Home' LAPTOP Magazine : November 2010 Contents AVERAGE BATTERY LIFE (HOURS)
LAPTOP | November 2010
NOTEBOOK BUYERS’ GUIDE
After 15 inches,
this display size is
the most popular
for notebooks in
which we tend to categorize as thin-and-
light laptops. Many business notebooks ship
with this size panel, as do a fair number of
consumer machines, which tend to weigh
between 5 and 5.5 pounds. While not ideal
for frequent fliers, 14-inch notebooks are
portable enough for business travelers and
No other size
close to 15 inches
in terms of popu-
for a whopping 35 percent of notebooks sold
in the U.S. And it’s easy to see why, as 15-inch
laptops are the most affordable (besides net-
books). These systems largely weigh between
5.5 and 6.5 pounds and are designed primar-
ily for home use. Increasingly, notebooks with
this size display squeeze in a full keyboard
and numeric keypad.
placements because they feature big displays
and pair a large keyboard with a numeric
keypad. Weights tend to range from 6 pounds
to more than 8 pounds, which means you’ll
be using these laptops on a desk. Systems
with this size display are great for multimedia
and gaming, but we highly recommend you
spend the extra $75 to $100 for a full HD
screen (1920 x 1080 pixels).
HOW MUCH BATTERY LIFE
If you’ll use your laptop at home most of the time, you’ll
be satisfied with the 3.5 to 4 hours of battery life a 15-inch
mainstream notebook offers. However, if you like to surf
from the sofa or do at least some work unplugged, you’ll
want a system with more run time. For example, the average
14-inch notebook lasts 4.4 hours on a charge, while 13-inch
laptops average 5.6 hours. Those who want to travel light
but still have good processing power shou ld consider 12- to
13-inch ultraportable machines, which average 5.5 hours of
endurance but can last as long as eight. Netbooks offer even
longer battery life, averaging 6.7 hours. The best models
last nearly 10 hours.
WHAT PROCESSOR SHOULD I GET?
The central processing unit, or CPU, is
the brain of your notebook. It executes
the complex calculations that allow you
to launch a web browser, play songs in
iTunes, and run your operating system.
Processors come in three varieties:
single-core, dual-core, and quad-core.
More cores means more power.
To keep things simple we’ll focus on
mainstream notebooks. Those on a budget
will find that Intel’s Celeron andPentium
processors dominate the sub-$500 price
range, as well as AMD’s single-core
Athlon, Sempron, and V Series chips.
Just keep in mind that these CPUs are
designed for casual computing use, not
for serious multitasking or multimedia
For more processing muscle, look for
Intel’s Core i3 (2.13- to 2.26-GHz clock
speeds), Core i5 (1.06 - to 2.53-GHz), and
Core i7 (1.06 - to 2.66 -GHz) processors.
Core i3 processors have hyper-threading
technology for enhanced multitasking,
and you’ll pay about $50 more for this
CPU versus an older dual-core Pentium.
Core i5 CPUs are found in higher-end
notebooks and offer a Turbo Boost that
increases the clock speed when needed.
Core i7 processors pair Turbo Boost
with as many as four cores, which is why
they are targeted toward multimedia and
On the AMD side, premium Turion
Neo X2 and Turion X2 dual-core CPUs
provide better battery life, multitasking,
and multimedia creation capabilities than
lower-end Sempron or Athlon II proces-
sors. The AMD Ultimate line features
Turion X2 Ultra dual-core CPUs that are
designed for high-end gaming and ad-
vanced photo and video editing. Those
looking for even more power will want to
step up to AMD’s Phenom II triple- and
quad-core processors. Notebooks with
these CPUs usually cost less than their
Intel Inside equivalents, but we haven’t
found them to be as fast.
close to 15 inches
300 Notebook Buyers Guide.indd 53
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