Everything You Need to Know About Laptops

Everything You Need to Know About Laptops

There is an overwhelming variety of laptop options to consider when searching for one, from low-cost Chromebooks to premium Windows 11 ultraportables. Here are the key details you should pay attention to when making your selection.

Most laptops run either Windows (on traditional PCs) or macOS (in Apple MacBooks). Some offer Linux as an additional operating system option.


The CPU (Central Processing Unit) of your laptop computer is its lifeblood, responsible for processing all instructions from both its operating system and software programs (software), including everything from browsing the internet to high-resolution video game playing. Finding an ideal CPU model that meets both your needs and budget requirements is key to keeping things running smoothly on your system.

Laptop processors come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Both Intel and AMD offer chips suitable for budget-friendly Chromebooks; AMD tends to dominate this space more. Intel offers its Core i3, i5, and i7 series chips along with Atom processors which have long been staples among netbooks; Ryzen chips from AMD have recently become increasingly commonplace among higher-end systems due to their performance and efficiency – we’ve even witnessed Ryzen chips powering systems with Windows 8/10 installed!

An average user won’t notice much difference between an 11th-generation Intel i3 processor and AMD Ryzen 5000 for typical purposes; exceptions could include those looking for maximum portable productivity or ultrathin gaming machines with beautiful displays.

Other things to look for when buying a laptop processor include its clock speed (measured in gigahertz) which indicates how quickly it runs; its cache, which resides directly on the chip itself and stores frequently used information, can help ensure faster performance; finally, consider its thermal design power or TDP rating which measures how much heat and electricity it consumes.


RAM (random access memory) stores data quickly for retrieval by the CPU, freeing it up for other tasks. When you click a link, capacitors and transistors in your laptop’s RAM respond by switching on or off, translating that link into the web page you see on screen. Longer term hard drive memories also play a part, though their retrieval takes much more work for the CPU to accomplish.

Laptops typically include RAM, display, keyboard and pointing device (touchpad or pointing stick) along with RAM. Depending on their model and price point, some also may come equipped with built-in webcam and microphone for video conferencing and audio recording purposes, and even multitouch touchscreen displays are becoming increasingly commonplace.

Modern laptops typically use lithium ion or lithium polymer batteries, a change from earlier models that used nickel metal-hydride or nickel cadmium cells as energy source. A few older machines still utilize non-rechargeable lead acid batteries.

Laptops typically contain various I/O ports for connecting external devices such as displays, optical mice and USB storage drives. Some laptops feature dedicated Ethernet network ports to access private networks at work or school while others utilize Wi-Fi technology for public Wi-Fi networks.

Most laptops use PC-compatible operating systems, while Chromebook models specifically optimized for browsing the internet and social media with features like multiple browser tabs and auto-fill of search terms can also be found. Chromebooks tend to be very affordable and have lower malware infection risks compared with traditional laptops – however a traditional notebook with larger displays, more powerful processors, and superior graphics cards remains the superior choice for serious computing and gaming tasks.

Hard Drive

Your hard drive is where all the digital 1s and 0s that make up your files are permanently stored. As it’s non-volatile storage device, your files will remain accessible even after turning off power. Your operating system instructs it to read/write data to and from files as required.

Hard drives use rotating platters to store binary information, with the read/write head moving across them in order to access each file. Data on the platters is organized into sectors, tracks and cylinders for maximum storage capacity. A disk controller interprets any data sent between itself and the hard drive and signals the actuator when it’s time to move the read/write head onto another sector.

Modern hard drives (HDDs) should last for some time, although failure is possible at any time. Mechanical failure typically results from wear-and-tear wear over time as well as physical impacts such as dropping your laptop. Logical failure could occur for various reasons such as malware infections, software corruption or improper file deletion.

Your laptop may require hard drives of different sizes to meet its requirements, with 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch models being the most commonly available options in terms of physical size. When it comes to capacity, there may be drives available up to 2TB or even higher!

External hard drives connected through USB or Thunderbolt cables offer another storage option, though they are slower than internal hard drives found in most computers. They still offer plenty of extra space though if speed is what matters then SSDs may be worth considering as faster storage solutions for laptops.

Graphics Card

Graphics cards play a pivotal role in the overall performance of your laptop, controlling how images appear on your screen – such as colors, brightness and contrast levels – as well as controlling frame rates necessary for smooth video playback. Prior to 2010, most laptops relied on integrated graphics systems built into the motherboard which were adequate for basic use but lack enough power for 2D/3D gaming or video editing tasks. But over the last decade manufacturers have found ways to upgrade these integrated systems significantly.

Check if your laptop has an integrated graphics card by opening the Device Manager. To do this, press the Windows key and type “devmgmt.msc” into the search field before pressing enter – this should display a list of graphics adapters installed in your system.

If you want to know if your free laptop contains discrete graphics cards, look for one with a PCIe x16 expansion slot. While PCIe slots are more commonly found on desktop computers than small form-factor ones, discrete cards require their own connection port that provides extra power; they tend to be more costly.

If you plan on engaging in heavy processing tasks such as video or photo editing, such as video or photo editing, a laptop equipped with a discrete graphics card may be best. The more recent the GPU, the better. An 11th-generation chip would give the best performance from your laptop; an RTX 20-series card would make an excellent gaming platform; GTX 3080’s performance may still suffice for general laptop work.


A keyboard is an input device with key-shaped finger pads called keys to input information into a computer. It may be built directly into devices, such as laptops, or externally connected via USB port or wireless Bluetooth technology.

Keyboards have long been an integral component of personal computing. While mice may now provide more interaction between humans and machines, keyboards remain key players on most laptop computers.

Standard keyboards typically include an alphanumeric key set composed of letters A through Z and numbers 0-9 arranged in the QWERTY layout; punctuation marks (comma, period etc); punctuation marks; punctuation marks with dots instead of periods and arrow keys; as well as some special keys for performing unique or specialized functions.

Modern keyboards typically utilize a switch mechanism with each key featuring a dome-shaped protrusion equipped with a metal or plastic contact pad beneath it, and when one key is pressed it forces this pad down onto a switch, closing an electrical circuit and informing its microcontroller that one has been pressed.

Once a key is released, its contact pad returns to its initial position and the microcontroller begins processing its next keystroke. This same process applies whether your keyboard is connected via PS/2 or USB ports.

One noteworthy trait of laptop keyboards is that they tend to omit numeric keypads and other features found on traditional desktop keyboards in order to make them smaller and more portable. Furthermore, laptop and netbook keyboards often have shorter travel distances for keystrokes and different key mechanisms than standard desktop models.

John Clayton