Top rated laptops of 2011

With over 70 laptops reviewed this year, here are our 20 top-rated models

2011 was definitely the year of the ultraportable laptop, especially towards the end of the year when a few vendors unleashed their Ultrabook models. All throughout the year we saw many models ranging in size from 11.6in to 14in, and most models hit sweet price points.

Many thin and light models came in at around $1000 and under 2kg, with vendors realising that people want something inexpensive, light and portable, but also with a good dollop of speed and high user comfort. As such, conventional netbooks were basically abandoned by vendors in favour of more powerful lightweight models featuring AMD's Fusion APUs and slightly larger form factors.

Mid-sized and desktop replacement notebooks aren't going away though, and 15.6in laptops are still the best sellers according to all the vendors we talked to throughout the year. That said, in 2012 we can look forward to more Ultrabooks and potentially lower prices for the notebooks in this segment as next generation units are released and as more vendors get in on the act.

ThinkPad X1 (1291-23M)

1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (1291-23M) ultraportable laptop

The ThinkPad X1 is the type of laptop that no reviewer wants to give back to the vendor. It feels solidly built and great to use, but it could be better. In particular, its touchpad needs refinement, it could use ...
Review Date: 26th May, 2011
RRP: $ 2,684.00
Portege R830 (PT321A-01L002)

2. Toshiba Portege R830 (PT321A-01L002) ultraportable laptop

Toshiba's Portege R830 is a great choice for business users who want something that's easily mobile, yet fully-featured and fast. It's not perfect -- it could use a better screen, a backlit keyboard and a quicker charging time -- but ...
Review Date: 29th May, 2011
RRP: $ 2,667.50
M11x R3

3. Alienware M11x R3 ultraportable gaming laptop

The M11x R3 is a little gaming laptop that you'll love. It looks good, it feels good and it performs very well. The only downside is that it's a little cramped due to its size.
Review Date: 22nd June, 2011
RRP: $ 1,799.00

4. Sony VAIO S Series VPCSA255GG laptop

The Sony VAIO S Series VPCSA25GG is for suit-wearing business users who want something that stands out. It's thin, it's light, it has USB 3.0 and other nice features, and it has good CPU and graphics performance. It could use ...
Review Date: 8th Aug., 2011
RRP: $ 2,399.00
Inspiron 14z (N411z)

5. Dell Inspiron 14z (N411z) laptop

The Inspiron 14z is a good choice for anyone who wants good speed and lots of features in a relatively small and comfortable-to-use chassis. It weighs only 1.95kg, it's 25mm thick and it feels quite well made overall. It's a ...
Review Date: 11th Aug., 2011
ThinkPad Edge E320 (129834M)

6. Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E320 (129834M) business laptop

It may have a plain design, but Lenovo's ThinkPad Edge E320 is so nice even Mac fans can appreciate it. It's a business laptop with an excellent keyboard and it costs well under $1000 in its standard configuration. However, it ...
Review Date: 17th Aug., 2011
RRP: $ 772.00
Satellite Z830 (PT22LA-001001) Ultrabook

7. Toshiba Satellite Z830 (PT22LA-001001) Ultrabook

If you want to buy an Ultrabook, then buy this one. It's only 1.1kg and 16mm thick, but it has a conventional feature-set and it feels very comfortable to use. We enjoyed reviewing it very much, more so than the ...
Review Date: 20th Nov., 2011
RRP: $ 1,399.00
Editor's Choice
Folio 13-1008TU Ultrabook

8. HP Folio 13-1008TU Ultrabook

The Folio 13 is one of the best Ultrabooks on the market, simply because it's a joy to use and it has all the right features: long battery life, a thin chassis, responsive performance, an SSD, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, ...
Review Date: 14th Dec., 2011
RRP: $ 1,499.00
Editor's Choice
N55SF (N55SF-SX005U)

9. ASUS N55SF (N55SF-SX005U) laptop

The ASUS N55SF is a powerful notebook with a good looking design and solid build quality. We really enjoyed using it during our test period and think it's a suitable unit for anyone who wants laptop that can be used ...
Review Date: 21st Oct., 2011
RRP: $ 1,599.00
Editor's Choice

10. Sony VAIO YB Series (VPCYB16KG) laptop

The Sony VAIO YB Series is one of the best little laptops on the market. Its screen quality is excellent, it performs well, and it has good looks as well as plenty of useful features. We recommend it to anyone ...
Review Date: 18th Feb., 2011
RRP: $ 799.00
Editor's Choice
Inspiron M102z

11. Dell Inspiron M102z AMD Fusion netbook

Dell's Inspiron M102z makes use of AMD Fusion technology to deliver decent performance and great battery life in an 11.6in form factor.
Review Date: 11th April, 2011
RRP: $ 699.00
Sony VAIO SB Series (VPCSB16FG)

12. Sony VAIO SB Series (VPCSB16FG) 2nd Generation Intel Core laptop

The Sony VAIO SB Series (VPCSB16FG) represents all that is good about mobile computing: it's a thin, light, well built and attractive 13in laptop, and thanks to 2nd Generation Intel Core CPU technology, it also possesses great battery life and ...
Review Date: 24th Feb., 2011
RRP: $ 1,499.00
Best Buy
Notebook Series 9 (NP900X3A-A01AU)

13. Samsung Notebook Series 9 (NP900X3A-A01AU) ultraportable laptop

The Samsung Series 9 has strong build quality, a sleek design and many great features that make it comfortable to use. It's high price tag definitely makes it a luxury item, but if you want excellent mobility and usability in ...
Review Date: 8th May, 2011
RRP: $ 2,499.00
Editor's Choice
Tecra R850 (PT520A-01S003)

14. Toshiba Tecra R850 (PT520A-01S003) business laptop

The Toshiba Tecra R850 is thin, reasonably light and elegant. Considering it's a 15.6in business laptop that's no mean feat. It performed well in our performance and battery tests, it has good features and it's comfortable to use. But it's ...
Review Date: 5th May, 2011
RRP: $ 1,925.00
MacBook Air

15. Apple MacBook Air (13in, mid-2011)

Apple's latest MacBook Air still lacks replaceable components, still has an annoying glossy screen and remains relatively expensive. However, its performance upgrades with new Core i5 processors give it the extra grunt previous models were missing. Combined with a superb ...
Review Date: 5th Aug., 2011
RRP: $ 1,799.00

16. Alienware M18x gaming notebook

If you’re looking for a proper desktop replacement -- replacing a gaming desktop, that is -- the Alienware M18x is undoubtedly the notebook to pick. It’s massive and has a price tag that’s painful, but its performance is almost unparalleled.
Review Date: 16th Sept., 2011
RRP: $ 3,299.00
Editor's Choice
Akoya P7812 (MD 98770) notebook

17. Medion Akoya P7812 (MD 98770) notebook

The latest Akoya is a desktop replacement notebook with good versatility. You can use it for office work as well as gaming, and it even has some upgrade potential thanks to a second hard drive bay. We found it comfortable ...
Review Date: 17th Nov., 2011
RRP: $ 899.00
Best Buy
Inspiron 15R N5110

18. Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 laptop

The Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 is a cheap laptop with good speed and it includes nice features such as HDMI and USB 3.0. It also has a customisable lid so that you can install a design of your choice. However, ...
Review Date: 29th March, 2011
RRP: $ 699.00
ThinkPad T420

19. Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Sandy Bridge laptop

The Lenovo ThinkPad T420 may be expensive, but it's aimed at professional users who want a sturdy, reliable and well-performing laptop. It runs the latest Intel Sandy Bridge CPU technology and has a solid all-round configuration.
Review Date: 7th April, 2011
RRP: $ 2,449.00
Wind U270

20. MSI Wind U270 netbook

The MSI Wind U270 offers more speed than a typical netbook thanks to its AMD Fusion APU. It comes with good features, such as USB 3.0 and Gigabit, and it's affordable. We just wish it had more of a streamlined ...
Review Date: 31st March, 2011
RRP: $ 549.00
Best Buy

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