The fact of the matter is, the deciding factors when purchasing a laptop are highly subjective and personalized. More often than not, you are going to be making a decision based on a particular preference, whether that be the size and mobility or the device, charge time, or even down to the color. There are, however, some considerations that you need to include when making the choice which should be technologically navigated.
First off, it should now be standardized to only look at options which contain an SSD. Only a couple years ago, the market was finally realizing the advantages of having a solid-state drive compared to the underachieving hard-disk drive and demand for that option increased significantly. Due to the infallible principals of economics, price was driven down by supply and competing products over the recent years. At this point, the burden of unmerited price disparity between the SSD vs. HDD has been lifted and we are experiencing price points that are understandable and largely valuable.
Side note: to understand these differences, value, and tech tips, please read the thorough article which explains it here.
Keep it simple. You aren’t going to want a “hybrid drive” and you are not going to want an SSD AND HDD in one. The former will usually result in an untrustworthy drive and the latter is basically just a small SSD with a few GB of storage to sit your Operating System on, the rest being a regular HDD. All you’ll want to look for is an SSD with at least 250GB of storage space. Depending on how much data you normally use, 250GB is usually enough for personal use, but be sure to check how much you are using now on your current laptop and decide the potential need for a 500GB. Keep it simple.
Another question regarding your storage component which isn’t as important, but certainly a good thing to ask would be if the drive is easily attainable. Meaning if you were to replace the drive, would it be easily accessible? If there were two similar laptops, one having an easy access bay to swap out the SSD and one that requires a large explosion to get to the drive… I would go with the easy access bay. Basically, just don’t get a Sony Vaio. Only until very recently have laptop design engineers decided to incorporate a hot-swap bay for storage components on quite a few different laptops. Why have they not done this from the beginning? I have no idea.
Secondly, when purchasing a laptop you’ll want to have at least 8GB of RAM. Fortunately, manufacturers have made this quite simple because the majority of options out there already have this as a minimum. Just make sure that you aren’t getting a laptop with only 4GB. There is practically no price different between the two, and with only 4GB, you’ll be limited to how many programs/tabs you can simultaneously run. It’s just a limitation that you can easily avoid.
Third, it would be a good idea to make sure your laptop is equipped with a USB Type C port. Since laptops should last between 5 to 7 years, you’ll be wanting to embrace this technology quite soon if not right now. Peripheral devices are going to become standardized with USB Type C and everything will evolve to that interface. It’s also nice to have a microSD slot as well making data transfer from a smartphone or camera quite simple.
Last, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t getting a laptop that runs a terrible operating system. Windows 7 is practically unavailable now, Windows 8 was a flop, and Windows 10 has a few different options. For brevity, I’ll just link a previous article explaining the Windows 10 options and just simply tell you to get Windows 10 Home for your personal laptop. It’s really the only decent choice right now.
Equally important, however, are your personal preferences that you have in order for your happiness to be present. Display, mobility, size, weight, feel of the keyboard, how it looks, and battery life are all extremely important to how you inevitably enjoy your computing experience. You can prioritize these attributes accordingly, but understand that the above requirements are necessary to keep your laptop technologically relevant and allow its longevity to last as long as possible.
Here is a good article which talks about two new and competing laptops that might help you understand the variations and differences between hardware vs. personal preferences.