Multimedia and Desktop Replacements

Laptops in this category pack the most complete feature set. They won't match a high-end desktop in terms of performance, but they can deliver enough computing power for most productivity uses. Desktop replacements usually offer large screens from 15 inches and up, as well as comfortable full-sized keyboards with a separate number pad. As you might expect, they aren't the easiest to carry around however.

The average desktop replacement weighs 6 pounds or more, sports a Core i7 quad-core chip, at least 6GB of RAM, around 750GB of storage, and tons of connectivity. Battery life is not one of their strong assets due to the large display and powerful hardware, so most of the time you'll be looking at three hours of autonomy or even less. Laptops in this category start around $1,000 but fully-loaded models can fetch upwards of $2,000.

Dell XPS 15

81 12 Reviews Dell has upgraded its premium XPS 15 with Intel's second-generation Core processors and Nvidia GeForce GT 500 series graphics, promising even better performance than before. The $1,300 configuration sports a 15.6-inch (1920x1080) display and loud JBL speakers, a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-2620M processor and Nvidia GeForce GT540M graphics, 6GB DDR3 memory, a Skype-certified 2.0MP HD webcam, and a Blu-ray drive.

There's no shortage of ports and media features with HDMI 1.4, a pair of USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, and support for Intel's Wireless Display technology which lets you wirelessly stream content to an HDTV. Although the XPS 15 doesn't have a 3D display like its 17-inch sibling, it can stream stereoscopic video to a 3D-enabled TV using Nvidia's 3DTV Play.

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Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $800 ($1,250 as configured)
Processor: Intel Core i7-2670M 2.2GHz Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT540M 2GB
Memory: 8GB DDR3-1333 Storage: 750GB 7,200RPM
Display size: 15.6" (1920×1080) Optical: BD Combo
Weight: 6.14lbs Battery: ~4 hours

HP Pavilion dv6t

76 13 Reviews The 15.6-inch dv6t is aimed at business users and media enthusiasts. It offers up to six hours of runtime with a six-cell battery or 10 hours with a hefty nine-cell battery, an optional backlit keyboard and touchscreen with HP's touch-optimized apps, up to 1TB of mechanical or 160GB of flash storage. Other perks include Beats Audio, an HD webcam and a fingerprint sensor.

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Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $580 ($1,250 as configured)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2520M 2.5GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6770M 2GB
Memory: 8GB DDR3 (2 DIMMs) Storage: 750GB 7,200 RPM HDD
Display size: 15.6" (1920x1080) Optical: Blu-ray disc player
Weight: 5.8 lb Battery: ~5 hours

HP Envy 17

80 15 Reviews Equipped with the latest Intel Sandy Bridge processor options and AMD graphics, the Envy is a serious multimedia machine. The base 17-inch model starts at $1,400 and comes well equipped with a Core i5-2430M CPU clocked at 2.4GHz, 6GB RAM, a 750GB HDD, Radeon HD 6850M graphics and a full HD (1920x1080) display.

Throw in an extra $75 and you'll get a Blu-ray disc drive. Not much has changed in terms of design, and that's a good thing. The Envy features a laser-etched aluminum finish that covers a lightweight but strong magnesium alloy chassis, which is both stylish and elegant. If portability is a concern the 14-inch Envy is definitely worth a look. It sports a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor and switchable AMD Radeon graphics at a relatively affordable price.

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Quick specs | Full specs Starting price: $1,400 ($1,600 3D model)
Processor: Intel Core i5-2430M 2.4GHz Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 6850M 1GB
Memory: 6GB DDR3 Storage: 750GB 7,200RPM HDD
Display size: 17.3" (1920x1080) Optical: DVD drive
Weight: ~7.35 lb Battery: 6-cell (~2.5 hours)
Other noteworthy desktop replacement options

Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q890

80 A feature-packed multimedia behemoth sporting a large 18-inch display and Intel's Sandy Bridge-based processors. The Qosmio X505 delivers solid gaming performance and a great multimedia experience but has an equally impressive price tag.

Price range: $1,900

Asus N53 Series

Asus N53 Series notebooks offer a well-rounded combination of features for a multimedia-centric machine, with a full HD display, Bang & Olufsen speakers, Optimus-enabled Nvidia graphics, and a good selection of ports.

Price: $900 - $1,030