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Every category features picks that, in our view, represent some of the best machines available now. Our primary goal here is to find systems that are inexpensive without being overly cheap—notebooks that don’t give up all of their desirable features just to hit the lowest price possible. The sub-$400 price range is primarily the domain of netbooks and larger computers that use netbook-class processors, usually from AMD. While AMD's processors have trouble matching the raw CPU performance of Intel's chips at the medium and high end, their products still have some appeal to the cost-conscious buyer. Just make sure you go for something like this Acer's A6-3420M chip rather than a slightly cheaper notebook with an E-300 or E-400 series processor—the latter are netbook-class processors that beat Intel's Atom in processing power, but don't do much else. Dell’s Inspiron 14R is a surprisingly feature-packed laptop for this price, especially if you look at its connectivity options. The Inspiron 14R is quite appealing for a laptop in this price range, and for anything but gaming it should be more than adequate.
Ivy Bridge notebooks aren’t inexpensive yet—we’ll probably have to wait for Ivy Bridge-based Pentiums and Celerons to come out before that happens—but if you’re willing to budge up into this price bracket they do come with a fair number of amenities. That’s one reason the Inspiron line wins out again—all of the 15R's four USB ports are USB 3.0, and since the other laptops in this price class all use equal or lesser processors, hard drives, and RAM amounts, that becomes a deciding factor. The laptop is marred by the middling (but typical) 1366x768 display and a 100 megabit (not gigabit) Ethernet port. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Conde Nast. It is of utmost importance to the laptop users to try to increase the battery power of the laptops and this can be practically achieved by moderating the laptop usage habits. While using laptop, the unused devices must be turned off as for example the infrared transceiver, the Bluetooth radio and the Ethernet adapter.
Moreover, in order to increase laptop battery power, it is very crucial to regularly defragment the hard drive so that the frequency of spin involved with it decreases, thereby extending the power usage of the battery.
Yet another important measure at this context is that the start up items are required to be disabled to the fullest possible extent so that the virtual memory of the CPU is not hampered shortening the runtime of the battery. Concluding the discussion with one last point, it is imperative to properly condition the battery that is to completely drain it and then recharge it to accomplish successful power management of the battery. If a person follows the above mentioned tips, he or she can be rest assured that there would be a definite increase in the laptop battery power. I’ve found one of the best ways to extend the battery life is to create a power profile that you use when on battery. Then when you are using the laptop, it is limited as to the amount of cpu it can use, this won’t cause problems for notes, wordprocessing, and web based stuff. The same variety that makes it possible for you to find a laptop specifically designed to manage both your neon geranium business and your online polka-streaming startup also means that the market is flooded with laptops that aren't tailored to your particular needs.

In most cases, we've also included a few alternatives in case something about our main pick was a dealbreaker for you.
That doesn’t mean these laptops will be terrible performers, but it does mean that a few things will remain constant: integrated graphics are the norm, mechanical 5400 RPM hard drives are standard, and 1366x768 displays are all but unavoidable. Computers this cheap are saddled with enough limitations and caveats that I'd recommend moving up to our "mid-range" selections if at all possible—build quality is going to be a major concern, especially if the laptop is traveling frequently or is heavily used, and the amount of power inside the bulky, plasticky chassis may leave you wanting if your needs are more strenuous than Web browsing, video streaming, or word processing. Its AMD A6-3420M is billed as a quad-core processor, but these older AMD processors perform slowly enough that a dual-core Intel processor of the Sandy or Ivy Bridge persuasion will usually beat them in all but the most heavily threaded tasks. The A6-3420M's integrated graphics solution is better than Intel's (and good graphics are important enough to the operation of the forthcoming Windows 8) to the point that I would recommend AMD over Intel in this case. Despite the Pentium branding, which these days is used to denote processors slower than those with Core branding, the B960 is still a dual-core Sandy Bridge processor that outmuscles most of the competing AMD offerings and also older Core 2 Duo processors at similar clock speeds. Moving up into the mid-range won't get you the best laptop, but you should at least be able to graduate to more powerful processors and better build quality. The Core i3-2330M is a dual-core processor that includes Hyperthreading, which should help a bit with CPU-heavy tasks like video encoding, but its lack of Turbo Boost technology limits its performance with single-threaded applications.
However, the trackpad was small (if otherwise functional) and the fan could run a little loud when under load. Ivy Bridge processors and the Intel HD 4000 graphics processors they include are both faster than their Sandy Bridge predecessors by a noticeable amount, and Ivy Bridge chipsets have native support for USB 3.0 which should make those faster ports both more common and more numerous in many of these laptops. Like the 14R (and the Samsung and Sony models mentioned above), it’s a bit chunky compared to the Ultrabooks that we’re now used to seeing. With each passing year, although the efficiency of laptop batteries increase but the effect is subdued by an even greater increment in the power needs of the laptops that don’t help to prolongate the average life of the batteries.
If the brightness of the screen is lowered down then it would potentially give one an extra hour or two of runtime. Such technical measure is rational in its own way as it intends to optimize the data placement on the hard drive and helps in modulating unnecessary hard drive activity.
If you use Windows Vista or 7, the default setting is called balanced, which balances performance and battery life.
Maintaining the internal specifications right is enough to make things perfect and increase the battery life.
It's much more work than it's worth to educate yourself on every tiny difference between laptop A from manufacturer X and laptop B from manufacturer Y.
To that end, these recommendations eschew the netbook-class processors and 2GB of RAM that some cheap laptops use. It uses Intel's HD 2000 graphics chip, though, which loses some features and performance relative to the HD 3000 GPU in Core-series Sandy Bridges—our Lenovo M92p benchmarks show that it's about a third slower, and the AMD chip will definitely outperform it if 3D performance is more important to you than GPU power.

Some things, like the 1366x768 displays and mechanical hard drives, remain constant, but amenities like USB 3.0 can make the extra cost worth it. The Intel HD 3000 GPU will be adequate for simpler or older games, but it won’t be great for anything more recent.
Like other laptops in this price range, the laptop’s 1366x768 screen is also quite basic, with poor vertical viewing angles and average color.
It’s still too lightweight as a gaming machine to make our gaming notebook category, but its performance should be superior to the Intel HD 3000. I might be picking nits, but it seems like a pretty glaring omission not to offer as many USB 3.0 ports as you can.
As in the 14R, the processor is a dual-core affair with Hyperthreading, but the i5 processors gain Turbo Boost for faster performance in single-threaded applications. In reviewing a (slightly higher-end) model, PC World praised the spacious chiclet-style keyboard and trackpad but gave the machine low marks for its non-gigabit Ethernet port and battery life. It is now a common sense that the more the physical devices are put into use, the more will be the consumption of the battery’s power. It can also be moderated by lowering the resolution of the screen and the colour depth that would take away the excess workload on the CPU, enhancing the runtime of the battery. If you’re looking for cheaper lightweight or gaming laptops, we've got a few recommendations for you a bit later in the article. We didn't go with it as our primary pick primarily because customer reviews about its flaky trackpad and loud fan gave us pause. Truly good battery life is hard to come by in most low-end laptops, but if you want gigabit Ethernet, the Sony, Samsung, and Acer models linked above all include it and fall into our price range. In order to considerably increase laptop battery power, it is essential to keep in mind few important measures.
Upgrading the memory to its supported maximum of 8GB should also be simple, since the laptop’s two DDR3 RAM slots are easily accessible from the bottom of the machine. And, like many budget laptops, the 14R is a bit on the chunky side, especially in the wake of the Ultrabook onslaught—it is, however, nearly a pound lighter than the cheaper Acer Aspire A5560-7414 we recommended above.

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