Laptops: How to buy the best laptop Buying the best family laptop
Many homes will get use out of a laptop that's a good all-rounder. Family laptops have enough power to handle everyday tasks, storage space to satisfy a number of different users and are portable enough to be used in different rooms by different members of the family. Family laptops aren't the most powerful, or expensive laptops out there, but you wouldn't want to spend the earth on a model that's likely to be used frequently around the home.
Perfect for families or those who want a more portable computer to use mainly at home, or perhaps to complement a desktop PC.
We've got reviews of family laptops with full results from the Which? lab including ratings for performance and portability.
Take a look at how they compare in our tests in our family laptop reviews.
What makes a good family laptop?
- Build quality For a family laptop you are going to want one that is robust and can take a bit of rough and tumble. We rate laptops on how solid they are, including looking at if the screen flexes significantly when you open and close the lid and if the keyboard feels bendy - both signs of poor build quality.
- 500GB storage Look for a minimum of 500GB storage, but up to 750GB would be a bonus on a family laptop. With more than one person saving their applications, files and programs, you might need a bit more room on the hard disk drive. You can always invest in an external hard drive if you need more at a later date.
- Dual core processor You want a decent processor, though don't need to pay for the most powerful out there. Processors are usually made by either Intel or AMD and are the main brain of your computer. A mid-range processor such as Intel's Core i3 range, or AMD's Athlon processor should be a good starting point.
- Good connectivity Check that your laptop has enough ports and connections for connecting peripherals such as external hard drives or digital cameras. Look out for at least one USB 3.0 port as well as the more common USB 2.0, as this will allow you to download files from a USB stick much quicker. Built-in wi-fi is standard these days and means you can connect to the internet from any room if you have a home wireless network.
Features you can save on
- Graphics Though a family laptop might be used to play the occasional game, you aren't likely to need a dedicated graphics card. Most family laptops will use the integrated graphics which operate using a chunk of the laptops memory (Ram), which is enough for this type of use.
- Large display There's probably no need to spend more on a 17-inch screen for a family laptop. Look for a model that's between 13 and 15 inches, which is large enough to be used comfortably but light enough to carry around the house.
- Battery life Though you should try and look out for a laptop that will give you at least five to six hours, this is not a priority for a family laptop that will mainly be used in the home near a power point.
To see our top recommendations for all types of laptop, take a look at the Which? Best Buy laptops.