To bring you our, we've been testing and reviewing boxed versions of popular PCs--from entry-level systems starting at $329 to massive $2,000 gaming monsters. These are very much like the laptops you'd configure and buy online from Dell or HP, but these models are fixed configurations, have slightly different names, and are often a better deal compared to building the same system online.
In the "Mainstream" category, covering laptops from $600-$999, we found a lot of variety. While there were a couple of clunkers in this group, mostly because they charged mainstream prices for budget components, we were please to find a couple of real winners as well.
In the end, we couldn't pick a single favorite, so instead we have dual recommendations. The
We also quite liked the
Note: For our roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges,.
Check out details of each system below:
The bottom line: The Dell Studio s15z-2249CPN is a worthy mainstream laptop that aims to satisfy a lot of what consumers crave.
The bottom line: As one of the first laptops to feature Intel's Wireless Display technology, the Toshiba Satellite E205-S1904 is a slim, fast, and affordable package for mainstream users.
The bottom line: While the Toshiba Satellite A505-6025 has a rock-solid combination of computing power, graphics, and battery life, its price and bulk may be hard to swallow.
The bottom line: People who would rather have a big screen instead of great battery life will be happy with the HP dv7-3165dx.
The bottom line: The excellent-performing HP Pavilion dv4-2165dx has a long battery life for the money, but it'll cost you some portability.
The bottom line: A fast hard drive and a peppy processor help make HP's Pavilion dv4-2155dx a solid mainstream laptop, as long as you don't need good battery life.
The bottom line: The Toshiba Satellite P505D-S8007 may look like a sleek big-screen laptop, but underneath it has some seriously hobbled performance compared with its competitors.
The bottom line: With switchable Nvidia graphics and a thin design, the Asus UL50VT-RBBBK05 sacrifices power for longer battery life, while still managing to be a gaming-capable notebook. For its price, though, you could buy a laptop with a faster Core i3 CPU.
The bottom line: The Asus U50F is one of the best values for an Intel Core i3 laptop we've seen, offering a great all-around package for its price--save for shorter-than-average battery life.
The bottom line: The Dell Inspiron i1564-6980CRD is a good, but basic, laptop -- essentially a no-frills workhorse.
The bottom line: The Samsung NP-R580-JSB1US is the best bang for the buck we've seen in a current mainstream laptop, with great processing, graphics, and Blu-ray to boot.