There are many brands and levels of Windows-based PC laptops on the market and it can be daunting and confusing for you to know which is the best. Not only do you have so many brands and types, but you also need to know somewhat how to read and understand the specifications such as the processor, memory, and so on.
PC Laptop Brands
Let’s start off with the brands to narrow this down. After having worked in the computer industry for many years and also being a computer enthusiast for much longer, the Microsoft line of tablets, 2-in-1, and laptops are the best in the industry.
For many years, Microsoft did not build hardware. They left it to other companies such as Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, and so forth to build the hardware and Microsoft concentrated on the operating system and Office Suite of products. Basically, Microsoft only focused on software.
However, the perception of PC devices being inferior to Apple devices such as the iMac drove Microsoft into the hardware business because the other brands weren’t doing a very good job. While Apple focused on mid-to-high-end products, companies such as Dell, HP, and others were focused on lower-end, low-cost products in order to sell in higher quantities. As you can see, people were comparing $2,000 iMacs to $500 PCs and, of course, the $2,000 iMacs would perform better.
Microsoft decided to jump into the hardware business with high-quality, higher-end devices that the other brands did not want to focus on as they said there was no money in them. Well, they were wrong. Microsoft jumped in and has so far been doing very well in this market, so much so that Microsoft devices are noted to be the best in the industry compared to the other brands for many years now.
Laptop, 2-in-1, or Tablet PC?
Now that we have established Microsoft as the top brand, now we need to discuss the form factor. Laptops are the traditional mobile platform. However, Microsoft does have other mobile PC options such as the 2-in-1 or Tablet form factors.
Laptops are the traditional form factor in that it is a single device where you just flip the screen up to use.
The 2-in-1 combines the laptop form factor with a detachable tablet device. Basically, in the 2-in-1, the screen portion of the laptop can detach and become a tablet device of its own. One of the main drawbacks to this is that the overall weight of the device is heavier than just a traditional laptop and, of course, the cost of a 2-in-1 will also be higher due to the extra electronics and mechanical parts.
The tablet form factor is just that, a tablet device. Usually, tablets don’t come with a keyboard, but Microsoft has been including its soft-touch keypads with all Microsoft Surface Pro devices. To me, it’s just difficult to use a Windows-based PC using only the touchscreen. I need a keyboard and mouse. With Microsoft including an attached keypad, they are actually classifying these as a 2-in-1.
For me, I prefer the traditional laptop device. I, myself, have the Microsoft Surface Book 2, which is a 2-in-1, but it basically operates like a traditional laptop with the added option of detaching the screen to work as a tablet device. I actually have never needed to use it as a tablet so that portion was a waste, but I needed the specs that the Surface Book line of devices had over the other Surface products.
The main reason I prefer a traditional laptop form factor over a tablet PC is how the screen stays up. For the traditional laptop, you pull the screen up and it stays up due to the tension between the screen and keyboard portion of the device. You can set this device on your lap and the screen stays up at whichever angle you want, for example.
The Microsoft Surface Pro tablet PCs have a kickstand behind the screen portion that you need to flip out to keep the screen up. The angles at which you can have the screen up are very limited and it can be a struggle trying to use this device on your lap. The only benefit I see from the tablet PCs is that they are a bit lighter in weight, but that’s about the only benefit in my opinion.
I won’t get into all of the specs of a PC device. I’ll only talk about the main ones to not confuse you too much.
In regards to performance, the two main specs you need to look at are the CPU (processor) and RAM. If you’re a gamer or graphic artist/video editor, then you also need to consider the graphics card. For now, let’s just concentrate on the CPU and RAM.
For the CPU, the Intel Core series is the only one to consider. The Intel Pentium series of processors are the lower-end line of processors and so they’re going to be slow. I won’t get into the generations of the Intel processors but suffice it to say, the higher the number, the better.
For the RAM, the higher the better will also give you better performance, especially when you multitask multiple applications at the same time. At a very minimum, you need 8GB of RAM. However, if you don’t want to see your device start to get sluggish over the next couple of years, I would say to get at least 16GB of RAM.
Now, for those of you who need better graphics capability for gaming or for video editing and other workstation-type work, I wouldn’t be surprised if you already know what you need. But to just say it here, you’ll want a device with a discrete GPU such as those from NVIDIA. Any NVIDIA embedded GPU will be better than the integrated GPU from the Intel processor.
Lastly, what about the drive space, the SSD? This is the actual storage for your device to hold your files. Many people confuse this hard drive/memory space with RAM. And, some devices give you the option of either an HDD or SSD. To not bore you with details, choose the SSD over the HDD. They last longer and perform much faster even though you may get less storage for the same price.
Finally, which is the Best Windows Laptop PC?
At this point in time, the Surface Laptop 4 series is the best windows laptop PC to buy. You can either choose the 13.5″ or 15″ screen option.
Do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT ever get the Surface Laptop Go series of devices. Yes, they may be cheap, but always remember the adage of “you get what you pay for”. The Surface Laptop Go series is relatively new and has a watered-down Windows operating system with limitations that makes it operate like an Android device. It’s no longer a PC anymore in my opinion.
If you want something with more power than the Surface Laptop 4 series, then you can choose the Surface Laptop Studio device. This is a new device that recently came out last year. It used to be the Surface Book line of devices as the top-end for Microsoft, but it seems to have been replaced by the Studio series.
I hope this article has helped you when choosing a new Windows Laptop PC from Microsoft. For the last several years, Microsoft is my go-to brand for mobile PC devices. When it comes to desktops, I go for gamer PC devices as I need the power, but that’s another article for another day.