Our favorite retail laptops
We've spent the last eight weeks testing and reviewing almost two dozen retail fixed-configuration laptops. Here are our current favorites.
We've spent the last eight weeks laptops. Those are the specific models you'll find listed in Sunday newspaper sales circulars and boxed up and ready to go at big brick-and-mortar outlets.retail fixed-configuration
In the entry level category, which refers to laptops under $599, you're going to find systems that are functional, but not particularly exciting. Faster dual-core processors and bigger screens are the main reasons to trade up from a similarly priced Netbook. As long as you keep your expectations modest, an entry level laptop can be good for either cash-strapped students or those with modest computing needs.
The majority have AMD processors, but we found two with Intel Core Duo CPUs (the cheaper cousin of Intel's mainstream Core 2 Duo). Those two Intel laptops were faster than the competition, and of the pair, we preferred the
Stepping up to the budget category, which includes laptops from $600 to $899, we found a wider range of features, screen sizes, and components. The majority of the systems in this category had Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs (the 2.0GHz T6400, to be exact), though there were a pair of AMD-powered laptops that lagged behind in our benchmark tests.
Finally, we looked at a handful of mainstream laptops, running from $900-$1,200. Our overall favorite is the latest version of Gateway's FX-series 17-inch, the
While ordering a laptop direct from a PC maker such as Dell or HP gives one an opportunity to custom-build a machine from scratch, there's clearly a big demand out there for boxed-up, ready to go systems. If you're looking for that kind of instant-gratification retail therapy, there are some good deals out there--just make sure to check the component list carefully, making sure you're getting what you need, and are not paying for too many features you don't want.
Editor's Note: Yes, we love MacBooks just as much as you do (check out our