If you’re looking to replace your laptop or PC this year, and you’re sticking with the most popular operating system out there (Windows, of course), then you’ll want to find a machine that’s optimised for running Windows 10. Whatever your thoughts are on the latest Microsoft OS (which was first released a year ago now), most new computers will either come with it pre-installed or prompt you to upgrade to it immediately. Here’s your ultimate guide for what to consider when buying a new laptop or PC to run Windows 10.
Every single task your computer completes will require processing power. A good processor will make your experience feel more lightweight and quick, which is vital for anyone trying to complete serious work, and highly desirable for any user. The standard benchmark is now quad-core, so look for that as a minimum. Windows 10, when configured correctly, can run perfectly well at this level.
Integrated graphics are still common in laptops, but full graphics cards are vastly superior on the whole. This is most relevant for gaming and other high-end visual software. A good mid-range Nvidia or AMD dedicated graphics card should be enough for most intermediate users on Windows 10.
Converting webpages to a portable and useful format can be extremely useful, and one of the easiest solutions is often to create a PDF. The benefit of this is you’re left with a single secure document containing all the necessary files and displaying the webpage exactly as you see it in your browser. There are many useful applications for this, especially for collaborative work which requires sharing designs, notes and other information that can be saved in a PDF.
For many users, a comprehensive piece of software that covers all their PDF needs will be a suitable option to help achieve this. Many leading programs incorporate the ability to download a website’s pages and convert them to PDF format with one click, although this software is usually paid. Sometimes this software may be a download that is installed and run on your own PC, and in other cases you may choose to use a web browser extension or even a fully online tool. As an alternative, a webpage to PDF API, which allows you to save a webpage as PDF or website for offline viewing, may be used by businesses and advanced users who want to incorporate this function into an external platform or a piece of their own software.
Suffering with wireless internet connection woes? Wi-Fi is notoriously unreliable on Windows PCs and laptops, and even the best machines can struggle to communicate on your home network properly if your configuration isn’t perfect from the outset. Here are a few tools that might help you get your issues under control.
Plug & Browse
This is the only tool on our list which isn’t exactly free, although you can try it for 30 days before buying it for a one-off price. It’s an excellent tool for setting up your internet connection properly, allowing you to easily create a profile and adjust the necessary settings, which means you can get online quickly and without hassle.
This program scans your immediate area for available wireless networks and provides you with a wealth of information about each one, allowing you to diagnose connectivity problems more quickly. For example, you can compare the strength of different nearby networks using the same channel as your router, and change your settings if it looks like this could be an issue. It’s also great for identifying areas in your home where the Wi-Fi signal is blocked or weak.
When we’re thinking about choosing a new laptop, most of us look at balancing price and performance. However, it’s important not to forget that software can have a great overall effect on both of these, once you actually start using your new PC.
Depending on what you plan to do with it, you will need different software, and perhaps you’ll need to invest in some premium tools to get the job done, but there are some amazing free options out there for all your basic work and entertainment needs. Here are some of the best free software choices available in 2016.
For an all-round player that can open most playable media files, including almost all common audio and video formats, VLC is an excellent, lightweight option. Its interface is basic and never really gets an update, but by stripping away any unnecessary styling features, you’re left with a very fast and reliable player that we recommend using as a default on most PCs.
2) Media Library – iTunes
Apple’s software rarely runs perfectly on a Windows PC, but iTunes has gone through so many iterations now that its performance has finally been improved enough to make it run fairly seamlessly on mid-high end PCs. It’s the most intuitive music library software, in our opinion, plus since many of us use iPhones or iPods you can easily sync your music to those devices.
All PC users, whether advanced or beginner, need to sort out their antivirus and security software as a matter of urgency. Browsing online leads to malware attacks quite quickly if you leave yourself vulnerable, and you can’t use the excuse of software being expensive, because all these free options are excellent choices that cost nothing at all to download and install.
A sturdy firewall is your first defence against viruses and malware attacks on your PC. A firewall is essential, but paying for one is far from it. pfSense is our favourite free option because its open-source, lightweight coding makes it highly efficient. It’s flexible and suitable for pretty much everyone.
Most VPN software involves having some form of paid subscription to protect your identity and security when browsing online, as well as accessing content that’s only available in certain countries. CyberGhost is a rare example of a free service that’s actually effective and straightforward, so for most intermediate users we would recommend trying it.