What to Look for in a New Laptop

Amount of RAM: No doubt about it, in any computer you're better off having more RAM. A netbook with 2GB of RAM will be a lot snappier than a laptop with 1GB. If you're serious about performance, don't settle for less than 4GB--and getting 6GB or 8GB of RAM isn't a bad idea. Related: How to Upgrade Your RAM

A roomy, 7200-rpm hard drive: Usually listed in revolutions per minute, "hard-drive speed" refers to how fast the platter spins. Faster-spinning platters generate both faster data-transfer speeds and faster seek times. A 7200-rpm hard drive will often produce a more responsive feel than a 5400-rpm hard drive will. Related: Top Internal Hard Drives

As for storage space, what’s the use of having a souped-up rig if you can’t fit anything in it? Fortunately, storage is becoming increasingly inexpensive, and gargantuan 3TB drives are starting to make the rounds. Looking at solid-state drives? We love them, but they can still be woefully pricey. If you have the cash to splurge, we recommend using a solid-state drive as a lightning-quick boot drive for your applications and operating system. Related: The ABCs of SSDs

Weight: Small differences in weight make a big difference when you're lugging your laptop around wherever you go. The difference between 3.5 pounds and 5 pounds may not seem like much, but when your laptop bag is on your shoulder all day, it's enormous. Related: Top 10 Ultraportable Laptops

Battery life: Obviously, the more battery life the better. When you're assessing this spec, however, take any claim by the manufacturer and chop off 20 percent. Claimed battery life always assumes a best-case scenario--a scenario you'll never see in real life. Related: How to Extend Your Laptop's Battery Life

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