There have been a lot of recent changes in the laptop market over the past few years, and there is always the possibility that there would be some confusion as to the kind of notebook that you need to purchase. After all, today’s models consist of everything starting from the business faceted ultraportable laptops to the feather-weight category that normally comes in at about 2 pounds of weight. There are also gaming laptops that weigh about 10 pounds and more.
The laptop that was once considered a standard does not look the way it once did, and there are a variety of designs, which are convertible that can be straight away different from the norm. You can take advantage of the touchscreen laptops. There are also some laptops that double up as tablets, and also come with hinges that can bend and fold in all angles. The touch-enabled personal computers have now been transformed into tablets that come with additional hardware keyboards that can be made use of just like a notebook. Simply speaking, for the normal person, there is way too much variety to purchase a single laptop for a single size and style.
This is why the buying guide would come in handy for such people. We take the opportunity to give you a heads up on the latest design and specifications, give you an indication about the current trends, and also help you figure out the kind of laptop that you need and really want.
Best Laptop Complete Guide
Windows Operating System and Touch Interface
The Microsoft Windows 8 was built with a single-minded interest to make it more touch friendly. However, the general consensus about the interface was that it wasn’t up to the mark, which is why they made Windows 10 in a hasty conclusion. These days, you would find a lot of people making use of the Windows 10 as their primary operating system in their new laptop. The features of Windows 10 ensure that you can combine all the fine user interface elements from Windows 8, along with the necessity of not having to rely upon the touchscreen. Windows 10 can be addressed in this forefront, as it has brought stability to the touch interface. As a result of this action, there are more laptops coming out in the market, which feature new touchscreens, and for those that do not have the facility, they come about with similar functional laptops.
If you happen to be looking out for such a Windows laptop, going for a touchscreen enabled laptop is highly recommended. Most of the entry-level models come within the price range of $150-$300, and they contain the necessary touch displays along with a wonderful Windows experience that is extremely intuitive to the input of touch. Yes, the gaming machines will be much costlier, and devoid of any touch input, as this would interfere with the precision needed to play games.
If you walk down any aisle of laptops, you would notice that there are a few laptops, which are extremely thin and sleek. These represent the newest form of ultraportable laptop; a laptop that is extremely light – enough to carry with you, contains a long-lasting battery, and enables you to work even when there is no power outlet. It has extremely fast storage, which is normally due to the 128 GB or 256 GB SSD (solid-state drive), or for more affordability, you could go for the 32 GB or the 64 GB eMMC flash drive. These ultraportable laptops have the ability of resuming work within a few seconds of remaining idle, or even if they have been in sleep mode for days on end. The marketing focus of Intel has migrated from the traditional convertible laptop into something which is referred as the 2 in 1 category devices. However, the ultraportable laptops are a distinct category.
The entire category has been thinned down to suit your needs. So, if you’re looking out for a silver 10 ultraportable, a mainstream computer, or even huge gaming rigs, there are lighter laptops which will be suitable for each and every purpose. They are thinner as well, and contain an extremely good battery backup. Going for the best models will definitely cost you a substantial amount of money, particularly if you happen to be looking out for a business system that does not weigh as much, and will be able to offer you a remarkable performance. Coming down to specifications, it contains a touchscreens with about 1080p resolution, HDMI ports, as well as a minimum of eight hours of battery backup. The premium laptops come with premium prices, and contain high-resolution displays, at least 3840 x 2160 resolution along with 4K.
Hybrid Laptop Designs
The noticeable emphasis on the various capabilities of the touchscreen has done a lot to encourage the people to adopt touchscreens. This is why there is an influx of people looking at the categories of tablet hybrid, which have the capability of transforming from a laptop to a tablet and back again. Most of them come with a folding design that can be taken apart from the keyboard and used as a tablet.
There are other systems that are also known as detachable hybrids which will allow you to use a docking station for a personal tablet computer and come with the compatible keyboard to perform laptop-like functions. These designs come with secondary batteries for the external accessories, and can provide a charge that can last for an entire day. Other people prefer to opt for Bluetooth keyboards, thereby forgoing the need for any docking station and connecting wirelessly to the product.
Even though the entire laptop category has simply become thinner, the market also has a lot of interest for the replacement of the large desktops with laptops that offer premium design and functionality. The text replacements cannot be carted in the same category as ultraportables, but they offer functionalities like a 14 inch or a 15 inch screen that is needed in an everyday personal computer. They contain bigger displays, and have a wide selection of ports along with a whole range of other features. Some still offer optical drives, and gaming resolutions normally run in the peripherals of 1366 x 768 for the budget system, and 1920 x 1080 to 3840 x 2160 for the high-end multimedia laptops intended for gaming and multimedia purposes.
Gaming and Media Laptops
With the sales of laptops and desktops looking at a steady decline in the recent years, the sales of tablets have been able to fill up the gap. However, the gaming PC has witnessed a resurgence in sales. For a new game that requires an excellent performance, the combination of going for a high-end processor, a top-quality graphics card, and a large resolution is well worth the money spent. Moreover, these prices are not something small, but rather large; for example, you can expect to pay $799 for an entry-level gaming laptop, which can go up to $3500 or more for a high level multi-GPU enabled gaming laptop with the appropriate power.
However, before you end up dropping precious money on a gaming laptop, you need to know the specifications of it. Quad core processors are at par with the price, and Intel core i7 or the AMD A10 chipsets can push a serious performance, even for other applications. GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD can provide wonderful graphics and excellent frame rates. Models with an additional GPU can provide a silky smooth performance, which truly justifies their high price. There are additional features like high resolution displays, as well as hard drives with 1 TB capacity or more, and a local storage which can keep track of your entire gaming library on the machine itself.
However, not all gaming laptops that you encounter are big in size. There are also various sleek designs of the ultraportable laptop that have given rise to a new quality of machines. These machines have the capability of producing gaming level performance in portable designs with long-lasting battery life that has not been previously seen in this category. But such high-level performance does not come for a low price; most of them run in the range of $2000 or more.
Chromebooks happen to be extremely cheap compared to the current high-end gaming laptops generation. These are laptops, which are based on the chrome operating system, and run from $150 to around $500 in pricing – a good price range for parents who are looking to spend a bit of money on their kids. However, there are various models that you can find in the middle range. Chromebooks are extremely power efficient models, and they have been created solely for the purpose of surfing the Internet with the help of the chrome operating system. They are extremely small in size, but very large in terms of computing capabilities. Their capabilities are limited, and the chrome operating system is essentially the Google Chrome browser running on considerably low hardware specifications. The typical system memory will be 2 GB, and the local storage will mostly be limited to around 16 GB of flash memory. However, that is more than enough to take on the might of the Internet and make use of all the cloud-related services like Google Drive in order to store your files.
One of the primary benefits of the chrome operating system is that it happens to be immune to all the malware, which normally happen on the Windows operating system. The Chrome operating system also takes updates within seconds, rather than having to wait for some hours like the Mac OS and Windows. So, if you spend over 90% of your time in the Chrome Web browser, then using a chromebook as your primary personal computer should be your best bet.
Features to Consider
In today’s world, connectivity happens to be the main agenda for the modern laptops. Each and every other model that you find in the market offers Bluetooth, so as to connect the peripherals wirelessly. Internet connectivity also comes with the 802.11n Wi-Fi, along with the latest 802.11 AC standard, which are found in various systems. Any modern laptop should be compatible with pretty much any router. Broadband options for mobile that don’t have Wi-Fi hotspots like 3G, 4G, 4G LTE and 4G HSPA+ are also evident, but they are extremely rare, as most of the people opt for the mobile hotspots so as to work with several devices, instead of having to go for a second mobile contract.
The ultraportable laptops as a replacement for desktops depend upon the USB connectivity in order to work with a broad range of accessories. The USB 3.0 offers extremely good data retention, transfer speed and a lot of other functionalities. It is much better than the USB 2.0 which can be found in the older versions. USB 3.0 are normally identified by the color blue or being labeled as SS (an acronym for superspeed). There are also USB ports that come with the eSATA to connect the external hard drive, while many people can also charge their handheld devices like MP3 players and mobile phones using these ports. All you need to do is to look for a lightning bold icon located next to the USB logo to see it is the 3.0 version. Companies like Apple, Lenovo, HP have implemented the thunderbolt and the thunderbolt 2 feature, which are even faster than the current USB 3.0, and are mostly used for docking stations, storages and monitors.
USB-C along with the thunderbolt 3 promises for extremely good performances from peripherals such as the hard drives, as well as from chargers. As soon as the laptop starts becoming thin (the current benchmark is 0.67 inch), there would be even less space for the larger ports like HDMI and Ethernet. As a result, the traditional USB Type-A would slowly get replaced by the USB-C port, which is also known as USB 3.1. It is much slimmer, and will be able to let you plug in the cable without having to flip the orientation in the plug. Thunderbolt 3 walks in the same pattern, and makes use of the same plug and socket by providing humongous data transfers along the lines of 40 Gbps. That is about eight times faster than the current USB 3.0 and about four times faster than USB 3.1. These ports are normally to be found in budget models of laptops starting from $229 to about $5000 for mobile workstations. They will gradually be introduced in the laptops in the near future.
The VGA interface happens to be rapidly disappearing, and it is mainly due to the space problem in ultraportables. New monitors, as well as projectors will actually work better with the help of the display port or HDMI. The latter option happens to be especially popular, due to the growing demands for HDTV. The Intel Wireless display or WiDi , along with HDTV set fittings with a third-party adapter will also get the work done. Sometimes you also get laptops, which will be able to support Miracast, which is a wireless display standard that works with a wide selection of the latest devices including like TVs, tablets, laptops and mobile phones.
Another feature becoming rare in computers is the optical drive. With many of the purchases of software and games happening online, the use for cloud services have taken over the need for local applications. It is mainly due to this reason that the optical drive has been taken off from various model lines. It has been replaced by some lighter form factors. For those that are still in need of installing software from a DVD, or enjoying a movie from it, they can still find models that have optical drives, but it will take some hunting. If you don’t have an optical drive in your laptop, the external USB DVD and the Blu-Ray drives can get the work done.
Premium ultraportables will be able to rely upon the SSD to get a performance boost. This is noticeable in most of the mainstream systems that can bring about a combination of an extremely speedy flash drive and the traditional hard drive with spinning metallic frames. These hard drives can offer storage capabilities of upwards to 500 GB, while SSD hard drives can max out at 256 GB or 512 GB. There are also some premium systems which come with 1TB or larger capabilities which are scheduled to come out later this year. However, the trick is to use external USB 3.0 hard drive if you need more space.
The most dominating processor chips come from the Intel factory, which has been releasing the sixth generation codenamed “Sky Lake”. It is made to work in ultraportables, as well as on the hybrid design of the laptops that come along with the new CPU. It can be identified by the 6000 as opposed to the 5000 in previous models. According to Gizmodo, it stretches the battery life, boosts raw performance and graphics processing. Core M happens to be another extension from Broadwell, and it will be trading the performance for the ultimate battery. AMD has its own line of processors, which provide an enhanced performance at extremely low prices. However, they are still unable to match the efficiency gains of Intel.
So, whether you go for a Sky Lake, Haswell, or for that matter Broadwell chips, from the Intel factory or the latest APU from AMD, you shall be able to find an integrated graphics subsystem that can take on the might of graphical tasks. That is unless you happen to be a CAD user or a part-time gamer. Going for a high end GPU is always terrific for the 3-D games, or watching Blu-ray films, but the fast processors also take a lot of strain on the laptop batteries. AMD Enduro, BDA Optimus and the Apple automatic graphics switching technologies are used in order to enhance the battery life by seamlessly switching from integrated to discrete graphics, depending upon the demand of the application.
There are various laptop designs which can incorporate the non-removable lithium ion batteries. This makes it impossible to swap them. The possibility of removing the battery to ensure that it can go for a longer charge becomes redundant. On the other hand, with the efficiency gains of the newest processor from Intel, most of the laptops will be able to last for the better part of the day.
As much as the design keeps on getting slimmer and sleeker, manufacturers are making use of a wide array of materials for the construction of laptops. Plastic, or for that matter polycarbonate happens to be the least expensive option, and is used in the laptop frame. However, most manufacturers have been able to improvise and make sure that the plastic does not look like a cheap variety. One of the common techniques used would be to go for the declaration of the mold. Companies such as HP, Acer and Toshiba made this process popular. It involves using decorative patterns infused between the layers of plastic. This process has brought different imprints, as well as textures on the lids of the laptop.
In the end, one could say that plastics are associated with the extremely low price laptops and that the high cost ones allow for the reliance on metal. The premium choices will always be aluminum, which provides a wonderful look to the laptop, and can be fashioned into a very thin chassis. Going for a unibody construction that the entire chassis is made out of a single piece of metal has already been replicated by the Apple MacBook Pro. The other designs that came to replicate the same look as this ensure that they can sandwich both layers together. Other materials used for the build of chassis include magnesium alloy, as well as carbon fiber. They have the required composite strength, while keeping the overall weight of the laptop extremely low. Glass has also been used in order to undertake the covering display, but the strong variants such as Gorilla glass used in mobile phones are a more common material.
Most of the laptops that you purchase come with a guaranteed one-year warranty. However, this is a limited option, and it would not cover the spillage of drinks or food into the system. There are various laptop manufacturers, which provide accidental coverage on a separate plan along with the option of extended warranty. Having to spend about $300 for three years of comprehensive coverage is a wonderful thing. Apple offers the best warranty, which stands at $250 for a three year extended warranty, while the Windows based manufacturers offer up to 4 years.
Always remember that if a warranty ends up costing more than 15% of the total price of the laptop, it is better for you to spend that money on purchasing backup drive or other services to minimize downtime. Of course, there is no price that can be set on the peace of mind. One of the most costly, expensive item in the laptop happens to be the logic board or the display. Any kind of fail, and it would cost you a lot of money to get it repaired. However, if it is attributed to a design flaw, then the manufacturer of the laptop will offer you a free warranty to cover those flaws. But this will only happen on certain models and during certain time periods.
Best Laptop Reviews
1. Razer Blade (2016) Review
With its distinct Blade line, Razer has been able to consistently offer premium quality laptops, and the latest 2016 version is not something different. Well, the entire chassis has been made out of aluminum, and it looks extremely luxurious and attractive. There are muscle lines located in the late, and the green Razer logo is located right in between. It measures about 0.7 by 13.6 by 9.3 inches, and weighs only about 4.26 pounds. This is quite impressive for a laptop that can enable you to play serious games. The die mentions are just similar to the last year’s blade, but slightly heavier.
Compared to the larger 17 inch screens found in most of the gaming laptops, this 14 inch screen has been compromising in the size, but makes up for the design. There are various gaming laptops not designed to take on travel, but the Razer blade is seriously something that is very easily transported. It is this portability that appeals to you, even though it contains a smaller screen. Being only 14 inches, it is the one of the smallest displays that you can find on gaming laptops. However, the outstanding resolution of 3200 x 1800 along with touch capability makes up for it. The 2015 edition of blade included a touch display, when most of the other gaming laptops didn’t support the touch input. The screen looks effectively shut, and it can get pretty bright and filled with vibrant colors. It is mainly due to the indium gallium zinc oxide technology. The high resolution is extremely good in comparison to the other gaming laptops.
It is worth mentioning that the high screen resolution can be strained full on the overall system resources, making it very difficult to run full-scale 3-D games at absolute resolution. Even with the various high-end laptops, which happen to be more powerful than the last year’s, one cannot go for such specifications or pull it off with full HD and maintaining a smooth frame rate. The technology of QHD as well as the 4K resolution looks extremely nice, but it will have a serious impact on your gaming if you force yourself between choosing a lower resolution and trying to downgrade some kind of visual effects. That being said, it is the QHD + ceiling that can allow you to go as high as you would want in terms of settings, or when you want to use less strenuous applications, and it still lets you drop down to the 1080p when needed. The performance section below can help you understand how this laptop handles the resolution for gaming.
The keyboard happens to be a standard feature, and borrows heavily from the blade stealth model. With the latest Razer software, you will be able to customize the lighting as well as the functionality of the individual keys. Various gaming laptops have integrated such lighting factors across the entire keyboard or per key backlighting according to the model. Now, the Razer blade has followed up. You can set certain effects, as well as go for a constant ripple effect or a color cycle along with various patterns. The keyboard feels extremely good, and can prevent input jamming due to the support of the anti-ghosting feature. The touchpad is built with a robust outline, and will be able to track the input extremely good. The bad thing is that it does not click as mouse buttons, because the Razer has been able to opt for a dedicated left and right-hand mouse buttons. On the other hand, the keyboard comes with the Speaker strips, which produce a wonderful rich sound and can get quite loud for a system of this size.
In terms of storage options, it comes with a 256 GB solid-state drive, which is excellent considering the slim build. The system is also available with 512 GB SSD for about $200 more. More and more new games are nearing the 20 to 30 GB file size and the storage seems to be running pretty low after installing a few games. Most of the lesser portable systems managed to go for 500 GB or 1TB hard drive, in addition to the SSD packet. With only about 256 GB, you might have plenty of room to keep all your favorite games on the primary drive. The connectivity issues are no longer a problem because of the excellent and versatile connections located on the left side. You have USB 3.0 ports (2 in number), a single power jack, as well as the audio jack. On the right-hand side, you have one USB 3.0 port, along with a HDMI port and a USB –C that comes with thunderbolt 3 ports. This is a very useful addition. It also contains 802.11 ac wireless solution, Bluetooth 4.1, as well as TPM 2.0 security chip. Various applications and programs such as the Razer synapse and the Razer comms are pre-installed in order to manage the customization of the keyboard, along with the in-game communication covered with a one-year warranty.
This version of the Razer happens to be equipped with the 2.6 GHz i7 6700 high-quality processor, Nvidia GTX 970M graphics card and 16 GB RAM memory. Virtual RAM has been doubled in capacity from 3 GB to 60 GB from the last year version. It does not have the premium graphic cards, but then again it can certainly enable you to play gaming titles much better. The Nvidia GTX 970M is not the first recommendation, but it can certainly keep the entire price down for the laptop. For some of the most demanding 3-D games, the 2016 Blade happens to be extremely suitable, as it comes with high settings and 1080p support. This will depend upon the kind of game that you play, as the Blade will be able to run older games with extremely high fidelity, but it does have a sweet spot for the modern titles with the hardware in question. It did not get hot during the testing phase, and the cooling fans are located in the bottom arena of the laptop. It did not pose any problems during the testing phase. You can certainly hear all the fans working together in order to cool the system.
Being an ultraportable laptop, the battery life is something that is much better quality than in most of the other gaming laptops. It clocked an impressive five hours and four minutes on the rundown test, which is comparatively better than the previous year’s version. The new Razer Blade, just like its previous version, is a very capable gaming laptop, and comes with a reasonable build. The performance happens to be marginally improved, but it costs about $400 less than the previous year’s model without any compromise on the hardware. It also happens to be a few pounds lighter, making it a laptop, which is not traditional, but can offer a bit of power when necessary.
2. Dell XPS 13 (2016) Review
There is never a right time to select an electronic gadget. Given that the Dell XPS happens to contain a brighter screen, has a longer life, and comes with a new USB- C port that comes along with thunderbolt 3 and the latest of Intel six generation core series CPU, this is truly a magnificent purchase. Dell has been able to regain all the features that were previously liked in the other models, and it includes a wonderful fiber body along with a wonderful backlit keyboard. The location of the web cam still feels a little out of place, but the XPS 13 certainly rules in the laptop segment.
Just like the previous product, the current XPS 13 comes with carbon fiber, which is sandwiched between the metal lid and the bottom, and it creates a wonderful appeal. Attention to detail has been the primary point of Dell, and one could see the bottom mounted aluminum flap, which only has the sole purpose of covering up the service stickers and all the other labels from the Federal Communications commission. As soon as you open the lid, you find that the Dell infinite display features a non-existent Bezel which starts to fade into the background. It happens to be intimate, as well as engaging, and the video player seems to be hovering in the midair. The display isn’t just about the looks. The XPS 13 comes with a small size display. It measures in about 12 X 7.9 x 0.33-0.6 inches, and weighs only 2.7 pounds. This is smaller than most of the other 13 inch laptop systems in the market.
The Dell XPS 13 comes with a backlit keyboard along with two levels of lighting feature. The Dell XPS 13 certainly compensates for the shallow 1.2mm travel keyboard, by adding a good spring to the keyboard stroke. It is not at all a painful process anymore. The 4.1 X 2.3 inch touchpad has a wonderful smooth and Matt finish surface that would be able to capture the mouse movements, the gestures of multi-finger, and it responds very quickly as well as accurately. The best feature is the touchpad mouse click, which can provide a wonderful and satisfying snap sound every time you press it down. The Dell XPS 13 has a 13.3 inch quad HD screen with a 3200×1800 display, and has a touchscreen which is a wonderful sight. It contains wide range viewing angles, and wonderful brightness, as well as a good color range. This is a wonderful HD version of the premium notebook that you would have wanted to purchase.
The stunning result is that the picture starts to lag behind only after the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. When you compare the two products side-by-side, you would find that the non-touch XPS 13 is inferior to the quad HD model in terms of color saturation and brightness. However, the non-touch model also exhibits a lot less glare. When you measure it with the help of a light meter, the XPS 13 seems to produce about 336 nits of illumination. That is more than the yoga 900 (284 nits), as well as the non-touch XPS 13 (318 nits). However, the surface book (387 nits) has the highest value amongst the lot. The color range of the XPS 13 seems to be on point, covering about 103.6% of the sRGB spectrum. There was a significant reduction in the spectrum of colors in comparison to the MacBook Air 13 inch.
Although the size is not premium, the XPS 13 still had a lot of sound. It is better than the average bass, and the overall volume certainly surprised the testing labs. However, it could use a lot more crispiness and percussion. The touch version of the XPS 13 seems to omit a lot more heat than the non-touch model. The hottest spot happens to be on the bottom right corner at about 97°, which shouldn’t be a cause for a concern and can always be solved with a cooling pad. The XPS 13 has the reversible USB –C port that comes with thunderbolt 3 support. Although it does not take from the laptop charging, this connection can transfer data at humongous speeds of 40 Gbps, as well as output video through a 4K display with a single cord.
The XPS 13 also contains the traditional USB 3.1 port along with an SD card reader and a headphones/mic jack. The web cam of XPS 13 is located just beneath the display. 1280 x 720 happens to be its screen resolution, and it features dual mics during the audio video calls, making it a bit awkward as you always have to be looking at the bottom left corner. The two versions of Dell XPS 13 were tested, one with the touchscreen, and one without, and each of them featured hardware in the form of six generation 2.3 GHz Intel core i5 6200 U processor along with 8 RAM and 256 GB PCIex4 SSD. In the test mentioned, the machines had multicast, as well as streamed videos, and the numbers were granted. Even with going for multiple 1080p 60 fps streaming, there was no hint of any slowdown. On the Geekbench 3 test that was conducted, the XPS 13 made a score of 6,374. The MacBook Air with the older generation core i5 CPU did not perform well.
We made use of open office in order to create a spreadsheet containing 20,000 names and addresses, and XPS 13 managed to finish the task in about four minutes and 28 seconds, which is much better than most of the ultraportable models. The Intel high definition graphics 520 located in the Dell XPS 13 can handle most of the mainstream games. Games like World of Warcraft ensure that the laptop can handle a playable frame rate of about 40 frames per second. The 3-D Mark test ensured that the Dell XPS 13 posted a score of 783. The non-touch version of the Dell XPS 13 had a battery life of 11 hours and 54 minutes, which comprised of web surfing with the help of Wi-Fi.
The latest version of the Dell XPS 13 continues to be one of the best in the laptop class. It has a wonderful chassis that is smaller than most of its competition, has a wonderful performance, and a beautiful touchpad and keyboard. The only thing to be said about the Dell XPS 13 is that it is a competitor in itself. The Quad HD display features a touchscreen, which is excellent in color and vibrancy, while the non-touch model lasts at least four hours longer. So, if you want the best ultraportable laptop on the market, then the Dell XPS 13 is your obvious choice. It has a wonderful display, excellent looks, and portability that cannot be beaten by any other model. The non-touch model is especially good for the college students. It contains a long battery life, has wonderful Matt display, and a very easy to read interface. It also makes it easier than the touchscreen portion to read and play games. For those looking to undertake scientific studies, the Dell XPS 13 would be a good thing in terms of video editing, photo editing, and general graphic design tasks.
3. Razer Blade Stealth Review
The Razer blade stealth 4K UHD is often considered to be a very high-end ultraportable laptop that consist of extremely good hardware. It has been built with impressive features catering to the gamers by containing a very attractive 4K touch display and the world’s first RGB keyboard that comes with individual backlit keys which can be customized. It has the potential of becoming a wonderful gaming system, but without the external graphics card amplifier of Razer, this cannot be fulfilled. The Razer core which is yet to be announced will provide the laptop with premium features.
Razer is planning to launch the external graphics amplifier, nicknamed the core, sometime within this year. It is a unit that will be able to house virtually any kind of text top class Nvidia or AMD graphic cards, it will be able to connect to the blade stealth with the help of USB-C consisting of the thunderbolt 3 port. With such speedy components, the laptop will be able to play any kind of demanding games on the high settings when it is combined with such powerful text of GPU features. However, right now, with the intended graphics, it is only a high-end ultraportable laptop. It is this combination that becomes pretty expensive, particularly if you go for the premium graphics card, which seems to be very pricey. The laptop in itself is pretty impressive; you just have to keep in mind that it is not yet a gaming system.
The laptop contains a wonderful attractive system with an aluminum body, as well as the lid which bears the familiar muscle line of the Razer logo. The keyboard is also bordering on containing speakers strips on either side, and the power button is simply located above it. This 12.5 inch laptop is about 0.52 x 12.6 x 6.1”, and weighs about 2.81 pounds. It contains a metal build that has wonderful high-quality feeling, and it will be very easy to carry around in a single arm. It is likely smaller than the Dell XPS 13, but the difference is pretty negligible. Basically, aside from the fact of form, the 12.5 inch contains one of the major attractions, which is the Ultra HD 4K resolution screen. The 3840 x 2160 resolution is extremely good in terms of colors, vibrancy, and it will also be able to feature multi-touch capabilities. It also happens to be quite bright, and it is mainly due to the indium gallium zinc oxide technology. Razer has been able to claim the perfect RBG coloration for this laptop. The keyboard of this model can be customized with the help of company’s software. The keyboard can be backlit individually, and you will be able to see all the effects on the color separately, something which may not be possible to witness in another keyboard. Synapses happen to be one of the best-known hardware packages, and it contains an easy-to-use interface along with an introductory guide. 16.8 million Colors are there to choose from, along with the lighting effects and the ripple effects, all inclusive of the part of the keyboard. The lighting happens to be pretty bright, and it can be adjusted according to several levels. It takes customization, but it is extremely straightforward.
When you’re typing on the keyboard, it feels surprisingly very good. If you’re looking to travel, then this set of keyboards will definitely help you to travel and get your typing underway. The keys are sized very nicely, and are extremely good and well-spaced out, compared to all the other laptops, particularly the Toshiba Satellite radius 12. The Apple MacBook almost requires no physical travel, and it can be extremely off-puting for certain people using the keyboard for extended durations. The touchpad is extremely well maintained, and it contains a lot of room, particularly for the small system. It can be pretty quick and decisive, and you will find the entire touch to be extremely small. The speakers are also pretty powerful, and are able to get the perfect audio. However, the audio can be a bit fuzzy during the maximum volume stages, but other than that, it does contain a lot of good factors. There is no presence of various ports, but the essential USB-C port along with the thunderbolt 3 port can be found in the product. This ensures that the data transfer can happen in the speed of 40 Gbps. It can be connected to the Razer cord, and the system will be able to draw power from that particular charging port. The left side also contains a USB 3.0, as well as the headset jack. In the right side, you have the Bluetooth 4.1 along with the Wi-Fi connectivity that comes along with the trusted platform module and a security chip mainly used to stay secure. The company offers a one-year warranty on the laptop as well.
The product is equipped with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U processor, 8GB of memory, and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520. Without the presence of the Razer Core, the system will not be able to handle any kind of high-end gaming, but the rest of the components happen to be pretty fast. Also one is to understand that using the 4K display can be pretty demanding on a system too, so the scores are particularly brilliant. The system scored 2,411 points on the PCMark 8 Work test, which is not far behind the Dell XPS 13 Touch standing at 2,450 points. As mentioned earlier, the high fidelity 3-D games happen to be out of reach for the integrated graphics, but the less demanding games can easily be played with a little bit of tweaking. The laptop has got a decent bit of 19 frames per second, as well as 23 frames per second on the various gaming tests, when the settings are set to medium quality. It still crawls back to 1 FPS when it comes to the ultra-high settings.
The multimedia score can aptly demonstrate the capability of the hardware of this particular laptop. The laptop finished the Handbrake video-encoding test in 2 minutes 25 seconds, the Photoshop test in 4:42, and it scored 309 on CineBench. The Blade Stealth happens to be more than capable of finishing the various types of media projects quickly. This is a laptop that is known as a premium gaming community feeding product, so it will be able to serve the gaming laptops in its own right. However, it will not be able to develop its full potential without the Razer Core. In terms of functionality, this product certainly has a lot of bells and whistles, and comes with a variety of specialized hardware. The 4K display is also something to be posting about, the display happens to be sharp, as well as vibrant at the same time. The customization of the RGB keyboard is also unique.
4. MacBook Pro 13 w/ Retina Review
The Latest retina display from MacBook Pro definitely brings a wonderful performance in terms of faster hardware, excellent battery life, as well as the wonderful stunning screen along with the ever comfortable keyboard. This time around, Apple has been able to create a new pressure sensitive track-pad. It is very comfortable to use, just like its predecessor, but the new touchpad tricks do not make it well worth the switch. That being said, the 13-inch retina MBP happens to be one of the best-known laptops for its size, offering a wonderful battery life and good graphics.
If you are the proud owner of the latest MacBook Pro, or if you have visited an Apple Store, then you need to know what to expect. The new MBP has been constructed with seamless aluminum, and it is widespread, along with a very crisp 2560 X 1600 display resolution. The machine measures only about 0.71 inch of thickness, and although it is listed at 3.48 pounds, it is still a bit heavier than its predecessor. Just around the edges, you would be able to witness the same kind of ports; an USB 3.0 connection, HDMI socket, thunderbolt 2 ports, as well as and as the card slot along with a headphone jack. Accepting the new track-pad, there is plenty more to be said about this product. It has been extremely risky for Apple to replace the touchpad which most of the users have actually been appreciating it in the machine. So, was it really necessary to change it? Well, the force touchpad can actually do things that the regular touchpad would not. For example, you would be able to rewind and fast-forward a video in QuickTime by at least 60x speed.
There is a lot of utility to this measure. If you think about the spacious model, the new touchpad does away with the diving board, which was a hinge mechanism that makes it easier for you to press down on the bottom portion of the touchpad rather than the top. In fact, in this model, the touchpad does not contain any kind of bottoms, and there is absolutely nothing for you to depress or put pressure on the top. It is with the help of the new Taptic engine, which consists of a bunch of wires that are quite around the magnetic core, in order to provide vibrations to replicate everything, which is to be done on screen. This is a pretty convincing mechanism, and works beautifully. That being said, the button presses do not look like in the previous MacBook. If you are migrating from the old MacBook, you will certainly feel your track-pad to be very shallow, and even think that this is a bogus product from Apple.
The MacBook Pro comes with its own choice of core i5 and i7 chips, although they are only dual core as for now. Intel has not been able to release the quad core Broadwell chips yet but it still provides a certain amount of performance boost. When Intel first made and unannounced the chips for Apple, it was to gain a productivity of 4% in the application oriented tasks. It does make sense, as the MacBook Pro has been able to perform marginally better than what it was presenting at least a year and a half ago. With the latest 2.7 GHz core i5 processor coming with a GB of RAM, there is at least a hundred point difference in various tests conducted by Geekbench and Xbench.
That being said, the Broadwell does produce a lot of games in the graphics quantity. After all, at least two thirds of the chipset area has been dedicated to the graphics itself. According to the Intel production unit, Broadwell should be able to provide at least 22% improvement in the various 3-D benchmark tests and it will be up to 50% increase in the video conversion bank. It also makes use of the high-end Iris solution, instead of making use of the regular Intel high definition graphics. MBP is mainly intended for use from people indulgent into the MacBook Pro. With the latest Iris testing of 6100 graphics, one could definitely see a noticeable increase in its power. Besides only a small drop in frame, the video playback was extremely smooth. You would be able to add effects to the video without having to worry about any slowdown.
The new processor does bring a lot of improvements, most noticeably in the disk speed. The retina display of the MacBook Pro contains PCIe based SSD, which is faster than the mSATA drive for at least about a year and a half. The latest PCIe drivers come with the MBP, which are twice as fast. Specifically speaking, the new guest will be able to reach a peak speed of 1.6 GB per second, along with the right speed of 1.5 GB per second. Done with the Black Magic Disk Speed Test, the average reading was 1.3 GB per second. It is marginally higher than the 13 inch laptops, which are found on the market. According to the real-world performance, it definitely transforms into something much better. Apple has been continuously saying that the 13 inch retina display is capable for at least 10 hours of browsing and 12 hours of listening to iTunes video playback. According to the latest battery tests, it had been able to continuously run for 11 hours and 23 minutes of constant video playback. It does have a good estimate of matching the timing provided by Apple. However, there is no distinct graphics option; it is only available in the 15 inch model. The retina display is an incremental movement over the predecessor, coming with faster disk speed, excellent graphical content, and contains the same keyboard along with the long battery life and a stunning screen.
At the end of the day, despite the flaws like the touchpad and adequate lack of graphics option, the 13 inch retina display is definitely one of the standalone laptops that you can find in the levels of portability, graphical power, as well as screen quality. If you need a travel buddy in the form of a laptop that comes with 4K video editing facility, then this is the best model at your disposal.
5. Lenovo Yoga 900 Review
One could say that Lenovo has been listening to the user feedback, and in doing so, they have maintained Yoga; their latest model, in accordance to the premium 13 inch laptops in the market. The Lenovo Yoga 900 has been able to keep a very slim style from the previous version and keeps adding major upgrades in terms of performance, as well as in battery life. The lowest costing version includes a 256 GB SSD. All around, this is a wonderful laptop, even though it does not make use of the hybrid hinge. It includes the fastest Intel core i7 processor available.
You will hear every personal computer maker undertaking a hybrid laptop, coming with a hinge that folds a full 360°, but Lenovo had actually started the trend with the original Yoga in 2013. It has since built a lot of other laptops for the variety of purposes and inclusive of different features. The full-back hybrid has become extremely popular due to its hybrid uses, as well as the part-time feature of being a tablet. This was a style, which was unlike all the other hybrid models of that particular generation. In fact, the Yoga 900 was actually a hybrid, and it could be taken apart just like any other 13 inch laptop.
However, even after being a hybrid, there are different ways to make use of it. The most obvious one would be to form a thick tablet. If it works as well as it is ensured, it will still leave the keyboard as well as the touchpad exposed on the backside. However, they can be deactivated when the screen folds. The screen can fall back to 180°, which is sometimes also known more as the kiosk for the presentation. In that event, you have the screen display directly in front of you, and the keyword will be able to act as a stand.
There is some high-level engineering done in terms of the design, to provide you with the optimal hybrid experience. The keyboard tray is generally covered with a very soft material, and it can rise impeccably just like a sunken keyboard. So, if the keyboard happens to be facing down, the actual key will be floating just above the table. It will protect the keys from any kind of scratches from your desk. This eye-catching hinge design is pretty stiff, and you can tap the screen with your finger to make it work pretty well. The keyboard also follows the standard design of Lenovo, and it contains an island style of key shapes, which add a certain feel to the bottom. The typing feature is excellent, and it contains enough key travels with a few layout issues that will not bother anybody, but can slow down the typing a little bit. The shift key located in the right-hand side is pretty small, and it can lead to a lot of problems. The second happens to be the backspace key.
The key row of functions, which is located in the top, can make use of a variety of easy features and put them at a pedestal for you. It includes brightness, volume, as well as an airplane mode. There are various PC makers that seem to load up their system with custom software, security and system management. These features are generally useless, but in this case, the Lenovo settings application certainly puts it in perspective. Input devices, as well as the other settings, can be found in a single application. However, the Windows 10 operating system does a better job at maintaining system settings, so having such a standalone application is not always a necessity.
The 13.3 inch display comes with a screen resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels, and it is not quite in the range of 4K resolution. However, the Windows software will be able to scale it into a higher resolution if you feel like it. The display happens to be very clear and bright, and the purporting is extremely close enough in order to catch on the reflected light. If you go to the settings menu, you will have an option known as “paper display”, which will make use of the web cam in order to provide you with excellent lighting conditions. It will be able to adjust the brightness for optimal reading.
For an extra slim laptop, it comes with an inclusive of two USB 3.0 ports along with a USB -C port and an SD card slot, something that is rarely seen. However, it does not come with any dedicated video output. For that, you would need to take an adapter. The Lenovo Yoga 900 comes with a wonderful configuration of the Intel Core i7 processor, and it should not find any kind of degrading performance. With the benchmark test and hardware composing which consists of a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, this laptop been able to beat all the other competitive systems like the 13 inch MacBook Pro, as well as the surface book of Microsoft. In the multitasking test, the MacBook and the Surface Book happen to be faster, but only by a very little margin. The performance of this machine gets a serious boost with the humongous battery life. The 2014 edition of Yoga 3 Pro only had battery life of five hours and 46 minutes. However, the Yoga 900 has a battery life of 8 hours 56 minutes on the same test, which is astounding in terms of battery life. It is a huge improvement from the makers of Lenovo laptops. However, it is still less in comparison to the Surface Book and MacBook Pro.
The latest version of the Yoga 900 happens to be the best bet that you could take for a Lenovo laptop. With excellent hardware and wonderful design, in terms of performance and also improvements in battery life, this is beyond any other product within its price range. You need to appreciate the inclusion of the core i7 processor along with the 256GB SSD, which comes even with the lowest configurations. This is a great value product.
6. Microsoft Surface Book Review
Effectively created from two solid blocks of magnesium, the Surface Book happens to be extremely robust and sturdy, as well as minimalistic in its own style. The keyboard deck is located exactly in the palm rest, and the interior of the laptop is simply one flat surface comprising of metal. There is a large space, which has been reserved for the glass touchpad. Similarly, it is the screen lid that contains an uninterrupted slate of magnesium with extra flourishing and the mirror finish that contains a rear facing camera as well.
Along with all the chisel sides, you would find that there are flat edges, which start from the top and terminate at the tip of the palm rest. It is not what you call a seamless transition. In comparison to other convertible devices, the screen, as well as the base of the surface book, comes with the same thickness. The display can actually detach; the Surface Book looks like a continuous device, with the presence of the hinge.
It is at the middle point of the surface book that you find a connective tissue known as the dynamic program hinge. It simply has the function of blowing the screen and keyboard together to make it look like an entire device. Instead of folding flatly, the hens will be able to coil in itself, creating a noticeable gap in between the screen and keyboard when the unit happens to be closed. When it is opened, the same parts happen to roll out, causing the extension of the laptop base coming directly to the support base of the tablet portion. The top section itself weighs about 1.6 pounds, as it happens to contain all the necessary components for a standalone tablet. The hinge has simply been reinforced in order to contain the extra mechanisms.
The surface book happens to be extremely solid, even picking it up and shaking it can be done without having to worry about it falling apart. Moreover, on a flat surface, the screen will be steadily held in place, and you can even put it in your lap. The only time the screen feels to be bouncy or wobbling, is when you happen to be poking at it with the surface pen, but that is a problem that happens in any laptop screen. The keyboard will be able to provide you with a splendid 1.6 MM travel, which is seriously excellent in terms of keystrokes. The track pad is wonderful and enjoyable, and comes with a glass-laminated finish. You will definitely find the multi-gestures and the rotating of the windows to be extremely enjoyable.
This is just a tiny element of the surface book, while most of the other Windows notebooks have extremely good tracking experience. Another signature trait of the surface book, is that the screen can easily pop off from the base with just a tap of the button. This is the latest Microsoft 2-in-1 laptop, which is applicable to other devices such as the Acer Switch, the Toshiba Click and all other HP devices. However, none of them have been able to go for a seamless integration like the one you witness in the surface book.
Docking, as well as undocking and attaching the clipboard is extremely seamless, and can be easily done with the design of the surface book. You either have to press the ejector button on the keyboard, or in the virtual button located in the taskbar, and the screen will blink off for a second, and a notification will pop up to detach the screen. Another feature which is unique to the notebook, is the integration of a GPU into the hybrid system. Located underneath the keyboard, the Nvidia GeForce GPU makes the laptop very much capable for gaming, media and audio production.
With a weight of 3.34 pounds, it is certainly one of the heaviest burden inch laptops, but that is acceptable. However, this weight is calculated without the GPU. With the presence of a dedicated GPU, some of the tests on the Skylake processor have been enough in order to adapt to a full resolution. While plugging in the display with the keyword, you would be able to witness the performance increasing due to the presence of the dedicated GPU. With the presence of such GPU, you can play rocket league at about 30 FPS in medium settings and in full screen. For the serious gamer fans of Metal Gear and Phantom Pain, you can play the games at about 24 to 29 FPS, but you need to drop the resolution to 1920 X1080, as well as turn off all the other settings. Well, this laptop will not replace your PC gaming, but it is surprising to note how this machine can perform so well with only about 1 GB of RAM.
Of course, all of this power can actually make the Surface Book turn out to be a beast of productivity. Light room for example, is an application that will be able to run extremely fast in this high quality 13-inch laptop, with the addition of an Nvidia graphics unit. It is amazing to witness the editing of photographs, while having at least 10 browser tabs open, along with streaming videos connected to a monitor. However, the speakers fail to impress, and the sound is only good for the people that undertake casual listening. In any case, the problem is not small, but the speakers also lack the amount of depth required for the sound to resonate. It seriously lacks any kind of bass. So, if you’re watching a movie, it is important for you to plug a headphone to appreciate the sound.
The battery life of the Surface Book is pretty is good and disappointing at the same time. Microsoft promises 12 hours of continuous use, but the best time in the test was about seven hours and 39 minutes. On its own, the tablet will be able to last about four hours. While all of these are respectable numbers when you consider the hardware inside the Surface Book, one does expect a lot more. However, one good thing worth noting is that the recharging of the notebook from 0 to 100% happens within a couple of hours.
Although, the surface book design is not for everyone, you will definitely fall in love with the futuristic look. Whether it is ahead of the curves or something extravagant, you cannot deny that this is the first daring experience that Microsoft has done. It does have its own bad moments, but they happen very rarely. Beyond the look factor, each and every design element of this laptop is filled with purpose. Starting from the rolling hinge to the quick detachment from the keyboard; the surface pen, along with all the other display features works beautifully in creating an art that goes beyond any other software. The underlying performance of the Surface Book definitely ensures that you would enjoy your experience working with this product. It does not depend upon whether you are working on spreadsheets or simply undertaking some form of gaming.
All the essentials of Windows 10 have been backed onto the clipboard, and they can be used the same way in a tablet. However, it is the slate variant that simply marries it to the concept of a dedicated GPU.