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Laptops and desktop PCs for Back to School

These computers combine price, features, performance, and design, in a perfect ratio for students.

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Dan Ackerman
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Want a back-to-school MacBook? This is the one. And, until the $2,199 Retina Display MacBook Pro drops in price, the $1,199 13-inch Air remains the MacBook for the masses.
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Dell's new 27-inch all-in-one would make an outstanding dorm room entertainment center, and its high-resolution, 2,560x1,440-pixel display gives you generous desktop real estate for running multiple application windows.
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Don't let the awkward name put you off. This is one of the best-looking midsize laptops we've ever seen for $599. You'll trade some performance for the cost savings, but battery life was better than expected, and it looks like a more expensive machine.
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We have yet to see any officially branded 17-inch ultrabooks, but I suspect the Samsung Series 7 Chronos 700Z7CH would be an excellent approximation of one, making a good dorm room multimedia and gaming centerpiece.
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Dell Inspiron 14z

The recently refreshed Dell Inspiron line has the right mix of style and value for students, especially in the form of the midsize Inspiron 14z. This modestly priced ultrabook looks great, includes discrete graphics, and costs only $899. (Skip the cheaper configurations that start at $699.)
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The fast, compact Origin Chronos is the perfect desktop for cramped dorm room gaming. You'll find enough horsepower inside its tiny frame to play any PC game at a decent 3D frame rate.
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The MacBook Pro with Retina Display, while expensive, is the best all-around MacBook Apple now makes -- unless you absolutely, positively need a built-in optical drive or Ethernet jack (although both are available via external dongles or peripherals).

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