The processor: Standard advice used to be "buy a computer with the fastest processor, because it's easier to upgrade other components." But today, processors are so varied that the fastest one may not be the best one for you. Intel (INTC - Get Report), still the dominant chip supplier for consumer laptops, splits its main chips into good, better, best -- or the Core i3, i5 and i7, which in turn offer mobile versions that maximize battery life. The Core chips also now come with Quick Sync, a built-in graphics chip to convert video for sharing. Intel's next-generation of Core chips, which nearly double battery life, are expected this summer.Networking: For better or worse, some PC makers have dropped wired Ethernet ports (they're absent in the latest MacBook Pros), which makes sense since most users rely on Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection. But that could be a shock, if you haven't been PC shopping in awhile. Meanwhile, the latest version of Wi-Fi, called "802.11ac," offers gigabit wireless speeds, but few laptops have integrated it. The prevalent Wi-Fi technology is still N.
Follow @gadgetress At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.