Looking for the best bang for your PC buck? Our friends at Laptop Magazine and Laptop Mag — who oversee 140+ notebook and netbook reviews every year — have rounded up the top performers under $800.
Gizmodo AU note: We’ve adjusted this post to reflect Australian specs and availability.
The price of Windows laptops continues to decline, with the average system costing just $US456 in December 2011. However, you don’t have to settle for something that’s underpowered or poorly made when you opt for a bargain notebook. You can get a second-generation Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and 500GB hard drive in this price range, which is plenty of power for everyday computing.
HP g6-1315tu ($599)
HP offers the 15.6-inch, 2.3GHz Core i3 HP g6-1315tu for only less than $600 at retailers. We reviewed its cousin, the HP Pavilion g6-1c77nr, very favourably in 2011, praising it for its solid performance, comfortable keyboard and good speakers.The Pavilion g6-1315tu is no slouch compared to the g6-1c77nr, featuring a 2.2GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2330M CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive.
Lenovo ThinkPad E420 ($529)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 is a less fancy-looking version of the ThinkPad Edge E420s that earned an Editor’s Choice award from us in May 2011. We were impressed with the laptop’s sophisticated design, lightweight, excellent keyboard and strong battery life.
The ThinkPad Edge E420 features a 2.3GHz Intel Core i3-2350M processor, a 14-inch 1366×768 anti-glare display, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. You can get this configuration from Lenovo online for $529, although you may be able to score it if you shop around.
Dell Inspiron 14Z ($499)
The Dell Inspiron 14R, only $699 on Dell’s website, packs a 2.3GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2350M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD and Intel HD graphics into 14-inch frame. We were impressed with the Pentium-powered Dell Inspiron 14Z we reviewed in 2011, and for the same price today you get a more powerful processor, twice the RAM and twice the hard drive storage capacity. Dell is selling this model online for $699, but you may be able to find it cheaper elsewhere.
HP Pavilion dm1-4100 ($599)
The Pavilion dm1 features a comfy keyboard, reliable touchpad and solid performance, all bundled in an attractive 11-inch chassis. This configuration of the Pavilion dm1 boasts a 1.65GHz AMD Vision E450 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. The laptop also features Beats Audio for superior sound and AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics. Although the HP Pavilion dm1 has below-average battery life, its other attributes more than make up for this deficiency.
Although this laptop won’t win any contests for performance or design, the 14-inch ASUS X44L-VX003V boasts plenty of power for less than $600. The 2.1GHz Intel 2nd Gen Core i3-2310M CPU and 4GB of RAM ensure that you’ll be able to surf the web, listen to music and watch movies without seeing a slowdown, and its 500GB hard drive offers plenty of storage capacity. Buyers could do far worse than the ASUS X44L, selling for around $500-$600 in Australia.
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