Spring 2010 retail budget laptop roundup

Find out which budget laptop came out on top in the spring 2010 edition of our retail laptop roundup.

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
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

We've been scouring the shelves of big retail stores to find boxed versions of popular PCs--from entry-level systems starting at $329 to massive $2,000 gaming monsters--and putting them all in our spring 2010 roundup of retail laptops.

In the "Budget" category, we looked at off-the-shelf models that cost up to $599 (not including Netbooks). We saw a wide variety of components, from single-core Athlon CPUs to Intel's new Core i3.

Though most of these laptops were not particularly inspiring (but as budget laptops, you can't really blame them), we did discover one hidden gem: the Gateway NV7915u. It is a $599 17-inch desktop replacement with an Intel Core i3 CPU and a 500GB hard drive, which makes it an especially good bang for your buck--so much so that we made it an Editor's Choice pick. We also liked the Asus K60I, which knocked the CPU down to an old Intel Pentium dual-core T4400 but had a cool design and good battery life.

Note: For our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges, check here.

Check out details of each system below:

Acer Aspire AS5532-5535
The bottom line: The entry-level Acer Aspire AS5532-5535 can keep up with neither dual-core laptops that are still moderately priced nor with a competing single-core entry-level laptop from Compaq.
Read the full review.

HP Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX
The bottom line: The Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX covers the basics, and that's really all you can ask for from a $349 laptop.
Read the full review.

Gateway NV7915u
The bottom line: The Gateway NV7915u is a well-rounded, well-designed desktop replacement that delivers mainstream performance at a budget price.
Read the full review.

HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx
The bottom line: Given its entertainment features, relative bulk, and poor battery life, the HP Pavilion dv4-2145dx is more of a miniature desktop replacement than a take-everywhere midsize laptop.
Read the full review.

Asus K60I-RBBBR05
The bottom line: The Asus K60I-RBBBR05 is a well-built budget laptop with enough power for most mainstream users. It has a decent battery life, a huge hard drive, and a roomy 16-inch display. You get a lot for your money, but buyers will have to wade through a sea of bloatware.
Read the full review.

Dell Inspiron i1545-4266IBU
The bottom line: As a budget laptop, there are no glaring miscues with the Dell Inspiron i1545-4266IBU, but competing models offer more features for the same price, and laptops costing only a little more offer a much more current platform.
Read the full review.

Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018
The bottom line: The Toshiba Satellite L505-ES5018 is about the cheapest dual-core laptop that you'll find, and it provides a predictably basic feature set, but boasts competitive performance, respectable battery life, and zero bloatware.
Read the full review.

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