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Quick guide to Laptop processors: Which one is right for you?

Choosing the right laptop can be difficult enough. Add to that the confusing naming conventions Intel uses to label their processors makes it harder to choose the right laptop processor. And this might lead you to buy laptop with a processor that is unnecessarily powerful or unbearably under powered for your needs. In this article we will help you choose the right processor.

We will categorize the processors based on what kind of use they are meant for. First it is important to know what kind of a user you are. Are you a heavy gamer and video editor, a mediocre user or simply someone who is looking for a device for basic productivity tasks and web surfing? Based on this we have separated users into 3 separate categories:

Heavy use – heavy multitasking, gaming, high resolution video editing

If you are someone who does a lot of processor intensive tasks like gaming and video transcoding or any program that includes a lot of number crunching, you should go with the i5 and i7 HQ series processors. The H in HQ stands for High performance graphics and Q for quad core. These HQ processors are at the top of the line in terms of performance. Most laptops come with a dual core processor with hyper threading enabled.  The i7 has hyper threading which allows its 4 cores to act as 8 cores. The i5 lacks this feature but provides great performance nonetheless.

They also have a higher TDP (Thermal Design Power), generally of about 45W. This means that they output much more power than other processors but also consume more power. So don’t expect much battery life from laptops with these processors.

These processors are generally found in laptops costing above 1 lakhs, like gaming laptops. Some examples are Razer Blade GAMING laptop with the i7-6700HQ processor and Dell Inspiron 7559 with i5-6300HQ.

New Razer Blade with i7-7700HQ
Medium use – decent multitasking, light gaming, productivity tasks

For those who want the right balance between performance and cost, you can’t do any better than the U series from Intel. These processors are great for people who require enough power for productivity tasks, multitasking and even some medium gaming. That’s probably the reason that almost every mid range laptops these days use the i5-6200U(sixth gen) or the i5-7200(seventh gen) processor. A step up from the i5 is the i7-6500U(sixth gen) or i7-7500U(seventh gen) for the extra boost in performance.

Another reason for its popularity among laptop manufacturers is its low TDP of 15 W. In most cases, this ends up improving the battery life of laptops.

Laptops like the Aspire E15-575G from Acer use the i5-6200U and the newer iterations use the latest gen i5-7200U processor. Costing only around Rs. 70,000, this is one of the best options for laptops available in Nepal in this price range. Countless other laptops including variants of the Dell XPS 13 and the Surface Pro 4 use the U series of processors.

Acer e15 with i5-6200U
Light use – Web surfing, editing documents and not much else

For users who only need a device for web surfing and light productivity tasks(making presentations,word editing etc), Intel offers cheap options like the core m series, Pentium series and the Celeron series. The core m’s are used in laptops which are meant to be ‘ultra-portable’.  Due to its low TDP, these tend to be less power hungry and thus do not even require a fan for cooling. So laptop manufacturers tend to use these processors in order to make laptops thinner and lighter like the ASUS zenbook UX305CA.

The Celeron and pentium processors are popular in Chromebooks like the HP chromebook 14 which uses the Intel Celeron N2840. Due to the its ability to handle the lightweight Chrome OS with ease.

ASUS zenbook UX305CA

Hopefully this article helps you decide which laptop with a processor that fits your needs.

Which processor is currently powering your laptop? Let us know in the comments below. For more tech news and articles, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter.