The new year is upon us, and this is just the right time to think about refreshing that clunky old laptop. A new year should mean new toys, and with the introduction of Windows® 10 and 6th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, there’s no better time for upgrading.
We’ve gone about compiling a short list of what we think are the best laptops for a variety of user types. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and we had to leave out more than a few honourable mentions to make it all fit. Nevertheless, should you fall into any of these types of users, you should take a look at our recommendations
The Budget Conscious
This kind of user doesn’t need the most powerful internals, and represents the most generic of consumers. All they want is a decent set of specifications that does a little bit of everything. Whether it’s for study, work, or just messing around, the budget conscious user needs a balance of power, portability, battery life, and comfort.
Acer Aspire E5-474G (RM2,099)
The Acer Aspire E5 doesn’t quite get the recognition that it should. This series of laptops hover near the lower end of the power spectrum, but provides a serious bang for your buck. It also looks rather decent with its new design and wide range of colours, and is good at hiding the fact that it costs about as much as buying a smartphone; people don’t even blink at those prices these days. It also comes with an extended three-year warranty from selected distributors, which is quite a feat for something that can be purchased for less than RM2,000 (if you know where to look for them).
14-inch Active Matrix TFT LCD, 1366 x 768
Intel Core i5-6200U 2.3GHz
NVIDIA GeForce GT920M
Dell Inspiron 14 3000 (from RM2,299)
Like the Aspire E5, Dell’s Inspiron series is quietly impressive, and provides most general users with the specifications they need without breaking the bank. The Inspiron 14 3000 is not the lowest end of the line, but it is a good starting point for the budget conscious user who still wants the latest sixth general Intel Core processor. Pair that with the ability to customise some hardware aspects and Dell’s superior after sales service, and you’ve got another good deal.
14-inch Truelife-HD Backlit Display, 1366 x 768
Intel Core i5-6200U
AMD Radeon R5 M315 2GB DDR3
The Creative Professional
Creating things is not easy, and getting the right tools for the job is extremely important. Creative professionals need to make things, but also represent a wide range of jobs. They could be making videos, editing photographs, drawing comics, or even designing buildings. This requires a lot of computing power, a colour-accurate display, and a touch display with stylus wouldn’t hurt either. Speed is the name of the game here, as input lag can put a damper on the creative process.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (from RM4,449)
Microsoft’s latest version of the Surface Pro line is the very definition of the right tool for creative professionals. The combination of powerful internals with a highly responsive stylus just what the doctor ordered. Several comic artists, including Gabe from the immensely popular webcomic Penny Arcade, have switched to using the Surface Pro 4 for drawing; and nobody has been able to tell the difference from using a professional grade drawing tablet. It’s also worth noting that while it is technically a tablet, this would fit in nicely in “The Road Warrior” category too.
12.3-inch PixelSense Touchscreen, 2736×1824
Intel Core i5 Processor (configurable up to Core i7)
4GB RAM (configurable up to 16GB)
128GB SSD (configurable up to 512GB)
MSI PE70 6QE (RM4,199)MSI is mainly known for making gaming laptops and motherboards, but it also has the Prestige line which caters to creative professionals. The display of the PE70 is certified by Adobe to provide “perfect” colour reproduction, which is extremely important for those working with video or photography. It’s not exactly as portable as the Surface Pro 4, but doesn’t have to be as it fills a completely different niche.
17.3-inch Full HD Display
Intel Core i7-6700HQ
NVIDIA GTX 960M 2GB DDR5
The goal of the gamer is to amass as much computing power as is physically possible in a mobile device. Price is less of a concern, as these people know what they are getting into. That isn’t to say that gamers are immune to prices, but rather that they know what needs to be done to play the latest and greatest games. Naturally, this requires the best performance money can buy – although the battery can be sacrificed for a little more power.
Acer Aspire V Nitro NX.G6JSM.001 (RM4,699)
Not all gamers are able to afford the top of the line gaming laptops. Some of us have to make do with what we can afford. Thankfully, Acer has the Aspire V Nitro; which is one of the most cost effective gaming laptops we have ever come across. There’s really nothing else we need to say there.
15.6-inch Full HD Display
Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6GHz
1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
NVIDIA GTX 960M 4GB DDR5
MSI GT80 Titan SLI (RM18,999)
This behemoth of a laptop comes in at the very opposite end of the cost spectrum. While the Aspire V Nitro is value for money, the MSI GT80 Titan SLI is the machine for those purchases where money is not a problem. Armed with two NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics cards and a mechanical keyboard (the only laptop to have one), the GT80 Titan is the machine for the hardcore gamer who likes going to LAN parties but would rather not have to carry his desktop with him.
18.4-inch Anti-glare IPS Display, 1920 x 1080
Intel Core i7-6820HK
2x NVIDA GTX980M 8GB DDR5, SLI
256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
The Road Warrior
First of all, this has nothing to do with Mad Max (although the fact that no manufacturer has tried this branding is a missed opportunity). That said, mobility is the key for these users. The laptop needs to be extremely portable and capable of going long periods without recharging. Thankfully, improvements with power consumption on the 6th Gen Intel® Core™ processors have significantly extended the battery life of laptops. The road warrior can make do without a discrete graphics card, all for getting more out of that battery and keep the weight down in a slim and light chassis.
Lenovo Yoga 900 (RM????)
We cheated a little with this one (it’s only due in Malaysia in January), but that’s not really a problem considering the current date. The Yoga 900 is the latest Skylake refresh of the Yoga series which arguably popularised the term “multi-mode laptop”. It has all the hallmarks of a solid laptop for the road warrior, with a new powerful processor, extra sharp touch display, and long battery life – although the new chain-link hinge is less Fury Road and more James Bond.
13.3-inch IPS Touch Display, 3200 x 1800
Up to a sixth generation Intel Core i7 processor
Up to 16GB RAM
Up to 512GB SSD (M.2 SATA)
Keeping a laptop charged is not always easy, but the Spectre x360 doesn’t have that problem. We tested the Broadwell version of the laptop and came away with nearly 12 hours of battery life. It was a lot of lost sleep, and we’re not looking forward to testing how many hours the upgraded Skylake processor adds to this number. The numbers are not only great for the road warrior, but also for those who end up traveling a lot further.
13.3-inch IPS Touch Display, 1920 x 1080
Intel Core i7-6500U
256GB SSD (M.2 SATA)
Catering to the style conscious user is a rather unusual problem. For one, these users place a high value on how the laptop looks; although it is possible that they fall into one of the other categories mentioned above as well. Of course, we’re just going to list what we consider to be the best looking laptops on the market. Be warned that this is completely subjective and the results come from what five tech geeks consider to be a stylish laptop. In other words, your mileage may vary and you should consult your style savvy friends for optimal results.
HP Envy 13 (RM3,699)
The HP Envy line has always put style above everything else, and to be honest the first few attempts were actually great packages (if a little less durable than we’d like). Fortunately, the new HP Envy 13 gets the blend just right by adopting the minimalist approach. It’s portable enough to look good while moving about, and has a very interesting hinge that lifts the back of the laptop ever so slightly while open.
13.3-inch IPS Display, 3200 x 1800
Intel Core i5-6200U
Dell XPS 13 (RM4,999)
The new Dell XPS 13 is all about style, although you might not guess it from the chassis. Instead, the real beauty is around the display; or rather it is what isn’t around the display. The InfinityEdge feature gives the screen a nearly borderless appearance, and also makes the 13.3-inch machine feel a lot smaller than it really is – Dell says the 13.3-inch display is fitted into a body that’s designed for 11-inch laptops. Dell knocked it out of the park with the design here, and it really is something to behold for the style conscious user.
13.3-inch AG InfinityEdge Display, 1920 x 1080, configurable up to 3200 x 1800 touch
Intel Core i5-6200U, configurable up to Core i7-6500U
4GB RAM, configurable up to 8GB
128GB PCIe SSD, configurable up to 256GB
15mm thin (at thickest point)
As we compiled our list of laptops for this write up, we found that although there aren’t many laptop models run 6th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, there is no shortage of truly compelling models already available. And, as more manufacturers introduce their refreshed models with Windows® 10 pre-installed, the only clear winner are the consumers. Like we said earlier, this is an excellent time to be in the look out for a new laptop.
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by Intel and Microsoft.