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We did lots of research and the Gateway NV7915u (available at Best Buy for $599.99 at the time of this writing) is by far the best value on the market we found for a large screen, 17″+ laptop. Benchmark scores show the processor way outperforming its AMD Turon II competitor (and as a nice surprise, our laptop shipped with an i5!).
The two main competitors to this laptop we considered were the Gateway NV7316u ($579.99) and the HP Pavilion dv7-3165dx ($779.99). We also looked at a Toshiba and Dell, which were far inferior.
Out of all 3 laptops, the NV7915u (this one) performed the fastest on processor benchmarks.
The primary advantages for the NV7915u large screen laptop are:
- Intel Core i3 processor (we got an i5, maybe you will too) – both these processors far outperform the AMD Turion II.
- Faster system bus, more cache memory, and faster (DDR3) RAM
- (Compared to Gateway) RAM expandable to 8GB (as opposed to 4GB) – this will come into play several years from now when you need more power and RAM is cheaper.
Pluses for all of these large screen laptops:
- HDMI output – you can use this to hook your laptop up to HD TV or Projector for movies, etc.
- 4 USB ports
- Energy Star qualification (most laptops should have this by now)
- Good keyboards/ touch pad/ sound & speakers
- Windows 7 64-bit: Windows 7 is solid, uses resources better than XP and way better than Vista. 64-bit processing has a significant performance advantage, particularly with multitasking (parallel computing) – just be sure to buy/download 64-bit software (will also run 32-bit software if no 64-bit version is available).
Disadvantages of the NV7915u:
- (Compared to HP) Lesser battery life (6-cell as opposed to 8-cell battery), 2 hours instead of 5+. Note – you can always buy a better battery down the road.
- (Compared to HP) Slightly slower hard drive (5400 RPM instead of 7200)
- (Compared to HP) No blue-ray support
- No ATI graphics card (although benchmark tests show that for every day PC (office) tasks, the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD actually outperforms the ATI. So, the ATI card advantage is primarily for 3D performance/ gaming, etc.)
- (Compared to HP) HP has slightly better LED screen
As a sidenote for Gateway laptops – this is our first Gateway purchase (we build desktops from scratch), and we’re pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the initial setup/ installation. In addition, Gateway labels all its included software (in add/remove programs you’ll see each listing appended by “Gateway…”, so you can easily remove it, although it’s not nearly as bothersome as all the junk Dell stuffs onto their PC’s (under strange, cryptic names that you have to Google to find out what they are).