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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.