Understanding The Difference Between Laptops And Notebooks And Finding The Best One

Tech evolution is taking place at a remarkable rate, making it hard to keep up with the many advances in modern computing. With laptops and notebooks now more popular than ever before (in fact, many view them as a necessity), while these devices have become like a second arm to many of us, confusion over what separates the two, still exists.

If you’re shopping for a new computing device, it can be helpful to understand the difference between the two, so that you can pick the best portable device among the top laptops and top notebooks. While it may seem as if the two terms are interchangeable, there are in fact a couple of differences between them; namely their size and functionality. 

Let’s break down the differences:


  • Portability


While ranging greatly in size, laptop screens typically measure between 10 and 18 inches, and how slim or bulky they are is dictated by the manufacturers. The weight of laptops can vary considerably, too, with some weighing in at as little as 3 lbs, while others weight up to 10lbs. 

Notebooks, however, tend to be designed in such a way that makes them a lot slimmer than a laptop, and their screens typically don’t measure more than 15 inches. Most models weigh less than 5lbs, and are around 3 inches thick, and with their size and weight, they are the ultimate portable computing device. 

  • Cost

While you can pay as little as $150 for a laptop, at the same time, you can spend upwards of $2,000 for one. notebooks can be bought for $150 dollars too, but tend not to go much above the $400 range. Depending on your budget, you may choose to pay more for a portable computing device with a bigger screen and higher processing power.

  • Performance and power

Whatever a device is called, how it performs and how much power it has are determined wholly by CPU, GPU, RAM and disk speed among others. While the majority of modern laptops and notebooks come with excellent processing power and displays that give an excellent performance, it’s true to say that the more you pay, the more you’ll get in terms of high quality features. As laptops tend to cost more, they typically give a higher performance power than notebooks, but what you choose to buy will ultimately depend upon your needs. a standard notebook may well have ample processing power for your personal needs, while a laptop will have the edge if you use it for work or to carry out more complex actions. 

  • Functionality

The average laptop has 1TB of SSD (solid state drive), and from 8 to 12GB of RAM capacity, while the average notebook has 512GB HDD and 2 to 4GB of RAM capacity. It’s easy to see why the two devices cater to two entirely different types of users and their needs. 

If you want to use your computing device to help you manage a business, for example, a laptop will give you everything you need, while if you want a device that you can easily carry around with you and use to carry out web searches or create documents, a notebook will more than suffice. 

However, with all of that extra power carried by laptops, comes a weaker battery life. A notebook can last up to 14 hours when unplugged, while you’ll get a maximum of 10 hours for the average unplugged laptop.  

Hybrid versions

Big manufacturers such as HP® and Apple have created a series of highly portable and highly capable computers aimed at bridging the gap between laptops and notebooks, such as the HP EliteBook x 360 1030 G8 Notebook. Weighing in at a mere 2.68 lbs and less than 3/4s of an inch in thickness, it has 8GB of RAM capacity, not to mention 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and a long life battery. 

Who are the most popular laptop and notebook manufacturers?

Here are some of the top producers of notebooks:

  • Apple
  • HP®
  • Sony
  • Samsung
  • Dell
  • Toshiba

Here are some of the top producers of laptops:

  • Apple 
  • Acer
  • HP®
  • Asus
  • Sony
  • Samsung
  • Microsoft
  • Dell
  • Toshiba
  • MSI

Now let’s look at just a few of the most popular laptops today:

Apple MacBook Air M2

With a bigger display, a quicker M2 chip and an upgraded webcam with higher resolution, the latest version of this laptop is expensive (coming in at over $1,000, and $200 more than the traditional MacBook Air) but universally useful. 

Perhaps we should look at the aforementioned previous model from Apple, which is ideal for students:

Apple MacBook Air M1 

Although an upgraded version of this MacBook exists (see above), the M1 MacBook Air is still proving popular and is still available to buy. For basic everyday use, or to fulfil all of your computing needs as a student, this entry-level laptop from Apple has an outstanding performance and a battery that can last for as long as 18 hours. 

Dell XPS 13

A firm favorite thanks to its size, its weight, and its overall performance, the Dell XPS 13 is just as popular as its rival, MacBook Air in terms of best laptops, and looks just as good as it is great to use. With a price tag of less than $1,000 for the basic package, this laptop is both sturdy and slim, and is smaller than previous versions, too. Designed well and with a long battery life, note that it doesn’t have a headphone jack, but comes with a USB-C adapter instead. 

Acer Aspire 5

With a wide range of configurations for you to choose from, and coming in sizes of 14, 15.6 and 17.3 inches, this laptop remains a great deal from Windows. With some models available for around $500, while it is a budget laptop, it still manages to deliver a great performance and features when you consider its price. Having changed little since its previous version in 2020 (apart from the internal components), it has a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, an HDMI port and Ethernet. 

Remember that while notebooks may be smaller and more compact in size than a laptop, the difference between the two and how suitable they are for you and your needs, comes down to integrated technology. 

Great things come in small packages, and if you’re looking for a portable device to fulfil your computing needs, you’re sure to find a laptop or notebook that’s the perfect match. 

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