The first half of the year saw the Intel Ivy Bridge series’ Core i5 processors packed into mid-range laptops, with the higher end devices getting the Core i7 variants.
Quite expectedly, the performance boost was massive as you went higher up the price band. However, it was on a rather happy note that the AMD APUs, dual and quad core, seemed to do rather well. These APUs were mostly to be found on the more affordable laptops, somewhere in the region of `28,000 to `35,000 (approx.). This is a very important category in terms of numbers and building a base of users who will show some loyalty in the future. Sony, which had fairly depressing offerings in this price region, rejoined the battle with the impressive FIT series of notebooks.
Mid-range notebooks saw a lot of competition. HP has the impressive Pavilion m4-1003tx, Sony updated the E-series, while Lenovo brought in the IdeaPad Y500 and IdeaPad Z500. Dell simply dealt with huge numbers and configurations, for the Inspiron laptops in 14-inch and 15-inch screen sizes.
Expectedly, the top end of the price bracket, upwards of `60,000, is where the real powerful stuff was. While it was all fun and games (quite literally) in that regard, we still have a couple of complaints. Firstly, 1080p screens are still not standard and that is just cruel. For anyone spending so much on a laptop, still giving them a 1366 x 768 pixel display is just being petty. Secondly, build quality needs to be improved massively. Yes, everyone can make a snide remark about MacBooks being “arrogant” and all, but the fact remains - their build quality is unmatched. And if you were to buy a Windows laptop that costs the same as MacBook Air 13, you would like a similar quality build.
HP ENVY 15 j-001TX
This is one of HP’s first notebooks with the Intel Haswell upgrade and it’s an extremely impressive package overall. Quite frankly, if you are in the market for an ultra slim and ultra light laptop, none of these machines are for you. These are powerhouses that pack in the most powerful processors and graphics that laptops can. The Core i7-4700 quad core processor along with 8GB of RAM and the Nvidia GeForce GT740M (2GB) graphics make this most powerful laptop in this category. And within the ambit of this award, we are looking at non-gaming category laptops. The newer Nvidia chips are boosting performance by as much as 10 frames per second. It’s good to see that HP has carried on with the excellent keyboard that we had praised in the ENVY dv6 last year, along with a couple of other notebooks and ultrabooks. The build quality is quite good, albeit a tad heavy, and the generous use of aluminum makes this rather solid. If you want a laptop where your primary criterion aren’t battery life or extreme portability, the ENVY 15 J-001TX will deliver excellent performance overall.
Winner: HP ENVY 15 j-001TX
Read our review of the HP ENVY 15 j-001TXhere.
In the midst of all the newer Intel Haswell notebooks, the HP ENVY dv6-7206tx still remains one of our better performers. It’s remained at the top of the performance charts for most of the year. The Intel Core i7-3630QM processor pipped the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 (Intel Core i7-3632QM) by a small margin in terms of system performance. The battery life is great but the screen resolution is low. All in all, this is a very decent performer and well worth your money. For better battery life however, Haswell is the only way to go.
You can check out our review of the HP ENVY dv6 here.
Dell Inspiron 15 - 7000
A very recent launch, the Inspiron 7000 series comes in a completely redesigned chassis, and thankfully for us writers’, an excellent keyboard. The performance of the Core i5-4500U is impressive, but the real delight is the Nvidia GeForce GT750M (2GB) graphics. The only disappointment is the display, which is stuck at 1366 x 768 pixels, but the more expensive Core i7 version packs in a 1080p display.
Read our review of the Dell Inspiron 15 - 7000 here.