Apple rules elite laptop list at Best Buy

Half of the 12 priciest laptops sold at the electronics giant come from the Mac maker.

Apple MacBooks, more than any other single brand, populate the rankings of the priciest laptops at Best Buy, affirming Apple's reputation as a purveyor of elite computers.

15-inch MacBook Pro: pricey but solid design.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro: pricey but with a solid design. Best Buy

The fact that Apple dominates the upper-price tier at Best Buy is no great surprise, but the MacBook pricing takes on a new meaning when you look at the numbers. Out of roughly 200 models--Windows and Apple--listed on Best Buy's site, there are 12 MacBooks--used generically here to refer to the MacBook and aluminum-clad MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

Half of those 12 MacBooks are in the highest price category.

Altogether, about a dozen elite Windows and Apple models cost more than $1,699, a cutoff that I'm using. Once again, about half are MacBooks.

Here's a quick look at what you get when you shell out that much money for a laptop:

$1,799 Sony Vaio (13-inch): Model VPCZ12LGX includes a 2.26GHz Core i5 processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M graphics chip switchable with Intel HD graphics, a 13.1-inch LED display, 4GB of memory, a 128GB solid-state drive, DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, Webcam, and Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit OS. This Sony crams a lot of horsepower into a 3-pound design, thus the price. You won't find many 3-pound-class laptops with a Turbo Boost-enabled Core i5, Nvidia graphics, and built-in optical drive.

$1,799 Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch): Model MC371LL/A includes a 2.4GHz Core i5 Processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M chip switchable with Intel HD graphics, a 15.4-inch display, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard disk drive, slot-loading DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, Webcam, and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Needless to say, this is a solid aluminum design and, like the Sony model above, features switchable Nvidia-Intel graphics, toggling between performance and power efficiency, respectively.

$1,799 HP Envy (13-inch): Model ENVY 13-1030NR includes a 1.86GHz Intel SL9400 Core 2 Duo processor, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics, 13.1-inch LED display (1366 x 768), 250GB hard disk drive, external DL DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, two batteries (4-cell and 6-cell), webcam, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. This 13-inch Envy is HP's attempt at a MacBook Air. It's not MacBook Air thin but close at 0.8 inches and has a brushed aluminum exterior. The Envy 13 packs faster ATI graphics (compared to the aging 9400M Nvidia graphics in the Air), and comes with two batteries. There is a pricing discrepancy, however. HP's own site lists an almost identical configuration for about $1,500.

$1,899 Dell Adamo XPS (13-inch): Model AX3601GSL includes a 1.4GHz power-efficient U series Intel Core 2 Duo processor, an Intel graphics chip, a 13.4-inch LED display, 4GB of memory, a 128GB solid-state drive, Webcam, and Windows 7 Home Premium OS. This Adamo is all about extreme thinness--all 0.4 inches of it--and weight, at about 3 pounds. The Adamo XPS is an offbeat design that puts the core electronics behind the screen instead of under the keyboard: a truly novel laptop. (Update: floor units are on sale at some Best Buy stores for as little as $1,100. And a Best Buy salesperson at a store in southern California told me that the Adamo XPS had been discontinued.)

$1,999 Alienware M15X (15-inch): Model M15X-722CSB includes a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M graphics with 1GB video memory, a 15.6-inch display (1600x900 resolution), a 320GB hard disk drive (7200RPM), DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, Webcam, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS. You're paying for sheer processing power here: a quad-core processor and high end pixel-pushing Nvidia graphics.

And the winner of the priciest laptop is...Apple.

$2,299 Apple MacBook Pro (17-inch): Model MC024LL/A includes a 2.53GHz Core i5 Processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M chip switchable with Intel HD graphics, a 17-inch high-resolution (1920x1200) LED display, 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard disk drive, slot-loading DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, Webcam, and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Even for Apple this is expensive, but it's replete with top-notch hardware such as a gorgeous display and roomy hard disk drive.

Updated at 8:50 a.m. PDT: adding HP Envy 13.

Updated on Saturday, July 10 at 10:20 a.m. PDT: adding update about Dell Adamo XPS.

 

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