14-Inch Laptops vs 13 or 15?

The most popular laptop size is 15 inches closely followed by 13 inches. Each of these laptop sizes accounts for over a whopping 60 per cent of all laptop sales. And understandably so ...they have clear benefits:

  • 15-inch laptops and above are often referred to as desktop replacements, in that they are
    • usually more powerful machines (price-for-price) than smaller ones and
    • have a screen big enough for most uses i.e. no need for an external monitor.
  • 13-inch laptops and below, are generally considered laptops for those on the go as they tend to be light and small enough to fit in a bag to be carried. They are also the right size and weight for resting on your lap, on the bus, sofa or bed.

However popular and great they may be, they are not perfect and come with some downsides:

  • 15-inch laptops’ weight and dimensions make it not so great for carrying around too often. Nor for working from a train, sofa or library floor.
  • 13-inchers’ smaller size comes with ‘smaller’ performance - not so fast, or capable of dealing with demanding software. Also, the displays aren’t as big and easy to view content when compared to its bigger cousins.

The promise of 14-inch laptops is to be more than a compromise between these two popular formats but to provide the best of both worlds - light, fast, small and portable with a screen that can still fit plenty.

The key to finding the right 14-inch laptop for you is to understand precisely what features and components you really need and just as importantly those you don’t. If you’re daunted, worry ye not. We provide you with two routes to help you ‘choose yourself happy’.

  1. Check out our outstanding Intelligent Laptop Finder here; or
  2. Continue reading. We’ve outlined below how to choose yourself to laptop joy:

Weight

Whilst 14 inch laptops are only a single inch smaller than 15-inch ones, they are generally lighter. To check we picked five 14-inch 2017 model laptops, at random. The average weight across the range was 1.2kg or 2.6lbs. Doing the same exercise for 15-inch laptops resulted in an average weight of 2.61kg or 5.75 lbs. In other words, a 14-inch laptop is less than half the weight of a 15-inch machine in return of sacrificing only 7% screen size.

So, if you’re going to carry your laptop around more than infrequently, you should definitely aim for a machine of less than 1.75kg or 3.85lbs. You’ll comfortably be able to carry your device around all the time and use it on your lap ... as nature intended!

Screen

Many feel that the larger the screen is better. The logic is that you can work more easily when you can fit more on your screen. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to read/view when everything looks bigger.

Undeniably true ...right? Well, not quite. There are a couple of trends in the laptop world we need to consider:

  1. like-for-like, laptops are shipping with higher resolutions every year. Higher resolutions mean more pixels (i.e. the individual rows and columns of dots of light that make up your screen). If your 14-inch laptop now has more pixels in the same area of the visible screen, you can fit the same amount (or more) detail onto your screen as a 15-inch screen.
  2. High-resolution screens (HD/720p, Full HD/1080p and even higher such as UHD/2K and QHD/4K) make both images and text appear sharper and clearer. And this reduces the need to make content bigger in order for it to be readable.
  3. With advanced screen technology (IPS, to VA, PA, PLS OLED/AMOLED), screen manufacturers have found ways to deliver more vibrant colours, higher contrast, again, making that content easy to view and work with.

In summary, you can fit more on to smaller screens, with more clarity and ease on the eye than before. So trading down one-inch diameter may in no loss of viewing advantages.

Storage

Here at Choosist, we’re obsessed about ‘needs’. There is a trade-off between capacity and speed. This is, broadly speaking, a battle between HDD and SSD respectively.

HDD - spinning disk - provides cheap capacity, available in large amounts - these days 500GB and 1000GB (aka 1TB) are standard

SSD - microchip storage with no moving parts. More robust with data held more reliably. Standard capacities range from 126GB to 256GB. Higher end ones with 500GB to 1TB but are very expensive. The standards capacities are expensive too although dropping in price all the time becoming available in more and more mainstream laptops.

If you need to store vast amounts of data, thousands of movies, tens of thousands and high-quality mp3s and vast libraries of photos

...and absolutely need it on the machine and not in the cloud / external drive

...and don’t want to break the bank,

then an HDD is right for you.

If, like most people, you

  • take advantage of free/cheap online storage of files and photos, and
  • stream your music and videos

a basic SSD will provide you speed, reliability and a lighter cooler laptop.

Performance

Laptop performance is determined by several factors

Processor - the brain of the computer - is one of the most important factors. Speed is clearly one aspect of this, but also pay attention to the number of cores which you can think of as the number of brains that can work at the same time.

Also, the specific processor model makes a difference. So, Intel ‘i-series’ laptops (i-3, i-5 and i-7) will perform better than simpler ones such as Intel Atom, Celeron and Pentium. If you really want performance, shop for the latest generation of processors - each new generation sees an increase in speed in equivalent chip mode - a low-end 8th generation i7 won’t be faster than a high-end 7th!

Intel processors with U at the end, might not be quite as fast those without, but they have been optimized for lightweight laptops, so bear this in mind.

Remember! Generally speaking, the better the processor, the higher the price.

RAM - The canvas of data the brain can work with - the more the RAM, the more it can potentially process. If there is insufficient ‘canvas’ then the computer uses files in your storage to compensate, shuffling from canvas to canvas, slowing things down.

The good news is that processors have become so efficient now that the days of constantly having to add RAM to your machine are dwindling. For the basics, you can make do with 4GB, 8GB allowing more multitasking, and smoother gaming or graphics software use. More RAM may also extend useful the life of your machine as your needs grow.

Storage type - as above, SSDs are quicker, meaning whenever the computer needs to pull info from your drive (often) it does so much much quicker. SSDs are a great way to speed things up. You’ll especially notice your machine and applications startup much faster!

Battery

If portability is a big reason for going 14-inch, then it's worth thinking through the location scenarios in which you’ll be using your machine. If you’ll be moving from a desk to desk with definite access to a power source, then you can save money by choosing a shorter battery life from your shortlist of laptops. However, if you’ll be using it

  • on the go (coffee shops, clients’ meeting rooms, different rooms of the house even); or
  • in locations where power sources are unreliable / in competition (trains, coffee shops, seminar rooms)

then go for longer battery lives - it’ll be worth it!

It’s worth noting that beyond six hours use time, your options will move from ‘standard’ laptops to ultrabooks and 2-in-1s both of which may lead to either a trade-off in performance or a substantial hike in your basket value!

Conclusion

So there you have it - the keys steps to choosing the right 14-inch laptop for you.

What’s more, if you scroll down, you’ll find the ten best value 14-inch laptops available right now across the internet!

Acer Chromebook 14, 14 Inches (Black)
$202.98

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon
Also great for:
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Use in Public Places
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Working in Low Light
  • Presentations
  • Regular Look
Find out more
HP Stream 14-cb130nr 14 Grey
$219.99

Cheapest Retailer

View at HP Store
Also great for:
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Presentations
  • Windows
Find out more
HP Stream 14 Celeron 14 inch SVA eMMC Purple
$229.30

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon
Also great for:
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Presentations
  • Windows
Find out more
HP Chromebook 14 (White)
$229.99

Cheapest Retailer

View at HP Store More retailers
Also great for:
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Regular Look
Find out more
Lenovo N42 (black)
$236.68

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon
Also great for:
  • Browsing
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Regular Look
Find out more
HP Chromebook 14-ak040nr SIlver White
$239.99

Cheapest Retailer

View at Newegg More retailers
Also great for:
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Use in Public Places
  • Short Journeys
  • Long Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Presentations
  • Cool Look
  • Cute & Pretty Look
  • Regular Look
Find out more
Acer Chromebook 14
$299.99
$245.90

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon More retailers
Also great for:
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Short Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Long Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Presentations
  • Cool Look
Find out more
Acer Chromebook 14 (Silver)
$299.99
$245.90

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon
Also great for:
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Short Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Long Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Presentations
  • Regular Look
Find out more
HP Chromebook 14 G5 3NU63UT#ABL Intel N 14 SVA eMMC Grey
$248.06

Cheapest Retailer

View at Newegg
Also great for:
  • Social Media
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Short Journeys
  • Use in Public Places
  • Long Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use At the Client's
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Regular Look
  • Business Look
Find out more
HP Chromebook 14 (Silver)
$249.99

Cheapest Retailer

View at Amazon
Also great for:
  • Browsing
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Short Journeys
  • Use Around the Office
  • Use in Public Places
  • Carrying All the Time
  • Carrying Occasionally
  • Cool Look
Find out more

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