This article was shared by external Outreach Specialist and Content writer Kavita Paliwal.
Laptops are a valuable tool for office workers that combine the power of a desktop computer with the convenience of a mobile device. Despite the increasing shift to smartphones, laptops remain a fundamental part of productivity for tens of millions of business users around the world.
When it comes to choosing a laptop to use in the office, there are considerations to make. Do you want a machine that can also serve as your entertainment device at home, or are you just looking for something for work? Either way, you'll need to choose a laptop with the correct specifications to meet your needs.
Below we will look at the core specifications you can consider when picking a laptop for office work:
Note: Before jumping in, it is worth noting that your expectations should meet your budget. The specs on your laptop will always reflect the amount of money you spend on the device. If you have thousands of dollars, you can get a machine that manages every task you can throw at it. For those with a constrained budget, you will need to make compromises. Most customers land somewhere in the middle and want an all-round laptop with solid specs and an appealing price.
The central processing unit (CPU) is at the core of your laptop, the heart/brain of the device that essentially handles all aspects of the functionality of the hardware. Broadly speaking, modern laptops have CPUs made by Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, and Apple. Model options may seem endless and if you get into names of each chip, it is easy to be confused.
If you're buying a Windows PC, the chances are it will be running on an Intel or AMD chip. For AMD, that means the Ryzen products and for Intel the Core range of CPUs. Both these products clash and compete across every price point, meaning you can go ultra-budget or ultra-expensive depending on your needs.
However, it is important to know a hugely expensive CPU, or indeed a very cheap one, may not be suitable to office working tasks. Ideally you want a balance of performance and affordability, which mean the AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5 chips hit a sweet spot or most business users.
One of the eternal questions in the PC world is “how much RAM does my laptop need?” or “do I have enough RAM for …?”
RAM – or memory – is what you PC uses to store temporary data. This means when you are working on project, browsing, or simply opening apps. Every process on your laptop takes memory that is stored on the system (not your storage), so generally the more RAM you have the better. So, when choosing an office laptop, it is essential to weigh up what you will use it for.
If you perform a lot of memory-intensive tasks in your job, such as running media or editing, you need to have as much RAM as possible. If your day-to-day work involves document or browser-based tasks, you can have more modest RAM.
While some laptops ship with less, a good starting point for RAM should be 4GB for budget users. Mid-range shoppers can seek out laptops with 8GB – 16GB of RAM. Workers who also get some gaming done in free time or simply have work tasks that gobble up system memory, 16GB, 32GB, or even more RAM may be necessary.
Over the last decade, battery size and longevity has become a principal factor for many customers. As laptops and work habits become more mobile, the ability for a laptop to keep running on the move is important. It is easy to assume simply buying a laptop with the biggest battery will ensure more battery life, but that is not the case.
Other factors determine the battery life of a laptop, including software, usage habits, the operating system, and the quality of the battery pack. These days, you should expect a good laptop to maintain battery for at least 8 hours of continuous work, although other models will deliver upwards of that number.
The manufacturer states expected battery life on a laptop, so you can compare models. For example, Microsoft's Surface Pro 8 promises 16 hours of battery life under average usage. Another good example is the Asus line of laptops for office workers, which offer solid battery performance alongside other appealing specs.
For your laptop, storage capacity is one of the crucial factors that you should consider. When picking out the laptop for your office work, there are a few specifications that you should consider. Unless your budget is incredibly tight, you should opt for an SSD drive over an HDD drive:
- HDD (Hard Disk Drive): Now considered a legacy technology but still found on low-end laptops. An HDD writes data to a spinning disc and its moving parts make it more prone to failure.
- SSD (Sold State Drive): Instead of a spinning disc, SSD technology stores data on circuits integrated in the drive. This means SSDs are smaller, faster, and less likely to fail.
You can purchase both SSDs and HDDs from small sizes like 64GB right up to multiple-terabytes of storage space. Only you know how much you need depending on your work and storage habits. If you do loads of intensive tasks and store vast amounts of data, a large SSD capacity is better.
The screen plays a key role in the usability of a laptop. After-all, it is the component you will be using the most. Furthermore, the display also determines the size of the laptop you buy. Devices are available with displays from 11-inches to 13-inches, while other common sizes including 13-inches, 14-inches, and 15-inches.
How much screen real estate you need depends on your usage habits, but in general terms bigger is better. Whether you are performing data entry, browsing across multiple tabs, editing, or creating documents, having more space is helpful.
Office workers often look at their laptop displays for hours each day, so resolution is an important consideration. You should be aiming for at least Full HD (1080p), which is available on most laptops these days, even those in the budget range. However, 720p resolution laptops are still available, so be careful to avoid these for business use.
Laptops remains an important office tool. Despite the mobile revolution, millions of business users still rely on their laptops for day-to-day work tasks. So much so that the laptop market is growing again, driven by the business sector. By selecting the correct specs, you can buy a laptop that boosts your productivity and enhances creativity.
About the author
Kavita Paliwal is an Outreach Specialist and Content writer. When not glued to her laptop, she can be found making travel plans that rarely happen.