Best Intel Core laptops
9th May 2011 | 15:00
Latest Sandy Bridge laptops featuring Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7
Page 1: Intel Core i3 and i5 Sandy Bridge laptops
Intel may have announced its new Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3, Core, i5 and i7 processors in January.
But laptops based on the platform have been slow to emerge - it's only now that we're seeing the results drip slowly into stores.
So here's the best of our reviews so far - now you can choose the Sandy Bridge laptop that's right for you.
1. Packard Bell EasyNote TS13
This laptop features an updated version of the Core i3-2310M CPU, which offers considerable power on a budget. With 4096MB of DDR3 memory also on board, you can comfortably multi-task with applications.
The EasyNote TS13-HR-035 is a great and cheap way of enjoying and editing your media on the move. Performance is strong and the display is satisfyingly vibrant, while usability and a range of useful features are additional highlights.
2. Sony Vaio CA Series – £799.00
The Sandy Bridge Core i5 processor produces some typically stunning performance, with enough grunt to run all of your applications. This is backed up by the dedicated AMD graphics card, perfect for viewing and editing media and even some light gaming.
The Sony VAIO CA series is an appealing prospect thanks to its strong performance and excellent build quality. Most attention is undoubtedly focused on the colourful design, and we're sure that many people will make their purchasing decision based on their immediate visual impressions.
3. Samsung 9 Series – £1,299
Performance is key for an ultraportable laptop, and the 900XSA delivers here courtesy of the Intel Core i5 processor. Everyday performance is all conquering, and graphically the laptop is also very powerful as well. You won't be playing the latest gaming titles, but being able to edit HD movies on the laptop demonstrates the performance available.
The inclusion of a Sandy Bridge Intel processor makes the 900XSA a laptop that's as capable as it is pretty, and those worried that performance might have taken a back seat to form factor needn't worry – this is an extremely powerful laptop, both in everyday performance and graphically.
4. Sony VAIO S Series VPC-SB1V9E – £950
Thanks to Intel's Sandy Bridge technology, the VAIO VPC-SB1V9E can handle anything you throw at it, making this the most powerful ultra-portable laptop we've tested. A dedicated AMD Mobility Radeon HD graphics card means you can even run video editing software and other fairly intensive multimedia applications.
If you want a highly portable laptop that still has enough grunt to run all of your applications, as well as a DVD drive and plenty of storage space, then the Sony VAIO VPC-SB1V9E is a fantastic option.
5. Packard Bell EasyNote TS – £500
The HR040 on test here opts for the Core i5-2410M, a cutting edge Sandy Bridge-class mobile processor running at 2.3GHz. This is, it's worth noting, exactly the same processor as the cheaper of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro models – which is quite the performer.
This is a great machine at a great price. The Sandy Bridge processor inside is astonishing, the case is built well with an excellent full-size keyboard, and if you can forgive a few cut corners, this is an ideal non-gaming laptop.
Page 2: Core i7 Sandy Bridge laptops
6. Kobalt GS150 Optimus – £950
The quad-core processor can easily handle multiple tasks and we were blown away by this laptop's speed, although we did find the same processor performed marginally better in the Alienware M17x and Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI. The Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU is strong enough to run the latest games and multimedia software thanks to its support for DirectX 11.
We were truly impressed by the Kobalt GS150 Optimus, which provides stunning performance, comprehensive features and excellent build quality, all at a realistic price. With next to no flaws to speak of, we can highly recommend this laptop to anyone after a bit of power.
7. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (Core i7) – £1,299
The power of this machine will just leave you gaping. It's 13 inches. It's 2kg. It's desktop-class CPU power. This doesn't just come through in pro applications. This is an incredibly snappy and responsive machine to use for general browsing and casual use. Programs open quickly and there's no waiting when multitasking.
Intel and Apple are on to a winner in this 'small notebook, massive power' form factor. The speed and capability on offer are just superb.
8. Kobalt G150 – £1,700
We can only describe the performance of both the 2630QM and the GTX 485M graphics as utterly outrageous. Many a time has a laptop been described as offering desktop-replacement performance. The Kobalt G150 actually delivers.
It makes for a system that just breaches the £1,700 barrier, but if you want the best, you have to pay for it. If you can afford it, we doubt the Kobalt G150 will disappoint you.
9. Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI – £1,799
The 16-inch screen is this laptop's strongest point. While not the brightest panel we've seen, colours are vibrant, with sharp contrast and deep black levels. The matt finish eliminates reflections, while the full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution means you can watch high-definition Blu-ray movies in all their glory.
Home office performance is also staggering, however. Using a processor from Intel's cutting-edge Sandy Bridge range, complex multitasking is handled effortlessly and few laptops can match this level of power.
10. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Core i7) – £1,849
At £1,849, the new 15-inch quad core Intel Core i7 MacBook Pro isn't cheap, but given the quality and the improvements it has enjoyed over the previous model, it represents very good value for money. It's the most capable MacBook Pro to date, and a real joy to use.
The new Sandy Bridge Core series processors make significant advances over their predecessors, offering simply superb power.
11. Apple MacBook Pro 2011 - £1,919
The 2011 MacBook Pro refresh is far more radical than it might seem. At a glance, the aluminium unibody Apple MacBook Pro line-up – including this top-of-the-range 17-inch model – look pretty much the same as their predecessors. But under the hood, they feature significant and very welcome advances.
12. Alienware M17x - £2,000
Alienware's gaming laptop range has consistently set the benchmark, winning our award for best gaming laptop of the year in 2009 and 2010. The M17x has now been updated with a new design, Intel Sandy Bridge technology and full 3D functionality.
The anodised aluminium design of the original model has been replaced by an eye-catching and hard-wearing rubberised coating, and the design looks great.
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