With all the sales and jaw-dropping deals all over the Holiday Season, it’s easy to spend recklessly. Laptop shopping is no exception. Some laptop features might have gotten overshadowed by the double-digit discounts available– not all of these specs are desirable. Some of them might have you overpaying for a compromise, while other laptop features are just plain outdated.
Regardless, we would go as far as to say that you could save more if you knew which of these laptop features are undesirable. These aren’t hard rules or strict suggestions, by the way; some of these specs are just too disadvantageous for the money you pay for them.
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Technically, you can still have a good laptop despite some of the bad laptop features we’re going to mention later on, but for the sake of buyer satisfaction, we recommend avoiding them.
Soldered components are literally connected to the laptop’s main board by melting their connectors. The only way to remove them is to de-solder them, which is ill-advised as it will void the warranty and might introduce a whole host of hardware issues.
That’s why soldered RAM or memory is frowned upon in the computer community. RAM modules are easy enough to replace and ubiquitous enough in Amazon or other markets, making them one of the most customizable specs of a laptop.
Soldering RAM in a laptop takes away its upgradeability. Additionally, in the event that the RAM module breaks prematurely, you’re out of luck since you can’t just replace the RAM stick without desoldering it.
Of course, laptops with soldered RAM are less expensive, but it’s a compromise that’s too unfavorable for the consumer.
Single Channel RAM/Memory
Another reason why soldered RAM sticks or memory is terrible is the practice of including just one RAM stick. RAM or memory sticks work best when there are two or more of them to handle the system’s load, this is called a dual-channel operation.
If there’s just one RAM in a single-channel configuration, performance will be lower compared to dual-channel.
Some laptops– especially those with soldered RAM sticks, come in just a single-channel setup. This double-whammy of bad laptop features is something you’ll want to avoid like the plague.
Not only are you getting poor upgradeability, but you’re also getting a worse performance. Just be wary of laptops on sale with just one stick of memory.
You can technically upgrade them as long as there’s one other free RAM slot, but if the other RAM is soldered, then your options for expansion are severely limited.
You might be amazed at some of the CPU buzzwords for laptops such as quad or even octa-core, but you might want to check the naming scheme.
Because if it says “Atom,” “Celeron,” or AMD “A4,” or “Athlon,” those are weak CPUs. They’re at the bottom of the heap when it comes to consumer CPUs. The only Intel CPUs that should turn your head are the ones with the “Intel Core iX” or “Ryzen” in their names where “X” is either 3, 5, 7, or 9. Meanwhile, for AMD, it’s Ryzen 3, 5, 7, and 9.
And even Ryzen 3 or i3 is a bit of a dealbreaker, especially for gaming and productivity.
These aforementioned weak CPUs are not that good at multitasking and will struggle with some heavy productivity or gaming tasks. On the upside, they ensure longer battery life in laptops since they don’t consume much power, but it’s not really much of an advantage when your smartphone or iPhone processor is faster than these processors.
Beware of HD resolutions these days. Some re-sellers might mention something as “HD” in the specs but HD actually starts at a low 720p. They can easily sell an overpriced laptop with 720p “HD” resolution to someone who doesn’t know much about these terms.
The current standard today is FHD or Full-HD which has a resolution of 1080p (1920×1080), and even that is starting to go outdated with the popularity of quad-HD or QHD (1440p) or 4K (2160p) screens.
There are still a lot of laptops around that use 768p HD resolution which is not much better than 720p. You can usually find these in the ultra-low budget segment, and you should only consider them if you need a bare minimum of what you can call a laptop these days; because even budget smartphones and tablets have better screen resolutions than those.
Not all mobile discrete GPUs are created equal. Some of them have Max-Q or a rated wattage consumption right beside their name. This means some mobile GPUs are a lot weaker than others. This is a rather stealthy cost-cutting procedure present in laptops in the mid-range budget category.
For example, an RTX 3060 mobile is supposed to have– at best, a maximum power draw of 115 watts. But there are RTX 3060 mobile versions that only run at 80 watts maximum. As you can imagine, the 80W version is significantly weaker compared to the 115W version.
The same goes for mobile GPU models with a “Max-Q” in their name; those are rated for lower power draw to conserve battery and lower the heat output. This allows manufacturers and re-sellers to charge the same for a “gaming” laptop with an “RTX 3060” that performs a lot worse than other laptops with the same GPU but with a higher wattage.
So just to be certain, make sure to ask for the “TDP” or wattage of the GPU model and cross-reference it with the specs of the best version. Lower TDP numbers are a lot less desirable and should thus be priced lower.
A big trend today for manufacturers is slapping the word “gamer” or some representative logos of the said culture onto computers and selling them at a higher price. In reality, these are often just marketing buzzwords that don’t add to the performance.
You can easily tell the performance of a laptop by looking at the specs, instead of the “gamer” logos or fonts. So if a store or re-seller tries to justify the bloated price because the keyboard has a gamer font or there’s a gamer RGB, but you found a plain laptop with better specs (CPU+GPU) at the same price, you’re better off going with the latter.
“Gamer” stuff, such as RGB, gamer font, gamer logos, and even “ultra-low” response rates (below 1ms) won’t make anyone better at games. The determining factor for high framerate and smooth gameplay will still be hardware (CPU+GPU) and the screen refresh rate (144Hz or above)
When in doubt, always look at the spec sheet for the CPU, GPU, RAM, display, and storage to see if the price is justified before swiping that card. Those are the things that matter the most.
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