The 7 best Haswell laptops and ultrabooks for you

The 7 best Haswell laptops and ultrabooks for you
  • The latest hardware specs are important, but equally critical is knowing which laptop is the best for what exactly. We attempt to simplify that puzzle for you.

As expected, a lot of laptops and ultrabooks with the newer Intel Haswell processors are now available in stores. The well known laptop manufacturers are refreshing the line-ups regularly, and attempting to offer the newer generation hardware at all possible price points. But, for all the latest hardware and a newer product, it would make no sense for you if the experience is compromised or the machine isn’t exactly tailored to your requirements. To make things specific for every possible demographic, we have listed out the different criteria, being as specific as possible, and within each segment, we’ve marked out the best laptop or ultrabook that you can buy.

Sheer Performance, no compromises.
A good looking spec sheet isn’t always the answer to the question of performance. Based on our testing experience and the benchmark scores, we help you identify the powerful laptops.

HP ENVY TouchSmart 15-j001tx
Price: Rs 82,990

We just looked at the raw performance scores of this notebook, and it was fairly evident that the HP machine mentioned here gets all the accolades. The spec sheet looks like this – Intel Core i7-4700MQ clocking at 2.4GHz, 8GB of RAM and the Nvidia GeForce GT 740M (2GB) graphics. In the benchmark tests, this machine is the most powerful laptop we have tested this year. For the gamers, the Nvidia GeForce GT 740M has more than adequate grunt to drive the latest games. Incidentally, the GT 740M registers higher FPS scores than the GT 750M in the Cinebench benchmark. The only sacrifice is the battery life, which with so much power on board, suffers.

Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina
Price: Rs 1,99,000

If the price tag doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then you probably have a bank balance strong enough to purchase this. The MB Pro 15 packs in the 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor clocking at 2.3GHz, 16GB of RAM, 512GB flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics paired with the Nvidia GeForce GT 750M (2GB). There really is no doubting the performance of a machine that is as heavily loaded as this, and if the shift to a Mac doesn’t give you sleepless nights, do consider the move.

Thin & Light, so that you aren’t carrying the world on your shoulders.
For those of you who travel a lot, or don’t really want to lug around a heavy laptop, the lighter the better is the mantra for you. And for that we have selected the lightest possible ultrabooks that you should consider.

Sony VAIO Pro 13 (SVP1321WSNB)
Price: Rs 84,990

At 1.06kg, this is the lightest ever ultrabook from Sony, and possibly the lightest ultrabook in the market today. And for the one person who just made the reference to the Apple MacBook Air, you must know that it weighs 1.35kg! The lightweight carbon fiber makes all the difference, and gives the VAIO Pro 13 the weight advantage. It packs in the same processor and RAM as the Acer Aspire S7, with a lesser capacity 128GB solid state drive. The minimalist and conventional looks will make this appealing to a wider demographic. But, we would especially recommend it for the carbon fiber!

Acer Aspire S7-392 (54204G25tws)
Price: Rs 1,13,290

The Aspire S7 costs a lot of money, but it again proves that Acer can make a stunning ultrabook. The all aluminum unibody chassis is extremely slim, and weighs just 1.3kg. Add to that, something very rarely seen on a laptop till date – a Gorilla Glass 2 layer on the lid, over the white enamel finish. If this doesn’t scream stylish, nothing probably will. We will not be pedantic for a while and bring your attention to the fact that this finish needs a lot of care. The specs – Intel Core i5-4200 @ 1.6GHz processor, from Intel’s latest Haswell series. With 4GB of RAM and a very fast 256GB Kingston SMSR150S3256G solid state drive. The keyboard is the only little niggle that we could find, because the five rows instead of six, do tweak the conventional layout a bit more than we liked.

Best keyboard for your documents & mails!
All the writers out there, our brethren, please stand up and take notice. These are the laptops that will be of immense help in thrashing out those long articles, particularly so when the deadlines are looming. You really don’t want a soft and smudgy response every time you press a key, do you?

Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina
Price: Rs 99,900 onwards

As far as form factor goes, the MB Pro 13 will appeal to a wider demographic than the 15-inch one. And if you are typing out huge documents or have to play the email game all day, you will probably want a keyboard that is the best out there. A lot of Windows machines have tried to copy this layout and key design, and some HP machines have even come a bit close, but nothing beats the original. It offers extremely sharp and consistent response, and that is what every writer would want. We know, we certainly feel blessed to type this article for you on the MB Pro 13’s keyboard.

For your eyes only – the best laptop displays.
Here, we will recommend the best machines to buy, based on how good their screen is. We will not accept any screen that isn’t 1920 x 1080 pixel in resolution, because that really is the very basis of a high quality screen. Those 1366 x 768 pixel displays are all too common across laptops. Secondly, there is the aspect of reflectiveness, also referred to as death by gloss. Third, while the specs should be there, other aspects like crispness of text, colour richness and brightness levels do make a considerable amount of difference to the ultimate user experience.

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina
Price: Rs 99,900 onwards (13-inch) and Rs 1,49,900 onwards (15-inch)

The 13-inch MB Pro has a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels, while the bigger sized version offers a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels. These displays, with the IPS LED foundations, are the best laptop displays money can buy. The colour reproduction is way ahead in terms of accuracy, over even the best of the Windows laptops and ultrabooks. Text crispness just adds to the comfort of viewing web pages or reading documents. It is a tad reflective at low brightness levels, but a bit of boost takes care of that issue. Natively, it’s very bright as well – at full brightness, the 13-inch display records 1460 lux, while the best Windows laptops top out at 1100 lux, while the HP Chromebook 14 clocks 1331 lux.

Asus ZENBOOK UX302LG-C4022P ultrabook
Price: Rs 94,999

If the MacBook Retina versions are out of your budget, or MacBooks don’t appeal to you, then the best Windows alternative is the The Asus ZENBOOK, which ticks almost all the checkboxes for a good display. The Full HD resolution of the 13.3-inch display makes it comfortable for anyone who wishes to buy a lightweight ultrabook for their travels. The fact that this is an IPS screen immediately gives this an advantage over the non-IPS Full HD screens. Brightness levels are impressive, and text is crisp and easy to read. The only niggle is that the display is a tad reflective at brightness levels below 30%.

Vishal Mathur

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