With literally hundreds of laptops available on the market, searching for one can be daunting for many users. We want all it all: high performance, lots of storage, small, light and low-priced. Of course, it’s not that easy in the real world, or you would not be reading this. Whether the laptop is for yourself or is a gift for someone else, the most important part is to try understanding what the actual usage of the computer will be. Gaming, multimedia and basic productivity are tasks that can be accomplished by very different machines. We can’t have it all, but we can certainly find the most appropriate laptop to get the job done, so here are a few pointers from the Ubergizmo team.
Apple Macbook Pro w/ Retina Display ($2200)
The Apple Macbook Pro with Retina Display has introduced something new in the consumer laptop world: ultra-high resolution displays. This laptop has been originally designed by Apple to cater to a “professional” market of graphic designers and photographers. However, it is clear that the laptop is also great for any enthusiast customer who wants a speedy laptop with an amazing display. To power the display, Apple is using a very fast NVIDIA graphics processor, so in our own tests, we found the machine to be suitable for very decent gaming too. And obviously, there’s the design aspect that needs to be taken into account. The new Unibody design, without the optical drive, is very nice and feels extremely rigid. Mac OS users will get 6-7 hours of real battery life for light tasks. Windows users can select to install Windows 7 but have to purchase the Windows license separately. Read our full review of the Macbook Pro with Retina Display.
MSI GT60 Gaming Laptop ($1450)
Gaming is one the most demanding computing activity there is and it is fair to say that games are pushing the boundaries of semiconductor and computer performance. To build an absolutely fast gaming machine, there is only one recipe that works: using fast, big and hot electronics components. This is a completely different category of machines, one that can run the latest games as fast as desktop PCs that are three of five times their size/volume. The MSI GT60 is one of the best performing laptop in this category. With a 15.6″ display and a 1080p screen resolution, the games look absolutely crisp. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M and 3GB of video memory can push the games framerate and texture details very high. The Intel Core i7 (2.3GHz) processor will make sure that the game A.I and physics will run fast and smooth. The MSI GT60 is not a light computer, but it is a great one to carry to a friend’s place or a LAN party.
Lenovo X1 Carbon ($1499+)
The Lenovo Carbon X1 has been designed by Lenovo with “business users” in mind. It’s true that it is a nice and thin laptop, but don’t think that it is a fragile piece of equipment: the X1 Carbon can take the tear and wear that most aluminum laptops would not like at all. The chassis surface is much tougher and scratch resistant than aluminum is and you won’t need to buy an extra case for the X1 Carbon. To fit more windows on the screen, Lenovo is using a 14″ (1600×1900) display that is much better than the typical 1366×768 resolution that most 14″ laptops have. At order time, you can choose a more beefy configuration, with an Intel Core i5, up to 8GB of RAM and at least 128GB of SSD storage. Finally, there are details that are just superb like the low-light capabilities of the webcam, the excellent keyboard or the very fast charge time (0% to 90% in 45mn). It’s the accumulation of little things that often make great products. Read our full review of the Lenovo Carbon X1
Asus Zenbook UX31A ($1099+)
For those who want a very impressive ultra light PC, the Asus Zenbook UX31A may just be it. This is a 13″ laptop which packs a array of features that are usually found in larger laptops. For instance, the display resolution tops 1920×1080, which is as much pixel as a large HDTV. Additionally, ASUS has chosen to use the LCD IPS display technology which allows for excellent color reproduction and view angles. Inside, the computer is powered by an Intel Core i7 (1.9GHz) which makes the Asus Zenbook competitive, even against larger and thicker computers. To match the display capabilities, Asus has turned to Bang and Olufsen (B&O), which is one of the best audio companies in the world, to build the Zenbook audio system. In short, the Asus Zenbook UX31A is a top laptop in this category.
Acer Aspire S3 ($670+)
The Acer Aspire S3 is an Ultrabook computer designed to be thin, light and affordable. As an Ultrabook, it needs to fit Intel’s guideline for thinness, weight, boot time and processor power. The main selling points of the S3 is its ultra-thin design and light weight (less than 3lbs). Because it runs with an Intel Core i3 processor, it stays cool most of the time. The 4GB of RAM ensures that Windows runs at a decent speed. The Acer S3 comes with 320GB or 500GB of storage depending on the model, and we typically recommend getting a bit more storage (500GB) for the small price difference ($50). Unfortunately, this particular model does not have a full SSD option, so if you want the file system to be zippy fast, you may have to look for a more expensive laptop. If you already own a desktop machine, the Aspire S3 can be a very good secondary PC for light tasks light web browsing and email.
Toshiba Satellite C-Series ($550+)
The Toshiba Satellite C-Series is an entry level line of computers that should take care of the basic productivity and multimedia needs that the large majority of users want to do. We like the laptop that features a 15.6″ Display with a classic 1366×768 resolution, a webcam to keep in touch with familly and friends if you’re a student living on campus. Networking-wise, it comes with the fastest WiFi-N along with wired Ethernet, which is better for gaming and has a more predictable performance. Talking of gaming, this computer is OK with casual games or strategy games, but it is not designed for intense gaming – this is something that parents may actually like ;) — [Toshiba C-Series on eBay]