Top Ten Laptops

Top Ten Laptops

Not all laptops are created equal, regardless of price, and today there are more different styles to choose from than ever before.  If you’re into fast paced gaming and graphics are a must, you might want a massive laptop computer like the Alienware Area-51 m17x, but that’s hardly a machine you’d want to lug further than across a hallway.  It would be fairly useless for business users or others who travel frequently, and if that’s more your style you might want to look into something like the Dell Inspiron Mini, a netbook that sacrifices power but gives you the best portability short of your mobile phone.  If you’re here at QBrush that means there’s one thing you love above all else, and that’s Photoshop.  Photoshop designers and editors would probably be best off with something more like the desktop replacement Alienware than the Dell, but with a focus on screen resolution and comfortable use rather than graphics and top notch performance.   If designing is your game you can live without lightning fast 3D rendering, but anything short of 1440×900 resolution on a brightly lit screen and you’ll be scrolling and squinting more often than you’d like.  And so without further ado, here are the top ten laptops for people who love.

10. Dell Latitude E6400

As a 14” laptop with a 1440×900 resolution, the E6400 is a nice little unit with a bright screen that will get the job done.  It won’t weigh you down either – the entry weight for this model is a mere 4.25lb with a 4-cell battery (which still has over 3 hours of life).  You’ve got to remember however that it is a Dell, and processing power doesn’t come standard, although it is easily upgradable.  If you pick just the parts you need, you’ll get a laptop with some decent punch, an average weight, and good battery life and resolution – what more would a designer on the move need?  Throw in a reasonable price, and you’ve got a recommended laptop.

9.  HP Pavilion dv5t

The Pavilion dv5t is another computer that packs reasonable power for your dollar – only this one is bigger.  With a 15.4” WSXGA+ display you can achieve a resolution as high as 1680×1050.  There is an optional “Infinity” finish you can have put over your screen which removes the borders from the screen, giving it a sleeker and more modern look (although it also increases reflections).  While you can probably get the same processing power for the same price as the Dell, you’re getting it in a bigger and heavier package with worse battery life.  Still, that is a nice resolution on a 15.4”.

8. Lenovo Thinkpad T400

Going back to the 14” and 1440×900 notebooks for a second, we turn here to the Thinkpad T400.  The T400 comes with the option for an LED backlit screen, which is a must for anyone to whom color quality and recognition is of the highest importance (that’s you).  It also has an exceptional battery saving feature, allowing you to switch between a dedicated GPU and an integrated one on the fly, upping the already fantastic battery lifetime of a 6-cell batter from 4.5 hours to 6 full hours (it’s 7.5 hours and 9.75 hours on a 9-cell, respectively).  You’re not going to be breaking any boundaries with the way your laptop looks (it’s the same as every Thinkpad, ever), and the weight is only average… but then again, so is the price.

7. Toshiba Qosmio G55-Q802

Toshiba’s latest Qosmio comes with an 18.4” screen and a Toshiba Quad Core HD processor in addition to its standard Intel dual core, plus 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD, all for around $1549.  I know what you’re thinking – so why on earth is this computer out here at #7?  Well, it’s heavy (10.5lbs), it’s thick (1.8”), and the worst sin of all if you’re looking to design – the resolution is only 1680×945.  Well, that’s actually a decent resolution, but there are smaller and lighter computers that do better so I’m not giving it too much credit here.  Also, the Toshiba Quad Core really only kicks in for HD video editing, which as a visual designer you might be into, but it’s not going to improve your Photoshop sessions one bit.  Still, it’s one of the cheapest 18.4” laptops on the market and the resolution is better than a lot of other machines that go for the same price.  But be warned, you’ll see why it’s cheaper when you try to pick it up off your desk.

6. Lenovo Thinkpad X301

The X301 has pretty much the same standout features as the G55 above – resolution, weight, and price – only it’s the G55’s opposite in every way.   The miniscule 13.4” X301 features a WXGA 1440×900 resolution, which is nothing short of spectacular on a machine that’s .73” inch think and weighs less than 3lbs.  Battery life is also fantastic, with a 3-cell battery capable of 4.3 hours of life.  If you need more than that there is also a 6-cell option that adds a few ounces, and also a removable 3-cell option bay battery that slides neatly into the DVD burner slot with the changing of one screw.  The screen is LED backlit, and I found the keyboard to be comfortable and quiet.  The 1.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor produces little heat but isn’t the fastest thing around, and it’ll cost you a whopping $400 to upgrade from 64GB of memory to 128GB, because we’re talking SSD here instead of HDD.  This unit is cool, quiet, capable and extremely portable, and that’s not cheap.  But if you can handle the $3000 price tag, you’ll be purchasing yourself a laptop you’ll love to carry around that still has a large enough resolution to handle your designing needs.

5. Sony VAIO FW139E/H

From here on in, things are going to get bigger and stay bigger, and we’ll start the process with the VAIO FW139E/H.  With a 16.4” screen, this laptop occupies a unique spot in between the portables and the desktop replacements on the market today.  The resolution is good at 1600×900, and also the most blatant representation of a 16×9 aspect ratio I’ve ever seen, which should intrigue you if you’re the sort of person who watches HDTV on their laptop.  The weight isn’t bad for a laptop of this size (6.4lbs), and if you can handle the weight it runs cool enough to sit on your lap or anywhere else without a problem.  It comes with 3GB RAM and a dedicated GPU, but the Core 2 Duo P8400 2.2HGz processor is just average and the battery life of 2-3 hours leaves something to be desired.  Still, for $1099 you’re getting a good sized screen/resolution with enough kick to smoothly run Photoshop with all the brushes you could ever need.

4. HP Pavilion HDX 18

The Pavilion HDX18 is another example of laptops running in 16×9 aspect ratio.  But remember, we’re getting bigger, and the 1920×1080 resolution of the HDX’s 18.4” screen will provide you with even more high quality HD space.  The HDX boasts a full keyboard with a number pad which is both silent and responsive, as is the mouse.  A 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 comes standard as does the nVidia GeForce 8600M GT, so the computer will be able to handle most anything you throw at it.  The 8.7lb weight is a little hefty for carrying around, but considering its size not too shabby (it sure beats the G55).  The battery life is just under 3 hours, but you’re probably going to leave this unit in one place most of the time anyway.  The price tag is a little on the expensive side at around $2000, but the features list is impressive and the resolution is great, so at least you’re getting your money’s worth.

3. Asus M70SA-X2

The M70SA-X2 isn’t technically bigger than the HDX 18 with a screen size of only 17.1”, but by choosing to eschew the 16×9 aspect ratio it actually packs a slightly larger resolution at 1920×1200.  The Asus doesn’t lack for power either, sporting a Core 2 Duo T9300 2.5GHz processor, 4GB RAM (although Vista’s 32bit OS can only use 3GB), a decent quality 1GB GPU and a 1TB HDD, which means you’ll be able do things without worrying about space – and do them quickly.  The weight is 8.4 lbs, which is a bit heavy, but lighter than the HDX18 above.  The battery life clocked in at 2.5 hours, which is not great, but decent when you consider everything that poor battery has to power.  Of course on a unit of this size you’re getting a full keyboard with number pad too.  All in all you’re getting an excellent resolution along with as much space as you’ll need to store your .psd files for years to come.  The low end of this model is only $1299, but you’ll need the $2399 version to get the high resolution and a multitude of other features.

2. Lenovo W700

With dimensions of 16.1″x12.2”x1.63”, to call the Lenovo W700 a beast would be something of an understatement.  But that space certainly isn’t going to waste.  This mammoth machine comes decked out with Intel Extreme Quad-Core processors, 8GB RAM, a 1GB nVidia Quadro M3700 and up to 600GB of 7200rpm hard disk space (or 960GB at 5400rpm).  While you don’t have to max out all the features like this, it’s obvious this laptop is built to exceed your needs now and still be useful for years to come.  The 17.1” screen has a resolution of 1920×1200, and in addition to a slew of standard features it comes with a built in color calibrator and Wacom digitizer, which are both extremely useful design tools.  The screen is brightly lit and can display 72% of the color gamut, compared with the 45% a typical laptop displays.  The downsides to this laptop are just what you’d expect – it is not only huge, but expensive.  The basic version will cost you $2978, and the high end version could exceed $5000.  I found it interesting however that despite being quite large, the basic version weighs only 8.3 lbs –that’s lighter than either the M70 or the HDX18.

1. Macbook Pro

Maybe you saw this coming? Macbook Pros have long been the notebook of choice for designers and editors everywhere , and despite an increasingly crowded field of attractive options, it is probably still anybody’s #1.  Macbook Pros are attractive and super slim, with smooth performance and long battery life.  Leopard is not only easy to use but useful too.  The Macbook Pro has never been cheap, but when you look at the prices above for some of the other high end laptops you’ll find the 15” version ($1999) and the 17” version ($2799) to be priced competitively.  They do have some slight downgrades from the bigger computers above (like a 512MB GPU instead of 1GB), but that won’t affect your Photoshop sessions very much, and at 5.4lbs and 6.8lbs respectively they more than makes up for it in portability anyway.  Of course I couldn’t forget to review my gold standard, and the 15” comes with a respectable 1440×900 resolution whereas the 17” can upgrade to a full 1920×1200.  There are more quality options out there than there used to be, but the Macbook Pro remains a top choice – if not the top choice – for designers, editors.

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fiona ~ Feb 3, 2009 at 3:58 am

can i have 1 4 2 quid plz cuz thats all the money i have and im poor and send it to 28 grayswood crescent

gaming notebooks
gaming notebooks ~ Apr 29, 2009 at 2:30 am

That’s an interesting article. I just wondered if you could tell me where to find more info on this topic ?

Montblanc ~ Jun 2, 2009 at 6:32 am

I follow your blog for quite a long time and should tell that your articles always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

Jimmy Fuentes
Jimmy Fuentes ~ Feb 27, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I think maybe an alienware laptop can take spot #1… or atleast second place…

Rahul ~ Mar 18, 2011 at 7:29 am

very nice list good to see all the information at one place

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