High-end back-to-school retail laptops: The big guns

Do you feel like spending a little more on a laptop? We single out a few big-bucks retail configurations that offer some great power for the cost.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Though budget and surprisingly affordable laptops are all the rage lately, there are still quite a few high-end models out there that aren't exactly cheap. Even so, many of these "high-end" laptops offer far more for the money than ever before, making for potentially compelling buys for people looking for big screens and superpowered processors offering desktop-replacement-level performance.

Our high-end laptops from this year's 2010 back-to-school retail roundup are actually a pretty affordable bunch, including an $829 Toshiba Portege R705-P25 that offers an executive feel for less than the white Apple MacBook. In fact, only one of these laptops breaks $1,000: the $1,349 Sony Vaio F126FM/B. In fact, the two Vaio models here are virtually identical, designwise. The more-expensive version has a faster CPU and better graphics card, but the $999 Vaio F12A may be a better overall deal, offering a big screen, Blu-ray, and mainstream/casual gaming graphics for $350 less than its big brother.

Editors' note: See our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges.

Check out details of each system below:

Toshiba Portege R705-P25 (4 stars, Editor's Choice)
The bottom line: Toshiba's Portege R series has always impressed, and the new 13-inch Portege R705 is close to a perfect balance of design, price, and performance.
Read the full review.


Sony Vaio F12AFM/H (4 stars)
The bottom line: At a hair less than $1,000, the Sony Vaio F12A is an attractive desktop replacement laptop that provides Blu-ray and basic gaming performance; it also includes some bonus free software.
Read the full review.


Apple MacBook Spring 2010 (4 stars)
The bottom line: Apple slightly revamps its basic MacBook with improvements under the hood, but keeps the design and price the same, which makes the new MacBook tough to beat as a back-to-school laptop.
Read the full review.


Toshiba Satellite A665-S6070 (3.5 stars)
The bottom line: Toshiba's 16-inch Satellite A665-S6070 desktop replacement offers plenty of performance for just under $1,000, unfortunately wrapped in a dull plastic case.
Read the full review.


Sony Vaio F126FM/B (3.5 stars)
The bottom line: Sony's high-end Vaio F126 laptop is fast and feature-packed; however, for the money, we wish it had a true HD display and better battery life.
Read the full review.

Read the full CNET Review

Sony VAIO VPCF126FM/B

The Bottom Line: Sony's high-end Vaio F126 laptop is fast and feature-packed; however, for the money, we wish it had a true HD display and better battery life. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Toshiba Satellite A665-S6070

The Bottom Line: Toshiba's 16-inch Satellite A665-S6070 desktop replacement offers plenty of performance for just under $1,000, unfortunately wrapped in a dull plastic case. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Apple MacBook Spring 2010 (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD)

The Bottom Line: Apple slightly revamps its basic MacBook with improvements under the hood, but keeps the design and price the same, which makes the new MacBook tough to beat as a back-to-school laptop. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Toshiba Portege R705-P25

The Bottom Line: Toshiba's Portege R series has always impressed, and the new 13-inch Portege R705 is close to a perfect balance of design, price, and performance. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony VAIO VPCF12AFM/H

The Bottom Line: If the size is right for you, the Vaio F Series is a well-made high-end laptop, and is a good reminder that Sony is one of the few brands that comes close to Apple on design and polish. / Read full review

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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