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Dell XPS 13 The Dell XPS 13 is tough to beat Among laptops, there's a good assortment of options that deliver the right balance of performance, features and value to fit any computing need or budget. However, if you are looking for a mainstream Windows laptop, ideal for users who need a reasonably powerful system for work or school, the inch Dell XPS 13 Est. The XPS 13 was also an easy choice last year, but the current version has received some upgrades -- including the incorporation of 7th generation Intel Core processors -- to make what was already a great machine even better.
Most other reviewers largely agree. Preconfigured versions are also available from some retailers, but user reviews from those sites tend to be more limited and more lackluster. Based on that, our recommendation is that if an XPS 13 is right for you, get the one that's exactly right for you at Dell's site. In addition to the aforementioned i3, the base configuration comes with 4 GB of memory, integrated Intel HD Graphics graphics and a GB solid-state drive SSD -- no performance powerhouse, to be sure, but still a machine that's more than capable of handling most everyday computing tasks.
That near-borderless display lets the company fit a That display is part of the goodness that was left untouched in this latest incarnation. What is new is improved battery life, thanks to the switch to the latest generation Intel processors and a larger capacity battery; improved performance at least on benchmarking tests ; and better Wi-Fi connectivity -- "The Dell XPS 13's Killer Wireless-AC card, which comes standard on all configurations, is one of my favorite features," Laptop magazine's Spoonauer reports.
He adds that he places the XPS 13 and inch Apple MacBook side-by-side some distance away from his router and that the Dell had "no trouble" loading sites quickly while the MacBook "struggled to maintain a connection. They also note that the i7-equipped configuration it tested lasted nearly 7 hours while continuously playing HD video. His test unit clocks in at over 14 hours in the site's video rundown test.
Now that we've looked at what's new, let's focus on what's not as the Infinity display wasn't the only successful thing about the XPS 13 that Dell decided not to mess with. There's no optical media drive as is par for the course for an ultraportable , but there is a memory card reader. While you can get sleeker ultraportables, at 2.
Like the XPS 13, you can custom configure one at the Lenovo website or buy pre-configured versions at some retailers. However, at the time of this update the latest 5th generation version of this Ultrabook was just starting to reach the retail channel and, while there are lots of fourth generation models available, the newest version remains scarce except directly from Lenovo.
Step up configurations let you boost the processor to an i7, memory to 16 GB , storage up to 1 TB and the display to QHD resolution 2, by 1, pixels.
There is no touch option. That's not a deal killer for many under Windows 10, but still a disappointment in the eyes of some reviewers. Feedback among users is still too thin to be meaningful even at Lenovo's site, we saw fewer than 25 reviews , but most experts like the ThinkPad X1 very much.
Don't let the small size fool you, however. The X1 Carbon is one tough traveler. All reviewers are impressed by this laptop's battery life. In trials at ComputerShopper. A great gaming laptop that won't break the bank The laptops above, regardless of their configuration, share one thing in common -- they are great for every task save high-end gaming. For that you need a laptop with serious graphics chops. For those with more modest budgets, it's possible to get a very satisfying gaming experience while leaving some dollars in your pocket.
The inch Razer Blade Est. Finally, experts say, a real gamer that you can toss into your backpack on a daily basis. Like the laptops above, the Blade is an already well-liked system that's become even better thanks to a jump to Kaby Lake technology.
While that's not all that's been updated, that represents the bulk of the changes compared to the version -- and for many reviewers, it's more than enough. The base configuration comes with a p full HD display, which might seem rather low resolution next to the many QHD-equipped laptops now available, but can be a plus for gaming.
As should be expected with Kaby Lake technology, battery life is much improved over last year's model -- some 40 percent per CompterShopper. Other reviewers test differently and report different run times, but all say that this year's version easily outlasts last year's -- and beats some competing systems, albeit ones that trade a little performance and run time for a higher resolution display.
Gamers are sometimes willing to shell out bigger bucks for laptops that look as hot on the outside as they perform on the inside. If that's you, the Blade might not be the laptop you are looking for. Beware, however, that the black aluminum exterior is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. While not everyone is in absolute love with this gaming laptop, given the price versus performance, gripes are relatively few.
Some complain about the color accuracy of the display, while others have no such reservations. One thing that most agree on is that the there's a bit too much bezel around the screen. In addition, the Razer Blade can run quite hot. Most say that goes with the territory, but a few, such as Laptop magazine, do ding it a little on that score, saying "As pretty as the Blade's aluminum chassis is, it doesn't take much to turn from a cool customer into a hot potato.
The inch Alienware 17 Est. The laptop weighs nearly 10 pounds on average, depending on the configuration and measures Critics and users largely love the Alienware 17, which is now in its fourth revision R4. It's made by Dell, and as noted above, you can custom configure this machine to hit your price and performance sweet spot at Dell's site, or buy preconfigured versions at a host of retailers, including Amazon. But while experts allow that that configuration can handle modern gaming at full HD resolutions, most choose to load their review systems to the gills.
For example, calling the base configuration on the Alienware 17 "decidedly [middling], as far as gaming notebooks go," ComputerShopper. But if that's the neighborhood you want to play in, the Alienware 17 R4 more than holds its own against the competition, with Laptop magazine, for instance, saying that the high end configuration it tests "is up there with the best inch gaming laptops on the market.
However, to be honest, they can be overkill for those who only want a laptop for basic productivity, light duty gaming, web browsing, checking email, and the other basic tasks that are all that many laptop users typically do.
Make no mistake, if you opt for this Acer, you are doing so for maximum value rather than maximum performance, but considering that it's priced in the same range as far less capable systems, such as Chromebooks covered below , that value makes this a no brainer for those who just want a laptop for basic computing.
User reviews are a little mixed -- largely over issues with the display and Acer has been proactive on reaching out to affected users who post negative reviews at Amazon. This inch class desktop replacement laptop packs a hardware lineup that punches way above its weight class. There are plenty of ports, including a pair of USB 3. Wireless The downside to all of this hardware is that this laptop is anything but svelte and light, measuring I The Though not unique among laptops in this price class, a p display is above the norm with many competing models offering only p resolutions.
The color gamut it can produce is "impressive," Piltch says, though the colors themselves are not always percent accurate, and the viewing angle for best image quality is a bit narrow. As noted above, some users report getting screens with dead pixels or horizontal lines. That's relatively rare, but it also means that it's best to buy from a retailer with a strong exchange policy in case you wind up with a lemon.
But that's largely where the bad news ends. Thanks in part to its use of a Kaby Lake processor, performance and, especially, battery life are excellent. At this price point, some corners had to obviously be cut, and that shows up mainly in the build quality.
However, even there, the cuts are not too deep. Finally, experts and users appreciate that this laptop is easier to upgrade than many others. There's a removable panel that grants easy access to the memory slots and the hard drive. You can upgrade the user memory up to 32 GB, and swap out the hard drive for a 2. It drew tons of kudos when it first hit the market, but it's tough to make a case for it today -- unless portability and style are top concerns.
Unlike the Aspire E 15 profiled above, the Asus is pretty totable, measuring Design is more upscale as well. From the outside, the Asus looks like a premium Ultrabook, with its brushed aluminum finish "that looks like it belongs on a notebook that costs twice as much," says Laptop Magazine's Henry T.
Casey It's under the hood where things come up short, with the Asus VivoBook. He goes on to say that performance is roughly on a par with what you could have expected from an "entry-level Ultrabook from a couple of years ago. Connectivity is good, including a USB-C port and a memory card reader. The keyboard is full-sized; some reviewers like the functionality more than others, but all agree it's better than average for a cheap laptop. Battery life is excellent, reviewers say, but some are disappointed that the battery is not user replaceable.
The Asus VivoBook laptop does a good job displaying video on its full HD p , inch display -- with one caveat: The screen is bright and well saturated when looking at it straight on, but the type of panel used limits viewing angles and quality drops off quickly.
Like lots of cheap laptops, user reviews are mixed -- even more so than for the Acer. We saw some complaints at Amazon. Some users also share information regarding a quick and easy fix, while adding that needing to do that to a new laptop is a bit disappointing. The other complaint we spotted was an issue when waking from hibernation.
However, there are also comments that say that updating the drivers to the latest versions will address the problem. A Chromebook to "Flip" over Chromebooks are simple, web-centric, cheap laptops that do basically everything in "the cloud" through Google's Chrome browser.
Don't try it if you need Windows -- it's missing -- or want to run traditional software; there are lots of unhappy reviews from disappointed buyers who didn't understand that going in. Instead, you'll need to rely on a growing number of apps accessible via a mobile-device-like Chrome App Store.
Categories such as business, education, entertainment, games, productivity, social and more are well-represented. What that means, experts say, is if your computing needs are light and you use a laptop mainly for activities such as browsing the web, reading and sending email, watching movies on services like Netflix, keeping up with your friends on Facebook and some casual gaming -- yes, Angry Birds is available -- a basic Chromebook could be all you need.
There are some other upsides to a Chrome-based operating system. When you sign in to the Chrome browser, you'll find all your bookmarks there if you use Chrome on other PCs. Gmail and Google Calendar sync up nicely, too. Google also offers GB of free Google Drive cloud-based storage for two years to Chromebook buyers, which helps ease the pain of the scant built-in storage of some basic Chromebook models.
In addition, some Chromebooks can run your favorite Android apps from the Google Play store, which translates to some added functionality to those Chromebooks that are touch enabled.
You can see a list of which Chromebooks are compatible with Android apps here. Users -- at least those who understand what a Chromebook can and can't do -- are largely happy as well, and this Asus Chromebook earns a score of 4. As was the case with its predecessor, the Flip CCA has a convertible design, sporting a hinge that lets the display rotate degrees to convert to a slate tablet form factor.