Gaming Laptops under 800 Dollars

Acer Aspire V3-771G-6485

The top pick among gaming laptops under $800 is the Acer Aspire V3-771G-6485.

Equipped with a powerful NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M graphics card, it allows users to enjoy lag free gaming on demanding RPG and FPS games including Diablo III, Mass Effect 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

In a price level where most gaming laptops afford medium to high settings on PC games, the Acer Aspire is able to run majority of the games at high to ultra settings. Certain games however, like Crysis 3, Hitman:Absolution and Metro: Last Light will only go smoothly above 30 fps at medium settings.

To complement, the gaming experience, the Aspire V3-771G-6485 offers 1600 x 900 maximum pixel resolution on its large 17.3 inch screen. Powered by an Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.6 GHz and 6 GB of DDR3 RAM it is able to take advantage of games that utilize multi-threading technology.

The following round out our top 5 affordable gaming laptops at this price level.

#2
#3
#4
#5

Acer Aspire V3-571G-9686

Acer Aspire V3-571G-9686

Dell Inspiron i15Rse-4267ALU

Dell Inspiron i15Rse-4267ALU

Acer Aspire V3-571G-6622

Acer Aspire V3-571G-6622

Toshiba Satellite S855-S5170

Toshiba Satellite S855-S5170

Price 799.00 770.00 629.99 734.99
Customer Rating 4.3 out of 5.0 4.2 out of 5.0 3.8 out of 5.0 4.0 out of 5.0
Screen 15.6” 15.6” 15.6” 15.6”
Max Screen Resolution 1366 x 768 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels 1366 x 768 pixels 1366 x 768 pixels
Processor Intel Core i7-3615QM 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7-3632QM 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5-3230M 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-3630QM 2.4 GHz
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M AMD Radeon HD 7730M NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M AMD Radeon HD 7670M
RAM 6 GB 8 GB 4 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive 500 GB 5400 RPM 750 GB 5400 RPM 500 GB 5400 RPM 1 TB 5400 RPM
Operating System Windows 8 Windows 8 Windows 8 Windows 8
Battery Life 4.5 hours 4 hours 4.5 hours 4 hours
Dimensions 15 x 9.96 x 1.30 inches 14.9 x 9.9 x 1.34 inches 15 x 9.96 x 1.30 inches 14.96 x 9.53 x 1.31 inches
Weight 5.74 lbs. 6.1 lbs. 5.74 lbs. 5.5 lbs.

What to Expect from Gaming Laptops under $800

1. Graphics & Gaming Capability

Gaming laptops under 800 dollars will allow users to run computing intensive games at an affordable price. The graphics cards included in these laptops fall between Class 2 and Class 3 categories. When possible take advantage of the Class 2 video cards as these mid range graphics cards allow you to play the newest games at medium to high settings at high resolution smoothly.

For the gaming laptop computers in this price range, the following graphics cards are available.  Based on their class ratings, here is how they look:

Class 2:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M
  • AMD Radeon HD 7730M

For the Class 2 graphic cards listed above, expect to be able to achieve these game setting details for these new and demanding PC games.

Settings are based on the ability of achieving 30 fps (frames per seconds) or higher. This provides smooth transitions between frames during the game.

Settings are based on the ability of achieving 30 fps (frames per seconds) or higher. This provides smooth transitions between frames during the game.

Class 3:

  • AMD Radeon HD 7660M + HD 7670M Dual
  • AMD Radeon HD 7670M
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
  • AMD Radeon HD 7570M

The main difference between these two classes aside from price is Class 2 allows for both more detailed graphics quality during run time and higher video resolution. Very noticeable is that the Class 3 video cards perform at a notch lower compared to the Class 2 options. However, they are also more affordable which either translates into lower cost of the laptop or higher specifications in RAM, Hard Drive or other features.

2. Display Size & Screen Resolution

Most of the laptops found in this price range also have 15 inch screens except for a handful that offer the larger 17 inch screen. While the 17 inch screen provides better visual experience it also adds to the cost of the machine, which in the end can compromise how much is allocated for the graphics card.

As for screen resolution, all of them come in standard HD. Though, they are limited to the low end of this spectrum at 1366 x 768 pixels. There are a few exceptions like that Acer Aspire V3-771G-6485, which has a 1600 x 900 resolution that is seen more among gaming laptops under $1000. Rare is the full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel capability, seen in the Dell Inspiron i15Rse-4267ALU.

3. Processing Power

What’s under the hood are combinations of dual and quad core processors. Those running of Intel chips will often be of the Core i5 or Core i7 variety, while their AMD counterparts will be equipped with the A8 and A10 gaming optimized processors. When it comes to executing games fluently, the CPU takes a back seat to the GPU as graphics computations are what make the game engines run. Except for a few video games that are made to take advantage of the extra multi-threading capability of the processor, users aren’t going to see huge amounts of difference between the Core i5 and i7 CPUs during game play.

4. Hard Drives

In the ideal world, gamers will have SSDs or solid state drives, instead of the 5400 RPM hard drives. If not, the faster 7200 RPM at least. Having the faster disk drive removes the bottleneck caused by slow transfer of data to and from the hard disk to the memory. And because the graphics card, CPU and RAM move significantly faster than the hard disk, this is where the slowdown occurs.

However, as a compromise to its affordability, gaming laptops under $800 only come with 5400 RPM hard drives. For serious games, this can be upgraded or switched out in favor of any of the faster storage systems mentioned above.

Conclusions

While you aren’t going to be able to achieve the highest settings in all gaming titles as you would with $2000 notebooks from Sager or Razer, these affordable laptops offer an excellent means of getting a full video, audio and reactive gamine experience on good graphics quality and video resolution outputs.

Best Free and Paid Antivirus for Windows 10 2016

Best Antivirus

The internet is filled with malware, adware, and other unwanted programs that you can easily download and install without even knowing it. That’s why it’s imperative to take measures to protect your system so that your files remain private and your computer keeps running great.

Is Windows Defender Enough?

If you want added protection other than Windows Defender, there are a lot of free and paid options out there to pick from. Antivirus software comparison tests have shown Windows Defender to fall short of several other major providers. It received a 3.5 out of 6 from AV-TEST. That being said, Windows Defender does have some advantages. It’s free, built-in, and won’t annoy you with pop up requests to upgrade or anything like that. If you keep it up to date, it is functional, but not comprehensive.

What are Zero Day Attacks?

Zero day attacks are types of viral threats that are so new that anti-virus software isn’t yet familiar with them. They are new viruses basically. A very good anti-virus application will be able to block them from installing or accessing files on your computer anyway, but their unfamiliar nature makes some of them difficult to detect.

What’s the Difference Between Free and Paid Software?

Tests have shown that both free and paid antivirus programs function just the same. Think of free antivirus as a trial version. You can’t access 100% of the features, but it generally does the same thing. The paid software has extra features that are not necessarily needed to protect your machine, like parental controls and identity theft protection. Unless you’d really like to have the additional options, maybe to protect your computer from children or people who may not be as careful as they should when browsing the web, free antivirus will provide you with everything you need.

What is the Best Overall Antivirus Software?

According to AV-Test, BitDefender Internet Security is the best all around anti-virus you can get. It got full credit in all categories including 100% protection for zero day attacks, and 99.9% detection of widespread malware compared to the industry average of 99%.

There are several other anti-virus applications that are only marginally less comprehensive. The best runners up are Norton, Avira, Kapersky Lab, and Trend Micro. Here are the top ten listed in order:

  • BitDefender Internet Security
  • Norton Security 2016
  • Avira Antivirus Pro 2016
  • Kaspersky Lab Internet Security
  • Trend Micro Internet Security
  • F-Secure Safe 2016
  • AVG Internet Security 2016
  • BullGuard Internet Security
  • Avast Free Antivirus 2016
  • AhnLab V3 Internet Security

10 Steps You Can Take to Secure a Laptop

Keep your laptop safe

Your laptop is your livelihood. It harnesses all of your most personal data. If the contents of your laptop get into the wrong hands, it could be big trouble, maybe even identity theft. That’s why it’s imperative to protect your machine in any way that you can. These 10 easy precautionary measures will help keep your laptop safe and secure.

Turn Off File Sharing

If you’re using unfamiliar networks, you don’t have the same guarantee of privacy for the files on your computer unless you turn file sharing off. With file sharing on, you may not even be aware that someone else on the network you’re connected to is snooping through your computer’s hard drive.

Avoid Accessing Sensitive Informative While Connected to an Unknown Network

When possible you should refrain from viewing or entering private data while using unfamiliar networks. The network administrator or others may have access to view your online activity. No matter who it is, you don’t want them to be able to view things such as your online banking log in, social media and email passwords, or any other personal data.

Use Password Protection

Make sure that your laptop is set up with a password so that every time you turn it on or wake it up, you need to enter a pin or password. Choose your password carefully, and come up with something that would be very difficult to guess.

Take Precautions Against Ways Around Your Password

Disabling the ability to boot windows from your CD drive or USB port will prevent anyone from bypassing your password and taking over your machine. You can do this through the BIOS (basic input/output system) menu, which can be accessed by tapping F10 during system boot up on Windows. You can also set a password on access to BIOS to prevent anyone else from being able to change your settings.

Use HTTPS and SSL Whenever You Can

Have you ever noticed the ‘S’ at the end of the http address on certain sites? That stands for “secure,” so try typing the ‘S’ manually and reloading the page if it’s not already present.

Switch Off Wi-Fi When You’re Not Using it

If you don’t need to be connected, it’s safer not to be. When you’re machine is offline, no one can access it remotely, so you’re files and information will be safe from prying eyes.

Use a Firewall

You should leave your firewall on at all times if possible. You should be sure the router you’re using has a good firewall as well.

Encrypt Your Hard Drive

Hard drive encryption is a very effective way to protect your files. Programs like TrueCrypt will do it automatically.

Use Anti-Virus Software

Get an up to date and reputable anti-virus software system on your computer to detect and eliminate any threats before they materialize into a major issue.

Use a Virtual Private Network

VPN’s are an excellent way of protecting sensitive data by encrypting it before sending it out. There are various programs you can download that will automatically encrypt everything you send out once they are activated on your machine.