Asus laptops are popular for a reason. The company has a popular name in the tech industry. From individual components like chipsets to a variety of computers, the company’s inventory is versatile. Isn't it time that you checked out their products to see what they're all about and how you can benefit from them? Since this brand is popular, it means that many people have discovered it and use it.
It’s a testament to how well Asus understands the way technology comes together. For example, their willingness to adapt to Intel’s industry-leading CPUs helped achieve a high-end interface that dominates the current market – a great long-term decision.
But they also understand the value in equipment trends. Their work with chipsets could be capitalizing on partnerships with other market leaders – but many of their leading laptops focus on combining features users look for.
This trend is present with other laptops on the market from competing brands. One popular formula for success goes like this – make it slimmer without making it slower. What is Asus all about and what do they aim to achieve? Well, we wanted to present everything about their ZenBook so that people would have all the necessary information to determine if this product is for them.
Slimmer, More Successful, Increasingly Useful
When we think of laptops, the entire purpose behind it as opposed to a PC is the size. It’s much easier to cart it around whether you’re taking it to the next room or to a work meeting tomorrow.
We all remember the dorm roommate who carried his PC tower inside and out all day – hey, you need some help with that?
But the options for space-efficient devices keep coming. And the trend now is they’re no longer expected to be hampered by their tight quarters. Smaller laptops are now faster and cooler – both in temperature and looks.
The sleek design has stopped being a limiting factor on the device’s potential output. Now it’s a stylistic opportunity and a pallet from which a great machine can be created. The ZenBook represents Asus’s attempt at it. And with a variety of models that offer good value with a little consideration to competition, it’s a line worth learning about.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the Asus ZenBook line of computers. We’ll examine the concept behind the line as a whole, discuss individual models, and finally make a comparison – including alongside other brands’ products.
The Concept Behind the Asus ZenBook
ZenBooks are advertised on Asus’s official website as a product targeted toward creators, connectors, builders, and disruptors.
This immediately catches the attention of users from numerous market demographics. The musicians or video editors of the world – who work diligently to put content on SoundCloud or YouTube. The streamers, graphic artists, gamers, or entrepreneurs who need varying levels of components to work and play respectively.
Sometimes the laptop should lean more toward intensive tasks – you need something that you can push with when you’re working on a project at the office or finishing up something at school. But there are times when the need for an even slimmer and lighter design is necessary. The frequent traveler or floating worker may even prefer this model to the others.
Then there are those who love the way a laptop functions – but really love the way it looks. For them, style is more of a determining factor than anything else. And if they can get a solid build in addition to the sleek looks, it’s an added bonus.
We can’t forget that there are new trends emerging in the laptop game constantly. This is why we see the debate about laptops vs. tablets vs. tent devices finally cooling. With 2-1 and 3-1 devices, you can get the best of multiple worlds. Improve your workflow in laptop mode, flip the keyboard back for tablet-style viewing, or even use the keyboard itself as a makeshift stand, similar to tent cases for tablets.
Whatever a person is looking for, Asus attempts to offer them something in the ZenBook line. Think about how computers like the Chromebook or the Acer Convertible series – or even certain brands of Mac books. These are all computers that balance various degrees of style, workflow, and portability into their design. But how do the individual ZenBook offerings compare?
For the sake of versatility, we’ll examine each different category here then talk about how the products hold up to the competition – finally, we’ll delve into the product’s reputation for each category, and deliver a final verdict on whether the ZenBook line from Asus is worth checking out.
Making Waves: What Does the ZenBook Line Offer You?
The ZenBook line is promoted as one that helps you amplify your impact. That seems like a salesy way of saying you can do more with less. This means the line fits well among that target market that does a little of everything. Let’s take a look at each product category.
Even the title brings to mind Apple’s crowning line in the portable computer category. But what may look like a nod to the standard Mac-style laptop (which even companies like Acer and HP have tried to emulate) is actually a unique offering in its own way.
For starters, this line of computer is built around being light. That’s good, especially since many competitors have also been capitalizing on this trend. If we look at the UX550 in the ZenBook Pro category, we see it is a workhorse laptop from the beginning. And i7 processor means more cores and more perseverance during long hours of work and multitasking.
But what about on the video side? Graphics matter too, whether the user is playing a video game or playing a 3D animation they just created for their next project. This model comes with a GTX 1050 Ti, and that’s enough to make any computer soar into the mid-to-high-end range for productivity machines.
Whether it’s a gamer who needs to stream, an artist who needs to create, or an entrepreneur who needs to do everything, the UX550 is built for a productive workflow.
There are also other conveniences you would expect, like 16GB of memory and a 15.6” touchscreen display. It’s a machine built for speedy work in a slim frame. It even has USB ports from new and last gen, as well as a 512GB SSD.
You can expect to pay around $1,500 for this laptop – it’s creeping up into the upper-mid-range to high-end buying zone, but this model, in particular, has the specs to justify it. And while there are some slight variants among the other ZenBook pro models, most are value-based like this one.
This line has some overlap with some of the others – there are some models you’d find in both areas. But on Asus’s official website, this computer is listed in the flash category. No, not flash memory – it’s one of the laptops listed under the main ZenBook profile when it comes to style.
The model chosen for this category was the UX490. That means a great deal of care is given to both aspects – including the specifications that affect performance and the design that affects the style. The latter is due to careful crafting on a single sheet of aluminum material. The aerospace-grade metal goes through a 40-step process before it is ready.
This style is complemented by a solid array of components, many of the same you’d find in the UX550. The i7 is there, and this one adds an extra perk: it is the eighth-generation model, meaning you get superior architecture optimized to today’s tasks. There is also a great combination of memory and storage, 16GB and 512 (SSD) respectively.
If you’re the type of person who has their laptop out in class, at a work conference, at your local meeting with your project team, or any other group setting, this can be a great model to show off. There’s no shame in liking the good-looking variety of laptops just for yourself, either.
It’s like the old adage about a tree falling in the woods – even if there’s no one else around to see it, getting a looks-based laptop is always welcomed. And as we mentioned earlier, when it also brings real power in terms of specs, that’s a huge bonus.
This line is Asus’s answer to Acer’s Convertible line and various other manufacturers’ hybrid laptops. When it comes to this line, the question isn’t just what specs or look does the computer have – it is whether or not these design choices are helpful in all of the product configurations.
For this line, the site lists the UX461. It’s a great mid-range model to get you started if you’ve never bought a laptop like this before. But it will also satisfy the design needs of buyers who like the convertible style and swear by it.
Let’s look at the UX461, one of the most popular flip-style ASUS ZenBook choices on the market. Not only does it come with an eight-generation quad-core processor, but it has the familiar 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM combination. This balance allows for more performance even in tough situations.
Whether you have the computer in tablet mode to watch a video, or in a standard laptop configuration for some gaming, the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 is up to the task. No matter how small or big your need is, this laptop has the right balance of specs to handle almost any mid-range need while still resulting in an athletic design.
As with most model lines in the ZenBook series, you can upgrade or downgrade specs to affect the price. For example, on the UX461, you’ll get the choice of an 8250U or an 8550U for your processor. For the storage, you can enjoy a choice between a 256GB or 512GB model – or, if you don’t mind settling for an HDD over an SSD, you can go down to a standard 1TB model. If you don’t plan on doing much editing and feel 16GB of RAM is excessive, you can go with half of that.
With its basic title when compared to some of the others, this category could be misconstrued as being the “low cost” line. While it does feature some of the lower prices on the ZenBook catalog, this is because of the products’ design – they’re built to be slimmer and lighter than standard laptops.
This goes for models both in and out of Asus’s lineup. The UX330 is the lower-level model advertised in this category on Asus’s website.
It comes it at around $750, which puts it solidly in the mid-range territory as far as price goes. Yet that’s not the most curious figure associated with it – this would be the weight. At 2.6-pounds, the computer is one of the more lightweight models in Asus’s entire inventory.
The ZenBook line is targeted at creators, who are often also travelers, entrepreneurs, and workhorses in their own right. Having a lighter laptop can sometimes be helpful in these cases. With an i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB SSD, the specs are solid throughout for the ZenBook UX330.
These are most of the prevalent categories in the ZenBook line. But how do they hold up to the competition?
What Does the ASUS ZenBook Offer That Competitors Don’t?
For many people, they have a preferred brand of laptop. This could be the result of a good experience, a product that lasted a long time and provided plenty of return on investment, or in some cases both.
This is why many laptop manufacturers are moving more toward a holistic approach to their inventory. Offering different types of laptops within the same line can attract new buyers, and even help encourage retention among existing buyers who like the brand but want a different type of computer altogether.
There’s no denying that anyone who is looking at a ZenBook Flip would likely compare to an Acer Convertible, a Chromebook 2-1 or 3-1, and so on. The same can be said about the Pro series, which could be compared to Mac laptops or some of the sleeker more high-end HPs. Asus offers the comfort of brand loyalty, meaning those who have had good experiences with the company before will likely prefer their products over the competition.
Our review has compared the different ZenBooks and the benefit they will offer. The other thing we did is compare the ZenBooks to the competition on the market. That will help you determine how this product is different from the rest. It enables you to compare it so that you can determine if suits your needs and budget. Asus ZenBooks compete with the best on the market and even outperform them in many ways.
Does this mean they’re worth it? If you’re in the market for a creativity-focused machine, ZenBook offers some great options no matter your preference. And if your preference is for ASUS, the ZenBook can help you meet any tech need while going with a brand you feel comfortable with.
WORK AND PLAY HARD: The 720S offers 7th Gen Intel Core i7 processing and a high-performance PCIe 512GB SSD storage. Download movies, store photos and videos, and more. And with 16GB of memory, you’ll be able to multi-task with ease and speed.
ADVANCED GRAPHICS: Equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics card that relies on its own processor, so you’ll experience lightning-fast graphics and accelerated photo and video-editing performance.
TRULY IMMERSIVE AUDIO: Featuring JBL Premium Audio speakers, the IdeaPad 720S offers the revolutionary technology of Dolby Atmos, which creates a breathtaking 360-degree immersive audio experience in which sound flows from every direction.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s is a sleek laptop that you can take with you anywhere. It has an aluminum finish and angled edges to make it look even thinner than it is.
The laptop has excellent battery life, and you can even use it to charge other devices.
If you want a fantastic laptop that works for you instead of against you, consider the details of our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review.
Like with any computer, there's more to the Lenovo Ideapad than meets the eye. So, we have to start this Lenovo Ideapad 720s review with a rundown of the computer specs.
Processor and operating system
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s has an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor (the brains of your laptop). This means that it runs all of your applications at 1.8GHz up to 4.0GHz. Like other Lenovo computers, the Lenovo Ideapad 720s runs on Windows 10.
This laptop has Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 and a 1.0MP HD web camera and single array microphone. A computer's graphics card controls everything you see on screen, and the integrated graphics are built right into the center of your computer.
The web camera and microphone keep you connected with others through various video chat programs.
Memory and storage
This Lenovo laptop has 8GB of Random Access Memory (or RAM) to let the processor do its job at maximum efficiency. Think of RAM as the highway all of your programs drive on. The more RAM you have, the wider the road and the fewer traffic jams you'll have.
For saving information, the Lenovo Ideapad 720s has 1 Terabyte (or TB) of storage. If RAM is the highway, this is the parking garage, and 1TB is a pretty big parking garage.
On the go
You can get some incredible sound from such a thin laptop thanks to the JBL Speakers with Dolby Audio. And with up to nine hours of battery life, you don't have to worry about your computer dying in the middle of a day of work.
The 13.3-inch display is gorgeous, and at 2.2 pounds, you can take the laptop on the go.
When it comes to connectivity, you're covered. The Lenovo Ideapad uses Bluetooth 4.1, and it has multiple ports. You get 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 Type-C Thunderbolt port, and 1 Type-C (always-on charging) port, and a microphone/headphone jack.
The USB 3.0 ports allow for connections through older cables, and the Type-C ports transfer data and information more quickly than older versions of USB.
One customer loved the design of the laptop, and their only complaint was the lack of a touch screen. Another customer praised the quick startup and decent battery life.
A third customer loved the laptop's size and performance, but the battery life is too short. One customer stated in their Lenovo Ideapad 720s review that the laptop arrived broken, so she had to return it.
One customer said they loved the size of the Lenovo's precision trackpad, and the aluminum makes the laptop feel compact. A second customer complimented the value that you get with the Lenovo.
A third customer noted that you can't replace the battery yourself. Their battery died after a couple of months, so they had to send it back to Lenovo for a new battery. The customer also mentioned that the repair took longer than expected and that customer service wasn't very helpful.
Things to consider
A laptop can be an expensive purchase, so you should make sure to choose the best laptop for you. As you read our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review, consider these tips.
Cheap laptops are very appealing. Who wouldn't want a computer for a low price? But computers are one area where you get what you pay for.
On the other hand, it is possible to spend too much money on a computer. If you don't need a computer for anything more than email and browsing the web, then you don't need a high-tech laptop.
You might be tempted to buy the least expensive, base model because that's all you need right now. As we said, laptops aren't cheap. You should be able to use your next laptop for at least a few years.
Don't be afraid to get more storage than you think you need. Also, try to buy the newest model so that it won't be obsolete soon after you start to use it.
Ports and more ports
You should also consider what ports you need. While the Lenovo Ideapad 720s has quite a few ports, it doesn't have an SD card reader.
Therefore, if you work with SD cards a lot, you might want a computer that can accommodate them. Or you can look into an adapter.
Some laptops have even fewer ports than the Lenovo. Before you buy your next laptop, make sure that it has all of the ports that you need.
Give it a try
While computer companies make it very easy for you to buy a computer online, that doesn't mean you shouldn't test out the laptop. Look for a local store where you can test out the laptop in person.
All the specs in the world won't matter if you don't like using the computer. We hope to give you the best idea of the laptop, but our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review can't compete with your own opinion and experience.
If you can't test the laptop in person, buy online from a store that allows returns.
Big screen, better screen?
Size is another important thing to consider. The Lenovo Ideapad 720s has a 13.3-inch display, and it's pretty thin, too. That makes it great for taking on the go.
But laptops come in a variety of sizes. Some are smaller, and others are larger. Think about whether you prefer a larger screen or a portable laptop.
Think big picture
With all of the tech specs, avoid getting sucked into just one spec. A computer might have excellent RAM, but what if the battery life is awful?
Above all, make sure you look at each of the tech specs so you can choose the model that fits your needs and budget.
Laptops and tablets aren't the same
Tablets have come a long way in recent years. They're more powerful than ever, but that doesn't mean they're the same as laptops.
You might be able to get away with just a tablet, but laptops are still the better choice for work-intensive tasks.
Our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review wouldn't be complete without comparing it to similar computers. More and more companies are releasing thin yet powerful laptops, so it can be hard to know which one is best.
And if you don't know what all of the specs mean, the comparison gets even more difficult.
How We Reviewed
We looked for laptops with similar specs and a similar price to the Lenovo. In our search, we stuck to laptops with similar average ratings to keep things fair and balanced. Also, we made sure to leave our personal opinions out of the comparison.
This Lenovo Ideapad 720s review is about helping you decide if the laptop is right for you
The HP Spectre x360 is a convertible 2-in-1 laptop. It has a dark ash silver color with gold detailing on the sides. This laptop has an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor and an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 Graphics card.
The 4K display is 15.6 inches, and it features a backlit touchscreen. You can use the included stylus with the touchscreen.
The HP Spectre x360 comes with 16GB of RAM, and it has 512GB of storage. You can video chat with the HP Wide Vision camera and Dual-array digital microphone.
The HP Spectre also comes with plenty of ports including 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 Type-C, and 1 USB 3.1 as well as an HDMI port and a headphone/microphone jack. You can also stay connected with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2.
This laptop comes with Windows 10 as its operating system.
Many customers love the look of the computer, but a common complaint is frequent lagging and freezing.
Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 has many similar specs to the Lenovo and the HP. It has an Intel Core i7 processor, and it comes with Windows 10.
The laptop has 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. At 2.76 pounds, the 13.5-inch computer fits into your bag for work on the go. This laptop has up to 14.5 hours of battery life, and you can choose from burgundy, cobalt, and platinum for the color.
The touchscreen display is vibrant, and the invisible speakers give you excellent sound from all angles. This laptop uses Signature Alcantara material on the keyboard so you can type comfortably.
You can purchase extra accessories including a mouse and a stylus to up your game with the laptop.
One customer said the laptop is powerful enough for graphic design, coding, and more. Another customer said the laptop wouldn't boot up at all.
S Pen - unleash your creativity with the included, ultra-precise s Pen which never needs charging. With three interchangeable tips, you can replicate the feeling of writing, sketching, or painting with different textures. You can also use the handwriting recognition function to convert notes to text, transform sketches into diagrams, and even take screen clips.
Convertible design - supporting a scratch-resistant metal design, An Ocean Blue color and a striking yellow s Pen, The notebook 9 pen is as sleek, stylish, and versatile. Use it as a laptop or simply rotate it to tablet mode for convenient presentation Display, entertainment viewing, or browsing apps with the touchscreen.
Fast-charging Battery - with the power to last up to 15 hours, there's no stopping your productivity. When it's time to recharge you can power up quickly, so you're right back to what you were doing.
Did you think Samsung only made smartphones? Well, think again. The Samsung Notebook 9 is a surprisingly powerful laptop. It has an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor with a TurboBoost.
This computer has 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The Samsung computer also NVIDIA graphics and a 15-inch HD display. You can open the (non-touch) display up to 180 degrees.
The laptop has a webcam and a backlit keyboard along with multiple ports. You get 1 USB Type-C, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, a 3-in-1 SD card reader, and a fingerprint reader. The Samsung Notebook 9 also has an HDMI port along with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Unfortunately, there are no Amazon customer reviews. One customer said it's almost too easy to turn the computer off, but it's fantastic otherwise.
The LG Gram Thin and Light Laptop is yet another computer worth comparing to the Lenovo Ideapad 720s. This computer has a larger display than some others at 17 inches. It has an 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor, and the operating system is Windows 10.
The laptop may be large, but it has an outstanding 19.5-hour battery life. Its IPS display is gorgeous, and the laptop is thin enough to take on the go. The LG clocks in at just under three pounds.
You can log into your computer with the fingerprint sensor, and the backlit keyboard lets you work in darker environments. The touchpad lets you use a variety of multi-touch gestures, and you can use the webcam for video chats. Also, the laptop has great speakers.
The LG laptop has a Type-C port, 3 USB 3.0 ports, a microSD card reader, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack.
Customers say it's very portable despite the large screen size.
No Lenovo Ideapad 720s review is complete without listing the pros and cons. The Lenovo has multiple competing products, but we can't ignore the Lenovo itself. Like most products, there are both pros and cons to this laptop.
We also have to mention that your pros and cons might differ from someone else's.
The Lenovo has many excellent features. We had to include these pros in our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review.
It's a great size. The Lenovo Ideapad 720s has a 13.3-inch display, and it's extremely thin. That makes it perfect for around the house and on the go. You don't have to feel weighed down by the laptop.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s has an aluminum finish. Lenovo uses a similar finishing process as for diamonds, giving it a sleek design. The sharp edges make the laptop look even thinner than it really is.
It has a full screen. Watching videos on the Lenovo is terrific because the screen has thin borders. The screen almost feels like a home theater.
It has excellent battery life. The Lenovo Ideapad 720s has up to 10 hours of battery life. You can also use the laptop to charge other devices, like your smartphone. The laptop doesn't even need to be on.
It has great performance. The 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor helps the Lenovo run very fast. You can run multiple programs, and the computer won't lag on you.
It has tons of storage. If you want to use your computer for years, you need enough storage. Luckily, the Lenovo has 1TB of SSD (solid state drive) storage.
It has amazing audio. If you like to listen to music, you don't have to use external speakers to get a good sound. The JBL Dolby Audio gives you a range of clear sounds at every volume.
It has Cortana. Cortana is the Windows digital assistant. It can answer questions, open apps, and set reminders. If you have multiple Windows 10 devices, you can use Cortana on all of them.
It uses a fingerprint reader. If you can't remember your password, don't worry. You can log onto the Lenovo with just a swipe of your finger. The fingerprint reader also works with certain apps like Dropbox.
It has multiple ports. The world is slowly moving to Type-C ports, and the Lenovo is no exception. This laptop has a Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C) port so you can stay up to date on connectivity.
Just like with the pros, we had to include cons in our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review.
Food for thought
It has some competition. Just look at the computers we compared. All of them are amazing in their own ways. Of course, the Lenovo has some fantastic features. But don't they all?
It's pricey. While the Lenovo Ideapad isn't the most expensive computer on the market, it's definitely not the cheapest. If you want a more affordable computer, it might not be the one for you.
It has a few bad reviews. One or two bad reviews shouldn't turn you away from a product, but they're worth looking into. Some of the negative reviews focus on a defective model. That's not what you want in a computer.
It lacks a few ports. If you use SD cards or HDMI output, you won't find those ports on the Lenovo. Photographers and presenters need those ports to do their jobs.
It uses Windows 10 Home. This might be a pro if you just need a simple computer. However, if you want a powerhouse, you might prefer a computer with Windows 10 Pro.
It doesn't have a touchscreen. So many laptops have this option these days. If you want a touchscreen laptop, you probably want to look at other computers.
It isn't customizable. If you decide you want more RAM, you can't upgrade it. The baseline 8GB should be enough for most people, but gamers and professionals might want more.
It lacks an optical drive. According to PCWorld, an optical drive is what lets you play and burn DVDs. The Lenovo Ideapad doesn't have that capacity. So if that's important to you, you'll probably be disappointed.
It has an internal battery. One complaint from customers is the location of the battery. If your battery dies, you have to send it to Lenovo for a replacement.
It only has one color option. This may be a bit vain, but who doesn't want some choice in their computer's color? The aluminum does look great, but it might be nice to have at least one other color.
Lenovo Ideapad 720s Review
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s is a fantastic computer with tons of features. It has a fast processor, and the graphics are excellent. You get tons of storage, and it's thin enough to stick in any bag.
But there are other computers with similar features. What makes Lenovo different?
In our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review, we found that while there are many similar computers, the Lenovo still stands out.
One impressive feature you won't find on other laptops is a full 1TB worth of storage. If you want to store a lot of files on your computer, the Lenovo won't let you down.
However, there are some drawbacks to it. For one, the Lenovo Ideapad doesn't have a touchscreen. While that's probably not a dealbreaker, it is worth noting.
The Lenovo looks and feels small, but it's still very powerful. You get an 8th generation Intel processor, and furthermore, the 8GB RAM means you can work quickly and efficiently.
If you're handy with tools, you might not like that you can't replace the battery on your own. Wait, isn't that an Apple thing? Not anymore. You will have to take the computer to Lenovo if you need a new battery.
At the end of the day, you can't let one or two features (or lack of features) keep you from deciding on a new computer.
As you can see from our Lenovo Ideapad 720s review, it's not a perfect laptop. However, very few people need all of the top-of-the-line features.
If you need a computer with a fast processor that's also a great value, the Lenovo Ideapad is an excellent choice. But you should also consider the Lenovo if you plan to use the laptop as your primary computer.
On the other hand, if you only need a laptop for browsing the web and checking email, you probably don't need all of the power. You can get away with a lower priced computer with fewer features.
Whatever you decide, make sure you don't rush into a decision. Like it or not, computers are part of our daily lives. You want to choose a computer that you enjoy using day in and day out.
At this point, you’re probably wondering if there are any benefits to creating a laptop from scratch.
Actually, yes there are.
For those people who enjoy a great DIY challenge, building a laptop is right up there with the best of them. If you want to enjoy the bragging rights of building a functional laptop, then by all means, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with a little vanity project.
Another good reason to build a laptop from scratch will be if you’re looking to start making your own brand of laptops and selling them. Making one from scratch would be a great way to get design ideas, and make improvements on pre-existing models. Before you know it, your company could become the next Razer or Alienware.
Step By Step DIY Instructions For Building A Laptop
This is a very generalized step-by-step “how to” guide on how to build a laptop.
We should note that many of the components referred to in this guide may not have up-to-date models that are available for sale.
The barebones kit and components that would allow you to make a copy version of the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 15.6-inch gaming laptop probably doesn’t exist.
When making a self-built laptop, it’s best not to set your expectations too high in terms of performance.
Once again, you’ll likely need to source older parts that will work together.
First, you should determine what kind of machine you want to build. Is it going to be a gaming laptop or used for business?
This distinction can make a big difference. That’s because a laptop designed for business may have components that are much easier to find than one designed for gaming.
You’ll also need to consider factors such as battery life and screen size.
Step 1: Choose your CPU
The first part you’ll need to decide on is your CPU. You’ll need to build a laptop around this component. Your CPU will determine what type of case or “shell” you can use.
When buying a CPU, remember to look for a mobile processor, not a desktop.
As you build a laptop, keep in mind:
There may be some mobile processors that are only available integrated on certain motherboards.
There are two major CPU manufacturers: Intel and AMD.
AMD CPUs are generally less expensive and more geared toward multi-core processing, making it an excellent multi-tasking CPU.
Intel CPUs are usually more expensive and are generally better for single-core processing tasks like gaming.
Step 2: Choose a laptop shell
The laptop’s shell will determine what other parts you can put into your system. You need to choose a shell that’s compatible with your CPU or has the CPU integrated.
The shell will include your touchpad, keyboard, motherboard, and screen.
The motherboard’s specs will dictate what type and how much memory you can use in your system.
Another factor to consider is weight. A laptop with a larger screen will likely weigh more.
Also, you’ll need to decide on the quality of your screen.
If you’re a gamer or graphics designer, you’ll need at least a screen that can display 1080p resolution.
Additionally, finding shells that offer 4K resolution may prove to be incredibly difficult if not next to impossible.
Laptop shells are not as readily available as desktop cases. You’ll need to search for “barebones notebook” or “whitebook shell” to find retailers that stock them.
Step 3: Find your RAM
Now you need to find RAM for your system. Remember, when searching for RAM it needs to meet the specs of the motherboard inside your shell.
If you buy DDR4 RAM for a system with a motherboard that only offers DDR3 support, then you’ve wasted your money.
Generally, we recommend getting a shell with DDR4 support if you’re into gaming and need high-performance for business-related programs.
If you want to build a laptop for light tasks such as emailing, social media, and maybe watching videos, the cheaper DDR3 RAM should be fine.
As for capacity, you shouldn’t need more than 8-Gigabytes (GB) of RAM unless you’re into video editing, in which case you’ll likely need at least 16GB of DDR4.
Now if you want to build a laptop for gaming, generally you won’t use more than 8GB of RAM.
With that said:
If you want to do a little bit of futureproofing, you may decide to go with 16GB if your motherboard supports it.
Step 4: Find a hard drive
Most laptops use 2.5-inch drives, as opposed to the 3.5-inch models used in desktops. You have your choice between drives that offer 5400 revolutions-per-minute (RPM), 7200 RPM, or a solid state drive with no moving parts.
Solid state drives offer the best performance, but are more expensive and are not the best suited for long-term storage. They also usually offer less storage than cheaper HDD drives.
If your model allows for an additional HDD drive in addition to your main SDD drive, then that would be an ideal option. However, for long-term storage, you can always use a portable HDD drive.
Another advantage SSD drives have over HDD drives is a lower failure rate due to them having no moving parts.
As for capacity, most people these days have at least 500GB to 2-Terabytes of space on their primary drive.
But, keep this in mind:
If you want the fast performance of an SSD drive and storage capacity within that range, you’ll probably have to pay a premium.
Step 5: Decide on a graphics card (optional)
Most shells will not allow you to install a separate graphics card.
Instead, the CPU’s integrated graphics unit would do the job of a graphics card.
However, for gamers and graphic designers, having a dedicated graphics card could make or break their system.
But if you can’t find a shell that allows you to install a graphics card, there are ways around it.
You can set up a DIY or commercially sold external GPU system that connects to your laptop.
Of course, this solution would take away a bit from your laptop’s portability, as you’d have to lug around extra equipment.
Step 6: Find an optical drive (optional)
As computers become more advanced, having an optical drive has become more optional.
After all, you can now install your operating system from a USB drive and download any programs you need directly.
Today’s newer laptops don’t include an optical drive.
Some notebook shells still include an optical drive, but some will not accommodate them, so make sure the drive is compatible with your shell.
However, if you loathe doing without an optical drive, you can always buy an external optical drive, which is pretty lightweight and thin.
Step 7: Choose your battery
To find the right battery, you’ll need to find one that has the correct shape and utilizes the same connector.
Laptop batteries have multiple pins.
The battery also contains ICs and the IC notifies the computer about the battery’s temperature, the battery’s power levels, and if the battery isn’t working or should not be charged.
If you are on the go a lot, then you’ll need a longer battery life for your laptop. It may take some time, as you may need to compare many batteries to find the right fit for your system.
It’s also a good idea to look at user reviews before buying a battery to get an idea about other people’s experiences with the battery.
Not so long ago, this wouldn’t have been a serious question for most laptop users. But with the rise of Apple products, users now have another option other than Windows.
Apple laptops do tend to carry a much stiffer pricetag than Windows laptops.
Historically, Apple laptops are favored more among creative professionals because of their function keys, high screen quality, and ability to run high-powered programs such as AVid, Dreamweaver, and Maya.
In fact, many creative professionals still swear by Apple laptops.
In recent years, Apple has enjoyed enormous success with the launch of their much more affordable MacBook models such as the MacBook Pro.
These laptops feature less RAM than previous models and target more of a mass audience than traditional Apple laptops.
The biggest issue with using Apple products for business is that you may run into some problems with compatibility if your company uses software that only works on Windows machines
Let’s face it: While laptops are a great option to work and communicate on the go, sometimes you need a workstation. Having a dedicated workstation is a boon to productivity because you always know where everything is, with the perfect set up to do whatever you need to do.
But workstations are not exactly mobile. While you can potentially switch between a desktop workstation and your laptop, it is not always convenient to switch between computers.
A docking station could help you solve this problem by essentially turning your laptop into a stationary workstation, whenever you need it.
If you want to supercharge your laptop productivity, a laptop docking station may be a worthy investment.
So what is it anyway?
You may be wondering what a laptop docking station is. A docking station is a device that you can attach your laptop to that extends its capabilities, allowing you to connect extra devices to it easily.
Port replicators vs. docking station
Port replicators are peripheral devices that add additional ports for your laptop to use. For example, a port replicator may include extra USB ports, Ethernet ports, etc.
Docking stations are similar to port replicators in that they add additional ports for your laptop. However, desk docking stations have more options, including charging capabilities, and may support more features, like multiple monitors.
Port replicators are typically cheaper than more full-featured docking stations.
What’s the advantage?
Laptops are great when you are on the go. They are super portable, easy to work with, and you can connect anywhere.
But let’s face it, even a sizeable 17-inch laptop can seem small when you’re working on it all the time. Laptops are not always the greatest choice for ergonomics, either.
Docking stations can help you set up a more versatile workstation environment when you need it, without sacrificing your laptop’s portability. The best laptop docking station will allow you to set up a more permanent workstation, with a good keyboard and monitor, at a desk.
When you do need to leave, all you need to do is unplug a cable, and you’re free! Plus, when you are back at your workstation, you can plug right back in and work in comfort once again.
So how does it work?
In the past, laptop docking stations tended to be proprietary, made specifically for each laptop model by the manufacturer. Though made for their compatible laptops, there was little variety, if any, in features for these docking stations.
While you can still find proprietary docks like the Surface Dock for Surface laptops, universal docks are now very popular. Universal docks are often compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. Some universal docks also support Chrome OS and Linux operating systems.
Current universal docks have far more variety than their proprietary predecessors. However, this means that there is more to think about when you are buying a docking station.
When you’re looking for the best laptop docking station for your computer, you need to take your needs into consideration.
First, think about what you use your laptop for. If you mostly surf the web and use productivity applications, you are probably fine with a more basic docking station.
However, if you are a power user who uses their laptop to edit media, a more powerful docking station may be in order.
Similarly, consider how often you plan on using your laptop as a stationary workstation.
If you are a road warrior that only needs to sit down at a desk every so often, a port replicator or a more portable, slim docking station may be best for your needs.
Mind your ports
When you are looking for the best laptop docking station, you may be overwhelmed at the different port choices.
Here’s a small primer to help you better understand what you are looking at.
Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB-C
Many universal docking stations connect to laptops using either USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. Somewhat confusingly, USB C and Thunderbolt 3 both use the same USB-C connector.
However, USB-C has a data transfer rate of 10 Gigabytes per second (Gb/s) while Thunderbolt 3 is much faster at 40 Gb/s.
Universal docking stations may have different video ports for you to choose from, including DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, or VGA.
Before choosing the best laptop docking station for you, be sure that you choose one that supports your monitor of choice.
Most universal docking stations will come with USB ports, as well as audio out (headphones) and audio in (microphone).
Before choosing a universal docking station, you need to ensure that the docking station has enough power to run your laptop as well as any powered peripherals you may have.
Finding the Best Laptop Docking Station: Our Method
To find our choices for the best laptop docking station we took a look at various universal USB-C docking stations.
From there, we looked at the different features each laptop dock had, including ports, wattage, and display support. Finally, we looked at what customer reviews had to say about each product. Prices are variable for laptop docking stations.
The CalDigit TS3 is a 15-port docking station. Among these connections, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a DisplayPort, five USB ports (including USB-A and USB-C), and optical audio.
It provides up to 85 watts of power. This docking station can support either one 5K monitor or up to two 4K monitors via the DisplayPort and USB-C connections.
While the CalDigit TS3 is ideal for Mac-based laptops like the 2016+ MacBook pro, it is also compatible with Windows laptops running Windows 8 or Windows 10.
This docking station is available on Amazon and “Amazon’s Choice” pick.
Positive reviews like this dock for both Mac and Windows computers. The top positive review calls it the “best investment” they could have made.
However, there are critical reviews that assert that the dock did not work on their computers. One review says that it did not work well with their 2018 MacBook Pro. After numerous attempts with CalDigit’s help, they were able to get their issue resolved but still gave it a low rating due to the non-intuitive fix.
It is a universal docking station that is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.You can find it online at Best Buy and Amazon.
Calling it a “no frills, bargain winner.” While the reviewer admitted that the dock lacked some higher functionality, they noted that it makes for an “excellent temporary workstation” for their Windows-based laptop.
Another review mentioned that they used their dock to extend their laptop onto two 25-inch monitors. This reviewer reported that the solution, “works great” and is more economical than other solutions that they had tried.
Critical reviews varied on their reasons for disliking the product. One reviewer said that the overall product was good but still did not work for their unique computer situation. Another user reported that it did not work with Mac 10.13.5 and did not receive a resolution from J5 when they contacted support.
Plugable universal docking stations
The computer company Plugable makes several highly rated docking stations, available on Amazon.
The Plugable UD-CA1A is a universal docking station, compatible with Windows, Mac, and Chromebook. This docking station includes an HDMI/VGA port that supports many types of video. It connects to the laptop via a USB-C connector.
It is also the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice for USB-C laptop docks.
Positive reviews like this dock for its versatility as well as its support. Citing that it was able to work with both Mac and Windows computers.
Critical reviews that were less than pleased with the dock cited it did not work with their operating system.
For example, one customer using Ubuntu 18.04 noted that there was a significant delay when typing and mousing. Another customer found that the dock did not work with newer versions of Chrome OS.
The Plugable UD-ULTCDL is another top-rated docking station. It's a USB-C system and makes use of Thunderbolt 3 technology for faster data transfer rates.
It supports up to three displays with two HDMI outputs and a DVI output. Additionally, this docking station has an Ethernet port and supports three USB 3.0 peripherals, as well as a microphone and speakers.
Overall, the Plugable UD-ULTCDL gets good reviews online. Positive reviews say that the dock “worked like a charm” for their needs. Those that liked the dock gave it glowing reviews, saying that it helped to boost their productivity with the extra display space.
The UD-ULTCDL does have some drawbacks. This dock is made more for web browsing and productivity applications. It is not recommended for hardware intensive applications like gaming or HD video.
While this dock is compatible with older versions of Mac OS, it is not compatible with Mac OS 10.13.4 and above. Additionally, not all versions of Chromebook support this dock.
One customer had a particularly bad experience with this dock, ending with the dock destroying his laptop. However, the customer did appreciate that the company reached out to compensate them for the defective product and the damage it caused.
The WAVLINK WL-UG69PD2 is a docking station that works with USB-C connectors and provides up to 60 watts of charging power. It includes two DisplayPort connections, two HDMI ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB-C ports, an Ethernet port, and audio in and out ports.
It supports resolutions up to 5K on a single monitor via DisplayPort and resolutions up to 4K on dual monitors on both HDMI and DisplayPort.
The WAVLINK WL-UG69PD2 is compatible with Windows, Mac OS 10.6 to 10.13.3, and Chrome OS 2015 and onward.
Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive for the dock, with 71 percent of customers. Positive reviews note that the dock works well and is easy to use. One reviewer stated that they were able to use the dock easily between different laptops.
It began having trouble recognizing monitors. This review also indicated that it was not a good dock for playing games.
So Which One Is Really the Best?
Whether you are a student that wants a more comfortable solution to write long term papers or a video editor that wants to use multiple monitors to edit their next masterpiece on their laptop, the best laptop docking station is out there, ready to help.
A universal docking station can help boost your productivity by letting you customize a workstation that exactly meets your needs.
Laptop docking stations come with different ports and capabilities, so you are sure to find the best laptop docking station for your particular needs!
In your opinion, what is the best laptop docking station on the market today? Tell us all about it below!
As you go through the day, do you think ever think about how to clean a laptop keyboard? That may seem like an odd question. But humans are a tactile species. We touch to interact with our world. As we go through our daily lives, our hands touch a lot of things that aren't so clean.
Laptop computers are an essential part of our daily lives. We work on them, and we play on them. There’s a good chance that you’re reading this on a laptop right now. But our laptops are not the only things we touch. We touch door handles, countertops, and refrigerators. We sneeze into our hands, wipe our noses, and pick up our food.
While doing all this, we inevitably transfer bacteria and other microorganisms from one surface to another. That can make our laptops one of the single dirtiest items in our possession. The chances are good that you probably don’t think about how to clean a laptop keyboard too often.
According to scientists, toilet seats have around 50 bacteria per square inch. Your average computer keyboard can harbor up to 400 times that amount. Yes. Your keyboard is nastier than your toilet seat.
As if the number of bacteria wasn’t bad enough, sometimes that bacteria can be pretty deadly. Strains of drug-resistant bacteria including vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can live on your keyboard.
The Staphylococcus bacteria can cause minor irritations like boils but can also cause life-threatening diseases like septicemia or toxic shock syndrome.
How To Clean A Laptop Keyboard: Before You Start
To give your laptop keyboard a thorough cleaning, first, you need to check what type of laptop keyboard you have.
Once you know what kind of keyboard you have, you then need to assemble your cleaning supplies.
As laptops come in various sizes and profiles, laptop keyboards vary between models. However, there are several main types of keyboards that you can expect to find on your average laptop.
Chiclet, or island style, keyboards are the most common type of keyboard for laptops. This type of keyboard has flat keys, that pop up from the laptop’s surface, separate from each other.
This style is called chiclet style because the keys resemble a type of gum known as a chiclet.
Good news: chiclet keyboards are the easiest type of keyboard to clean!
Older laptops have traditional keyboards. These keyboards use larger keys with sloping sides that are placed closer together.
These types of keyboards can be more challenging to clean because of how close the keys are. There is also space beneath the keys that can trap debris.
While chiclet keyboards dominate contemporary laptop computers, followed by traditional keyboards, there are a few other types out there.
These types are much harder to find. We include them here for reference, but you will probably be fine sticking with the instructions on how to clean a laptop keyboard for either chiclet or traditional.
Mechanical switch keyboards have a switch that audibly clicks beneath the key. They are louder but more durable. Mechanical keyboards are more common on desktops, but some specialized gaming laptops use them.
Touch and haptic keyboards are keyboards that do not require a physical press. Think of these keyboards almost like touch screens, just with keys. Some have haptic feedback which vibrates to let you know you have pressed a key.
Now that we have the tools that we need, here is each step for you to thoroughly clean your laptop keyboard. Be sure to budget at least 15 minutes to do a thorough job of this.
Whenever you do any work on your computer, even if it’s just a quick clean, it’s always a good idea to back up your computer. It may seem like overkill, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Once you have your data all backed up, turn off your laptop and unplug it. To be extra safe, make sure your computer is off for at least 10 seconds before continuing onto the next steps.
Dust bunnies must die!
You first need to deal with the general dust before you can get to the business of cleaning your keys.
Attach the long, thin straw that comes with the can of air to get in between the crevices of the keys. For best results, use short bursts of air to move out dust and debris away from your keys effectively.
Suck it up!
If you have a traditional or mechanical keyboard, first use an electronics vacuum with a crevice attachment to help you get into the crevices between and underneath your keys.
You can then blow out any remaining debris with your can of air.
Cleaning up the alphabet
Depending on the style of keyboard you have, cleaning and disinfecting the keys can take the longest amount of time.
Once you have blown off or vacuumed off all of the dust from your keyboard, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty: cleaning your keys.
So how do we do that?
To start, moisten the tip of a cotton swab in some electronics cleaning solution or rubbing alcohol.
Remember: you do not want this swab to be dripping wet, just moistened.
Pick a point on your keyboard to start at and then begin cleaning. Starting at the “Escape” key and then working your way left to right is a pattern that will allow you to keep track of what you have cleaned easily.
Don't forget the rest of it...
After you have cleaned your keys, it is time to clean and disinfect the surface of your laptop, i.e., everything else.
If you have a chiclet keyboard, use a cotton swab dampened with either electronics cleaner or rubbing alcohol to get in between the keys.
To clean the larger surfaces, spray a microfiber cloth with your electronics cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Wipe down the surface of your keyboard in a back and forth motion.
Whatever you do, do NOT spray cleaner directly onto the surface of your laptop. That can cause excess moisture to get into your laptop which may ruin it.
Your laptop keyboard should now be clean and ready to use again!
Once you have cleaned your laptop keyboard, it is essential to keep it clean.
Cover it up
An easy way to keep your keyboard clean is to use a keyboard cover. Sometimes called a keyboard skin, these are silicone covers that cover the entirety of your keyboard to keep out dust and other debris.
You won't even have to learn how to clean a laptop keyboard!
So what’s the catch?
Keyboard covers are not available for all laptops. Plus, they are best for chiclet laptop keyboards.
But there is a bright side! If you have a popular laptop with a chiclet type keyboard, like an Apple MacBook, chances are you can find a bunch of different keyboard covers that will suit your needs and personality.
Go scrub. A lot
Washing your hands regularly is the best way to prevent the spread of disease. According to the CDC, we often touch things without realizing it and end up transferring pathogens from one surface to another.
By washing your hands regularly with soap and running water, you get rid of germs or anything else that can transfer onto your computer.
Watch what you’re doing
We’ve all been there.
You’re busy working (or watching something) on your laptop. Suddenly, you realize you are hungry.
It’s easy to grab something to eat and drink while you continue to work on your laptop.
Unfortunately, I have bad news: This is the one habit you want to stop if you're going to learn how to clean a laptop keyboard and keep it clean.
Eating while you’re using your laptop can make crumbs that fall onto your computer.
Crumbs can be easy to brush away on a chiclet keyboard. But on a traditional keyboard, they can get in between the keys and cause a real mess.
Watch out if you’re eating something sticky. There is a good chance that you can gum up your keys too.
Drinking while using your laptop is also pretty risky as well. Spilling water can do some severe damage to your laptop keyboard and the components inside.
Liquids like soda or coffee can make a sticky, hard to clean mess if you spill them on your laptop.
Keeping It Clean
Your laptop is an essential part of your daily life. As part of your daily life, it is necessary to keep it clean.
Now that you have learned how to clean a laptop keyboard, be sure to clean it at regular intervals. By cleaning it regularly, you ensure that your laptop keyboard stays as germ-free as possible.
Do you have any tips or tricks for cleaning your keyboard? Share them with us in the comments!