Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Loaded Laptop (April 2012)

On our blog, we regularly talk about the "sweet spot" in terms of laptop performance vs. price.  In this blog post, we discuss laptops that are loaded with features.  This may come in handy for people performing computer-intensive research or working with large datasets -- where the increased specs would come into play.

  • Second Generation Intel Core i7 (We prefer the quad-core i7's)
  • Note that the i7-2640M is a Dual Core CPU (4064 benchmark rating).  
  • i7-2670QM is a Quad Core CPU (6808 rating)
  • i7-2760QM is Quad Core (7558, $378)
  • i7-2860QM is Quad Core (7977, $693)
  • CPU Links & Benchmarks for common CPUs, thanks to PassMark/  
  • 8GB Ram
  • Windows 7 - 64bit 
  • We prefer a 14" screen for portability and battery life, but we'd also go for 15" depending on the rest of the specs.
  • Hard-drive: most specs call for 5400RPM, and for accessing large files, 7200RPM will be that much faster...  
  • A hot item nowadays is the Solid State Drive (SSD), but it is expensive relative to to Price/GB.  We'll price this laptop with a 256GB SSD.
And what will these goodies cost?
  • $1350-$1500 is a decent price for these specs.  
  • Can also find refurbished laptops for about $1150-$1200 with these specs.
Solid State Drives (SSD)
  • The Solid State Drive is roughly a $500 premium, but for accessing the hard drive faster, the SSD can be 30-100x faster than a regular hard-drive.  

Without the SSD feature, a loaded laptop with the Second Generation i7 chip is starting to fall into our "sweet spot" of laptops (into the $600 range).  A good price for these laptops are usually in the $750-$900 range, but if you shop carefully, you may find some in the $650-$700 range.  Refurbished laptops might be in the $600-$650 range (10%-15% savings).

We expect prices to fall further, with the introduction of the Intel Ivy Bridge chip sets.