If Ultrabooks leave you longing for serious power and functionality, the laptops on our list deliver the goods you want. Here are four of our recent favorites.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580
It may induce a bit of a backache at 6.2 pounds, but the IdeaPad Y580 repays you for the the hardship when you put its speedy Core i7-3610QM processor to work. Coupled with 8GB of RAM and a discreet Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics card, this beast is an envy-inducing machine at an affordable price.
The Y580 managed to outperform our baseline desktop system on WorldBench 7, with a mark of 108 (8 percent faster). The included discrete graphics card makes this machine a viable candidate for LAN parties, too, as the Y580 managed playable frame rates at high graphics settings on gaming benchmarks. We also love the fact this machine comes with a Blu-ray drive and a high-definition screen. Read our full review here.
[$1099 for a 15.6-inch laptop with a 1920-by-1080-pixel display, a Core i7-3610QM processor, and Windows 7]
Dell Inspiron 15R 7520
Weighing in at 7.4 pounds, this Inspiron model is a behemoth when matched against Ultrabooks (and even some laptops). But in its favor, it sports serious features, strong performance (a 137 mark on WorldBench 7), and a full 1080p, 15.6-inch LED screen.
Unlike all four of the Ultrabooks we looked at, the Inspiron 15R 7520 offers a plethora of ports and an optical drive, so you can get the most out of your external devices and media. The sensitive trackpad supports multitouch gestures, and the keyboard's indented keys invite more-accurate typing. Finally, if you're looking for style options, you'll enjoy the Inspiron 15R 7520's replaceable lids, available in different colors. Read our full review here. [$1149 for a 15.6-inch laptop with a 1920-by-1080-pixel display, a Core i7-3612QM processor, and Windows 7]
By modern standards, Origin's portable is insanely heavy at 11 pounds—and it's quite expensive, too, though you can option it down to a lower price than the one we list below. On the other hand, its gaming features blow everything else out of the water.
This powerhouse outscored many of our performance desktop PCs on WorldBench 7, streaking to an impressive score of 200 (that's double what our baseline desktop system achieved). Origin has long produced standout desktop gaming PCs, and that design prowess clearly extends to laptops. The EON17-S delivered a sustained frame rate in excess of 75 frames per second in Crysis 2 on high settings at native resolution—an extremely impressive score. If you need an escape from "quality holiday family time" this holiday season, this is your ticket out. Check out our full review here.
[$3442 for a 17.3-inch laptop with a 1920-by-1080-pixel display, a Core i7-3920XM processor, and Windows 7]
Lenovo IdeaPad U410
The IdeaPad U410 is an outstanding option if you're trying to stay under the $1000 mark, but don't want to skimp on power and usability.
The U410 packs a discrete Nvidia GeForce 610M graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a strong Intel Core i5-3317U. In this configuration, it broke the 100 barrier on our WorldBench 7 benchmark, romping to a score of 117 (17 percent faster than our baseline desktop PC). A small SSD augments a 500GB hard-drive to deliver SSD performance at a traditional hard-drive price. The keyboard keys are comfortable and responsive, and the touchpad detects only fingers, preventing stray palm touches from taking over the cursor. This is the perfect tool for the student in your life. Feeling generous this holiday season? Check out our full review here.
[$800 for a 14.1-inch laptop with a 1366-by-768-pixel display, a Core i5-3317U processor, and Windows 7]