Thinking about buying a new laptop? I get asked all the time what to look for, so finally wrote it down for a friend and figured I'd share it with you all. Like if it helped you and share with your friends who may be shopping!

Buying a new laptop is not as complicated as it sounds. First figure out the size. Go to Best Buy and get a feel for 13", 15", 17". Most people choose 15". Then realize that most laptops, especially at the consumer price level, are all the same except for a couple of things. The #1 consideration is the CPU/Processor. You should only consider the following: Intel: i3, i5, or i7 and AMD: A4, A6, A8, A10. Celeron, Pentium, Sempron, and others are cheap for a reason. They're SLOW (and cheap). Don't listen to anyone saying 'Intel is faster than AMD'. At the most expensive highest end CPUs? Yes. But at the consumer level, they're equivalent (i3/A4 are dual core, the rest are quad core) CPU speed is also misleading. Intel's list 2.5ish GHz while AMDs list 1.5ish. The reason is AMD runs one core at 'turbo' the same speed as the equivalent Intels for applications you're actively using. The rest run at a slower speed to handle things in the background that don't NEED speed – this saves battery life. So you'll never notice. But they have to list the speed of all the cores. Next on the list is memory. *Minimum* 4GB. 6GB is nice. 8GB is GREAT. Biggest thing slowing down computers in the Vista era was not enough memory – operating systems and applications never get 'smaller' so you can never have too much memory. The last thing to consider, and it's a distant 3rd, is the graphics chip (GPU). Only 3D gamers would notice, but the GPU is playing a bigger role in video processing. AMD processors have full blown graphics chips embedded in them. Big plus. Intel chips use either the 'Intel HD' chip which is average (the 4000 is supposed to be decent) or they'll throw in a dedicated nVidia graphics chip. Unless you play 3D games, I wouldn't worry about it – but if you find two fairly equivalent laptops for the same price and one has a dedicated graphics chip – go with that. Hard drive size is *meaningless*. 99% of users will never fill the smallest hard drive available. HOWEVER, Solid State Drives or 'SSDs' are *lightning* fast. Rarely found in entry level laptops, you're starting to see them in mid level laptops. Absolutely worth getting if you can afford it. Applications start MUCH faster and SSDs have no moving parts so jarring a SSD laptop won't cause a hard drive crash. Everything else tends to be the same. As for brands? Quality wise – laptops are portable and thus are more likely to break. The *best* company will repair 28% of their laptops in 3 years. The next 5 or so are in the low 30's. So I tend to choose a brand based on how much junkware they install, which never gets used but use up system resources anyway. Acer and HP are making nice laptops (Gateway is owned by Acer – they're the same machines). Dell is always a good choice, though they're pretty plain. Samsung is making a move into laptops that aren't bad. Everyone loves Toshibas because they're 'shiny' but they have WAY too much 'junk' installed. That said – if you like listening to music? Toshibas have always had the best speakers (REAL speakers vs the piezo things most laptops us). The HP 'Beats Audio' laptops can put out decent sound, but still are not at the level most Toshibas are. Lenovo laptops have way too much junk on them. A decent entry level laptop worth having should cost you $400-$500. A really good laptop will run you $650-$750, but rebates can help there (HP was running some rebate specials before Windows 8 came out). If you can afford it, getting a laptop with an i5 or A6/A8 CPU and 6GB of memory is a good target. With Windows 8 coming out, you're seeing new laptop/tablet hybrids with touchscreens. Definitely play with one before considering buying one. Lot of additional complexity that is useless if you won't use it. I find lifting my hand up from the touchpad/keyboard to be VERY inefficient. Others don't. Don't let Windows 8 scare you. The crazy 'Metro' interface with the tiles is an add on. Just click the 'Desktop' tile and you'll be in a normal Windows Desktop – albeit without a Start Menu. Install an 'add-on' Start Menu like ViStart or Pokki and you'll feel right at home. And Windows 8 has anti-virus built in now. No need for paying Norton or McAfee $70/year.

If you decide to get a new laptop or computer this holiday season, let IT Xpress set it up properly for you. We'll install some of the most commonly used software, the latest updates (updates for Windows 8 will be coming out like crazy this month) and ensure it's setup securely. Like if this article helped you and please share with your friends!