The rain might be coming down outside but the big retailers are still working hard to put together some great laptop deals that they hope will persuade you to part with your hard earnt cash.
Having had a good look round the retailers it’s clear that May is a month of extremes when it comes to laptops. There are a handful of gems that represent great value but there’s also a lot that are best avoided.
We’ve filtered through them and picked out the highlights and have detailed them below.
Best All Rounder – May 2012 »
Dell Inspiron 15R
What we like – i5-2450M, Nvidia GT525M Graphics, USB 3.0
Best deal – Check price at Dell.co.uk
Details – The Inspiron 15R is our best all-rounder pick for a second month running. We had hoped that by now some of the other manufacturers would have upped their game and the specification of their mid range laptops to bring them in line with the 15R. But, that doesn’t seem to have been the case.
There are two key features that make the Inspiron 15R stand out, the inclusion of an Nvidia GT525M graphics chip and also USB 3.0 ports.
For this reason the 15R represents great value at just over £500. If you can live without the GT525M and USB 3.0 ports there are cheaper options available, for example the Acer 5750 costs £100 less and uses the same processor. The Samsung RF511 is also worth considering if storage space is high on your list of features.
Key features include:-
Intel i5-2450M – This is a capable second generation Intel i5 processor and provides ample processing power.
Nvidia GT525M - The GT525M is in essence an underclocked GT540M graphics processor. Whilst the 15R isn’t designed to be a serious gaming machine the inclusion of the GT525M graphics chip does mean that it can cope with modern games at modest settings.
USB 3.0 – USB 3.0 is set to become the standard for data transfer to and from external devices and is considerably faster than older USB 2.0 ports. Whilst you may not benefit immediately from the inclusion of USB 3.0 ports the number of USB 3.0 external devices hitting the market in the coming year is set to dramatically increase so it’s worth factoring this into your decision.
WLED Screens – All Inspiron 15R models use WLED (white LED) screens which use less power than traditional LED screens resulting in a longer battery life.
Best Budget Laptop – May 2012 »
What we like – Looks great, 2nd Gen i3-2330M, Great value
Best deal – View Deal At Amazon.co.uk
Details – The Samsung RV520 was an easy choice for our best budget laptop award this month. In fact, only the ugly Toshiba C660 comes close in the value for money department.
The Samsung RV520 is a good looking laptop that’s powered by a second generation Intel i3-2330M processor. There are still lots of laptops for sale that use older first generation chips which have inferior integrated graphics, use more power and generate more heat. Second generation chips can be identified by their longer product codes that have a four digit suffix, e.g i3-XXXX.
At under £360 the RV520 represents the most bang for your buck you can get at the time of writing this article. It’s a smart looking, modern laptop at almost Netbook money.
Key features include:-
Intel i3-2330m - This second generation processor features Intel’s greatly improved HD3000 graphics system. It’s not a gaming processor but can handle HD content comfortably.
Also consider - The Asus X53U SX317U is powered by AMD’s E450 Fusion processor, whilst it’s not as powerful as the i3 in the RV520 it’s still a capable processor and can be purchased here for less than £300 which makes it undeniably good value.
Best Value Ultra Portable – May 2012 »
Acer Aspire Timeline X 4830T
What we like – Great looks, Compact chassis, 2nd Gen i3-2350m, 9 hour battery life.
Best deal – View Deal at Comet.co.uk
Details – Finding a good ultra portable laptop at a reasonable price wasn’t easy this month. The market has been flooded by expensive Ultrabooks which has resulted in the majority of manufacturers neglecting the affordable ultra portable sector.
Fortunately, the Acer Aspire Timeline X 4830T is head and shoulders above other 14 inch laptops at this price point. It’s a thoroughly modern laptop from both a features and design perspective. It’s also a “PC Pro Award Winner”.
Key features include:-
Intel i3-2330M – The processor in the Acer Aspire Timeline X 4830T is a second generation i3-2330m item and provides ample processing power for mainstream tasks.
Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0 – The laptop world is currently going through a transitional period moving from USB 2.0 to 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0 to 4.0. The 4830T comes equipped with both USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 4.0..
Battery Life – The 4830T impressed us with is longevity away from mains power and managed in excess of 10 hours of mixed used before exhausting it’s charge. This mains the 4830T a legitimate portable computing solution and successfully balances performance with power consumption.
Also Consider - If you’re on a really tight budget we’d advise taking a look at the Asus 1215N. Whilst the 1215N is technically classed as a Netbook it has more in common with a laptop. Unlike most Netbooks the 1215N features a 720P screen and Nvidia’s Ion 2 graphics system. The result is a surprisingly capable little machine.
Most Powerful Budget Laptop – May 2012 »
What we like – Fast i7-2670 CPU
Best deal – View deal at Comet.co.uk
Details – Another laptop that’s back for a second month. Somehow Asus has managed to squeeze an i7 processor into a laptop that costs less than £550. The i7-2670 CPU is a true quad core CPU capable of processing 8 threads simultaneously and has a maximum clock speed of 3.1GHZ.
There’s no dedicated graphics card or USB 3.0 ports but if sheer processing power is your primary concern the X53E-SX1330V is a great choice.
Best Value Apple Laptop – May 2012 »
Apple Macbook Air 11.6
What we like – i5 CPU, 128GB SSD, HD Screen
Best deal – View Deal at SimplyElectronics.net
Details – Apple’s second generation Macbook Air’s finally have the processing power needed to match their looks. This results in a far more satisfying experience than the original Macbook Air which frequently struggled to keep up.
Due to the popularity of Apple’s products prices rarely stray far from their RRP’s. However, we feel the 128GB 11.6 Inch model represents the best value for money at the moment and would advise against buying the 64GB model. Even relatively light users will quickly need more than 64GB of storage.