Which ports are crucial to have on a new laptop?

While more ports can be beneficial, a new laptop should at least have these essential ones to avoid inconvenience.

The variety and quality of ports on a laptop significantly impact its utility. Although some ultraportable laptops rely on a few USB-C ports and expect users to use adapters for other connections, most users prefer a wider selection of built-in ports. Legacy connections, video outputs for external monitors, and headphone jacks are particularly useful.

Fortunately, most manufacturers have moved past the trend of minimal port options. Many top laptops in 2024 offer a good selection of ports. However, if you want to ensure your new laptop meets all your connectivity needs, here are the key ports to look for:

Essential Ports for a New Laptop

USB-C: USB-C is crucial for its simplicity and versatility. Even the most basic USB-C ports can handle power delivery and data transfer speeds up to 5Gbps. The best option is Thunderbolt 4, which offers 40Gbps data transfer rates, 15W USB power delivery, and support for up to two 4K displays. USB 4 is also a good alternative, offering high speeds and charging capabilities, though it may require checking specifications closely.

USB-A: While USB-A ports are not strictly essential, they save you from needing adapters for many peripherals like keyboards and mice. USB-A ports generally offer up to 10Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 2) or 5Gbps (USB 3.0) speeds and are sufficient for most external devices.

3.5mm Headphone Jack: A headphone jack is valuable for low-latency, high-quality audio. It’s essential for audiophiles and as a backup when wireless headphones run out of battery.

HDMI: An HDMI port is useful for connecting to external monitors or TVs, which is crucial for both work and entertainment. HDMI 2.1 supports 4K at 120Hz, and even HDMI 2.0 is good for 4K at 60Hz or higher refresh rates at lower resolutions.

Honorable Mention

Ethernet: An Ethernet port, while not common on modern ultrabooks, is indispensable for a stable and fast internet connection, especially important for gaming. Though you can use a USB-C adapter for Ethernet, having it built-in is more convenient.

In conclusion, while a laptop with USB-C, USB-A, a headphone jack, and HDMI will cover most users’ needs, having an Ethernet port can be an added advantage. Always consider your specific requirements when choosing ports for your new laptop.


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