Laptop Buying Guide: If you’re loyal to Windows, a Mac fanatic, or willing to try something new, you should know what to look for in your next laptop. Windows and Mac have a wide selection of laptops for different needs, so you can find the model that is best for you. Chromebooks are worth considering.
There’s more to a laptop than your operating system, so read on to find out which laptop is right for you.
Mac, Windows, or Something Else?
The first big consideration to keep in mind when it comes to choosing your new laptop is which operating system you want it to run. While that debate was traditionally dominated by Apple’s MacOS and Microsoft’s Windows, today it’s also worth considering Google’s Chrome operating system, which tends to come in much more affordable laptops.
While there are comparable features and hardware offered with these platforms, there are some important differences between them that are important to note.
PCs are an incredibly diverse category. Dozens of manufacturers make PCs, and the quality and price can vary greatly depending on the model and brand you choose. Faster PCs will outperform Macs in terms of performance, and many companies tailor their PCs for a specific purpose, such as gaming or business.
PCs typically run Windows as an operating system, which is much more open than MacOS and is updated more frequently. There is also more software available for Windows. In particular, Windows is the standard for game development and many business-related programs.
Windows devices come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s easy to find a standard laptop with a foldable design and a keyboard and mouse interface. Windows touchscreen laptop for adobe illustrator can be found even among the lowest prices, and the most elaborate designs include folding screens or even detachable keyboard and tablet combinations, such as Microsoft’s Surface Book range.
Windows laptops also commonly come with touchscreens, which isn’t something you’ll find in Apple MacBook offerings unless you count the touch bar.
Unlike Apple’s more limited line of hardware, there are plenty of options in the space for a Windows laptop buying guide. Whether you go for a major manufacturer like Lenovo, Dell, or one of Microsoft’s devices, you have plenty of options with Windows laptops.
Mac OS Laptop Buying Guide
Apple has always been protective of its brand, launching products in very deliberate iterations. Any Apple product will follow its standards, while any manufacturer can make a PC with unique specifications. As a result, Macs are very easy to use.
Apple will tell you exactly what you’re getting, regardless of the MacBook you buy, and because all Macs come from the same ecosystem, the company’s nifty support network can easily help with any issues that arise.
Quality design is one of the characteristics of a Mac. They are built to look and feel elegant. This extends to Apple’s MacOS operating system, which is simple and intuitive. Macs also come pre-installed with a proprietary software suite, and each application is suitable for tasks such as video or music editing.
While there are no touchscreens on Macs, you can use Apple’s Sidecar mode to essentially switch control to an iPad if you really need a touchscreen for something.
Macs also use fast hardware, so those who want a solid computer but don’t know much about hardware can rest easy knowing that their Mac will perform well in everyday use. That said, they don’t tend to sport the most powerful graphics chips, and they tend to be priced much higher than their Windows and Chrome OS counterparts, especially when they’re configured with a lot of storage. Apple computers are not known for being cheap.
In many ways, Apple’s strict design standards mean its products are easy to pick up and use, regardless of a person’s skill level or familiarity with computers. On the other hand, the rigid design of the Mac means less freedom to personalize the device. The available hardware is the hardware you get. Also, Apple only sells a few different MacBook models at any given time, and patchy hardware updates mean they’re not always the most up-to-date.
By 2020, Apple updated its Macbooks with new butterfly keyboards that many fans had been waiting for. The latest lines include a 13-inch MacBook Pro and a 16-inch MacBook Pro, plus a new MacBook Air model.
Google’s Chrome operating system is a little different from the other two main offerings. It works with “Chromebook” laptops and is based on Google’s Chrome browser. That means it can’t run desktop apps like the other two platforms. That’s great if you’re the type of PC user who only needs a laptop buying guide to read emails, watch Netflix, and occasionally play a weird mobile game. It’s not that great if you want the full functionality that a desktop platform offers.
With that said, Chrome OS is fast and more versatile today than ever, with support for thousands of Chrome extensions and a host of Android apps, though they don’t always fit well with larger laptop screens. The hardware options are also much more varied today than in the past, with powerful offerings, like Google’s own Pixelbook, that work and closely resemble premium Windows and MacOS laptops. There are even 2-in-1 options like Pixel Slate or HP Chromebook x2.
Chrome OS is certainly a less capable platform than Windows and MacOS, but if you qualify for what you want to do on your laptop, you can save a lot of money by going with the Google platform to the other two.
The Types of Laptops
There are several categories of laptops, made with a certain use or audience in mind. When you buy a laptop, decide what you primarily intend to use the laptop for, and look for a category that aligns with those interests. Here are some broad categories and some of our favorites for each.