Windows users can add, remove, edit Context Menu items on Windows 11 or Windows 10 computers using Context Menu Editors. In this post, we will walk you through the steps on how to manually add Printer to ‘Send to’ Desktop Context Menu on Windows 11/10 to make printing easier and faster.
We have already seen how you can add or remove any item to the Send To context menu. You can do so manually or simply use freeware SendToSendTo. Although pressing the Shift key and right-clicking will offer you many more hidden entries, you will not see Printer. But using the same method, you can also add the Printer shortcut to the ‘Send to’ menu.
PC users can easily add a shortcut to the Send To menu in Windows 11/10 by opening File Explorer window and type shell:sendto in the address bar and then hit Enter. This will take you straight to the Send To folder. At that location, you can right-click an empty space and select New Shortcut, and then fill in the information about the program you want to send to.
To add a print to the context menu, follow these instructions: open File Explorer. Type shell:sendto in the address bar and hit Enter. With both the Send To folder and Printers folder File Explorer windows open and visible, select the printer you want to add to the Send to menu and drag that printer’s icon to the Send to File Explorer window.
When you successfully add a printer in the Send To menu on your Windows system, you’ll be able to send documents directly to the selected printer without having to open the file. Also, in the case you have multiple printers, adding other printers on your network in the ‘Send To’ menu gives you more flexibility in choosing the printer you want to print from.
To add a Printer to the ‘Send to’ Desktop Context Menu on your Windows 11/10 computer, do the following:
This folder contains all your printers. If you have several printers, locate the printer you want to add to Send To menu and drag and drop the printer shortcut to the desktop.
Now, in Windows 11, if you want to print a document on your desktop without opening the file, right-click the document, click Show more options, select Send To, then select the printer you want to print from.
Related post: Add OneDrive shortcut to the ‘Send to’ menu in Windows.
If your wireless printer is not showing up or detected by your Windows PC, you can try the following suggestions: Make sure it’s connected to WiFi. Use a USB cable to connect and see if that works. Move your printer to where it gets the best WiFi signal without interference. Reconnect your device to the network, reconfigure security settings to include printers, and also make sure installed printer drivers are updated on your computer.
Read: Send To Menu is Empty or Not working.
There could be a number of reasons why your HP printer is not showing up on your WiFi network, including the printer might be turned off. In any case, to fix the issue, first try restarting your computer, printer and wireless router. To check if your printer is connected to your network, you can print a Wireless Network Test report from the printer control panel. Also, you may need to reconnect your printer to your network again.
The HP Envy Inspire 7220e is a relatively quick and fairly priced multi-function printer. However, you’ll only get decent long-term value by paying for an ink cartridge subscription,
If you’re going to call your inkjet printer the ENVY Inspire 7220e, it ought to be rather good. On paper, HP’s high-end home multifunction peripheral (MFP) looks like it is.
It’s bristling with useful features such as automatic duplex printing and a dedicated photo paper tray. It also has touchscreen controls to make everyday jobs easier.
But while it also offers cheap ink through HP’s Instant Ink scheme, you’ll need to accept certain restrictions in order to benefit. Here are my thoughts on how it stacks up against the best printers available.
The HP ENVY Inspire 7220e sits towards the top end of HP’s range of home MFPs. It can print, scan and copy, but it has no fax modem or automatic document feeder for multi-page scans or copies.
All the same, this is a well-specified device, supporting wireless networks, offering automatic duplex (double-sided) printing, and being controlled via a smart colour touchscreen.
While rivals Epson and Canon are extending their refillable ink tank printer ranges, HP seems instead to be focusing on lowering the cost of cartridge printing. The 7220e is compatible with HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, which sees the printer order new cartridges as your existing ones get low on ink.
This printer also supports HP+. Sign up for that and you’ll get Instant Ink free for six months, after which monthly subscriptions range from 99p for up to 10 pages per month, to £22.49 for 700 pages. Pick the recommended 100-page plan for £4.49, print all 100 pages every month, and that’s 4.5p per page – about half what you’d pay to run a typical, cartridge-based inkjet.
There are a couple of catches, however. To use Instant Ink you’ll need an internet connection, and you must agree to provide HP with certain information on your printer use. And if you also enable HP+, you agree to firmware updates that may prevent you using third-party (i.e. non-HP) cartridges.
Don’t like the sound of that? You’ll have to buy HP’s 303XL cartridges instead, which will work out at an expensive 12p per page.
Whether you’re buying the cartridges or having them sent through Instant Ink, your running costs will be higher than with an ink tank printer, which typically cost less than 1p per page to run. However, the Envy Inspire 7220e is significantly cheaper to buy than its ink tank rivals. If you only print in small volumes, it could prove better value.
HP’s cartridges can be returned for refilling, and the printer itself is made from a claimed 45% recycled plastic. That’s better for the environment, but it’s disappointing that the 7220e arrives in plastic shrink wrap, and is cushioned by non-recyclable plastic foam. HP is by no means the only offender among printer manufacturers, but I do wish everyone would use only cardboard buffers, which have been around for decades.
This is an easy printer to set up on an Android or iOS device. It’s easy to set up on a PC, too, but only if you stick with the default HP Smart package – and this only includes a WIA scan driver, which offers limited control and functionality.
We need better for our tests, so I searched Google to find the HP Easy Start software, which includes a full TWAIN scan driver. HP’s latest printers are protected by an eight-digit PIN, which you need to find and enter to finish the Easy Start install, or make any configuration changes via the printer’s web interface.
With the cartridges and software installed, all that remains is to load plain paper in the main tray, and optionally add 10x15cm (6×4″) or 13x18cm (5×7″) photo paper to the second tray.
It’s not unusual to encounter problems when installing a printer, but the Envy Inspire 7220e saved up a bout of misbehaviour for the day after I first set it up. When I returned to begin our timed tests, I immediately noticed that print jobs were spooling very slowly, with the printer taking more than 30 seconds to even begin printing a first page of text. Then it would stall, failing to complete the job.
After the usual round of reboots, I tried installing the printer on a different PC only to experience the same problem. Repositioning the 7220e closer to our wireless router didn’t appear to help, either. I’ve previously encountered an issue where two exact HP printers wouldn’t work happily with WPA3 encryption, but switching this off didn’t help this time.
Eventually I found that this MFP worked perfectly from my Chromebook, which I used to perform our timed print tests. I couldn’t scan from the Chromebook, but by the next day the problems had magically resolved themselves and I was able to make our timed scan tests from a PC as usual. Unfortunately by this point the 722e was too low on ink to repeat our print tests. While frustrating for me, I’d be wary of drawing any firm conclusions from this – it’s possible there’s just something specific about my network that exact HP printers don’t like.
Issues aside, the Inspire 7220e proved to be a reasonably quick printer. It needed 17 seconds to produce a first page of text, and went on to complete five pages in 39 seconds – a rate of 7.7 pages per minute (ppm). On our 20-page job it reached 10.2ppm.
Unusually, it wasn’t much slower in colour, hitting 6.4ppm over five pages, and an impressive 8.1ppm over 20 pages. The 7220e printed six postcard-sized photos in just over seven minutes, but I couldn’t set the usual high quality options using my Chromebook – I’d expect each print to take around two minutes at the very highest quality available on a PC.
This MFP has a quick enough scanner. It could preview a document in 10 seconds, and get a 150 dots-per-inch (dpi) A4 scan in just 11 seconds. At a more detailed 300dpi, the same job took 20 seconds.
At 600dpi, I captured a 10x15cm photo in 47 seconds, which isn’t bad, but at the maximum 1200dpi the same job took two and a half minutes. In black only, photocopies were quick: a standard A4 job took 21 seconds. This printer needed 40 seconds for a colour page, but the quality of both tests was good.
The HP ENVY Inspire 7220e uses a pigmented black ink, which helps it produce crisp and dark text on plain paper. To the naked eye, printed type is almost as good as you’d get from a laser device. This printer’s cyan, magenta and yellow colour inks are dye-based, but they still deliver strong colour graphics.
It’s a bit more of a mixed bag on photo papers, given that pigment inks tend to sit on top of the paper’s gloss coating. While pictures from the 7220e looked good, they had an inconsistent finish on darker subjects, with the darkest shades noticeably less glossy.
The Envy Inspire 7220e is a perfectly good document scanner, making nicely balanced, crisply focused copies of our magazine page test. I was also impressed by its dynamic range: it could distinguish all but the darkest couple of shades in our challenging test target.
Photo scans also looked good at a glance, but HP’s scan interface seems to apply some digital sharpening which can’t be turned off. Zoom in and you might notice colour boundaries looking artificially strong, with the loss of some fine detail elsewhere.
You want a competent MFP that’s easy to use:
The HP Inspire 7220e is fairly quick, produces decent results, and can be quite cheap to run
You want more than competence:
Save for its touchscreen, this MFP doesn’t really do anything brilliantly
This is a fairly priced MFP that ought to cover the requirements of the typical home. It’s relatively quick, and generally produces decent results. It has reasonable running costs, too, but only if you embrace the idea of paying a subscription to print. While Instant Ink works well for many, I generally prefer the idea of buying ink for myself when I need it, particularly if it’s cheaper still and comes in big bottles.
Every printer we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including print quality, speed and cost.
We’ll also compare the features with other printers at the same price point to see if you’re getting good value for your money.
Tested printing with monochrome and coloured ink
Measured the time it takes to print with various paper
Compared print quality with other printers
Yes, the HP Envy Inspire 7220e has a scanner.
Yes, it even has a dedicated photo tray.
Quiet Mark Accredited
First Reviewed Date
Ink Cartridge support
HP ENVY Inspire 7220e
460 x 383 x 191 MM
802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless networking
HP 303 black and tri-colour, HP 303XL black and tri-colour
Easy-to-use software, affordable ink, a long warranty, and plenty of thoughtful touches make this inkjet all-in-one less annoying than the competition. Results look sharp, too.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $230.
|Type:||Inkjet||Size:||17.3 x 13.48 x 10.94 in|
|Features:||Print, copy, fax, scan||Color Print:||Yes|
|Wireless:||Yes||Cost per page:||2.2¢ per black and 8.9¢ for color|
The HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e is likely to be the easiest printer you’ve ever had to set up, and that alone is enough to recommend it. But it also prints beautifully (and quickly), scans well, has great apps for PCs and mobile devices, and prints for an affordable 2.2¢ per page in black or 8.9¢ per page in color. If you print a lot of photos, you can opt for HP’s Instant Ink program (a six-month trial is included with your initial purchase), which brings the cost of each color page to as little as 2.9¢, including glossies. It looks great in any office, thanks to a clean, compact design, and it comes with a two-year warranty that’s twice as long as what you’d get with most competing printers. The 9015e replaces our former pick, the OfficeJet Pro 9015, but it’s identical from a hardware perspective; the only differences are the longer warranty, the longer Instant Ink trial, and some added software features that are bundled into the new HP+ printing ecosystem. If you’re not interested in the extras HP+ has to offer, the older 9015 is a great machine that you might be able to find at a discount.
Brother’s entry-level AIO isn’t the fastest, best designed, or easiest to use, but it is cheap to operate, and it still produces great-looking prints and scans.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $130.
|Type:||Inkjet||Size:||17.3 x 13.48 x 10.94 in|
|Features:||Print, copy, fax, scan||Color Print:||Yes|
|Wireless:||Yes||Cost per page:||2.2¢ per black-and-white and 8.9¢ for color|
If you just want the cheapest prints possible and don’t care about speed, fancy apps, or looks, the Brother MFC-J805DW is an excellent choice. At a mere 0.9¢ per black-and-white page and 4.7¢ for color, it’s one of the most cost-efficient printers you can buy, and the results look great, too. You’d wait longer to get them than you would with the HP 9015e, but for casual use that isn’t a big deal.
This business-class machine checks all the boxes for a home office or small business: It’s faster, sharper, more durable, and more secure than our other picks.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $600.
|Type:||Laserjet||Size:||16.4 x 18.6 x 15.7 in|
|Features:||Print, copy, fax, scan||Color Print:||Yes|
|Wireless:||Yes||Cost per page:||2.3¢ per black and 14¢ for color|
If your work finds you printing and scanning all day, every day, you should be willing to upgrade to a business-oriented color laser AIO like the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw. It prints and scans faster, sharper, and more reliably than inkjet alternatives, and it includes robust admin and security settings designed for situations that may involve sensitive data. We don’t think it’s necessary for most homes or even the average home office. But if you run a business with modest printing and paper-handling needs, or if you’ve grown exasperated with your inkjet AIO’s failings, the M479fdw should hit the sweet spot.
Many storage tests fail to employ incorrect, synthetic workloads to estimate performance under ideal circumstances. In practice, the results of these tests are difficult to relate to practical and everyday requirements, which is why this Storage Benchmark is designed to measure real-world gaming performance. The input and output processes that comprise storage activity are referred to as storage activity. The ability to record these actions while the storage device is in the middle of a task has been demonstrated. Traces are recordings that have been made. This benchmark analyzes traces recorded from popular games and gaming-related activities to assess real-world gaming performance;
Solder connections on processors seem to be a very common failure point in modern electronics. Consider the Red Ring of Death (RRoD) on Xbox 360 or the Yellow Light of Death (YLoD) on PlayStation 3. This time around the problem is a malfunctioning Nvidia GPU on an HP Pavilion TX2000 laptop. The video is sometimes a jumbled mess and other times there’s no video at all. If the hardware is older, and the alternative to fixing it is to throw it away, you should try to reflow the solder connections on the chip.
This method uses a heat gun, which we’ve seen repair PCBs in the past. The goal here is to be much less destructive and that’s why the first step is to test out how well your heat gun will melt the solder. Place a chunk of solder on a penny, hold the heat gun one inch above it and record how long it takes the solder to flow. Once you have the timing right, mask off the motherboard (already removed from the case) so that just the chip in question is accessible. Reflow with the same spacing and timing as you did during the penny test. Hopefully once things cool down you’ll have a working laptop or gaming console again.
With so many laptops to choose from, selecting the best one to fit your budget can be like navigating a minefield. Even making sense of the ever-changing list of product specifications is no easy feat. Laptops vary greatly by CPU speed, graphics capability, size, drive storage, and RAM, among other things. What’s more, your laptop needs may be completely different to someone else’s, only adding to the confusion.
For some, a flashy 4K screen may be important. Others may want a high-performing CPU, like AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 processors, to deliver them a competitive edge in games. Getting value for money can be tricky too, since newer technologies don’t always mean better performance. For example, older-generation CPUs can sometimes outperform newer products in benchmark tests. For these reasons it pays to do your homework before you purchase a laptop.
To simplify the process for you we’ve put together a list of 12 criteria that you can use as a guide for what to look for. It may seem laborious delving into each category, but there are a lot of things to consider. At the end of the day, taking time to research your new device will mean you avoid making a costly mistake and get a laptop that’s just right for you.
When it comes to laptops, size matters.
Depending on what you plan to be doing with your next laptop, you’ll want to make sure you pick the size that’s the right fit for you. Size isn’t like the RAM or ROM of a laptop, you can’t upgrade it later. You’re locked into whatever form-factor you select up-front, so choose wisely.
Laptops sizes tend to start at 11.6-inches and go all the way up to 17.3 inches. Most brands and OEMS like HP, Dell, ASUS and Acer tend to offer three display sizes - 13.3-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inches. However, some vendors do sell laptops that fall outside these sizes including 11.6-inches, 12.5-inches and 14-inches.
Obviously, if portability is your priority, you’ll want to go for a smaller-sized Windows laptop. They tend to be thinner and lighter than their larger counterparts. Look for laptops that have a screen that is either 12.5-inches or 13.3-inches in size, and a weight between 1kg and 1.5kgs.
However, keep in mind that smaller-sized 13.3-inch machines often don’t support the same high-end Intel Core CPUs or discrete graphics cards you’ll be able to find in their 15.6-inch counterparts. Most of the time, they’ll also feature a less-robust selection of ports. If the kind of work you intend to be using your new laptop for necessitates a larger display or standalone graphics, you’ll probably need to look at a larger size.
Beyond specific sizings, there are several different classes of laptop to choose from. Ultrabooks tend to favor a slim and lightweight form-factor over high-end performance. Things like the Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED (review here) and HP's Elite Dragonfly Max (review here) devices fall into this category.
By contrast, Notebooks tend to offer a good mix of power and portability. If you’re looking at notebooks, a good place to start is the Lenovo Yoga 9i and HP’s Envy x360.
Convertibles (also known as 2-in-1 laptops or 2-in-1 PCs) expand on this by adding the ability to fold away (or remove) the keyboard and use your new laptop as you would a tablet. Products like Microsoft’s Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and HP Chromebook x2 11 fall into this category.
Finally, traditional clamshell and gaming laptops tend to boast bulkier form-factors but significantly-beefier specs.
The most important thing to consider here when looking for the best laptop you can buy is what you’re actually going to need that laptop to do. It’s rarely ever a case of one size fits all. Some users need something lighter and more portable. Other users need discrete graphics for things like video editing or running high end games. If you need a PC with an optical drive or long battery life, you’ll almost certainly have to look for something larger.
Once you’ve worked out the size and form-factor of laptop you’re looking for, the search for the best one becomes that much easier - since you can begin to filter your search results by those parameters.
Since you’ll probably end up staring at your laptop display hours at a time, you’ll probably want to make sure it's as painless as possible to do so. For this, you'll need a display that is comfortable to look at and feels natural to use.
To start with, you’ll want to consider whether you want your next laptop to have a touchscreen at all. These days, touchscreens are very common and they can make some tasks easier than others. Some brands include this feature as standard. Others will demand a modest surcharge for its inclusion.
Unfortunately, opting for a touchscreen can sometimes add a glossiness to the display. Though not a universal trait among touch-sensitive displays, glossier screens are often a little more susceptible to glare. This can be a definite drawback if you’re gaming, watching content or editing images and video content.
Modern touchscreens are much better than their predecessors but, some of the above details persist and if you're more of a natural typist, you might want to consider going for a laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen.
Next up, be sure to look at the resolution on any laptop you’re thinking of buying. A 1920x1080-pixel resolution (Full HD) should be considered the minimum if you want plenty of space to line up windows and keep things in view. If you splurge on something a little sharper, you probably won't regret it though.
Select modern laptops also now offer 4K resolutions. However, these high-end display panels are generally a costly add-on to an already-expensive product. 4K is an extra that's only really going to be worth it for those who really need it such as content creation professionals.
Photographers and videographers will also want to go for laptops that offer better color accuracy and support wider color gamut and HDR standards over those that don't. The key things you're looking for here are Delta E < 1 color accuracy and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut.
[Related Content: Everything You Need To Know About 4K]
If you’re a gamer, it’s also worth taking the time to check the refresh rate on the display of any potential laptop. A faster refresh rate can often provide a competitive advantage in online games, as it enables a smoother and more responsive play experience. Ideally, you want something with less than 5ms response time or a refresh rate greater than 144Hz. We're starting to see laptops now with 300Hz refresh rates - laptops like the MSI GS66 Stealth (review here) and the super powerful Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition (review here) and while this is considered exceptionally good right now, it might soon be the norm.
Lastly, viewing angles are extremely important. A laptop screen that touts IPS (in-plane switching) technology offers the widest viewing angles and the best user comfort. Chances are you’re not always going to be using your laptop in its natural habitat, so a laptop with an IPS display is usually preferred over the opposite.
If possible, take the time to go into a store and try to feel out the differences between different displays for yourself. If your eyes can't see much of a difference between a laptop with a FHD display and one with a 4K one, it might not be worth paying the premium for the latter.
Just keep in mind that display models usually have the settings cranked to the maximum in order to catch your eyes. Otherwise, be sure to check out reviews like those on PC World to get a good overview of the product and whether or not its screen will be able to suit your needs. In 2022, most major laptop displays hit the mark but those that don't make themselves quickly known when subjected to the scrutiny of a professional reviewer.
For long typing sessions, you’ll need to get a laptop that has a comfortable keyboard. You don’t want to get a keyboard that packs in every key under the sun (think keyboards that have squished in number pads) because that can translate to a poor overall user experience when hunting for specifics like the arrow or delete keys.
Ideally, you want a keyboard that has a comfortable layout with full-sized keys and some space around the arrow keys. The keys should have adequate travel on the downstroke and snappy responsiveness when you let them go.
Make sure the keyboard is also backlit. At face value, that might seem like a superficial detail but backlit keys make it much easier to see what you're typing in dimly lit environments. Gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 (review here) and MSI Katana GF76 (review here) come with attractive RGB key backlighting to allow gaming at night or in dimly lit environments. Note: While backlit keys are useful, they will drain your battery sooner, so take that into consideration when choosing your laptop.
[Related Content: Four Alternatives To Cherry MX Switches]
As with the display, it helps to try before you buy - especially if your main task will be typing. Chances are, you're going to find the most comfort with what you know here. If you're used to typing on a laptop keyboard that stretches all the way to the edge of the chassis, you're probably going to find laptops that opt for the same or a similar layout to be easier to type on than the alternatives.
It’s hard to go past any of Intel’s Core-based CPUs when buying a new laptop. Even if you're not versed in the technical details, there's a good chance you've seen the stickers plastered on all new laptops for the silicon giant's Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors.
For many users, an Intel Core Processor offers the best performance when it comes to multitasking and multimedia tasks. Core i3-based notebooks are generally found in entry-level systems, while Core i5 and Core i7 make up the majority of mainstream computers.
Core i7-based systems are for those of you who want the best performance from your laptop. However, note that with a Core i7-based system, heat coming through the base of the laptop can be a cause for concern, especially if you plan to actually use the laptop on your lap a lot of the time.
Some larger laptops also now incorporate Intel's i9 Core processors. Laptops running on Core i9 processors are even more powerful than laptops running on Core i7 processors. They're able to rival desktops for performance, but they do come with a significantly-higher cost than a laptop with an i7, i5 or i3 Core Processor.
[Related Content: How do I decide between a Core i3, i5, i7 or i9?]
Vendors also offer laptops and notebooks that run on AMD’s Ryzen Mobile CPUs. If you’re a gamer, this can be a particularly compelling option worth considering. Ryzen Mobile CPUs tend to be paired with AMD’s own Radeon graphics chipsets.
There are a few caveats here but since laptops powered by AMD's Ryzen Mobile chips tend to be slightly cheaper than their Intel counterparts, they can represent better value for money. Just be sure to read up on our breakdown of the differences first.
In the old days, you rarely needed more than 4GB of RAM to get the best out of your system.
These days, you’ll probably want to think about 8GB as a minimum. If you’re a power-user, 16GB is the way to go. Meanwhile, gamers should look at dialing things upwards all the way to 32GB (or beyond) if they want the best experience.
More RAM allows for more applications to be run at the same time and for more data to be quickly accessible by the system at any one time, which comes in handy for tasks such as editing photos or video content.
There are a few interesting terms that you might see when looking into RAM specs, here's what you essentially need to know about them. Alongside the brand and capacity of any RAM stick, you're gonna find the letters DDR. There's also usually a number attached. For example, the MSI GE76 Raider laptop (review here) has two 16GB sticks of DDR5 RAM. This acronym stands for Double Data Rate and the number that comes after it refers to the generation of component design.
The most exact generation of RAM hardware is DDR5. As a rule, higher numbers are better than lower numbers here and most motherboards can only support certain generations of RAM. Thankfully, since you're looking at buying a laptop, you don't have too much to worry about since no sane OEM is going to stick incompatible RAM into a prebuilt machine.
The number after DDR also denotes the transfer speed. Similar to the clock-speed on a CPU, this number measures the default theoretical maximum transfer speed. Again, higher is better here. Higher speeds means stuff happens faster.
Another detail to note is whether or not the RAM in your laptop is single or dual-channel. In most everyday use cases, this might not make a huge difference but if you're trying to weigh up your options, a laptop with dual-channel is generally more desirable than one with an equivalent amount of single-channel memory clocked at the same transfer speed. This is because dual-channel RAM is able to transfer a greater amount of data at once.
In conclusion, while having more RAM is always going to be better than having less RAM, most users aren't going to feel the difference between having 16GB or 32GB unless they're running RAM-heavy applications where that 16GB or a secondary channel is going to make a big difference. Since RAM is relatively cheap and often easy to upgrade in modern laptops, it's usually smarter and safer to buy a laptop with RAM that you know you will need rather than what you think you might need.
Hard drives used to be all the rage, but these days they’re mostly out of favor, especially for thin and light laptops. This is because they can be slow, somewhat bulky, and produce noticeable heat and noise.
A solid state drive (SSD), on the other hand, offers a lot more speed than a hard drive, runs silently, and can be installed in a form factor that doesn’t add too much to the weight and bulk of a laptop. As a result of these clear benefits, most OEMs have embraced SSD storage as the standard for laptops.
Stick to an SSD for your new laptop and you’ll love the speed with which it can load programs, access your data, and also how quickly it can boot up your system.
Just a few years ago SSDs didn't offer as much raw capacity as hard drives. Additionally, this kind of storage was often more expensive in terms of dollars-to-gigabytes than traditional hard drives. In 2022 these problems are no longer. Laptops now have comparatively large SSD drives to hard drives and aren't astronomically expensive.
The newest, fastest laptops have NVMe solid-state drives which are faster than traditional SSDs. If you're buying a new laptop in 2022, you'll preferably want one with an NVMe SSD. However, that being said, don't feel overly pressured to spend extra on the latest model here. While it is true that more exact SSDs boast better speeds than older models, the biggest advantages you'll enjoy are tied more to the fundamental advances that SSDs offer over traditional hard drive storage.
When it comes to the SSD storage capacity you should look for we recommend at least 512GB as the very minimum. Games and programs are getting larger every year as they become more advanced and complex so you'll want to ensure you have a little left in your storage after you load on your must-have programs and personal files. It's also worth noting that your operating system will take up some of that 512GB right off the bat, so you won't have exactly that number to play.
If you install a lot of programs or have an extensive game or movie library, you'll probably want to opt for 1TB or more of SSD storage. You'd be surprised how fast it is to fill up even 1TB or 2TB, but with the extra GB on board, you will have a greater capacity to branch out and get a little more things you like on there. Trust us, you won't decry the extra space when you can get that game you really wanted from Steam.
Another thing worth mentioning here is cloud storage. Cloud storage is extremely popular since it allows users to store any number of files safely and remotely, without the need for your device's storage. Software developers are starting to build cloud storage into their software ecosystems. The best example of this is Microsoft's OneDrive application which comes bundled with Windows at purchase.
If you intend to store most of your files in the cloud or on an external drive, you may choose to save money on a laptop by buying one with a smaller 128GB or 256GB SSD. If you do this though you'd be advised to remember that you will need to be connected to the Internet to retrieve your files when you need them.
Manufacturer-quoted battery life is almost never indicative of what the real-world experience of using a laptop is like.
There are simply too many variables that affect battery life. There is the screen brightness, the screen resolution, the number of applications you have running in the background plus whether or not you actively remain connected to Wi Fi networks or Bluetooth devices.
The operating system a laptop runs on can also play a major role in determining battery life. It’s for this reason that ultrabooks and convertibles running on Chrome OS tend to offer superior battery life than those running on Windows 11.
If you run programs that need lots of processing, stream lots of online video, play graphics-intensive games or if you transfer lots of files over a wireless network, then your battery will drain a lot sooner than what the vendor has quoted.
A good practice here is to look at the rating of the battery in Watt-hours (Wh) or milliamp-hours (mAh). The larger these figures are, the longer the battery can last. For a 13.3-inch Ultrabook, for example, a battery with a rating from 50Wh to 60Wh will deliver you the best results.
Another key thing to look for here is fast-charging. Much like modern smartphones, many new laptops also support fast-charging, which is always good in a pinch.
These days, if a laptop has only one USB Type-C port on it, you probably ought to look at buying another laptop. Ideally, you should look for a laptop that has at least a couple of these ports. They're the most common connector port in the industry and, while you can find a dongle for anything on Amazon, it's usually a better bet to just make sure your next laptop has them.
In addition to the baseline utility you get from USB Type-C ports (which allow you to plug in an external hard or SSD drive and backup your data or use conventional mouse or a fancy keyboard with your laptop), USB Type-C ports are substantially faster than USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. This means that data transfers over USB Type-C ports take significantly less time.
Many modern peripherals also tend to deliver the best performance on or require USB Type-C to function at all.
Among the Type-C ports Thunderbolt 4 ports are the best option. Thunderbolt 4 ports have a peak data transfer speed of 40 gigabits per-second. They also offer faster charging and allow you to connect multiple 4K displays or one 8K display to your laptop, which is compelling functionality.
Fingerprint readers are great for logging into mobile devices and the latest Windows 11 Operating System makes further use of them with its Windows Hello system. People can guess your password, but few can fake a fingerprint. In order to keep the contents of your laptop secure, a portable PC with a fingerprint reader is usually the best way forward.
Thankfully, this feature is a pretty common inclusion on many modern laptops from major OEMs like ASUS, Dell and HP. Some have even integrated the fingerprint sensor into the keyboard, making it feel like a more cohesive part of the package rather than a bolt-on.
What's more, some brands have even gone one step further and introduced FaceID-style facial recognition tech allowing you to unlock your laptop with a glance. As with Android phones, there's a distinction to be noted here between devices that rely on a 2D-model of face unlock versus those that offer full 3D biometrics.
It's cool to see the modern laptops continue to raise the bar on this particular front even if the degree to which it matters is largely personal preference. For most people, a standard fingerprint sensor is going to provide more than enough peace of mind.
No matter how careful we are, most laptops are inevitably going to find themselves, dropped, thrown and knocked around by the rigors of everyday use. For that reason, it's worth checking out how much testing a laptop has undergone (the manufacturer usually crows about it) or whether there's any sort of certification that you can put your confidence behind.
Modern laptops are often ruggedized to withstand rain and dust. Some are built especially for the brutal educational environments - and come with military-grade protection certifications. The most common of these you're going to see is MIL-STD 810G.
MIL-STD-810G is a standard used by the US Military to indicate a guaranteed minimum level of durability. Compliant products have made it through a gauntlet of 29 separate tests that measure resistance to shock, heat, cold, humidity and more. Though originally developed as a way to win government contracts, MIL-STD-810G has become increasingly common in consumer tech in exact years.
On one hand, it's good for consumers that most major manufacturers have adopted the same language and standards for measuring durability at all. However, on the other, the reality is that having a product be MIL-STD-810G compliant doesn't always translate into the kind of ruggedness you'd hope it would.
Although the MIL-STD-810G standard was developed externally, there's no single independent party that's responsible for handing out certification to the standard nor any regulator that's able to call out bad actors for misusing or misrepresenting MIL-STD-810G.
Manufacturers can absolutely take their testing in-house, "ace" it and put the sticker on the box. There's no limit on how many attempts a product has to pass a certain test, nor even a limit on whether the same product trial needs to survive all 29 tests or whether they can replace it with a fresh model every step of the way. They don't even need to provide proof that the testing ever happened.
From the perspective of any everyday consumer, there's zero difference in how a product that was properly and independently tested to meet MIL-STD-810G looks and how a product that "fudged" their way into compliance with the standard looks. This is obviously problematic.
For those reasons, MIL-STD-810G is best used as starting place when it comes to thinking about durability and build quality in your next laptop. It shouldn't be your one and only consideration.
A better way to approach the problem is to look at the laptops design and what specific claims are being made around durability. Are the manufacturers talking up drop-tests or spill resistance that goes beyond the usual MIL-STD-810G spiel? That's probably a good sign.
When it comes to purchasing a laptop, a big question you should ask is: Should I buy a laptop with LTE? Unlike laptops with built-in network cards, laptops with LTE can connect to mobile data signals. That means instead of having to connect to a wireless network at home, in the office, or at Wi-Fi hotspots, your laptop can connect directly to a mobile ISP for internet access. The main benefit of this is you can use your laptop just about anywhere—when outdoors, traveling on the bus, or even on the beach. If that convenience sounds good, this option may be perfect for you. However, there are a few caveats.
LTE technology sits in the higher-end laptop category, so you will pay for the privilege. Also, just like with your phone, you'll need to either be on a data plan or buy prepaid data to use your LTE. And as such, your experience will be influenced by the speed of your laptop’s network connection and by the amount of data in your plan.
Know what LTE network your laptop will connect to, since this will determine your internet speeds. The most common LTE technology in laptops in Australia today supports connection to the 4G networks. 4G is capable of maximum get speeds of 1Gbs, which is close to most home broadband speeds. But 5G laptops will soon be coming to Australia. These laptops, when available, will feature significantly faster speeds of between 10-30Gbs. If superfast internet is a priority, go for 5G.
If you are not fussed about having LTE or want to avoid the ongoing fees, a laptop with Wi-Fi-only functionality will do just fine. Most laptops come with built-in network cards so you won’t need to fuss over installations or affix dongles. You can also use mobile Wi-Fi tethering as a source of Wi-Fi on the fly.
The last thing to consider with your internet connectivity, is whether you need an Ethernet (RJ-45) port. Most people don’t use this functionality anymore, since Wi-Fi connectivity is so widespread. But, if you're plagued by a weak Wi-Fi signal, or lack Wi-Fi altogether, you should consider it. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.
Wi-Fi speeds are determined by many different factors, such as signal strength and the level of interference between your laptop and your router, but the one factor that you should think about when purchasing a new laptop is the Wi-Fi speed of your laptop’s network card.
The speed at which your laptop transfers data from an internet router to your laptop and back is called its link speed and it is measured in bits per second (bps). Even if your internet connection is fast, if your link speed is lousy, your Wi-Fi speed will struggle.
Most laptops with network cards connect to wireless hotspots on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency band, meaning they are capable of maximum link speeds of 1Gbs or 3.5Gbs. When it comes to Wi-Fi generations, Wi-Fi 5 is getting a bit old now but will still perform well for almost anything you'd need to do online, such as browsing webpages, watching videos, and running browser-based applications.
Most new laptops though will have network cards that support either Wi-Fi 6 or the newer Wi-Fi 6E. If you are a gamer who likes playing fast-paced multiplayer content, or if you stream high-quality video, we recommend you look for either of these options. The main benefit here is lower latency - Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer substantial speed benefits (up to 9.6Gbs). Wi-Fi speeds won’t always be listed in the product descriptions online or in retail outlets, but they will be listed in the detailed product specifications, so check there if you’re unsure.
Of course, you need to balance these features with your budget and your needs, and you might have to make some compromises. Rarely does a laptop come along that ticks all the boxes, especially when it comes to price.
Let us know in the comments below if you consider other aspects of a laptop to be more important (maybe you want better gaming performance or a rugged build, maybe you want a laptop that can turn into a tablet), and especially let us know if you’ve already found the perfect laptop for your needs.
This article was updated by Dominic Bayley in May 2022.
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It's been half a year since HP debuted its Victus brand of affordable gaming laptops, positioned below the Omen line and replacing its Pavilion Gaming series. First up was the 16.1-inch Victus 16, on the high end of the budget spectrum at $1,249.99. The 15.6-inch Victus 15 reviewed here is a true economy model with a list price of $799.99 at Best Buy, but the retailer frequently discounts it—it was on sale for just $549.99 at press time. Despite the low price, it offers a few perks, like Intel's latest 12th Generation Core i5 processors and a 144Hz screen refresh rate. It's a decent deal, but its three-year-old Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics keep it from challenging GeForce RTX rivals like the MSI Katana GF66 and Acer Nitro 5.
HP offers Victus 15 systems with both Intel and AMD silicon. Our $799.99 review unit combines Intel's new Core i5-12450H (four Performance cores, four Efficient cores, 12 threads) with a far-from-new GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, along with 8GB of memory, a 512GB NVMe solid-state drive, and a 144Hz full HD display with a dim 250 nits of brightness.
The company plans two step-up models with 16GB of RAM, one at HP.com with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H chip and Radeon RX 6500M and one at Best Buy with a Core i7-12650H and GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. At this writing, however, HP had only Ryzen 5 systems for sale, though Best Buy did offer the Core i7 config for $1,099.99.
Whatever the variant, the Victus 15 has a 15.6-inch non-touch screen with 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution. (A 300-nit low-blue-light panel is optional.) On our review unit, the screen's viewing angles are fairly wide; fine details are sharp; contrast is pretty good; and white backgrounds aren't too dingy. But colors are bland and lifeless rather than vivid, sorely lacking in brightness. If it didn't boast a 144Hz instead of generic 60Hz refresh rate, we'd call it a totally forgettable economy-class panel.
The Victus 15's plastic chassis—available in our dark grayish Mica Silver or $10 extra for Performance Blue or Ceramic White—measures 0.93 by 14.1 by 10 inches and weighs 5.06 pounds. That's trimmer than the Nitro 5 (1.06 by 14.1 by 10.7 inches, 5.51 pounds) and a match for the Katana GF66 (0.98 by 14.1 by 10.2 inches, 4.96 pounds).
HP claims an 82.2% screen-to-body ratio for the Victus 15, with skinny side bezels but larger ones at the top (holding a webcam with no privacy shutter) and bottom. There's a lot of flex if you grasp the display corners, though not much if you press the keyboard deck. As with many gaming laptops, you'll find neither a fingerprint reader nor face recognition webcam to speed Windows Hello logins.
You won't find a Thunderbolt 4 port, either, though we don't consider that a deal-breaker in an under-$1,000 laptop. The left edge holds a USB 3.2 Type-A port, an audio jack, an SD card slot, and the power connector. Another USB-A port joins a USB Type-C port, an Ethernet jack, and an HDMI video output on the right. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth handle wireless communications.
The keyboard has a comfortably responsive typing feel and—almost unheard-of for an HP laptop—cursor arrow keys arranged in the correct inverted T instead of a clumsy row. There are also top-row system controls and a numeric keypad. The buttonless touchpad is good-sized and glides and taps smoothly, though it has a somewhat stiff, dull click.
On the minus side, while the keyboard is brightly backlit, it's in plain white with no multiple zones or per-key RGB color choices, so don't bother trying the supplied Omen Light Studio software. The Fn key doesn't team with the cursor arrows for Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down navigation, so you must perform those moves from the keypad, which is marred by the Num Lock key not having an indicator LED as the volume mute and touchpad toggle keys do.
Believe us when we say we've seen plenty of laptops with cheap, low-res 720p webcams, but the Victus' is poor even by the usual standards—it captures blurred, blotchy images with some noise or static. A speaker grille above the keyboard pumps out flat, tinny sound. There's no bass, you can barely make out overlapping tracks, and I couldn't find any of the audio software we usually see to select music, movie, or gaming modes or tinker with an equalizer.
HP bolsters the Windows 11 Home system with the Omen Gaming Hub app, which combines status info with options to optimize network traffic and disable Windows services and processes to boost game performance. HP QuickDrop transfers files to or from your smartphone. You also get McAfee LiveSafe, Dropbox, ExpressVPN, and LastPass trials.
For our benchmark charts, we compared the Victus 15 to four other wallet-friendly gaming laptops, led by the MSI Katana GF66 and two Acers, the Nitro 5 and Predator Helios 300. The Dell G3 15 is the cheapest in the field.
The main benchmark of UL's PCMark 10 simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content-creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. We also run PCMark 10's Full System Drive test to assess the load time and throughput of a laptop's storage.
Three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon's Cinebench R23 uses that company's Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs' Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Our final productivity test is Puget Systems' PugetBench for Photoshop, which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe's famous image editor to rate a PC's performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It's an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving an image to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.
We don't expect even a 12th Generation Core i5 to hang with Core i7 CPUs, and the Victus 15's Core i5 mostly doesn't (though the Nitro 5 and Katana are over- and underachievers respectively). So while it's not meant for workstation tasks such as video editing, the HP nevertheless performs nicely for a budget laptop, most importantly posting more than half again the 4,000 points in PCMark 10 that indicate excellent productivity for everyday apps like Microsoft Office.
We test Windows PCs' graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL's 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).
We also run two tests from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which stresses both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. The more frames per second (fps), the better.
Our next three tests involve real games—specifically, the built-in 1080p benchmarks from an AAA title (Assassin's Creed Valhalla), a fast-paced esports shooter (Rainbow Six Siege), and a sports racing sim (F1 2021). We run each benchmark twice, using different image quality presets for Valhalla and Rainbow and trying F1 with and without Nvidia's DLSS anti-aliasing technology, although in the Victus 15's case, the GTX 1650 is unable to run F1 with DLSS turned on.
Officially, the GeForce GTX 1650 is still Nvidia's entry-level mobile gaming GPU, but realistically its day has passed and we're living in a GeForce RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti world now. The Victus 15 delivers playable frame rates at low to medium image quality settings ("playable" defined as the minimal 30 frames per second rather than the 60fps that even budget gamers seek nowadays), and it justifies its 144Hz display in esports titles like Rainbow Six Siege. But it's in the bottom three or four of all gaming laptops in our benchmark database.
We test laptops' battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie Tears of SteelTears of Steel) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100%. We make sure the battery is fully charged before the test, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.
We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and software to measure a laptop screen's color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).
The HP's battery life is fine for a gaming notebook, and its color fidelity is adequate for an economy model, albeit far short of suitable for image editing or content creation. But its 250-nit brightness would be disappointing in even in a bare bones Chromebook—we expect 300 and hope for 400 nits from all but the cheapest laptop panels.
The base-model HP Victus 15 has a temptingly low price (especially if Best Buy keeps its discount), but to be blunt, there's no need to settle for GeForce GTX 1650 graphics when so many affordable gaming rigs today offer RTX 3050 or 3060 GPUs. Unless your budget just can't stretch beyond $600 or $650, look for a higher-end configuration of the Victus 15, or look elsewhere to better-equipped rivals like the MSI Katana GF66 or Acer Nitro 5.