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best rated laptopsBuying a laptop DOWNLOAD Laptop Buying Guide 2011 DOWNLOAD Laptop Buying Guide 2011 Computer hardware is constantly changing, but it's not entirely unpredictable. There are often distinct trends, and today's laptop market is no different. Not sure where to start? You should read our "2011 Laptop Buying Guide",... Read More is a difficult decision. Most of us have to walk a tight-rope, balancing what we want (power, style, portability and more) with what we can afford.

But what if money wasn’t an obstacle? What would you buy then? You’d probably consider laptops that never even popped on your radar before – like the five listed here.

Sony Vaio Z

best rated laptops

The Sony Vaio Z has always been the company’s super-high-end ultraportable. It’s basically a “halo product” that shows what Sony’s engineers are capable of when they’re given a large budget to work with.

At first glance, the hardware specs don’t seem that impressive. The Sony Vaio Z comes standard with a Core i5-2410M processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB solid state drive Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] Should You Get A Solid State Drive (SSD)? [Opinion] If you've kept up with some of the latest news about new computer parts, you may have heard about SSDs, or solid state drives. They are designed to replace your clunky, slow hard drive and... Read More . All of that can be had for a fraction of the price. What makes the Z expensive is the fact all of this has been crammed into a chassis .66 inches thick that weighs just 2.57 pounds. And Sony did this before Intel started making a big deal about ultrabooks.

Pricing starts at $1,999, but if that isn’t expensive enough for you, Sony offers the Signature Collection. These usually offer unique styling and always offer insane hardware. One model, priced at $4,499, upgrades the Z to a 1080p display, a Core i7 dual core processor and a 512GB solid state drive.

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Lenovo ThinkPad T420s

best rated computer laptops

You don’t hear much coming from Lenovo about the ThinkPad T series these days. The company has been working on a lot of other new models which have taken the limelight away from this stalwart of the company’s lineup.

That’s a shame, because there’s still good laptops in the T series – and some expensive ones. The T420s, which is a thin-and-light version of the standard T420, starts at $1,149. For that you receive a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB mechanical hard drive.

But if you can spend as much as you’d like, that’s not the one you want. No, you want the T420s with the solid state drive, the Core i7 dual core processor and an optional extended life battery that can fit into the slot normally occupied by the removable optical drive. Configured like this you’re looking at a lofty $1,959 price tag – and it’s worth every penny.

Alienware M18X

best rated computer laptops

When it comes to customized gaming laptops 5 Ways To Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop 5 Ways To Improve Gaming Performance on Your Laptop Read More , it’s hard to beat Alienware. And when it comes to Alienware, it’s hard to beat the M18x. This is the company’s fastest, biggest and most expensive laptop.

In base guise, it’s only $1,999. You’ll want the fully upgraded model, however, that starts at $3,299 and includes dual graphics. But why stop there?

Load the M18x with an Intel Extreme Edition quad-core processor. Upgrade the dual video cards to a pair of Nvidia GTX 580Ms. Improve the solid state drive to a 512GB monster. Now you’re looking at one of the most powerful laptops ever sold, along with a price tag of $4,974.

If you’d like to tip the system over $5,000, just for kicks, pick the dual layer Blu-Ray drive.

Panasonic Toughbook C1

best rated computer laptops

What? Panasonic makes laptops?

Yes, they do. But you won’t usually see them in stores because they’re not built for the average consumer. Panasonic calls its laptops Toughbooks, and they’re specifically geared for users who need a laptop that can survive extreme environments.

The C1 is the company’s most accessible model, and one of the few a consumer could potentially find a use for. It’s a 12.1” convertible tablet weighs 3.28 pounds. Most models are powered by Core i5 processors and an optional solid state drive.

Specifications aren’t what this laptop is about, however. It’s about features like hot-swappable twin battery design. It’s about resistance to falls up to 30 feet. It’s about the weird but effective ergonomic strap that can be attached to the bottom, making the laptop easier to hold with one hand.

Price? It can vary a bit because Panasonic does not sell laptops directly but instead relies on third-party resellers. Typically you’ll have to pay $2,500 for a base model and over $3,000 for one with all the goodies.

Dell Precision M6600

best rated laptops

Deciding which mobile workstation would make this list was a tough call. They’re all expensive, they’re all nice, and they’re all way more than your average person would ever need.

Ultimately, I decided on the M6600. Why? Three hard drives. If you have money to burn you can buy a Dell Precision M6600 with 1.5 terabytes of solid state storage. That will set you back $3,670 for the drives alone.

The other options are nothing to laugh at. Dell’s UltraSharp 1080p mobile displays are available, and they’re beautiful. You can also pick Nvidia Quadro 5010M graphics and quad-core Intel Extreme Edition processors. It’s not hard to price a M6600 over ten grand if you want all the goodies.


This list isn’t about expense just for the sake of it. It is about dream machines – computers that are absurdly powerful, rugged, beautiful or all three, but also priced well outside the average person’s budget. If you have a suggestion that you think would fit this list, let us know in the comments.

  1. Smayonak
    January 30, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Why not the Asus G74/G73? On the high end models, they're more or less equal to the best of these, but has the added advantage of running cooler temps and being overall cheaper.

    In the Toughbook category, the CF-31 is king. Aside from its obvious advantage of being super rugged - it's also completely solid state. No moving parts whatsoever. Core i5 and it's passively cooled! Unfortunately, it's also $3,500. But, hey, you said price isn't an object, right?
    Great article, by the way.

    • paul
      July 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Some idiot said Asus is "not expensive enough." What a ridiculous thing to say. Anyone know WHY the Asus is less expensive?

      • Matt Smith
        July 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm

        ASUS is less expensive because they are a mass manufacturer. They do not allow customization but instead only build certain pre-configured models, which keeps costs down.

        They also do not build products competitive with super-high-end gaming laptops from Alienware, Origin, Maingear and others. They are not in that market.

        The ASUS G-Series products are very good gaming laptops but they are also the budget option. Why would I include the budget option in a post about some of the most expensive and extravagant laptops on the market? That would be silly.

        • Paul
          July 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

          I don't know. I'm not saying you should have included Asus, I'm saying "not expensive enough" is a ridiculous reason not to have included it. Now that you've clarified, others will be more likely to understand the real reasons.

  2. Eempire
    January 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I have the Sony.

    • Tina
      January 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

      And how do you like it?

  3. davidosomething
    January 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    The vaio z is only nice specwise. In person, you'll notice the crappy shallow keyboard and flimsy screen (tap it and it shakes like jello, compare to macbook air's thin, solid screen)

    • M.S. Smith
      January 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

      The Z does have some build quality issues. But it also offers powerful hardware in a thin package that no one else matches. It's not a 10/10 but more of a 8/10 .

  4. Bakari Chavanu
    January 27, 2012 at 7:13 am

    No MacBook Air on the list?

  5. Chris Hoffman
    January 27, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Surprisingly affordable choices! I was expecting them to be gold-plated and diamond-encrusted.

    • M.S. Smith
      January 30, 2012 at 1:05 am

      I was considering going that route, but everything I found about  super-high-end luxury laptops was just a bit silly. There are some diamond encrusted, gold-plated laptops out there, though.

  6. NULL
    January 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    No MacBook ?

    • M.S. Smith
      January 27, 2012 at 1:38 am

      I didn't include the MacBook because it's a really obvious choice. It'd be easy to include, but I think everyone already knows that it is expensive and good.

  7. Nathan
    January 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    As my corporate friends tell me, Apple make the best notebooks to load Win & on. Large corporations like Cisco allow their folks to pick their laptop and many are choosing the MacBook Pro

  8. Dave Parrack
    January 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I have to admit that, as nice as these are, if money was no object I'd buy a 15-inch MacBook Pro.

  9. Mohit
    January 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Alienware is hard to beat in gaming but in other aspects Macbook is best

  10. Keatts
    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    You think Alienware laptops are "hard to beat?"  ASUS, Sager, MSI, and Origin all easily beat Alienware in performance and price.  You guys really couldn't have taken the time to research this.  I'm unsubscribing from this website.

    • M.S. Smith
      January 27, 2012 at 1:24 am

      Fanboy alert!

       ASUS is not expensive enough to qualify. MSI isn't expensive enough, either - and not very good. So that leaves Origin/Sager/Maingear/Falcon NW/etc. 

      But as good as they are, I think Alienware's custom chassis design separates them from the crowd. If you're going to drop 5 grand on a gaming laptop, shouldn't it have a unique look?

      • paul
        July 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        What on earth do you mean not expensive enough to qualify? The list is about dream machines, not just about expense for the sake of expense, as the author states in the conclusion to the article.
        And why should I care if my gaming laptop has a unique look? I care about how the screen looks, of course, but I think you're talking about the look and feel of the actual physical thing sitting in your lap, and it always baffles me that people care about that. If you want a nice looking box, go buy a nice looking box and look at it. When I use my laptop, I spend all my time looking at what's on the screen, not looking at the laptop itself.

        But, to each his own I guess. You go spend $5K on a relatively crappy but aesthetically beautiful laptop. I'll spend my money on the actual technology. If I want a 'unique look', which I don't, I can paint it, or put some stickers on the thing, or something.

        • Matt Smith
          July 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm

          By not expensive enough, I mean not expensive enough. If a laptop costs $2000 it probably won't pack the hardware of a $3000+ laptop. ASUS gaming laptops top out at $2000 which is why you won't find them with SLI, or multiple solid state drives in RAID0, or custom paint jobs. That sort of stuff is the domain of the boutiques.

          I can't tell you why you should care about how your gaming laptop looks, but it's clear that a lot of people do. Which is sensible. If a person spends a lot of money on something they will want it to look like they spent a lot of money.

          You can't spend more money on the actual technology if you buy ASUS. They don't let you. They sell off-the-shelf gaming laptops that can't be customized during purchase.

        • Paul
          July 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

          Matt Smith said "By not expensive enough, I mean not expensive enough"

          No you don't. You claim that's what you meant, but then you go on to explain what you really meant - that the less expensive one probably doesn't have as many features, So you should have just said in the first place that Asus doesn't provide as many features, or as high quality, or whatever. "Not expensive enough" is not a good reason for not buying a laptop, or not including it in a 'best laptops' list; it's a ridiculous statement to make.

          Even worse is
          "By not expensive enough, I mean not expensive enough."

        • Paul
          July 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

          Matt Smith said "If a person spends a lot of money on something they will want it to look like they spent a lot of money. "

          I completely disagree. In my opinion, only a very vain and/or shallow person would hold such an opinion. However, to each their own. If people want to buy a specific laptop, maybe spending an extra $500 or whatever because it looks nicer when it's turned off sitting on their coffee table, that's their business. I buy my laptops for the functionality.

        • Paul
          July 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

          Sorry about the abrasive language. I could have expressed myself with a bit more consideration. I'm not trying to be mean, I just get annoyed at stuff like this.

  11. James Bruce
    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Wow, design wise these laptops pretty much look like they came out of the 90's, with the exception of the alienware (although in fairness, it isnt opened up yet). I have no doubt they're powerful beasts, but for the same price as a macbook pro you'd expect something a lot… *sexier* 0_o

    • Dave Parrack
      January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      I was thinking that. The Dell and Lenovo look positively old-skool.

    • MicroBuntu
      January 27, 2012 at 4:45 am

      So just because they're expensive, they're supposed to be shiny and
      bathed in essence of Mac? These systems are expensive because of the
      power/ruggedness/quality they pack in a small
      package, not because they need to be overly dressed to entice someone to
      buy them.

      "Sexier"being fairly subjective, I find the Mac's appearance quite bland
      and uninviting; even more so as that bland silver-grey continues into
      the UI.

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