back to article Ten... Core i5 laptops

After a slight hiccough with its Cougar Point 6 chip-set, Intel’s spiffy new Sandy Bridge Core i5 chips are finally starting to arrive in laptops from all the usual suspects. To herald their arrival Reg Hardware has donned its Phil Drabble cap and rounded up ten of the new breed, poked them with a benchmark stick or two and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    This review needs to be run through a translation service

    1. "The alternative option. Sleek, light, cool but Biblically expensive and not that well spec’d." Translation: "It is cheaper than an ugly Dell Brick with a similar spec, but today we are in an Apple bashing mood".

    2. "Other feathers in the N53's cap include an impressively bright LCD panel with very robust viewing angles" - translation: "The whole train will be able to read your documents".

    3. "Built like a brick privy, Dell’s Latitude will take the knocks from the exec lifestyle" - translation: "This will be the fav choice of desktop replacement for Joe Average Grunt. Exec - some other time. too agrarian for that".

    4. "Oddly, the ThinkPad has a DisplayPort socket but not an HDMI port". Translation: "I am a consumer, get me out of here". In a business environment, people still use DVI and shall continue to use DVI ya know. DisplayPort to DVI (and HDMI) dongles are nowdays commonplace (thanks Apple). "The business laptop personified, with the best keyboard you'll find on any notebook" - exactly. It is Business, spelled with Big B. That is why it has DisplayPort.

    5. "Being a Sony, the Vaio C is full to the gunwales with bloatware: Vaio Gate, Vaio Assist, Vaio Media, Vaio Trouser Press". Finally, this sounds like a register review. About bloody frakking time.

    Overall, I would have expected better from el reg as well as some more proper marks in the 60-70 range. Can we feed this reviewer to the vultures? Please? Pretty please?

    1. Neill Mitchell


      "It is Business, spelled with Big B. That is why it has DisplayPort."

      I've worked in some pretty big businesses over the years and I can tell you now that none that I have worked for have had DisplayPort monitors or projectors. Try turning up at a client meeting without your dongle. Even my wife's Mac centric design company finds this a pain.

      Big business is very conservative. Most still use VGA connectors on their projectors for goodness sake. The more adventurous have gone HDMI.

    2. florian mosleh 1

      i like macs!

      but this is just retarded:

      "2. "Other feathers in the N53's cap include an impressively bright LCD panel with very robust viewing angles" - translation: "The whole train will be able to read your documents""

      sort of like saying

      "This computer provides a means to access the Interwebs!" -translation: "This system provides opportunities to download malware and get your computer hacked."

      Seriously dude, people like you ruin it for us Apple users who have a clue.

  2. James 47

    Acer Aspire - some niggles

    I own the AcerAspire's younger brother, the 5740G. when I bought it I didn't realise that the screen resolution was LIMITED to 1366x768. I assumed it was used when watching HD movies or something and that I could change it to something higher. This makes these laptops really quite unsuitable for doing anything where you'd normally need a decent amount of screen real-estate, such as programming or spreadsheeting, unless you've an external monitor. If I'd known about this I probably wouldn't have bought the laptop.

    AlsoAcer don't give you your Windows installation discs and told me I must pay £50 to get them sent. I assumed I'd already paid for them.

    The HDMI port is Out only so you can't connect it to your HDMI-out phone to view any videos you've recorded.

    1. Jamie Kitson


      For programming or "spreadsheeting" can't you just adjust the font size?

    2. DrXym

      Not unreasonable of Acer

      Unlike CRTs, LCDs have a native resolution, the resolution that has a 1:1 mapping between your desktop resolution and your display's resolution. The display physically can't go any higher.

      Even if your OS allowed itself to be set to a higher res (there may even be hack tools for the GPU which allow this) it would still have to downscale to fit the physical resolution. And yes the answer is to plug in an external monitor or buy some hulking 17" laptop to get a higher res. At the end of the day, it's a tradeoff, although 1366x768 is still perfectly adequate for 720p content and video players would downscale 1080p content to the output window size too.

      I am not surprised by your other concerns. Few laptop manufactures bother providing physical OS disks any more. Most stick the OS in a "recovery partition". Yes it is cheap of them and petty. Perhaps you can back the partition up with with a burner or they provide a tool to do it.

      What you're asking from the HDMI port is never going to happen. HDMI is a client / server protocol. No laptop manufacturer is going to bother implementing some kind of multi purpose HDMI port. Just copy the videos from your phone onto the computer via an SD card or USB cable and play them that way.

  3. hlovatt
    Thumb Down

    Harsh on MacBook

    In the review you slam the Apple for costing a grand, what about the other ones that cost a grand and up: Lenovo, Fujitsu, and Dell.

    None of these have the build quality of the Mac, they are not milled out of a solid Aluminium plate. None have a trackpad that is even worth mentioning in the same breath. None have an IPS panel with a glass front (they have inferior panels covered with plastic). None have a Thunderbolt port. None come with the software that the Apple does, e.g. iLife. Only one comes with the latest WiFi (Fujitsu and is a 300 Mb/s version not 450 Mb/s like the Apple).

    Yet is only the Apple that is over priced? I think that none of these are overpriced, they all have features that are worth a grand.

    Is this more a case of just really wanting to put the Apple down rather than providing a fair review.

    1. Jamie Kitson


      "That’s also a lot of money for a 13in screen with a lowly 1280 x 800 resolution, no USB 3 ports and only Intel graphics"

      I think that's quite clear enough. The screen res is quite shocking, even my 11.6-inch M101z has a 1366x768 resolution.

      The review seems quite balanced to me.

    2. Synonymous Howard
      Thumb Up


      How many of the non-Apple kit will be still usable in 4 or 5 years time? How many will have burnt out or smashed (accidental or MS induced deliberate bashing)? How many will have a 3 digit resell value even 2 years down the road? Sorry but the MacBook Pro is worth the money to me. I hate having to use a work's lenovo, its noisy, dusty, dreadful screen, gets very hot and needs a battery the size of a garden shed to get anything more than 3 hours out of it.

      For me the unibody MacBook Pro is currently the best laptop to own (you can keep your 15-17" monsters .. I don't want to carry those around). Over the next year I suspect the Air will become the best mobile PC to own .. A graphics and speed bump is on its way (next few weeks no doubt) and if it has a backlit keyboard then I'm sold.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        I'm sorry, am I buying to trade or use?

        I have laptops from 10 years ago still working. I pass them down to members of the family when I want something faster.

        Just because Apple fans are prepared to pay over the odds for old equipment when new, let alone second hand does not make them good pieces of kit. It makes the owners people with more money than sense.

        If I was selling the kit, then yes I would want to sell Apple (even when it doesn't work no one minds...), but to use myself? No thanks, after trying my father in laws for a couple of hours I swore I would not buy one. Overpriced, slow and seriously under specified...

      2. JEDIDIAH

        Fanboy silliness.

        > How many of the non-Apple kit will be still usable in 4 or 5 years time?

        Been there. Done that.

        Been on both sides.

        My Apple kit was the stuff that didn't stand the test of time, not my PCs.

        I don't fancy myself a bazaar merchant. I don't expect my machine to be obsolete quickly. So resale doesn't really mean diddly-do to me. The whole "longevity/resale" argument is an obvious contradiction. Either you want stuff to last or not.

    3. DrXym

      You're right

      "Yet is only the Apple that is over priced? I think that none of these are overpriced, they all have features that are worth a grand."

      In Acer's case they think it's only worth £530. I guess they're underpriced. Look on the bright side, that's almost enough saved to buy an iPad if you absolutely had to spend a grand.

    4. Fat Jez

      IPS Panel

      Macbook Pro's use a TN panel, not IPS. Plus I also find the glass really annoying in terms of reflections (probably why I bought a 15" Macbook Pro with AG screen).

      1. Nikolaus Heger

        It's a trade-off

        I love the glossy screen because I can scrub it clean and it's glass so it doesn't scratch. My MBP 17" screen is bright, beautiful, and looks exactly like on the day I took the machine out of the box over 2 years ago. Previous laptops at this age were invariable scratched or had the keyboard imprinted on them from when I stuffed them into bags or tight spaces.

        It's annoying in direct sunlight of course - but at the same time, even an anti glare screen is not *great* in direct sunlight. Certainly better than glossy, but far from good.

        So, it's a trade-off. There is no anti-glare glass screen.

    5. Captain Underpants
      Thumb Down

      @hlovatt - cry harder or get a helmet

      I can't help but notice you don't mention the way that, for all your (incorrect) claims about the 13" MBP having an IPS panel, it still has a fairly crappy screen resolution. It also has a non-user-replaceable battery. It also has a pretty bad business-quality warranty - compare Applecare (which has been improved from the terrible "ring Apple, then take it to the shop, then wait two weeks, then go to the shop, then get it back" service to the still pretty rubbish "ring apple, then get it collected the next day, then wait a week, then get it back) to Dell or Toshiba, both of whom offer very reasonably priced (ie ~£100-£150 at consumer pricing) 3-year Next Business Day On-Site support coverage.

      But no, you keep on crying about how using your MacBook Pro is like getting head while riding a unicorn through fairyland...

      1. Mark 65

        @Captain Underpants and other screen resolution pedants

        "I can't help but notice you don't mention the way that, for all your (incorrect) claims about the 13" MBP having an IPS panel, it still has a fairly crappy screen resolution."

        So the Mac has 1280x800 vs 1366x768 i.e. it is 32 pixels deeper but 86 narrower. Big f*cking deal.

        There could be plenty of things to complain about (Intel graphics vs the old nvidia etc) but that really isn't worth it.

        1. Captain Underpants

          @Mark 65: TBH they're all pretty feeble

          Don't get me wrong, it's tedious that even the 15" models in the review feature a max res of 1366x768 - it's grudgingly tolerable at a 13" size but at 15" higher resolutions should damn well be available.

          I was trying to suggest that claiming the MBP's screen is a selling point when it's got basically the same rather crap resolution as the rest of them is a bit silly.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      if it breaks

      At least if the DELL breaks in the next 3yrs you'll get a little man come out to site to fix it the next day. Unlike the Mac which when it breaks (and it will) you'll need to send it back to Apple to get fix, of coure thats if its within 1yr as after this you're stuffed.

  4. Prodigal Rebel

    HP DV7

    Brand new owner of a HP DV7 (17.3" screen) and very happy with it. After a few days of light to moderate use quite happy with it. Only con point is the blu ray/dvdw combo that becomes very noisy with some discs....

    And laptop screen scales to 1600x900 but it powers an external screen up to 1920x1080...

    Does what i want it to do and then some!

    The Fingerprint is a handy gimick :)

    Oh and i paid about €899

  5. leakyPC

    ThinkPad "with the best keyboard you'll find on any notebook"

    How can it be "the best keyboard you will find on any notebook" when the Left Ctrl button is in the wrong place.

    I hate laptop manufactures who feel they need to place the "Fn" button where the "Ctrl" button belongs, it makes touch typing impossible.

  6. Righteously Indignant

    p**s poor screen resolutions

    What is it with this new fad of crippling every new computer with a 1366x768 screen resolution? Seriously - a resolution that low should be limited to netbooks and screens <12". By law.

    Not everyone is so blind as to need their desktop icons to be the size of their fist - and some people actually like having a bit of screen real-estate to work with. When will the manufacturers realise this?

    I don't care if I have to pay a (small) premium to get a proper screen, but the option should *always* be given.

    (yes, I know the Dell E6420 does give the option - but that doesn't excuse the fact that it is crap and is a total disgrace to the Latitude name.)

    And any manufacturer that thinks 1366x768 is ok on a 15" screen should be banned from making any more computers. Ever.

    1. nichomach

      Upvoted, but..

      You're wrong about the Latitude; it is far FAR better built than previous machines. For all they look square and Thinkpad-ish, the 6400 and 6410 were of slightly poorer quality, as were the D610 and D600. The D620 and D630 were pretty good all round, but the E6420 has build quality and features approximating or exceeding the special ATG semi-rugged versions of those as standard.

      1. Righteously Indignant


        I've been working with Latitudes since the D610-era and (the failing nvidia graphics of the D620/630s aside) they have proven to be pretty solid machines.

        The E6400 is a nice 'professional' looking machine, a look that I think the E6410 enhanced. The E6420, on the other hand, looks bloated by comparison and is actually heavier than the model it is replacing. (seriously - wtf? mil-spec or not they should be reducing the weight) The daft orange stripe around the keyboard (which looks like a tiny island surrounded by a sea of plastic) does nothing for the look of the machine and why is the screen bezel wider than my (considerable) waistline?? Aside from the evident speed boost given by the new Sandy-Bridge architecture I can think of nothing good to say about these machines.

        And don't get me started on the E6320 - again with the screen bezel wide enough to land light aircraft on; the utterly useless 1366x768 screen resolution and the hernia-inducing weight. The E4310 is a better machine.

        Dell really need to up their game. If this 'refresh' had coincided with a change in docking stations (like the move from D series to E series) I would have started looking at alternative manufacturers for my region. I was /that/ disappointed when I unboxed the first one.

        That said... Having seen the results of two E6410s being dropped from only a metre or so I can say they don't bounce very well. Something I am hoping the new E6420 will cope with a bit better. :)

      2. Anonymous Coward

        6420 is better than before

        Agreed we've just had the first of the new DELL's delivered it was a 5420 rather than a 6420 but its far better built than the old 5400. Be good to see what the 6320 is like compared to the old 4310, which most of our users prefer

    2. Anon the mouse

      The thinking must go.....

      If you lower the resolution games run faster on the same graphics chip.

      As the game HUD's will be almost the same size typical consumer won't notice the difference in resolution, but will notice an increase in framerate.

    3. Mark 65

      Re:p**s poor screen resolutions

      I think I recall my shitty old 15" dell that came with Windows 2000 installed had a higher screen resolution than these. Like I stated before, I cannot understand why people are berating apple for 1280 on a 13" screen when these 15"+ screens only have a poxy 1366 which is lower than a circa 2001 Dell. In short, they're all equally shit with regards resolution.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      RE: p**s poor screen resolutions

      ...Not to mention I had 1600 x 1200 on my chunky CRT quite a few years before the manufacturing of notebooks that weighed below 10lbs.

      Yes, yes, it was a behemoth 21" 40lbs beasty CRT, but damn, it was crispy sharp for a CRT. 2 people-transportable, but it was gorgeous. Sturdy desk required.

      And I found a regular TV-monitor combo with 1920 x 1080 in a tiny 32" frame, which is quite rare around here, where they only sell full-HD resolutions in 42" screens. Later I found out that it was sold in the *monitors* section, not in the *TV* section of the store, but it had full-blown analog aerial TV tuner in it, remote and 10W speakers included. At half the cost of a lower-res TV. Go figure.

      Later I found precious little gems like TV-combos in 24" sporting 1920 x 1200. I actually dumped my old 15" monitor and vintage TV and bought one of these, because I loved the idea of reducing the number of monitors in my cramped bedroom.

  7. Jamie Kitson

    annoy me off?

    You really don't need to censor the word ****, we can take it.

  8. Jamie Kitson


    Why isn't the price in the comparison table on the first page?

  9. hokum

    Moaning AC

    "cheaper than an ugly Dell brick"

    Haven't checked Dell's prices lately but wouldn't be surprised if you're wrong. However, I do know that you can get a very nice Sony Vaio S with superior spec for roughly the same price, or even a few quid less.

    Try again, troll.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Score conversion

    For those of you who'd like the review scores in a saner format: <=65% = 1 star, 70% = 2 stars, 75% = 3 stars, 80% = 4 stars, >=85% = 5 stars.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      What about that 90%?

      Is that 5.5stars? 6?

      It's not an improvement.

  11. Hnk0

    some Linux love?

    Tried any of those with a standard Linux install? I'm in the market for a new laptop, but with the current Optimus travails I'm wary... Although the situation seems to improve:

    1. nichomach

      Tried, no, but... least Dell provide drivers for Ubuntu 10.10 via their standard support page.


      Linux Love?

      Try finding yourself a Linux vendor like System 76 or ZaReason.

      Either one of those has some very respectable desktop replacement laptops.

      1. Hnk0

        UK based here

        I don't want to muck around with importing stuff from the US. have very interesting configs that you can customize (SSDs!), but I'm hesitating because of the Optimus thing and all their good machines have Nvidia graphics. Same with Novatech.

  12. Mike G

    Whiny crybaby fanbois

    What a surprise, a flock of whiny apple fanbois up in arms like insulted scientologists because their overpriced underspecced shrinetop doesn't have the reviewer quivering in a post review metrosexual wank-spasm.

    1. ThomH

      Who are you talking about?

      You seem to have some sort of confirmation bias. Scroll up the screen and look at the comments posted before the 31st of May at 13:28 and there's nothing like a flock of anyone in particular, and almost no whining.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    junk, the lot of them

    Any laptop with a resolution of less than 1920x1200 is useless for anything apart from casual web-surfing. Thankfully, I have a 15" laptop with a screen of this resolution, so I'm okay for the moment, but as nobody seems to make them anymore I'm not sure what I'll do when it needs replacing.

    And if Lenovo keyboards are so good, why does the picture seem to show it having a Fn key where the Ctrl key is supposed to be? Utterly useless...

    1. Righteously Indignant
      Thumb Up


      what have you got? I want one!!

      I am tired of these silly f'king1366x768 machines. Bloody smartphone screens are approaching that resolution FFS!

      1. annodomini2
        Thumb Up

        Older business stuff

        Dell Precision M70 - Home

        Dell Precision M4300 - Work

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I have a Samsung R610 16" lappy from a couple of years ago with this resolution and bluray, it's perfect, AND It was only £550 when I got it. I really wish manufacturers would start releasing these higher res screens as the norm.

  14. Peter Bond
    Thumb Up

    Pretty fair I think

    All in all that's a pretty fair round-up and quite amusing in places too. I don't think it's unfair to mention the lack of HDMI on the Lenovo, for that sort of money it should have DP & HDMI. The Macbook review is spot on - yes it's lovely, yes it's way too expensive, and yes Windows and Ubuntu have closed the gab on Mac OS. Shame there's no Samsung or Alienware kit, but like the man says, if you can't get it, you can't write about it.

  15. Al Taylor

    For the record.

    If any of the machines had given me a metrosexual wank-spasm I'd have automatically awarded them 100%.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds familiar

    Did this very merry go round when my bargain bucket Compaq expired recently.

    Went for the Acer in the end and am pleased I did, tried a Sony first in a similar vein but was sadly disappointed in the physical quality of the machine so back it went.

    Acer is solid, resolution is right for the screen size, good battery life, nice keyboard with all the buttons in logical places, useful Fn options too.

    By some bizarre twist also have the Dell as my work machine with a docking station on my desk. Cant really judge the speed as its hobbled to fuck via the medium of Citrix but the lump looks to be a good worker, with the webcam taped over obviously.

  17. Goat Jam

    "If you can’t find what you want here, well there is just no pleasing you"

    I want one without Windows. What's that you say? Windows is a mandatory purchase?

    Well, I guess there is no pleasing me.

    1. Steven Knox

      I'm pretty sure...

      you can get the MBP without Windows.

  18. Anon the mouse

    What about i7s?

    For those prices you can walk into a PC world and grab any of the above with an i7 for roughly the same price

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've got a 13" Macbook Pro at home which is a great general purpose machine. Small, rugged, well-built. My only real complaint is that the shitty form-over-function cooling design means you can't sit with it on your laptop without turning your plums in roast chestnuts.

    I have just taken receipt of a ThinkPad W510 at work....and ahhh, there's something lovely warm and fuzzy about having one of the black bricks back. Built like a rubberised tank, weighs about the same, but the 1920x1080 high gamut display is a wonder to behold. Doesn't cook my nadgers either.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Medion, thus anonymous

    Is a really nice bit of kit. You think that for 500 quid it would cheap and nasty but it is perfect for the price. The harddrive swaps out easily for a 7200 rpm or SSD. I wouldn't pay more for laptop with a resolution of 1366x768. Unfortunately it only has a restore disk with Windows 7 so you can't do a clean install but it's easily wiped and replaced with an *NIX or other flavour. XP works but finding drivers is a bit annoying.

    I've been buying Medions since 2002. Mostly the batteries is the first to go after around 2-3 years. For the price though, you can still use them plugged in and it's still quite a workhorse.

  21. Nikolaus Heger

    How do we get from nearly 10 hours to 112 Minutes?

    The battery test seems rather useless. Consensus on the MacBook Pro is that it lasts just about 8 hours on battery. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less, depending on the kind of testing done.

    But 112 Minutes? Sounds like you were running something full blast until the battery died. Not a useful performance measure. Heck I am a pretty heavy user and getting close to 6 hours out of a 2 year old 17" MacBook Pro. And the 2011 13" is way better.

    In summary your battery test is about as useful as a "how far can we throw this laptop" contest. There are numbers, but they have no meaning.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: 112 minutes...

      If you are a gamer like me, you'll WANT to know how long will the battery go before it claps out, running a game at full tilt.

      I can stretch my oldish Acer battery to 3 hours if I am just browsing or typing, but it becomes a 15 min UPS if it happens to be some gaming going on if I pull the plug.

      I'd be happy with near 2 hours at full blast. Kudos to Macbooks. 3D graphics cards tend to be battery-killers.

      On the other hand, other sites (like Anandtech) test fair-usage and full blast usage of notebook batteries, so you have a valid point.

  22. Marcus 8

    Don't buy the lenovo

    The service is terrible even the 3 year extended warranty.

    My laptop is 7 days old but its spent close to 2 months in either transport to and from lenovo (at my expense both ways) or at lenovo for repair.

    Now its telling me invalid system type and serial number and by the looks of it, it has to go to lenovo to fix that too :(

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Thank you El Reg...

    ...for comparing notebooks and mentioning what kind of graphics cards they are sporting UPFRONT. I just hate any other shopping or review sites that totally FAIL to tell which kind of graphical capabilities you are taking along the rest of the package, specially because these graphical capabilities are non-upgradeable in most models.

    See, the ASUS model is the perfect mid-budget gamer machine: totally average on most tasks, and *quite* a bit of oooomph added on the gaming performance. I was pretty impressed to see the battery faired better than some other models that are not targeted at gaming. Anyways, thanks.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The prices are off....?

    The prices quoted seem off. For instance the Asus on amazon is priced at least a 100 quid more than the review? So where are they getting these prices? thanks

  25. Richard Cartledge

    Macbook 90%

    For me, the Macbook is worth the extra money just for the glass multi-touch Apple trackpad. Any other trackpad I have used (including earlier Apple ones) was anywhere from a slightly frustrating experience to an extremely frustrating experience.

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