WOF: When buying a laptop, what do you value most?

By on August 3, 2012, 8:21 PM

One of the great things about building your own desktop is that you can configure it exactly how you want it -- provided you have the cash -- with off the shelf parts. From motherboard and connectivity, to processor and graphics, to the case housing all the components and peripherals.

It’s a different story when it comes to laptops. Apart from configuring basic stuff such as storage, memory and a few other things -- it varies a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer -- your choices are often limited. You have to shop around and find who makes what more closely matches your needs. Ideally, you’ll want to find a good balance between performance, features and price, but sometimes you have to compromise.

With that in mind we want to know: when buying a laptop, what do you value the most? Cast your vote in the poll below (up to three choices) and share your thoughts in the comments.




User Comments: 47

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Guest said:

plain and simple, build quality.

psycros psycros said:

1) Keyboard

2) Keyboard

3) Keyboard

4) Performance, esp. video. A laptop that can't play games is like a three-legged dog to me.

5) Battery life. I'm rarely using a laptop somewhere I can't plug in so I don't worry much about endurance, but its still nice when the power goes out or you're taking a break at a rest stop.

This pretty much leaves me with Lenovo since I don't know of another company still putting real keyboards on laptops. Fortunately, Lenovo makes some of the most potent laptops around like the Y580. Their also a good value if you catch them on sale, have a coupon code, etc.

Cota Cota said:

I dont use laptops or any mobile device, I cant stand them :P, Its just too impractical for what I do, I just take it like a man and afk from Computers until I arrive home.

yRaz yRaz said:

I have an hp laptop with a core 2 duo, 4 gb of ram and an m4650. I bought it for school so it was perfect for my gaming needs at the time. As long as it can run any application smoothy and be able to play games on low to medium settings I'm perfectly happy with it. Certainly I'd like a beefy graphics card, but that m4650 suited all my gaming needs when I couldn't afford to fix my desktop. I never really gamed on the go. Right now it's usually a friend playing online/LAN games at my house. Mostly CoD4, Age of Empires 2, and killing floor. None of those are very demanding.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Just like every little boys' dream, I'd stick with battery lifetime and graphics. They most matter when you're just killing time. But I guess I'll just keep dreaming.

I don't even have a laptop.

Tehori said:

I had bought an Asus G73 on my own, and then my college gave me a Lenovo W520. Yeah, the Asus had way better graphics, more memory, harddrive space, etc. but the Lenovo was way more reliable, and in the end, that was what mattered. Build quality is hands down the most important aspect of any laptop. After all, a laptop can't do you any good if it breaks.

Scshadow said:

I really can't pick just 3. I mean, I REAAALLLY don't like to compromise.

lalaman lalaman said:

1) Keyboard

2) Keyboard

3) Keyboard

4) Performance, esp. video. A laptop that can't play games is like a three-legged dog to me.

5) Battery life. I'm rarely using a laptop somewhere I can't plug in so I don't worry much about endurance, but its still nice when the power goes out or you're taking a break at a rest stop.

This pretty much leaves me with Lenovo since I don't know of another company still putting real keyboards on laptops. Fortunately, Lenovo makes some of the most potent laptops around like the Y580. Their also a good value if you catch them on sale, have a coupon code, etc.

FINALLY....someone I can agree with =)

Lenovo, despite being one of the few companies who uses English keyboards in Canada also has great overall performance to cost ratio.

Good choice, my friend.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Jose was smart to let us choose only 3 features in the poll (and thus prioritize), so the aggregate results mean something. By the third feature I had them all ticked and was going for a fourth, which made me choose...

Performance is important, but most of today's laptops come with more or less the same kind of processors (and potentially graphics) once you're settled in a price range.

So for me it was build quality, display quality, and keyboard/trackpad (which goes back to overall build quality). If I'm using a laptop it better be comfortable and it better last -- my current MacBook Pro has lasted me almost 5 years which is a LOT by anyone's standards. Before this one I was a ThinkPad guy, and I wouldn't settle for less no matter what.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Jose was smart to let us choose only 3 features in the poll (and thus prioritize), so the aggregate results mean something. By the third feature I had them all ticked and was going for a fourth, which made me choose...

Performance is important, but most of today's laptops come with more or less the same kind of processors (and potentially graphics) once you're settled in a price range.

So for me it was build quality, display quality, and keyboard/trackpad (which goes back to overall build quality). If I'm using a laptop it better be comfortable and it better last -- my current MacBook Pro has lasted me almost 5 years which is a LOT by anyone's standards. Before this one I was a ThinkPad guy, and I wouldn't settle for less no matter what.

This was essentially me on all counts, except I still have my old IBM thinkpad from 2005 (Which I don't really use anymore) and happen to be waiting for Q3-Q4 holiday season to finally upgrade to a brand new laptop. I can't use touchpads effectively anymore because of the track point.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

My only experience with a laptop makes build quality be the #1 factor. I only physically removed it from my desk maybe 4 or 5 times, and yet by the 5th time my screen went out on me.

I used to have my tower PC on the ground next to my desk, and I must have kicked or banged it more times that I can count, and nothing ever broke.

Guest said:

Important factors: Build quality, screen resolution, keyboard, SSD.

Unimportant factors: Processor and memory - in the sense that even a cheap low-end CPU and 4GB RAM is fine for what I use a laptop for (Web browsing, instant messaging and very light productivity).

Discrete graphics - I don't play games or do heavy media editing on laptop.

Thinness - really as long as it's thin and light enough to lug around easily who cares if one model is a millimetre or two thinner than another? You're never going to notice the kind of tiny differences manufacturers are obsessing over at the moment.

Unfortunately all the PC manufacturers seem to be fixated on what I'd consider the unimportant factors, so their marketing departments can boast about how fast the processor is, or how their model laptop 1.5mm thinner than their closest competitor or whatever, whilst completely ignoring the factors I feel are more important and will have a much bigger impact on day to day usage for most users.

Lurker101 said:

I'm saying brand. Mainly because the brand is a good indicator of both build quality and support, in case things break.

gcarter gcarter said:

What frustrates me about the majority of laptops these days, including the so called "hi-end" models is the screen resolution.

The industry seems obsessed with 1366x768... yeah fine, if its on a 10-11" portable, but placing that resolution in 15" laptops is maddening... everything looks like a kids chunky toy on the screen!

I digress, for me, as if you haven't guessed by now... resolution is the most important factor I look for in a laptop. The next is the touchpad! I've lost count as to how many laptops I've parted with simply because of crappy touchpads. The bigger the better, and it has to be Synaptics...

...oh and the size of the screen bezel.... Ive had a number hf HP laptops, and maybe its just me, but a really wide screen bezel makes a laptop look silly... thin bezels are far more aesthetically pleasing.

Twixtea said:

Graphics

Display quality and resolution

Build quality

waterytowers said:

1> Screen resolution is key - I need all the pixels I can get. 1366x768 is a ridiculous resolution on anything above 13 inch. I have seen and played with 13 inch laptops using 1920 x1200 and I thought it was perfectly usable so I would like a 15 inch or 17 inch at 2560 x 1440. I am hoping that apple may lead other vendors to finally provide a screen upgrade. I have even dreamed of buying the new mac pro screen and attaching it to my laptop. Could never bring myself to buy apple, their eco system doesn't suit me.

2> Enough battery for 8 - 10 hours would be nice. I am finding my nexus 7 to be perfect as a web browser, eReader and media viewer. It is not for development though, that requires a laptop, preferably with a high-res screen.

3> Reasonable CPU grunt without the high end GPU. This is something that is not catered for by any vendors. My current laptop is a Clevo with a Nvidia 460M and I really don't need the GPU to be that powerful, but to get a CPU other than the default lowest end mobile i7 requires you to also upgrade your GPU to a gamers level GPU. I run a lot of virtual machines and build environments simultaneously so need all the CPU grunt I can get. I also appreciate being able to work away from a desk from time to time which is why I use a laptop (desktop replacement) and if I had a lower spec'ed GPU I am certain my battery life would increase significantly.

nismo91 said:

Years ago I used choose laptops based on its graphics alone. back in early 2005 I chose an acer 4000 for its ati 9700 64Mb. it was pretty fast at its time. same thing happened when I bought its replacement in 2008.

Now I figured out that even when im always mobile, its more cost-effective to build a desktop and get a low-end laptop. rather than buy a powerful laptop. I get better graphics and higher total resale value.

Graphics is no longer my priority. it's more to size and portability now. I just picked up a lowest end Asus UX21 few days back, and it really lives up to its name (ultrabook) when it comes to size and portability.

Guest said:

Why isn't PRICE on the list?

nismo91 said:

Got to agree with gcarter. synaptics touchpads are great! my laptops always used Synaptics and I didnt realize how great they were until I used an UX21 with ELAN touchpad and I realized it cant even perform basic one-finger scrolling. really missed the "chiral-scrolling" feature on Synaptics touchpads (available with latest driver) too.

Price is definitely my top tier priority list.

yowanvista yowanvista said:

Graphics, I will never simply buy any laptop having a sole integrated Intel crap graphics which would deliver poor performance.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Build Quality, and Ports!

I use my laptops for business to connect to network/server equipment. If anyone out there makes a laptop with a built-in KVM so that I can connect to a headless server (that's likely crashed and I cannot access it remotely) and use the laptop's keyboard, mouse, and monitor to control the server - that would be amazing!!!

Ma_ga said:

I don't like to use laptops, they are very uncomfortable for me, but when I have to use one, I like the lap to have a good keyboard, and that doesn't heat my hands, the heat wasn't add to the list.

EEatGDL said:

I've used my XPS 15 for over a year and I'm overall satisfyed with it: battery life with some tweaks I did to the registry, performance, AUDIO (I love that in my laptop), graphics not the best but it handles well Crysis 2 at minimum (high) and the other games I play on it; and the keyboard backlight, oh, I'm never buying a notebook without it.

Guest said:

As a gamer, graphics. Yea I have a desktop designed specifically more gaming, but I also need a mobile machine to run my games and handle high setting games. Everything else follows suit.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

When buying a laptop, I most value my credit rating.

fteumer said:

I tend to not compromise, which is why I pony'd up for the new MBP with Retina Display. It has all those things, performance, graphics, portability, a killer trackpad/keyboard, and HDMI+USB3.0 (as well as 2x Thunderbolt. Can't wait for more devices with Thunderbolt!).

Dual booting with Windows7 + SSD makes it a desktop replacement easily.

tonylukac said:

I agree with the guest above. As long as your settling for an (inferior) laptop, low price is most important, not to make it a netbook.

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

Display first, 1080p is a must then graphics then cpu speed,core i7 is a must. Its why I have a Asus G75 and thinking about a Alienware M17x R4 next with a SSD.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

I like how Brand is the lowest. People shouldn't look at brand necessarily. Having worked on hundreds of laptops, I have realized the plain and simple fact, you get what you pay for.

Toshiba's popularly known for their power plug connector becoming loose, this disables your laptop completely.

HP had a bad line of laptops that had MAJOR problems with their GPUs.

Each manufacturer has these problems, some more than others... When you buy a laptop, Type up the model numbers in Google, such as "HP Pavilion dv7 problems" and if you get A LOT OF RESULTS with problems all relating to the same issue, this is probably a line of laptops you should stay away from! lol

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I'm a great fan of the PLE factor - Performance, Longevity, Ergonomics.

gobbybobby said:

While I have never bought a laptop.

For me (being a gamer) I want a laptop thats gonna last me 3+ years, I can upgrade my desktop as new hardware is released, Laptops are expensive especially if you have to replace em every few years, so if I was to buy one, I would go all out on a top spec machine, that should last at least 3+ years. Still, Id rather not shell out on a laptop, and just stick to my desktop. if I did want a portable device for video/ web browsing, id get a Tablet, laptops are sooooo yesterday :P

GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

My only laptop I have ever owned and still own and use today is my first generation Dell Inspiron XPS, I got the nicer one with the 3.4ghz Prescott and the Mobility Radeon 9800, 1gb of RAM, DVD-RW and CR-RW drive and a 60gb 7200rpm hard drive, since then I have added another 320gb hard drive to the dvd drives bay and the DVD drive I use dells d-port external device which uses a special usb port on the back. About 3 years ago I put a 2.8ghz northword in here which uses a lot less power and keeps the fans quite (since I don't game on it anymore). Still running today 7 years later, just ordered a new keyboard and LCD inverter and CMOS battery for it, and its on its 2nd battery prob gonna need a new one soon.

RajeGera RajeGera said:

I dont get the purpose of puting up this artice in techno forums..Waste.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't get the purpose of putting up this article in techno forums..Waste.
The point is not the content within the original posting but the content within the comments. And no it's not a waste when a tech topic is being discussed within a tech community. I for one enjoy reading what others think of tech, I may not always agree but I do enjoy reading their comments no matter the topic.

I noticed you only have 15 post but yet you are negatively critiquing someone with well over 1000. Waste.

Zen Zen, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I voted for my key area of importance when it comes to laptop computer, as that is "build quality"! For me, when I was shopping around for my one and only laptop computer little over 4 years ago, I looked for superior build quality. So after looking at various options at Fry's Electronics and taking notice of stylish build quality, performance build quality and how powerful it was due to build quality, I decided on a nice Toshiba X-205 Dual SLi that weights in close to 14 pounds. The sucker is built like a tank, but has a certain level of elegance to it. It came stock in 2008 with 2 Gig's of RAM, but in 2010 I upgraded to 4 Gig's, then here in 2012 I upgraded it to it's max at 6 Gig's of RAM. It came stock with two matching Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT's, giving me tons of video power and clarity and reliability. I also like the build quality when it came to it's custom Harman/Kardon sound system, which was designed only for my laptop series. They put a lot of build quality towards the beautiful 17 inch monitor, pure, crystal and sharp as a razor blade. The only thing I wish I could change and it's no fault at all towards the build quality, back in 2008 they did the best with what they had at the time, but the CPU could be upgraded to something like 3.0 Gig's or above. Currently I have an older Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T2800 @ 2.8 Gigs. And perhaps my final issue in regards to my Toshiba X-205, the gosh darn battery life, this sucker only last for 45 minutes on battery power, before it shut's itself off. And no, the battery isn't in need of replacement! The battery was just purchased off of Amazon as new approx. 7-8 months back. It's normal, the original battery that came with my laptop only could last for about 45 minutes as well. It's just an ultra power eating hog!

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's hard to say. I use my laptop only rarely these days, though I use my wife's Inspiron 1720 regularly. I also use my phone for some browsing and occasional gaming, and I plan to get a Nexus 7 at some point which I think will be much better at both. That would likely drop my laptop use even further.

So while generally I have preferences regarding a laptop (small size, basic gaming ability, trackpoint), I don't really see myself buying a new one any time soon.

Guest said:

Graphics, CPU & Price. Currently own an Asus K43U... (y)

ElShotte ElShotte said:

Honestly, as far as my preference goes, it's a combination of the following top points that are deal makers or breakers to me:

Graphics

Case Design, Material and Quality

Keyboard (Backlight is a must)

CPU/Chipset

I will not buy a laptop without a backlit keyboard, since my work involves typing, and most of the time I work at night with in a low light setting. Also, the reason I have not and will not buy an Alienware computer is simply because it looks like a toy. It needs to have a decent look, something more professional rather than childish. I mean, I love the MBP but the price tag is way above my budget. Also, then there's graphics. It doesn't have to run the latest games at the highest settings, but medium settings are a must.

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

1> Screen resolution is key - I need all the pixels I can get. 1366x768 is a ridiculous resolution on anything above 13 inch. I have seen and played with 13 inch laptops using 1920 x1200 and I thought it was perfectly usable so I would like a 15 inch or 17 inch at 2560 x 1440. I am hoping that apple may lead other vendors to finally provide a screen upgrade. I have even dreamed of buying the new mac pro screen and attaching it to my laptop. Could never bring myself to buy apple, their eco system doesn't suit me.

2> Enough battery for 8 - 10 hours would be nice. I am finding my nexus 7 to be perfect as a web browser, eReader and media viewer. It is not for development though, that requires a laptop, preferably with a high-res screen.

3> Reasonable CPU grunt without the high end GPU. This is something that is not catered for by any vendors. My current laptop is a Clevo with a Nvidia 460M and I really don't need the GPU to be that powerful, but to get a CPU other than the default lowest end mobile i7 requires you to also upgrade your GPU to a gamers level GPU. I run a lot of virtual machines and build environments simultaneously so need all the CPU grunt I can get. I also appreciate being able to work away from a desk from time to time which is why I use a laptop (desktop replacement) and if I had a lower spec'ed GPU I am certain my battery life would increase significantly.

Pretty much the same for me, except portability would be up there and I dont mind their gpu's. My thought is that I usually have a desktop most of the time, I just need a highly portable, long lasting battery to play movies on trips or write a paper on campus.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I bought my current notebook (a HP DV6 6011TX, i7 with 8 GB, HD6770, 1TB) around May-2011 to replace older DV5 which I've used for about 3+ years.

Although performance/decent graphics are essential, but I couldn't ignore the fact that if build quality is inferior, keyboard/trackpad & display is not good enough, it will be a hassle to use any notebook. Hence, I went with these.

MarkHughes said:

I have 3 Laptops with different requirements.

1. Gamer, is mostly docked, has to have powerful cpu and graphics of course, weight, battery, display, KB not that important but game performance is and so is HD performance, Next time I change this one it will most likely be with a desktop. Currently a Dell XPS M1730 which is getting old now but still plays WoW perfectly well.

2. Work, Im a programmer for a 3D graphics company, the work machine has to have lots of ram, powerful cpu and a strong gpu, Again, often docked but does need to travel from home to office and sometimes other countries so I prefer a small form, light weight and good build quality, Currently a Dell Precision M4500, provided by work so I don't get a big say on this one.

3. Personal, This is just a general use machine for browsing, a bit of coding, reading, playing videos etc, It needs to be light and have good battery as I use it like a real laptop unlike the other 2, also needs good sound and image quality but doesn't have to be amazing, Currently a HP Pavilion. Will play WoW also thanks to its dual GPU system.

Roy Basan Roy Basan said:

Its hard to choose just three features; as I have my own criteria for what is a good laptop for me is.

I consider these things

1) Build Quality,Usually prefer made in Japan for my Vaio..

2) General Performance

3) Good Display -I favor hidef 1080p even with 13 inch models,

4) Fabulous name- That is why I want Sony Vaio

5) Good graphics- as I do a lot of video encoding, and other multimedia needs, lots of number crunching.

6) Portability and weight - I prefer carbon fiber base

7) Good Batttery Life..

Things things aptly fits the third generation Vaio Z with core i7 chip,8 gigs of RAM and some gig of graphic with Blu-ray writer..

DragonKnight DragonKnight said:

Whats the use of mobile computing laptops if they are not build strong enough to take the out door punishments? I vote BUILT QUALITY.

Guest said:

1) An easily removable hard drive

2) RAM

3) Decent graphics

I use my work laptop for personal use when I am traveling so I am constantly swapping the hard drive between my work HD and personal HD. This keeps my private stuff private whereas my work activities can be tracked via the corporate "spyware".

This is not as cumbersome as it seems since when I am working I seldom need to take care of personal stuff.

Jack Thompson Jack Thompson said:

1) Battery life

2) Portability

3) Build Quality

Anyone that does not have these three chosen needs a desktop and not a laptop.

RajeGera RajeGera said:

The point is not the content within the original posting but the content within the comments. And no it's not a waste when a tech topic is being discussed within a tech community. I for one enjoy reading what others think of tech, I may not always agree but I do enjoy reading their comments no matter the topic.

I noticed you only have 15 post but yet you are negatively critiquing someone with well over 1000. Waste.

Knowledge sharing through comments is too gud.I agree with you on this part but what I meant to say is this topic should not be categorized as an "article"...n frm where does the no of posts cums up??

1 person liked this | ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

For the people who say gaming is a priority on their laptop: You're either really rich or doing laptops wrong.

Just sayin

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