My Favorite Performance Laptops (2015 Edition – Revised November)

Rather than bore you with things we like, requirements, considerations, blah blah, let’s just get into looking at some cool laptops…

 

The Macbook Pro 15″ (MSRP $1999)

Macbook Pro systems have historically been an excellent purchase choice with regards to performance, durability, reliability, weight, and longevity. These computers just last forever. We serviced one recently that was almost 12 years old and suggested it might finally be time to upgrade.

With it’s sleek light aluminum case and great feeling keyboard, it is a pleasure to compute with these systems. Plus if you need, it can be configured for dual-booting OSX or Windows so running most software applications is not an issue. Also, since Mac computers are all Intel based now, many peripherals that you think were Windows-only is simply not the case any longer. Many devices like wireless mice are cross-platform now.

Packing a sweet Core i7 CPU paired with a good performance Solid State Drive, these Macbooks are up to the task of anything you can throw at it. High performance computing such as exporting and rendering video edits, manipulating large design files, or simply installing large software upgrades and updates are quick and responsive. We recommend purchasing the standard hard drive and upgrading to SSD since it’s cheaper than including it outright.

These laptops are graceful and powerful. Built with Apple’s extremely capable OSX software, programs respond quickly and smoothly so switching from program to program is a fast, seamless experience that increases productivity. The sound quality is superb and the screen is brilliant.

Apple Product Link

 

HP OMEN 15″ Gaming Laptop (MSRP $1499+)

I like this machine quite a lot and HP has been making some really nice laptops for a long time. I don’t consider myself a die-hard gamer, but I play enough games that I like a system to respond and provide a decent amount of detail in the visuals of the game. There are also plenty of faster gaming machines available but they are just too expensive for the value you get out of them. Plus almost all of them have that annoying number pad, off-centering the keyboard & mouse which leads to sore wrists from typing off to the side. Keeping the performance decently high, while still remaining inside of most of my other preferences, this is my choice laptop that will add that extra omph with a dedicated gaming graphics controller.

This machine early in the year was advertised with a fast i7 processor, 8GB of memory upgradable to 16GB, and a sweet 256GB Solid State Drive upgradable to a 512GB SSD for plenty of space to store a decent amount of games, music, and other media. This laptop only comes with a 4-cell battery so the run time might be a bit less than the other systems though.

I’m not convinced the “Beats Audio” is actually a selling point, the brand seems over marketed as hype instead of true audio technology research delivered. I’d prefer to see stamps from companies like Yamaha, Denon, or Bose where they focus on audio performance, but I don’t believe any of those manufacturers are currently into the “internal components of laptops” market.

The audio hype aside, this system is a solid performer, although almost twice the weight of the Lenovo X1 below, it costs less and will perform well. Plus it’s cool – the keyboard changes colors depending on your mood. Okay, it doesn’t actually react to your mood, but it does change colors.

HP Product Link

 

The Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch 14″ 3rd Generation (MSRP $1269+)

I’ve always been a Lenovo Thinkpad T-series fan. Recently though, my wife and I purchased the X1 Carbon first generation version of this laptop for home, work, and school.

The computer is super lightweight bottoming out at an astonishingly light 2.8 lbs thanks to its carbon fiber construction. This machine is small enough it can be easily placed into a briefcase or backpack… it’s roughly the size of a single spiral notebook. The carbon fiber construction does attract minimal fingerprint markings, but it’s barely noticeable, and the carbon fiber gets this notebook a decent amount of strength to the structure so I’ll take the durability and lightweight over a few barely visible finger prints.

Windows 8.1 runs great, as does Windows 10 and many high end production software programs are lighting fast when running on a solid state drive.  The case can get a bit warm from gaming or video rendering, but for the most part it stays cool during daily activities.

It has capable on-board connectivity and with the optional USB3 dock it expands to multi-display, gigabit networking, and a few additional USB3 ports for a permanently connected keyboard, mouse, or external hard drive – funneling all the peripherals through the one onboard USB 3 port. In addition, there’s just enough connectivity when not docked for a Logitech Unifying receiver and one other USB device like a flash drive, external hard drive, or usb disc drive.

This laptop also fits in with my quirky requirements: The keyboard is centered and has that great Thinkpad feel. Sadly they chose the Function (FN) key for the bottom left corner, but luckily the engineers allow us to reverse the CTRL key and the FN key in the settings.

Even though it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card for gaming, I was surprised how well it plays many high-resolution graphics intense games. The integrated Intel HD graphics are not too shabby in these laptops, but if you find yourself gaming regularly, it’s probably not the system you would choose. It’s also quiet and elegant for all other activities including online video streaming or simply checking emails. The portability makes it easy to get comfortable under a blanket for casual web surfing too.

The screen looks great, and combined with an inexpensive active mini display port adapter from StarTech, I can connect it to any HD device while I’m on the go. The sound produced is pretty decent too and easy to hear against background noises. For such a thin, lightweight computer, it packs quite a wallop. This is a perfect system for the most active professionals and I expect it will last a long time.

For those gamers out there, check out Lenovo’s Y-series laptops too!

Lenovo Product Link

 

Asus GX500 15″ Gaming Laptop (Not Available)

I mention this laptop, because this was the new gaming system that started the hunt for me to produce this extremely short list. An advertised powerhouse, the first one I found that would deliver everything I was dreaming about in a laptop. But it has been advertised for so long it has turned into a disappointment, simply because I think they tried to over-deliver and can’t actually manufacture this system. If it ever comes out, depending on price it would potentially replace the slot the HP currently holds, but for now, in terms of gaming, I’d definitely choose the HP Omen.

Asus News

 

[NEW UPDATE BELOW: 11/18/2015]

Razerzone “The New Razer Blade” 2015 Gaming Laptop (MSRP $2199.99+)

This is almost certainly the perfect laptop. I ran across this system recently and absolutely must get it. It puts out quite a bit of heat while gaming though and I know Razer is constantly improving the heat efficiency in these systems. Besides that, this system kicks some serious tail. A georgeous high resolution display and incredible speed. Yeah, it looks like a Macbook, but hey, it will run Windows and Linux and the CTRL key is in the bottom left corner where it should be – take that Lenovo! What more could you want? I really have nothing else to say. Buy it.