What makes a cheap laptop different from an expensive one

Choosing a laptop for a user who is poorly versed in hardware is not a trivial task. It would seem that, having selected the models according to the main characteristics, it is enough just to give preference to one of the options. In fact, approximately similar laptops, both externally and in terms of basic performance characteristics, can vary greatly in price. Let’s see why this is happening.

In addition to the obvious, that is, the size of the display itself, you should pay attention to the type of matrix, resolution, refresh rate and coverage. Let’s take a closer look at each item.

Budget models are usually equipped with TN + film – this is the cheapest technology on the market. In the middle price segment, IPS matrices are most often found, which have better color reproduction, high brightness and contrast. On the other hand, the response time is worse than that of TN, which is important for fast-paced games.
In stores: in 12 stores
Recently, OLED displays have also begun to appear: organic LEDs make the picture even brighter and more vibrant, but the price of such laptops is much higher.

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Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks . For example, advertisers Hewlett Packard and Dell have come up with “new” types of matrices SVA and WVA, which are in fact ordinary TN. The first one does not differ at all from the original, while the second one has slightly better viewing angles (Wide View Angle), that is, these are just selected TN-displays. They have nothing to do with real VA-matrices, which are practically not found in laptops.

Some stores indicate the real type of matrix so as not to confuse the buyer.

The refresh rate is only important for gaming laptops. In “workhorses”, of which the vast majority, this parameter is 60 Hz. In gaming models, the frequency can reach 240 and even 300 Hz. Dynamic screen refresh technology (AMD Freesync or NVIDIA G-Sync) is also usually supported.

The most popular resolution in 2021 is Full HD (1920 × 1080). In netbooks and ultra-budget solutions, you can still find 1366 × 768 and 1600 × 900, but these options are slowly dying out. 4K screens (3840×2160), on the other hand, are gradually taking over the market. Their advantage is that at 250-300 ppi pixels are no longer visible to the human eye. The picture looks clearer, like on the screen of a modern smartphone.

When choosing, inexperienced users often look only at the processor frequency and the number of cores, not paying attention to the results in synthetic tests. To roughly understand the level of performance, it makes sense to compare CPUs within the rulers.

Entry-level processors include the A4, A6 / A9 and Athlon families from AMD and the Pentium / Celeron from Intel.

The middle segment is represented by Ryzen 3 – 5 and Core i3 – i5, respectively.The most productive for both companies are the seventh and ninth lines: Ryzen 7 – 9 and Core i7 – i9.

In addition to the rulers, each type of processor has its own generations. From year to year, the performance of the same models is gradually increasing (on average by 5-10%). For example, if we compare Intel Core i5 9300H and 10300H (ninth and tenth generations, respectively), then the latter turns out to be faster by an average of 11.3%:

Comparison of technical.city based on benchmarks in Cinebench R10 and R15, 3DMark06 CPU, TrueCrypt AES, x264 encoding, WinRAR 4.0 and Passmark

Everything is simple here: in addition to the volume, you need to pay attention to the memory clock speed. It directly affects the performance of the computer. AMD Ryzen processors are especially frequency-dependent .

In budget models, DDR4 strips with a frequency of 1866-2400 MHz are usually installed. In laptops, more expensive modules are installed at 2666-3200 MHz.

A comfortable volume for an unassuming user in 2021 will be 8 GB. There are still many inexpensive 4 GB models on sale, but their relevance is rapidly declining, and if possible, it is better not to save on the amount of RAM. Alternatively, you can purchase a model with two or more RAM slots and expand over time.

For a gaming laptop, at least 16 GB is recommended , and for a professional workstation, even 32 GB can be considered if you use resource-intensive programs.

The speed of the drive directly affects how quickly the system, games and programs will boot and run. Therefore, when choosing a laptop, you should look not only at the amount of storage.

HDDs are no longer found in modern laptops. In budget solutions, eMMC storage modules are often installed, which are essentially a regular flash drive . The models cost more expensive SSDs, which use more advanced data controllers and therefore are several times faster than eMMC.

You can read about what volume of the drive is better to choose in the specialized material . All theses are also relevant for laptops.

Video card
Budget and office models are equipped with integrated video cards, usually Intel UHD or AMD Radeon R3 – R5 / Vega. They are integrated with the central processing unit, which serves as the main graphics processing core. These video cards do not have their own video memory, but use RAM. The volume can usually be set in the laptop BIOS settings . So, for example, if a laptop has 8 GB of RAM, and you need 2 GB of video memory, then only 6 GB of free RAM will remain.

Structure of AMD Ryzen 4000 Series Mobile Processors with Integrated Vega Graphics

Discrete video cards, which are equipped with their own video core, as well as GDDR5 or even GDDR6 / 6X memory, which are many times faster than the operative one, are devoid of this drawback. They greatly affect the cost of a laptop, but they allow you to run modern games or demanding graphics packages.

NVIDIA GA104 Ampere GPU used in GeForce RTX 3080 and 3070 mobile graphics cards

The performance depends on the specific model of the video card, it is incorrect to compare them directly (by the amount of video memory, core frequency, etc.). You can use the comparison table.
Many other parameters also affect the final cost of a laptop.

The presence of a preinstalled Windows 10 operating system is included in the price of the device, so if you already have a license and you know how to install the system, choose the DOS version (no OS).
The fingerprint scanner and touch screen are useful features that not everyone needs.
Body materials affect not only the appearance, but also the price. Budget models are usually made of plastic, while premium ones are made of ultra-light but expensive carbon or metal.
Some users will not need a network card with an Ethernet port at all, as well as support for Wi-Fi 6. Regular 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) with speeds up to 867 Mbps is enough for almost everyone.
The manufacturing company can charge a percentage of the cost for the brand. You won’t find models under a thousand dollars from Apple. And Dell, with its many reliability ratings and a proven track record, typically asks a little more for its laptops than its competitors.