Top 5 Notebooks of 2011By Mike Joubert 12 December 2011 | Categories: feature articles
Featuring an Intel Core i7 2630QM CPU rated at 2.0 GHz, this 15" machine impressed from the start. It featured Asus' trademark good looks, a blazingly fast processor and also a keypad to keep number crunchers happy. Those weren't the only people left with a smile, since thanks to a Nvidia GT 540M GPU, it was also capable of doing a spot of gaming. The cherry on top? Sound courtesy of Bang - Olufsen.
We also enjoyed the N53SV's ice cool palm rests, which made typing a less heat-intensive affair, but would have liked a more ergonomically designed keyboard.
"The N53SV's speedy i7 processor and excellent sound combines to make this stylish Asus as comfortable in the office as it is at home."
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
If business is tough on the road, but you still need to make an impression in the boardroom, then the ThinkPad X1 is the machine for you. It might not be the lightest thin-and-light out there, weighing in at 1.72 kg, but it is Chinese computer giant Lenovo's thinnest ThinkPad yet, measuring a mere 17 mm. Featuring a very capable Intel Core i5 2520M processor, the X1 further impressed with a superb keyboard. But it was its ability to take the knocks that sealed the deal, thanks to the ThinkPad's roll-cage protection and a 13.3" Corning Gorilla Glass protective screen.
"Lenovo has managed to trim enough of the excess fat that can turn a notebook bag on the shoulder into a medieval torture device."
Toshiba Satellite L755-17u
When we tested this Satellite L755, we had to do a double take on the price. For a recommended retail price of R7000, do you really get all this? Included was the very capable Core i5 2410M processor enhanced by the excellent Nvidia GeForce GT 525M GPU (with 2 GB of dedicated memory), the striking 15.6" LED backlit screen and a numberpad. Granted we weren't fans of the keyboard or trackpad, but the inclusion of a Blu-ray player on what is essentially a mid-range machine ensured that the Toshiba L755 makes an appearance on this list.
"Toshibas Satellite L755 could be the poster child for what affordable computing could look like."
HP Pavilion dv7
As a desktop replacement machine, one can expect a powerful processor (Core i7 2670QM, running at 2.20 GHz) and a big screen (17.3" HD LED BrightView). The HP Pavilion dv7 delivered all this in a very stylish, brushed aluminium package which proved that big can indeed be beautiful. It will be as comfortable at home as it is in the office, since also onboard are 8 GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 6770 GPU and Beats Audio speakers. Add to this an almost excessive 2 TB worth of storage space for music, pictures and movies, and you have yourself an extremely solid notebook.
"The HP Pavilion dv7 is a massive multimedia powerhouse wrapped up in a very stylish package."
Samsung Series 9 900X
When we first spotted the Series 9 at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, we knew Samsung had a winner. This thin-and-light notebook needs to be seen to be believed, since at 1.31 kg and 15.7 mm it was by far the sleekest unit that arrived at the TechSmart office this year. Featuring a head-turning Duralumin design, the Series 9 has curves in all the right places, plus the specs to back it up.
Processing was provided by the solid Intel Core i5 2537M CPU, while the Series 9 also featured a 128 GB Solid State Drive that allowed it to boot up under 20 seconds from a cold start. Although the mousepad could have been better, and a dedicated graphics card would have helped with gaming, the Samsung Series 9 still comes out on top. Expect a lot more notebooks looking like this next year, as the ultrabook craze heads to SA. [MJ]
"Samsung's 900X notebook is slim, sleek and as much a pleasure to hold and to use as it is to look at."
Read the rest: Top 5 of 2011
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