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Holiday Gift Guide: Performance Laptops
December 14, 2009 08:37 PM

High end laptops are getting better than ever. This holiday season is a great time to find a good deal on one. I had a chance to browse through a variety high end laptops when I was on the search for one for myself. I’ve picked a few of my favorites. They include a few ranging from sub-$1000, to over $2000. While some of these might just be overkill for the average Joe, I’ve done my best to pick these based of quality, features, and the best bang for the buck.

Dell Studio 15

< $1000: Dell Studio 15

The Dell Studio 15 is a great pick for an affordable performance laptop. For about $700 this 15 inch notebook with a default configuration features Windows 7 Home Premium, a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500 MHD, and a 500GB 7200RPM Hard Drive.  You can even customize the appearance of the case. This a great deal for someone looking for an affordable entertainment center.

Link: Dell.com Studio 15 | Buy: Dell Studio 15

HP Pavilion DV6t

$1000: HP dv6t Quad Edition

The HP dv6t quad edition notebook packs quite a bit for a grand. Without paying any more than the base price, the 16-inch multimedia powerhouse kicks off with Windows 7 Home Premium, a top of the line Intel 1.6GHz Quad Core i7-720QM processor, a free upgrade to 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 230M graphics card, a 250GB 7200 RPM, HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive, and a free upgrade to a Lightscribe Blu-Ray ROM. While there are other laptops in the same class which feature Intel’s new i7 processor for a similar price, they’ll also charge you quite a bit to upgrade to Blu-Ray ROM and a high performance graphic card. This is certainly one of the best bangs for the buck.

Links: HP.com dv6t

Asus N61vn

< $1500: ASUS N61Vn

Most entertainment laptops are loaded with the fastest processors, lots of memory and excellent graphics performance. What’s not mentioned and often been neglected is high quality audio. That is what separates the ASUS N61Vn from the rest of them. It features ASUS Sonic Master which uses Altec Lansing speaker with 22mm-wide paper foam cones supported by SRS premium sound. Another unique feature is Nvidia CUDA GPU computing which allows for faster transcoding of music, videos, DVD playback, and editing. It’s equipped with Windows 7 Home Premium, a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 processor, 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 240M graphic card and a Blu-Ray drive. No entertainment center is complete without quality audio and that is why the ASUS N61Vn stands out.

Links: Asus.com N61Vn | Buy: Asus N61Vn

Toshiba Qosimo X500

< $2000: Toshiba X505-Q850

The Toshiba X505-Q850 is one of best deals for a high performance gaming machine. While the base price is slightly more than that of the Alienware M17x, it already comes with top line specs straight out of the box so you won’t have to pay extra. Packed in a stylish light up fusion black and metallic red case, this 18.4 incher comes loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium, an Intel 1.6GHz quad core i7-720QM processor, a IGB Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M graphics card, 6 GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM and a Blu-Ray ROM. The most distinguishing features include an LED lit keyboard for night playing, the ability charge your wireless gadgets like MP3 players and phones while it sleeps. In addition is a dual storage configuration which boasts both a 64 GB solid state drive partnering a 7200 RPM 320GB hard disk drive to give the best of both worlds. Right now this arguably the best deal on the market for a gaming.

Links: Toshiba.com Qosmio X505

Dell Alienware M17x

No $$$ Limit: Alienware M17x

For those of you who have some serious money to spend, the Alienware M17x is the ultimate gaming monster. Said to be the fastest available gaming laptop out there, the 17 inch powerhouse neatly packs a wide array of ultra souped up features in a sleek anodized aluminum case. If you want to soup it up to the max, it can be customized to have an Intel core 2 extreme processor, dual ATI Radeon graphics cards, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 solid state drive. In addition to the sleek looks is a personalized laser etched nameplate on the bottom. They start with a base price of 1700$, it can go up to the 5000$ range depending on what customizations you choose. This monster is the flagship of them all.

Link: Dell.com Alienware M17x

How should I choose a Laptop?
When you shop for a laptop, be aware what your needs and uses are. The laptops I’ve selected are fairly high-end. Start by choosing one with an operating system suited for your needs. For example, someone who needs to use Windows XP applications for work should choose computer with Windows 7 Professional. That’s because it sports an XP Mode to emulate those old programs. Next, choose one with a sufficient processor. You’ll need a faster processor for gaming and multimedia, as well as if you plan on running many applications at once. I would recommend something with at least 3 GB of RAM. If you plan on watching high def movies or gaming it’s very important to have a high performance graphics card because you don’t want your screen freezing. You should take into account the wireless adapter choices and hard drive space. If you plan on doing lots of downloading, a wireless adapter with faster transfer rates may be desired. There are now two types of hard drives: solid state drive and the traditional hard disk drive. Solid state drives load faster and more reliable because of the lack of spinning parts, but they are more expensive for the amount of storage space you get. For the more common hard disk drive, faster RPMs generally means faster load speeds. Other features important to keep in mind are optical drives and battery life. If you want to watch high def movies, get one with a Blu-Ray drive. One of the other most important things to consider are dimensions. Anything with screen larger than 16 inches is pretty big and can be a hassle carrying around on a regular basis. Last but not least I suggest trying out the computer or a similar model from the manufacturer at a local store before buying it.

Note: This article was edited by Sahas Katta.

This is a part of our ongoing Skatter Tech Holiday Gift Guides.

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