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  • fred666 - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Love the fact there are very cheap laptops (sub $300) and very expensive ones (often $1000+), with almost nothing in the mid range ($400-700). The Asus might be the only exception and I'd consider it upper mid range. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    As a rule, I won't recommend laptops without a SSD, because, it's 2017, and nothing makes a system more responsive. The exception is the very low end with eMMC. The ThinkPad was exactly in your sweet spot, which is why it was on the list, although I see with some discounts it is now significantly under $500 which is the MSRP.

    Basically there's a huge swath of laptops in what you call the mid-range, all with no distinguishing features. They generally have 768p displays, often TN, and HDD storage, and will get poor battery life. I'm always on the lookout for laptops on a budget (hence why I jumped at the Chuwi review) so feel free to let me know if you think I've missed one that should make the list.
  • lazarpandar - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    He's a Brett ba-ba-bwee-nah HOWSE.

    ...How often do people say that to you?
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    You're the first. Reply
  • skavi - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    What does "will be available in October" mean in the 910 section? That laptop is for sure out already. Reply
  • Murloc - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    it means copy pasta Reply
  • prophet001 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    rofl Reply
  • dragosmp - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Brett, here's one that may interest you - asus vivobook e403. The category, as I gather, is called premium budget and basically they put high-end Atoms with 4GB of RAM and 1080P IPS screens in 14inch shells. I'm chasing one of those, though in the UK they seem hard to find, and hope I see a proper review of that lappy on AT Reply
  • fred666 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Surely some mid range laptop must suck less than others, I expected such an article would cover the most popular market segment.
    You can take a $600 laptop with a crappy HDD, and replace it by a SSD (or sometimes, even add a SSD and keep the HDD) and you still end up much cheaper than those $1000+ devices.

    I just made a quick search and there are plenty of mid range devices with FHD displays, even some with 256 GB SSDs. Here are just a few in the $500-600 range.
  • Drumsticks - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    I'd like to second Fred's comment. When I talk to aot of friends looking for a new PC, $~500 seems to be a mental "point" that people fix on a lot. I'd love to see a $400-600 section recommended as well, perhaps a convertible (if they exist) and non convertible option. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Same here. I suspect the issue is partly Anandtech not recommending anything they haven't reviewed and liked. I don't recall seeing anything in the mid-price range recently; but IIRC on reviews in that price range the reviewers fixating on all the ways that they weren't as good as a $1000 laptop (which can afford to go with all non-crap parts) not the ways they were better than a $250 one (which is almost universally crap parts). I suspect this is hollowing the middle out from both ends, they don't like whatever they do get, and poor reviews make the OEMs not send them much in that price range. Reply
  • Murloc - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    the problem is that spending that money for a PC without an SSD in 2017 is just a bad deal and in that range many still have HDDs. Reply
  • fred666 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    You can buy that $500 laptop and add a SSD. You still end up saving a lot compared to that $1000 laptop. Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    My point is that at that price range you can have some of it, vs virtually none at a lower one. Tiny eMC or spinning rust suck vs an SSD. 720p TN sucks vs 1080p IPS. Atom sucks vs Core. Garbage keyboard/touch pad suck vs decent ones. Cheap flimsy plastic sucks vs metal/carbon fiber/soft touch. At $300 you're lucky to get one of the not sucks. At $1000 you can have them all. At $500 you have to pick and choose. I wish 128gb SSD was a more common option in that price range than 500GB HDD; although I understand why consumer ignorance and specsheet driven sales mean that spinning rust looks like the better option to a lot of people who don't actually need all the extra storage space. Reply
  • LordOfTheBoired - Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - link

    Oh, magnetic disk storage isn't THAT terrible. And in my opinion, 500 gig is at the lower limits for acceptable storage in a primary system(and many people see no reason to own two computers, so it WILL be a primary system).

    I am not saying there are no benefits to a flash drive, just that if I had to choose between a 128 gig SSD or a 500 gig hard disk for my primary system, there would be no question I'd go for the larger device. Heck, I have more than 128 gig of data just in my music directory.
    Since I DO own more than one computer, my primary system is a desktop with a flash drive AND a multi-terabyte hard disk.
  • rxzlmn - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Yea, I recently had to find a laptop at such a price-point for a friend and I will admit it was quite hard to find something without a severe compromise. The best ones I found were the Asus UX305CA, the Acer Swift 3, and the Acer V3. Reply
  • punko - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    15" isn't a large laptop. A 17.5 or 18" screen is my minimum for a full-size laptop. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Except for the ultra-niche luggable gaming systems that size seems to've disappeared over the last few years. A tiny bezel treatment like the XPS13/15 or Spectre could cram a 17.3" panel into a conventionally sized 15.6" chassis; but its been long enough since they came out that I'm no longer expecting it to happen. Reply
  • fred666 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Laptops larger than 17" have always been hard to find, but 15" was the "average" size not so long ago. 13" was small, and 17" was large. Even Apple had these 3 categories.

    Now (according to this article) it seems 11-13" is the norm, while anything bigger is considered large.
  • DanNeely - Saturday, March 18, 2017 - link

    Yup. Removing the optical drive and replacing the HDD with an m.2 SSD combined with Intels 15W CPUs finally getting fast enough allowed OEMs to make somewhat thinish 11/13" class systems without having to drive the R&D budgets sky high to pack everything in. Those sold well enough that economies of scale allowed even cheap laptops to hit very thin form factors. At which point it became clear that most people who bought 14/15" laptops had been doing so because they were the cheapest option not because consumers actually wanted the bigger screen.

    The collapse has been rapid enough I think it's only 50/50 that the cheap 15" form factor will survive more than a few years. Performance/gaming laptops that do need the extra size to cool quad core CPUs and GPUs aren't likely to be going anywhere soon; although if TB docks get cheap enough significant attrition there is possible too.
  • fred666 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    I agree, unless you dock to monitor / keyboard / mouse most of the time, a 14-17" laptop is much better than small 13" or under one. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link


    I'm waiting for something like the XPS15 to arrive in 17.3 or 18.4", then I'll insta-buy.

    I was comparing XPS15s, but I learned that the single Thunderbolt port has only two of the four PCIe lanes connected, which kills my ideas of playing around with one of my GTX1070s connected to a dock of some sorts.

    I did look at the HP Scepter too, lovely machine, but I think it was one of the odd times that an i7 was a only a dual core, so thanks, but for that money, no thanks.

    The only machine I could find with all the Thunderbolt ports on it that I wanted, with high-res screen, lightweight, was the absolutely-very-newest MacBook Pro 15". And whilst I'm no stranger to dropping thousands on laptops, nor would I mind issues with getting Windows running on it, for the price (about 6k USD with import charges - no local stock for the lastest one in the UK when I was there) so it didn't make it feel like I was making the right decision buying something smaller than I would really like. And I do mean the price - for a 6920HQ + AMD 4GB GPU (likely Polaris), soldered-down DDR3 (no DDR4), it felt like there were too many compromises, in hardware, software, and cost.

    Dell - we'd like an 18.4" version of your XPS 13/15, min two TB3 ports (properly wired / connected), GTX1060 or 1070 if you have the room to cool it, full-fat i7 (no U's please), 1440p screen, not interested in touch screen too much, decent 5.1 speakers (you will have at least the x & y dimensions on such a platform size, though not the z), no webcam near the keyboard, screen able to go fully-back, able to charge from USB-type-C. dual LAN ports (no adapters)...

    And then you can take my money.
  • tipoo - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Agreed, especially when some 15 inch laptops weigh four pounds these days. That's as much as 13"ers did just 4-5 short years ago, and now some reviews call those four pound 15 inchers heavy!

    My laptop I carried every day to college was 6 pounds plus a large charger...I even saw a Verge review say 13"ers were getting outmoded and smaller was where it's at. I'll stick to 15".
  • e1jones - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Fair warning if you're looking at the Dell XPS 13... I'm not sure if it's a generally flawed design or I just got the POS in a batch. Or maybe it's just the i7-7500U version (non-touch 1080, 256g nvme drive, 8 gb)......

    Since receiving it in mid-November I have had to send it back twice due to 'thermal trip'... the first time they replaced the heat sink & fan, barely a week after I got it back after that fix I had to send it back again where they replaced the entire motherboard. Since the 2nd fix it's been a lot better, for a couple weeks. As mentioned above, I don't know if the whole line is flawed or if I just got the POS.

    When it's working I love it. NVMe drive is stupid fast, it's quiet & tiny, screen resolution is about right for the screen size (still not a fan of the 1080p format really). I almost don't mind Win10... enough so that I might almost upgrade the desktop from Win7.
  • psg8064 - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    I purchased a Dell XPS 13 in Dec. So far it has been an excellent machine. I have the i5-7200U version. Interesting that you had issues with a "thermal trip". As you say, I'm wondering if you had a unique situation or something specific to the design. Hopefully it's continuing to work after your 2 fixes. I also went with the non-touch 0180, 256Gb nvme drive, 8GB particularly for battery life The touch version screen looked great but I was focused on battery life. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    I'm confused - the i7, 16gig Razer Blade Stealth seems to cost $1,449, not $999 as indicated above. There is an $899 model, but with an i5 and less memory. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Sorry they've shuffled their product lineup when I wasn't looking. I'll update the text. Reply
  • Krysto - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    AMD really ought to take over the gaming laptop market with Ryzen APUs, especially if they target APUs first for the 7nm process, rather than desktop chips. They would be ahead both Intel and Nvidia on the 7nm process in notebooks, giving them a huge advantage in the notebook market. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Only if they force OEMs to make respectful designs instead of lathering on cheap parts and poor designs. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Like single channel only memory on previous gen APUs. For general computing the second memory channel doesn't play a big role, but the iGPU can offer a nice bit of additional performance if it has more bandwidth to work with when it's being pushed to run something more graphically intense. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, March 16, 2017 - link

    Will we see a Surface Pro 5 on here in the future? Company I'm at dropped them and is going back to dell. Microsoft lost critical mass by failing again and again with the "did we fix it yet?" updates for WiFi/Bluetooth and coming out of sleep issues. Reply
  • SpetsnazAntiVIP - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Maybe it's just me, but I think the keyboards on the MacBook and MacBook Pro are an atrocity and should be considered a war crime. I tried them out of curiosity since Apple made such a big deal about their butterfly switches and I think they are basically unusable. Dell got the keys right on the XPS 13/15 line and I understand why they feel their travel is the absolute minimum that should be used. Reply
  • ingwe - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Totally agree. Besides the price, the keyboard just kills it for me. They had pretty much the perfect keyboard and then ditched it. That said, some people love it. I don't understand how, but there are definitely fans of it (who aren't just fanboys).

    I have to say, one of the nice things about Apple is that it is easy to try all of their keyboards before dropping the money.
  • Maximus444 - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    Any sign of the new MacBook Pro review? That will be the real teller Reply
  • akdj - Saturday, March 25, 2017 - link

    He mentioned it in the article, under the MacBook Pro (15") recommendation Reply
  • Krysto - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    On a scale of 1-10, how backdoored is the Chuwi laptop? Reply
  • LordOfTheBoired - Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - link

    17 Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, March 17, 2017 - link

    I've read a lot in reviews about how much better MSP trackpads are, and laptops without them frequently have that as a ding against them. The Surface Book and XPS reviews for instance often call them the closest you can come to Apples trackpads on Windows.

    I recently picked up a UX330 for travel and...I'm let down. It doesn't seem near as good as my MBP at filtering involuntary hand movement from intentional movement, making fine aiming a bit of a chore. Tap to click also doesn't seem well suited to filtering out false taps so it often ends up moving things around instead. And scrolling seems aggressively inertial followed by an abrupt end rather than how you'd expect a page to respond to your motion.

    I'm left with a question, having not tried other implementations...Is

    1) The implementation of Microsoft Precision Trackpads dramatically different between different systems, despite Microsoft approval? i.e would a Surface be much better than this, despite both being MSP?


    2) Are MSP trackpads simply a ways far off from Apples overall? They're an improvement over older ones that emulated a mouse for sure, but still not entirely comparable. People say "80% as good", that seems optimistic to me.
  • stux - Sunday, March 19, 2017 - link

    Thing is, an apple trackpad will suck in windows too... ergo I assume it's the software which make apple trackpads rock.

    I don't use a mouse with a Mac laptop. They're that good. But boot it up in Windows and its sooo frustrating.
  • adriangb - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - link

    No mention of the spectre x360? Reply
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  • Hrel - Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - link

    So, there just isn't a good GTX1060 gaming laptop for around a thousand bucks?

    That's really all i care about, 1080p, GTX --60, and pretty close to a grand. But I can't find it anywhere. I dont' even care if I have to add my own SSD, whatever. Last time I added an SSD to a laptop it got $600 more expensive, fuck that shit, I'll buy one and throw it in myself for $100. Same with RAM, $350 to go from 8GB to 16GB?! Are you out your fucking mind? That's $50, TOPS!

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