Dictionary.com has one definition of Utopian as founded upon or involving idealized perfection. So when my wife was in the market for a new laptop and I volunteered to help her find one, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Is there such thing as a perfect laptop?
There are hundreds of laptop models to be found offered by dozens of laptop vendors that range from giant well known brands and businesses to smaller companies that do custom laptop case builds for you. This is the story about my journey to find the Utopian laptop, and what I discovered along the way. What is your idea of a perfect laptop?
What To Look For In A Laptop
There is no perfect laptop, unfortunately. Depending on what features or functionality you want in a laptop, you have to be willing to make a sacrifice in another area. A fine example of this is if you want an Ultrabook for it’s size, weight and battery life, you will have to sacrifice on power and hard disk space since most Ultrabooks use SSD drives. SSD drives are at most 256GB capacity, but usually around 128GB, which keeps them consuming less power and makes them faster to compensate for slower processors. If you want a gaming laptop with a dedicated video card, you will sacrifice battery life and start dealing with increased weight as the hardware has to size up considerably to add the power.
I recently assisted with shopping for a laptop, and the wants for the laptop included the ability to do some gaming, have 8-10 hours of battery life, have a 1TB or larger hard disk space (not a 5400 RPM drive either), and 8GB+ minimum of RAM. In addition, this laptop should have no less than an Intel Core i-7 running at 2.3Ghz+ and no less than a dedicated video card instead of Integrated graphics as you would find on an Intel HD 4000 chipset. To top it all off, the perfect laptop couldn’t be a 17″ laptop, but had to be a 15.6″ screen maximum, and it had to be 1600×900 resolution or better.
Is There A Perfect Laptop After All?
I scoured Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, every single Google, CNET and other article online looking for the perfect laptop. I focused on either an Ultrabook that would meet the mark or a non-Ultrabook that would meet the battery life expectations and weight expectations. This research consumed about 2 hours per day for four days sifting through models, and it eventually had me on 10 laptop manufacturers websites seeing if I could custom build a model that would work. I custom built an HP, looked at Toshiba, Samsung, Dell, iBuyPower, Sager, Acer, Asus, and many more. In the end, I could not find a custom build or combination that was sufficient, so we had to start making sacrifices to find the happy medium.
Settling For The Right Laptop
In the end, the Samsung Series 7 laptop (not the gamer edition) was able to deliver almost all of the specifications and wound up being the happy medium. It’s not the perfect laptop, but it will do. It was nearly as thin as an Ultrabook and at 5.29 pounds wasn’t overly heavy. It had a 750GB 7200RPM drive with an 8GB ExpressCache so it gave you decent performance over a spindle drive alone. The NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 640M Graphics were a little on the lower end side of graphics power, but it did have its own dedicated 1GB and was external not integrated. The battery life was rated to 9.2 hours normal use and 4-5 hours of gaming use, although I haven’t fully tested the battery life to see how it holds up, so I am going by manufacturer claims only.
In the end, we found a good happy medium and only made a handful of sacrifices to find the “close to perfect laptop.” Apparently there is no Utopian laptop, and you cannot find a “gaming Ultrabook” since they seem to be a contradiction to each other at this time. The technology will continue to shrink, and eventually 3-4lb powerful gaming laptops will exist, but at this time, you have to make the sacrifices. So when choosing a laptop, what are the features you look for most and what sacrifices are you willing to make to make sure you get a laptop that meets your needs?