Laptop Prize Fight

Contenders

Desktop Replacements


Dell Studio 17

You could call the Studio 17 from Dell an "entry-level" desktop replacement laptop: The basic model starts at just $599. That price gets you a dual-core Intel processor, but you can spend more to step up to the mobile Core i7 quad-core chip. You can also opt for discrete ATI graphics instead of the Intel integrated stuff, and you can boost the standard 4GB of RAM up to 8GB. Even fully loaded, the system shouldn't cost more than about $1500. New this spring is a multitouch display option, making this laptop the first from Dell to offer such a feature.


Alienware M17x

Alienware's M17x targets gamers who don't want to compromise on laptop quality. The 17-inch screen supports extremely high resolutions (up to 1920 by 1200). The machine is available with various speedy Core i5 and i7 processors, and you can configure it with one or two Radeon Mobility HD 4870 graphics chips and up to 8GB of RAM. You can even opt for two hard drives in a RAID 0 arrangement to obtain extra speed. The downside? The aluminum chassis pushes the weight up to at least 12 pounds, and the model starts at $1799 and goes up from there.


Asus R.O.G. G73Jh

The sleek matte black exterior of the G73Jh, part of Asus's Republic of Gamers line, is "inspired by the Lockheed F117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter." The laptop's components will inspire high-performance enthusiasts. Asus pairs Intel's Core i7 notebook CPU with 8GB of fast DDR3 RAM and a Mobility Radeon HD 5870 graphics card loaded with 1GB of RAM for blistering game performance. Two 500GB hard drives in a RAID 0 array provide a full terabyte of storage, and a unique ventilation system draws air in the front and exhausts it out the back to keep the palm rest and keyboard area cool. Available early 2010.

All-Purpose Machines

Fujitsu LifeBook T900

You might think that a starting price of $1889 for a 13-inch laptop is excessive, but Fujitsu's LifeBook T900 tablet PC is packed with features. The most notable of these is the reversible multitouch screen (with an optional active/capacitive dual digitizer). The modular bay can hold an optical drive, a second hard drive, or a second battery. With a smart-card slot and VPro virtualization support, this is a flexible, no-compromise tablet that even your IT manager could love, despite its price.


Asus K42F

The impending 14-inch K42F is Asus's first all-purpose laptop to feature Intel's Core i3 and i5 CPUs, which can reach speeds of up to 2.4GHz. The K42F also comes loaded with up to 8GB of RAM. The Core i3 and i5 CPUs contain a new integrated graphics chip from Intel that distinctly improves on previous Intel graphics. Options include a Blu-ray drive, a larger (500GB) hard drive, and an expanded eight-cell battery. At just under 5 pounds with the standard six-cell battery in place, it's not especially bulky, and it offers good performance for around $1000. Available early 2010.

Toshiba Satellite M505

Starting at about 5.1 pounds, this new version of the M505 (it succeeds last summer's M505-S940 ) is an average-size laptop that highlights such media features as Harmon-Kardon speakers and a 1366 by 768 screen resolution. You can get the M505 with Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, or an AMD M520 CPU. Toshiba lets you upgrade the integrated Intel or AMD graphics to nVidia discrete graphics for better 3D performance. If you're interested in Windows 7's touch features, you can go for an optional multitouch screen. How much you get depends on how much you want to spend over the $699 base price.

Note: For more information on notebooks, see our buying guides and charts (under "Before You Buy") at our Laptop Products Center.

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