TechSpot's Laptop Buying Guide: Q4/2010

By on October 29, 2010, 7:24 AM
When shopping for a new laptop it's important to know beforehand how you plan to use it. Whether you want a multimedia or gaming powerhouse that will only move from your desk occasionally, or something that hits the sweet spot between performance and portability, there are plenty of good options if you know what to look for.

To help ease the hassle of going through countless product pages and bookmarking the ones you like, the TechSpot Laptop Buying Guide consists of a regularly updated list of our favorite notebooks in each of six categories: Thin and light, business or general purpose, desktop replacements, gaming, value/budget offerings, and netbooks.

Here are our highlights for this quarter, we've included a quick description under each laptop to offer some advice on what you should be looking for and what makes it special. That said, if we've overlooked your favorite system feel free to share it in the comments!


Thin and light notebooks serve as a bridge between netbooks and full-fledged laptops, offering a smooth blend of performance, portability and battery life.


Business notebooks offer a combination of mid to high end components with an emphasis on durability, data security and battery life.

Desktop Replacements

With the most complete set of features and performance, desktop replacements often forgo battery life and portability for extra horsepower.


Serious gamers will always lean more toward desktop PCs for their flexibility and sheer power, but if mobility is also a priority, there are some solid choices in this category.


Laptops in this category are usually hot sellers in the back to school season as they offer a good balance of price, features and portability.


Netbooks are perfect as travel companions or secondary systems. Most of them feature 10- to 12-inch screens and an almost identical combination of hardware under the hood.

User Comments: 24

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LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

Julio, more than anything I love the layout of the guide. Its pretty difficult to get lost. I'm looking to get rid of my m11 from dell and upgrade to the "alienware," version. I know I know, dont shoot me down. I need something powerful that's on the go.

ElShotte ElShotte said:

Great, perfect timing on the article. I will hopefully be buying a new laptop mid-next month, this article is great. I would've never looked at Asus' laptops, and they're bad ass, I don't mind spending the money and getting the one you guys mentioned.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

A guy I know has the latest m11 Alienware and actually its fairly impressive! on the resolution on the screen alone it could run Battlefield: BC2 with most settings set to medium or High. for its size its fairly impressive!

Also Julio, this is a great guide! If you manage to get confused or lost you really need some glasses

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Glad to hear you are enjoying the guide, but all compliments should go to Jose who puts all the work behind it. In the case of this article in particular I simply take on the easier curator job .

Johny47 said:

Even though the only time I go out is to ride my bike or college, I would get the Alienware M11x but even though it's very nice looking and runs most games very well I think it's value for money is absolute rubbish, My gaming PC I built cost about £820 overall and can play any game I want at maximum settings and resolution, to have a laptop that can do this I'd need to spend over a thousand... it's just wrong.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thanks for keeping this guide up to date. I send a lot of people to it. So much easier that doing all the research my self :P.

Colonel Lance said:

I would just love to say that these guides are absolutely amazing techspot and keep up the good work. They make it so much easier to find laptop possibilities for the family when they want the resident geek/nerd to find them something. This is my #1 tech spot!

frodough said:

First time seeing this guide, I gotta say very impressed. The 2 gaming models are great covers most bases I can't decide if I want to haul around a bigger laptop or sacrifice the size for smaller screen. Not that im planning on buying one but I can really see that being a big issue for many.

Demons said:

Very good article! I've had my eye on the m11x for a while and I finally picked it up a few weeks ago. I really enjoy it! It's a great machine and the optimus feature is very nice. Battery life is great too! I travel a lot for work so I wanted something small but I still like to game on the road sometimes. The m11x was perfect for me.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Fantastic review! The format is great, and makes it really easy to compare machines. Does anyone know how long the battery in the Clevo lasts? I can't imagine it would be very long, given the desktop processor.

jazboy said:

Very good review. Moreover, I like the presentation of information.

rizalp said:

My favourite are:

Lenovo ThinkPad T410

Asus G73JW-A1

Acer Aspire AS5742-7120

Also, in my country (Indonesia), i know a local brand that sells Core i7 notebook with for 800 USD. Check it here:

And find (ctrl + f) forsa 8683

uttaradhaka said:

Very very good article. I have been reading these kinds of articles in cnet as well, but I have never seen so many awesome laptops listed before. Every laptop in the other sites were deficient in some way, whether it be price, horsepower or battery.

But, in this article, the laptops listed are truly the best of the best. My favorite was the Sony VAIO Z series. Although expensive, it seems like the ultimate laptop.

The laptops in the budget category were awesome as well because they packed a punch, even with the low price

Also, the layout and the structure of the article was second to none.. Good job guys.

lyladeeasperin said:

Wow! Thank you for this article Jose Vilches. I could buy that HP G62t !

I hope I could find it somewhere here in Cebu City, Philippines or maybe in Japan.

It's good to know that the laptops have been categorized according to the needs of a person. I am so glad!

Omnislip said:

Why do you feel that you can rank the netbooks? They are almost exactly the same (except the ion ones obviously) but you missed out the awesomly cheap Samsung NC10

Timonius Timonius said:

Thanks for the info. I like seeing these types of articles updated every quarter. It helps me out when making recommendations to my friends and family!

ALKING said:

Great guide, used it when buying me and my sister's laptop. Keep it up

gayfish said:

Hey why isn't Dell here... just one product.

spyx said:

K so as a gamer I checked out gaming section and to be honest I was very dissapointed with the M11x its kinda ...well I think u can get a normal laptop with good customization to be as fast and maybe better....and because this is "Alienware" it just makes it more expensive...however the Asus seems a good catch....dont know if i can manage it with the money i currently make....but ill try to save up for it....only problem is by the time you get the money a new better usually more expensive one comes out and the games are advancing pretty quickly in terms of requirements.....

Rosey8810 said:

Thanks for posting this, have been looking for a good guide to compare and contrast laptops to help narrow down the field. This is really in-depth, well done

mpribe said:

It would be very useful if you guys could do a write-up on notebook video cards; how they stack up to their desktop versions (i.e. nVidia gtx460M vs regular gtx 460) and how to interpret the naming system. As it currently stands, I assume that the GTX 445m offered in the Dell XPS is inferior to the GTX 460m offered in the Asus g73 because 460>445, but I really don't know how big of a difference there is between the two without benchmarks, etc.


Sauliaks said:

I think there must be Lenovo T410s in the Business class. But maybe there is no other manufacturers to compare with this model. This is exclusively lighter business class model.

Guest said:

Like the fact that there IS a guide, but unfortunately, for me, it is lacking.

Myself, I am looking to find an ultraportable with dedicated graphics, good battery (~8 on 6-cell), not too heavy (~1.5 kg), around $1000 or less. Certainly, there are such offerings. A lot, in fact. It would be nice if you could look into this category, as well. I imagine quite a few might want such a computer.

And, as usual, a lot of these laptops only exist in US. You are too US centered! Lots of deals and stuff, but they're all US only! You need to start focusing more on international.

Andrek Andrek said:

Awesome guide for buying laptops 10/10

just casually saying, if you were to spend over 2k for a laptop - why not buy a beasty desktop that you could get more specs out of from the money

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