Beginners Guide to Understanding Computer Specs

Beginners Guide to Understanding Computer Specs

Finding the ideal laptop can be tricky, particularly if looking at a specifications sheet makes your eyes glaze over. It can be tempting to overlook these sometimes-confusing tables. Alternatively, many of us rely on a fast Google search for reviews of popular brands. That is a misconception.

Learning to read a specifications sheet can be amazingly valuable. Not only will you be creating an informed decision, but you are also less likely to spend money needlessly. You should be looking for what you want, not just what sounds powerful and fancy. We explain some of the most significant and head-scratch inducing parts of specifications sheets mean.


The size of any device really does matter, dimensions on your rig decide how big and heavy it is which is always important for something that prides itself on being portable. On the lower end of the scale, 11 or 12-inch laptops are the thinnest and lightest weight on the market, though you do have to sacrifice other specifications for the convenience. On the larger end, you have 17 or 18 inches, which are very good only for sitting stationary on your desk, because they are a pain to lug around.

The 15-inch devices tend to be the most popular, though 13 or 14 inches may outshine them more as their usability frequently balances out their portability. Thinner laptops are surely rising to power in every sense of the word.


We are not sure what 1920 x 1080 and the like means? These are the pixels, and the more you have on your screen the sharper everything is going to look excellent on your screen. Additionally, you will be able to implement more on your screen.

You will notice that a fair part of low-end laptops will have 1366 x 768. On the higher-end, you will find (2560 x 1600), (3200 x 1800) & (3840 x 2160). These are continuing to look great but will chew through your battery life quicker. 1920 x 1080 pixels is normally a pretty decent sweet spot.


Central Processing Unit (CPU) is your laptop’s brain. The amount of processing power it has will significantly affect its execution. That does not certainly mean you require the most hardcore processor available though. It depends on who you use your computer for. The Intel Core i7 is excellent if you are looking for gaming equipment or a high-performance work station. But they will be costly.

The i5s are usually good all-rounders in terms of execution and price points. Even more affordable again is the i3s, but you will probably start noticing the difference here. If you are looking to go as funds as possible, take a look at Intel Atoms, Pentiums & Celerons. You could also go for the AMD series, which lead to CPUs as APUs only to be confusing. These options are great if you are only looking to run small programs and browse simple websites.


Random Access Memory (RAM) is what enables your computer to store and retrieve information. Whenever you open a program up on your computer, it’s loaded into the memory. If you have too many open at once your computer will swap data between the RAM and your hard disk. The more extra RAM you have, the more your laptop can manage at once.

This is why your computer may work slowly or programs begin to crash if you are never shut down. Keeping everything on and open regularly eats up too much RAM. Usually, you will want 4GB of RAM minimum, even when you are going for a budget computer. 8GB is a great amount if you need to pack a little more punch. 16GB+ should be stored for those of you wanting a totally tricked out rig. Unless you probably do not need it.


This is only about how pretty everything looks on your screen(display). You will discover that the majority of laptops will have onboard graphics, which indicates that it’s built into the motherboard. Higher-end computers may have dedicated graphics cards, but you actually need this if you are going to be making some serious PC gaming (nobody likes nasty frame rate drops) or high-resolution video editing.

If that is your plan go nuts! Both Nvidia & AMD have a variety of options at many price points that are worth looking at.


How much material they can store is usually one of the first things people look at when it comes to laptops. (Confusingly, this is sometimes listed under memory beside the laptops’ RAM.) Make sure that there’s sufficient room for your normal programs, as well as plenty of other things (videos, photographs, games, etc) you will surely add.

Several newer laptops are opting for Solid State Drives (SSD) over a classic hard drive. This is because they are much faster and can positively impact the performance of the entire computer. This is surely worth it because you can ever get an external Hard Drive if you require the extra space later on.


This lets you know what you can plug-in to your computer. This is important because we are in a transition period where some earlier stock standard inclusions are being phased out.

Not every laptop will have SD readers and HDMI video-out ports anymore. Alternatively, they may offer dual 4K monitor support or Thunderbolt 3 USB-C. Make sure that you will be able to plug-in your basic externals.

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