Budget & Value-minded Laptops

If you don’t think you’re going to be pushing your laptop to its computational limits (perhaps by playing the latest PC games) and don’t require a featherweight system then the odds are that the specification table below will conform to your needs.

Budget laptops featuring Core 2 Duos still remain in the proximity of $600 and we recommend (if at all possible) you stick with one of these instead of being lured by the usually inferior AMD Turion or Intel Pentium D offers. Granted, if this rig will responsible for email and instant messaging, you can pretty much squeeze by on anything.

Also, as is common knowledge these days, be sure not to accept less than 1GB of RAM for Windows XP and 2GB for Vista, but given the very minor increase in cost I’d aim for 3GB on a 32-bit OS and 4GB on a 64-bit OS, if possible.

Budget Laptop
Standard Laptop
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T5800/T6400 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P7450 2.15GHz/T6600 2.13GHz or better
RAM: 2GB DDR2 667MHz 2GB - 4GB DDR2 667MHz/800MHz
Video: Intel GMA X3100/4500M or better Intel GMA 4500M / Nvidia Geforce 8400M GS / ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 or better
Audio: Integrated audio with microphone and line input/output support
HDD: 120GB+ 5400RPM SATA 250GB+ 7200RPM SATA
Optical: Internal DVD+/-RW
Network: Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Wireless: Internal 802.11 g/n and Bluetooth
Display: 14.1" - 15.4" LCD 14.1" - 17" LED backlit panel
Battery: 4 - 6 Cell Lithium Ion 6 - 9 Cell Lithium Ion

Interfaces you may require:

Express Card slot, 3+ USB 2.0 ports, IEEE 1394 port(s), DVI/HDMI/VGA/S-Video port(s), Cable lock slot, Docking station support, Media bay

Since it’s a basic system, you’ll probably be stuck with some form of Intel GMA but try and opt for anything branded with Nvidia or ATI. If you are in a position to choose between a system with the X3100 and the 4500M, be aware that the 4500M features two additional shaders and a higher clock, so it’s substantially faster than the X3100 but nevertheless neither are adequate for modern gaming.

HDD storage capacity is obviously subjective, however keep the rotational speed at 5400RPM or preferably above that.