TechSpot Laptop Buying Guide

We’re finally starting to see some action in the laptop market after a few stagnant months as manufacturers awaited the latest hardware to become available. Intel officially launched its Ivy Bridge architecture back in April, but it wasn’t until around May and June that the first laptops equipped with the new Core i chips started rolling out, bringing improved performance and battery life. To no one’s surprise they’re completely dominating the scene while AMD, even with their solid integrated graphics, is relegated to the budget segment.

As was the case towards the end of last year there’s been an increasing focus on devices with fast SSD storage, slim profiles, long battery life, and a price that won't break the bank -- basically, everyone’s answer to the MacBook Air. Intel is putting a lot of weight behind the Ultrabook concept, expecting it to be the main driver of PC market growth in the short term, and we’re finally starting to see some real interesting products emerge.

That said, when choosing the right laptop it all comes down to what you are willing to spend and what you plan to use it for. This guide will help you navigate through the countless options out there. As usual, we've narrowed down our favorite notebooks and grouped them into five different categories: ultraportables, business and workstations, desktop replacements, gaming, and budget-oriented machines.

Ultraportables Thin and light laptops balance portability, performance and battery life. Business Mid to high end components with an emphasis on durability, security and battery life.
Desktop Replacements The most complete set of features, often forgo battery life and portability for extra horsepower. Gaming If mobility is a priority, there are some solid choices for gaming on the go.
Budget-oriented A good blend of price and features, but slim form factors are not necessarily a priority.    

Read: TechSpot's Laptop Buying Guide
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10 Comments

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Wow, I just saw the Mac Book Pro with the retina display. Then I saw the Samsung Series 7. $2,100 vs $1,400. No optical drive, only 256GB SSD (oh boy.. not), smaller screen, same processor, worse graphics card. That's the Mac and it's $2,100.

But I though Macs didn't cost a lot more? Just curious, what about any of that makes anyone want to pay that much money for it? The Series 7 is better in every way.

KCRic said,
Wow, I just saw the Mac Book Pro with the retina display. Then I saw the Samsung Series 7. $2,100 vs $1,400. No optical drive, only 256GB SSD (oh boy.. not), smaller screen, same processor, worse graphics card. That's the Mac and it's $2,100.

But I though Macs didn't cost a lot more? Just curious, what about any of that makes anyone want to pay that much money for it? The Series 7 is better in every way.

The only reason to buy a Mac is if you must have OSX. They are overpriced, unreliable and outdated and always have been, but they do hold their value rather well.

RobHague said,
Would have had that but its not on the site anymore. Shame, that's an amazing deal for £400.

I know, I'm writing from one of them, sadly yes they've completely sold out now

MrXXIV said,
I'm still waiting for a 17" Macbook Retina..

Tough luck, the MBP 17" sales accounted for 1% of all sales of the Macbook range (or was it even the entire Mac range?)

Don't think they'll re-introduce that format, especially as you now do have a ton of pixels on 15" and most users who needed the 17" model, picked it because it would show more of their photos/videos/etc which makes post-production/graphic design so much easier.

GS:mac

I think the obvious choice at the moment is don't buy **** until after Windows 8 is released, since a ton of new hardware will be following. But hey, if you want to waste your money now and see what you could have gotten later, more power to you.

I think it really just comes down to "do you need a new laptop" if yes then get a new laptop, if no then dont get a laptop.