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Laptop Buying Guide (2023): How to Choose the Right PC (Step-by-Step Guide)


Graphics performance is where you’ll notice a difference. In my testing, in both benchmarks and real work use, AMD’s integrated graphics tend to perform better than Intel on graphics-intensive tasks—think editing videos or playing games. Intel’s most recent series of chips has closed that gap significantly, but AMD still has an edge. You may benefit from buying an AMD machine if you’re a video editor or gamer, but what you most likely want is a dedicated graphics card. (More on that in the GPU section below.)

How Much Processing Power Do You Need?

If you’re a typical user who runs a web browser, Microsoft’s Office Suite, and perhaps even some photo editing software, we recommend a laptop with an Intel Core i5 10th-generation or later processor. That would be displayed something like “Intel Core i5-10350U.”

If you can afford it, an Intel i7 chip makes a nice upgrade and will make your laptop feel snappier. The extra power often means shorter battery life though, so you’ll need to balance that with your needs. A gaming laptop, for instance, would use an i7 (or i9) chip, but an i5 is usually fine for less demanding tasks. Likewise, for the average user, the AMD Ryzen 5000 series will suffice, but the Ryzen 7000 makes a nice upgrade—again at the cost of battery life.

We generally recommend avoiding Intel Core i3 (and by extension AMD Ryzen 3) chips with Windows 11. The experience in my testing has been frustratingly slow, with frequent, loud fan noise. While both 3-series chips are fine for Chromebooks and minimal Linux setups, Windows users are better off with an Intel i5 or Ryzen 5 chip.

Are You a Power User?

If you compile software, edit videos, or work with very large databases, you’re going to want more processing power than the rest of us. I suggest an Intel i7 or Ryzen 7. You’ll also want to load up on RAM, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Best Processors for Chrome OS laptops

Lenovo Flex 5

Photograph: Lenovo

Chrome OS is built around Google’s Chrome web browser and runs most software directly in the browser. That means it doesn’t need big, powerful Intel chips. That’s the theory, at least. In my experience, Chrome OS does best with at least an Intel i3 chip or, what I think is the best value you can currently get with a Chromebook, an AMD Ryzen 4000 chip.



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