CNET's back-to-school 2010 retail desktop and laptop review roundup

The latest wave of new back-to-school laptops and desktops for 2010 is here, and we've been scouring the shelves of big retail stores to find boxed versions of these popular PCs, from entry-level systems starting at $250 to massive $1,200 gaming monsters.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals
Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.
Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home | Windows PCs | Cooking (sometimes) | Woodworking tools (getting there...)
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Dan Ackerman
Joshua Goldman
Justin Yu
Rich Brown
Scott Stein
2 min read

CNET's back-to-school 2010 retail laptop and desktop round-up is here!
Sarah Tew/CNET
With the back-to-school season upon us, many laptop and desktop shoppers are looking for a new system suitable for dorm room living or high school homework. We've hit the well-stocked store shelves of brick-and-mortar retail stores to find boxed versions of popular PCs, from entry-level systems starting at less than $300, to $1,000-plus high-end multimedia and gaming rigs.

These specific retail models are similar to those you'd be able to configure online from companies such as Dell and HP, but they may have slightly different names and features. Also worth noting, thanks to frequent retail discounts, they can sometimes be a better deal than buying directly from a PC maker.

In addition to browsing the list below, if you pick up a Sunday newspaper sales circular to look for onsale computers, be sure to check here for a review for that specific model number before heading out to the store.

We've got a preview of the entire list of models that will be included in our retail review roundup, and we'll update this page with the final ratings and live links as the systems get reviewed over the next several weeks.


Asus 1018PB-BK801 [4 stars]
Dell iM1012-1091OBK [3.5 stars]
HP Mini 210-1199DX [3.5 stars]
Samsung N150-11 [3.5 stars]

Dell Inspiron iM501R-1212PBL [2.5 stars]
Toshiba C655-S5049 [3 stars]
Asus K50IJ-BBZ5 [3.5 stars]
HP Pavilion dv5-2035dx [3 stars]
HP Compaq G62-225DX [3 stars]
Toshiba L645D-S4030 [3 stars]
HP Compaq CQ62-215DX [2.5 Stars]

Dell s1558-5691MSL [3.5 stars]
Gateway ID49C07u [3.5 stars]
HP Pavilion dv5-2045dx [3.5 stars]
HP Pavilion dv6-3055dx [3 stars]
Sony EA24FM/W [4 stars]
Asus K50IJ-BNC5 [3 stars]
Toshiba A665-S6050 [4 stars]
Asus UL80J-BBK5 [3 stars]
HP Pavilion dm4-1065dx [4 stars]
Dell Inspiron i14R-2265MRB [3.5 stars]
Samsung Q430-11 [4 stars]

Sony Vaio F126FM/B [3.5 stars]
Toshiba A665-S6070 [3.5 stars]
Apple MacBook Spring 2010 [4 stars]
Sony Vaio F12AFM/H [4 stars]
Toshiba Portege R705-P25 [4 stars, Editors' Choice]


Budget (up to $599)
HP Pavilion Slimline s5510y [2 stars]
Dell Inspiron i560-2050NBK [2.5 stars]
Asus Essentio CM5671-05 [3 stars]
HP Pavilion p6510y [3.5 stars]
Gateway SX2801-01e [3.5 stars, EC]
Dell Inspiron i570-7034PBK [3 stars]

Mainstream (up to $899)
Apple Mac Mini [3.5 stars]
Gateway DX4840-03e [3.5 stars]
Asus Essentio CM5675-07 [3 stars]
HP Pavilion p6540y [3.5 stars]
Dell Studio XPS 8100-1408-NBC [3.5 stars]

High-end ($950 and higher)
Asus Essentio CG1330-05 [2.5 Stars]
Gateway FX6840-03E [3 stars]

HP TouchSmart 300-1120 [2.5 stars]
Gateway ZX6900-01e [3.5 stars]
Apple iMac (21.5-inch) [3.5 stars]

> See our favorite picks in the Netbooks category here.
> See our favorite picks in the budget laptop category here.
> See our favorite picks in the mainstream laptop category here.

See more news, reviews, and recommendations in our Laptops and Desktops sections.