What are Laptop Specs?

James Junior

"Laptop specs" is short for laptop specifications. There are a number of different laptop specs that ought to be taken into consideration when purchasing a laptop — some are more important than others. It is not necessary to become a computer guru in order to purchase a good laptop, but a small crash-course in key components would probably help a great deal.

A USB drive for use with a laptop.
A USB drive for use with a laptop.

Since computer technologies advance so rapidly, the best way to know the latest and greatest specs is to run a basic search for laptop reviews on a search engine or technology website. Many websites let visitors compare laptops against one another to better pinpoint the right one according to the potential buyer's needs.

A stick of RAM, for a laptop.
A stick of RAM, for a laptop.

The first specification that will stand out is the processor. This is the engine, or the brain, of the laptop. Two things will be noted about the processor — the brand and model, and the speed. While the laptop should be fast, spending top dollar just to get the fastest processor might not be the right way to go. What's right for a given buyer, depends on how the laptop will be used. If it will be used for basic internet surfing, emailing, chatting, and creating basic documents, then the fastest processor available is probably not necessary. However, if a laptop is going to be used to play online-based games, then processor speed becomes crucial to the game's overall performance.

A laptop's screen size may be an important laptop spec among avid gamers.
A laptop's screen size may be an important laptop spec among avid gamers.

Another important laptop spec is memory. There are different types of memory, but when talking about laptop memory, random access memory (RAM) is usually the type being referred to. Memory is proportional to the processor speed — one needs to be increased to realize increases in the other. Increasing a computer's memory will enable it to handle more tasks at one time. Making a list of all the programs that are likely to be used on the laptop will help in determining the amount of memory necessary for the laptop to run efficiently.

Specifications such as processor speed are crucial in determining the types of things a consumer can do with a computer, including playing games and processing graphics.
Specifications such as processor speed are crucial in determining the types of things a consumer can do with a computer, including playing games and processing graphics.

Laptop screen size is the most important of all the laptop specs for some users, typically gamers and people who like to watch movies on their laptops. Nobody likes a screen that's too small, but if the laptop is not being used for movies or games, then one might consider getting a smaller screen in order to use the price increase towards other features. Sometimes, the main selling point for a laptop model will be the screen, and upon closer inspection it becomes evident that the screen has eaten up the bulk of the selling cost.

Hard drive space may be an important laptop spec.
Hard drive space may be an important laptop spec.

After considering the main laptop specs, peripherals will come into play. These are the other features that can be added to the computer to enhance functionality. This includes things like CD/DVD drives, disk drives, hard drives, sound cards, network cards, USB drives, and a host of other devices. While the quality of the peripherals that come with a computer is important, they can typically be added in the future. Most of them are “plug & play,” which means that you can just plug them into your computer and use them. Chances are that any laptop purchased from a store will have the latest key peripherals.

One peripheral that might play a more important role functionally is the hard drive. This is the space that the laptop will store all of its files in. The amount of space that is offered on hard drives is always increasing. Potential buyers should estimate what they will be needing in terms of hard drive space and purchase accordingly. If a hard drive becomes too small, one can purchase an external hard drive to supplement the laptop's existing one.

Even though having a basic knowledge of the laptop specs that are generally the most important is useful to the potential laptop buyer, it might not be enough. Knowing how the laptop will be used will also be key in determining what specs are required. When in doubt, online review sites or salespeople at computer stores should be used for collecting more information.

Most laptops come with a built-in CD/DVD player.
Most laptops come with a built-in CD/DVD player.

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Discussion Comments


Is there a site that has all the specs of all computers by model number?


@Ana1234 - Well, laptop hard drive specs aren't too important unless you're talking about getting a faster one (like a solid state drive or something) since you can always get an external drive. Space is fairly cheap at the moment. It's the performance that you pay for.


@browncoat - While I agree to some extent the one thing I will say is that it is a lot more difficult to upgrade a laptop than a desktop. The laptop specs to look for should be at the top of the range that you're considering, just in case your taste or circumstances change and you need something with more grunt.

It's not impossible to add RAM to some laptops (although you might void the user agreement) but you will probably have a lot of trouble replacing almost anything else. If you know you're going to need, say, a better graphics card or a bigger hard drive in a few months it's better to get those in the first place.


It took me a while to realize that there is no perfect laptop. I was kind of annoyed that I wouldn't be able to afford a really expensive one, but after a bit of research I realized that there wouldn't even be any point in getting it. I only use my laptop for surfing the internet and playing casual games.

The high-end recommended laptop specs are usually for people who do a lot of gaming, or who work on their laptops all the time. Even then you don't really need some things unless you're working with video.

It's definitely worth having an honest look at what you will need for your laptop. Getting a gig with lots of RAM and multiple cores just isn't worth it unless you're going to use it.

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