[GUIDE] Laptop Hardware and Aftermarket

ParaXite

Power User
[GUIDE]Basic Laptop Hardware and Aftermarket

Basic Laptop Hardware and Aftermarket Guide
v5 03-07-2018
v4 26-05-2016
v4 07-02-2015
v3 30-12-2013
v2 22-04-2013
v1 21-01-2013

Laptops were once slow and even the expensive ones wouldn't just suffice for the power user or the occasional gamer. Today, the scenario has completely changed with new laptops flowing into the market and with competitive prices it is hard to decide what one wants and what one can get. New buyers are usually confused when buying new laptops and often end up paying more or getting less performance than expected. This guide aims to help buyers decide what they need. After reading this guide you will be able to shortlist a few laptops which are perfect for you and the members of this forum will offer suggestions and help you choose the best one.

====Disclaimer====
I do not take responsibility for bad purchases due to your incorrect understanding of the material presented here. You must do your research and clear misconceptions and doubts before buying. The following guide is just a recommendation based on years of research and observation. This is primarily aimed at buyers new to the laptop market. There can be difference in opinion and helpful suggestions are welcome.
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Contents

I. Hardware:
1. Processor
2. RAM
3. Graphics
4. Storage
5. Ports and Features
6. Display
7. Final Words

II. Aftermarket:
1. Cooling Solutions
2. Bags and Cases
3. External Storage
4. Gaming Equipment
5. Audio Gear

I. Hardware
1. Processor: One of the most important part of your computer. Your processor choice depends on the kind of tasks you will be doing on your machine. Today all laptops come with multi core processors. Entry level processors are the ones in the Intel Atom/Celeron series. They are good enough to perform basic tasks like browsing the web and watching videos. Intel's i3 processors are good for entry level gaming but will bottleneck the latest and greatest of CPU bound games. That said, most people who don't do heavy video editing or gaming will need nothing more than an i3. If you do things like professional video/image editing, moderate gaming, heavy multitasking etc., you need a faster processor and that would be the Intel i5. Finally, if you do heavy gaming and lots of media work, you are looking for the fastest processors out there, the Intel i7. Although remember that an i5 will mostly suffice for gaming because most games are bottle necked by the GPU which is the ideal case (so the GPU is able to run at 100%). With this you will be able to do serious multitasking without lags and crashes. Laptops with an i7 are usually costly and come under the desktop replacement category.

2. RAM: The exact amount of RAM for a particular type of use is usually hard to decide but the thumb rule is the more the better upto a point. In today’s day and age, I think you should opt for no less than 4 GB of DDR4 RAM. This will ensure that you will not face system slowdowns down the line. It’s a safeguarding technique and used often since RAM is quite cheap. 4 GB is sufficient for light work and multitasking, 8 to 16 GB is the current recommendation for playing the latest games and using media editing software. (People who need more than 16 GB RAM will probably know what they are doing and will not need this guide to decide.)
For gamers, I suggest using 2 stick of 4 or 8 GB RAM on laptops that support dual channel memory to take advantage of the extra speed.


3. Graphics: Most users are looking for a “gaming laptop”. While it is true that one must buy a desktop for gaming and not a laptop since they cost more and have issues with thermals, people usually look for portable machines to game on because they shift out of their house, usually to a dorm, so a PC is out the question. Most mainstream laptops come with slow GPUs and the others that come with a fairly good GPU are costly. The actual threshold is hard to determine but as a thumb rule laptops which can play the latest games at medium-high settings at a resolution of 1920x1080 (native for most laptops) can be said to be gaming laptops or rather laptops with gaming capabilities.
The laptop market today has a few GPUs that manufacturers experiment with. The bare minimum you should be getting is at least an Nvidia 1050 (or similar AMD equivalent). Even if games work smoothly on laptops they may still have issues with thermals. The GPU is the main factor in deciding whether games will run smoothly or not and the processor is usually not the bottleneck. So in the laptop market you pretty much have to select the best GPU fitting in your budget and then look at your options.
Remember, using a laptop as a gaming machine is a costly affair because a PC with similar hardware configuration will only cost a fraction of what the laptop costs. So, opt for a PC when possible.

Further Reading:

4. Storage: Arguably, the most important component that determines general operating system smoothness, loading times in games and general ease of use is to pick a laptop which has a SSD (solid state drive) over a traditional magnetic hard drive. Laptops with SSDs usually have smaller capacities because SSD technology is still expensive but the performance is well worth it. Traditional hard drives are slow and have read/write speeds of about 80-100 MB/sec. Good SATA III SSDs have read/write speeds of 500+ MB/sec. That translates to a 5x speed bump in loading times and boot up times.

5. Ports and Features: Almost all new laptops come with standard ports and this is not a cause of worry. But you must check that you get at least one USB 3.0/3.1 Port as this will let you transfer data at high speeds with the commonly available USB 3.0/3.1 thumb drives and external hard drives. A 3.5mm audio jack, Ethernet port and a HDMI port are almost always included. As for things like speakers and webcam, you can replace them with aftermarket upgrades if you do not like them.

6. Display: Laptops come in 3 common display resolutions: 1366x768 (getting obsolete fast), 1600x900 and 1920x1080. You should go for the highest resolution that your budget permits. Remember to opt for a matte display when you have a choice as glossy displays tend to be, you know, glossy. They are sharper but harder to use in the sunlight.

7. Final Words: Before you actually go to buy a laptop you must do lot of research and comparison to get the best price. You should read reviews and try to get first hand opinion about a particular model if possible. The digit forums are a good place to start and the friendly members here will be happy to guide you through your buying process.


II. Aftermarket
1. Cooling Solutions: Laptops used for heavy use need effective air intake and outflow and opting for a cooling pad is a good idea. Cooling pads are USB powered fans placed under a laptop where the intake vents are and pump cool air into the vents directly, improving the air flow. Cooling pads with a big fan in the centre are a safe choice to buy because different manufacturers place the bottom vents differently. You will most certainly see a 10-15% decrease in temperatures while on high load. Replacing the thermal paste or applying one is suggested as this will increase the thermal conductivity of the hardware and will allow better heat dissipation. While gaming, taking breaks and letting the laptop cool after few hours of game play is suggested. Further, taking proper care not to block the vents and cleaning the laptop regularly from the outside and inside (either at home or at a service centre) using a can of compressed air will ensure that your machine runs cool.

Advanced Users:
You must be very careful while overclocking the CPU/GPU because these components will definitely heat up more. There is a reason the manufacturer has chosen the stock frequency for a laptop so overclock with caution and monitor the temperature while on full load. If your laptop is running hotter than comfortable levels you may want to consider undervolting the CPU.


2. Bags and Cases: Buying laptop bags if they are not provided by the manufacturer is advised. In addition to a bag, a laptop sleeve can be considered. Laptop bags will usually hold the laptop, the charger and a few more accessories so it just makes things easier.


3. External Storage: If you are running short of hard disk space consider buying an External Hard Drive to store your extra data. You must go for the highest possible storage that fits your budget because the price difference is not much. Make sure that the hard drive supports USB 3.0/3.1. A 1TB hard drive will solve all storage problems for years to come so if you can afford it, go for it.


4. Gaming Equipment: Most users here play the latest gaming titles on their laptops and buying gaming equipment is quite common. So I will talk about each part separately.

  • Mouse: While gaming, arguably the most important equipment that you need is a good gaming mouse. Gaming mice come with a range of specs and choosing can be difficult. A mouse chosen for general gaming or First person shooter games does not need to have lots of extra buttons while a mouse chosen for MMORPG Games will need lots of additional buttons. Be sure to check the dpi that the mouse offers. The more the dpi the better is its precision. You must go for wired mice for gaming as they have a low response time. I have personally used lot of gaming mice and I can suggest going for companies like Steelseries and Logitech. They make really responsive and high quality mice and offer a good gaming experience.
  • Mouse Pad: Highly suggested because you will not always have a good surface to put your mouse on unless you keep your laptop at a standard place for a long time. The ones Razer and SteelSeries offer are great and the small ones are affordable. These come in 2 varieties: Hard and Soft and also in many sizes so choose according to your needs.
  • Keyboard: Buying an external gaming keyboard for a laptop is not a very good decision because you won’t be able to carry it along with you and the stock keyboards are usually acceptable. But if you still want one you must look for features like backlight, anti-ghosting, anti-slip keys, macro software and additional programmable buttons.
  • Joysticks and Gamepads: Consider one if the game you play regularly needs one. Joysticks are one handed sticks used for Flight Sims and vehicles, Gamepads are quite universal and they are for people who are used to playing with them and not with a keyboard and a mouse.
5. Audio Gear: Almost all laptops have a built in mic which is acceptable for voice and video calls and a separate mic is not needed. However most laptops do not have a good audio output and if you are a music buff, external speakers or headphones must be on your list. External laptop speakers are small and easy to carry if you want your stuff to be heard out loud. For personal use, good quality headphones/earphones are recommended. The in-ear variety is easier to carry than the over-head one.


This covers the important aspects of choosing the right laptop hardware and aftermarket parts for you. I will keep updating this guide in the best of my power. Using this as a guideline for your laptop purchases I hope this will suffice for making basic decisions. I strongly suggest that you do your research and reading thoroughly and take help wherever required. You can start by visiting the local multi-brand store and comparing laptops on online websites like Amazon.

If this helped do let me know and leave your feedback, suggestions, helpful links and info in the comments below.

ParaXite
 
Last edited:

Hrishi

******************
Good article , will help new users a lot. :)
I have one suggestion to the article though , : "If possible add some information on different Display resolution/type and Battery Types/Capacity . They both hold an important part in an Notebook."
Like why to choose matter over glossy , whether to go for HD or a FHD display.,etc.
 

nseries73

Journeyman
Good article , will help new users a lot. :)
I have one suggestion to the article though , : "If possible add some information on different Display resolution/type and Battery Types/Capacity . They both hold an important part in an Notebook."
Like why to choose matter over glossy , whether to go for HD or a FHD display.,etc.

yeah xactly this is the same thing I had in mind, hopefully will get to see this updated soon !!!!
 
A

amit.tiger12

Guest
Re: [GUIDE]Basic Laptop Hardware and Aftermarket

Hey buddy do you removed lappy names?? Thats below 30k or 40k
 

ankitkr091

Broken In
Re: [GUIDE]Basic Laptop Hardware and Aftermarket

I own a hp g6 2301ax and its battery is completely gone. Now it always requires to be plugged in . What will the the price of a new battery and from where should I buy it ?

Sent from my Moto E using Tapatalk
 
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