Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to know if you truly are getting a great deal and special pricing can often be misleading. The items below explain what specifications you should be looking for when shopping back to school sales. Knowing what these designations mean will help you get the best deal for your needs.
What Specifications to Look for With Back to School Sales
Intel has been using the i3, i5 and i7 designation for processors for years. An i5 processor has greater specs than an i3 the same way an i7 is more robust than an i5. Better specs can include any combination of larger on-board memory cache (in MB or Megabytes), a faster communications bus (in GT/s or Gigatransfers per second), or a higher processor base frequency (in GHz or Gigahertz). NOTE: An i9 processor has been released but is not expected to ship until August so it is not likely to be seen in consumer products for back to school this year.
The way to determine the generation number is by the first number of the model of processor. This number is the first number listed after the processor type. For example:
- i5-7440HQ = a 7th generation i5 processor
- i7-6700K = a 6th generation i7 processor
Every year newer versions for each model are released. Versions are referred to as generations. The most current processor is a 7th generation. Versions older than the 6th generation mean that device may have been sitting around in inventory. This might make it a less desirable deal depending upon how you plan to use the device. This is not to say the processor is not good enough, but it is something to consider when buying.
To locate and compare the specifications of any Intel CPU, visit their processor products page.
Every new version of RAM supports faster communication speeds and often requires less voltage to run making it more energy efficient. DDR3 has been out for a decade and is still used in many devices. Currently, DDR4 is the latest iteration of RAM and its speeds begin where DDR3 tops out. Purchasing a device with DDR3 RAM is not necessarily bad, just be sure to check the speed associated with it. Since DDR3 tops out at 2133 MT/s, or Megatransfers per second, be sure any DDR3 RAM runs at a minimum speed of 1600 MT/s.
Getting a device with older RAM that runs at the same speed might be worth the savings to you and again is dependent upon how you plan to use it and the longevity you expect from the device. NOTE: DDR3 and DDR4 are not interchangeable within a device. They have notches in different locations which means a motherboard built for DDR3 RAM will not accept DDR4 RAM and vice versa.
Video Port Connectors
Video port connectors may or may not affect your decision-making but it is worth noting. If you ever plan to connect your laptop to an external monitor or TV, whether to work from, as a second display, or for a presentation, it is important that the connector type be common. There are 4 types of video connectors. In order of release from first to most recent:
- Display port