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I depends on how much money you have. I would wait on the new Intel 2nd generation processors. They are going to be expensive. Yes I3 vs i5 vs i7 is confusing. And to confuse you more they have 1 gen i7-720 and then 1.5 gen i7-740. Now you have to think, do you want an integrated graphics solution or do you need more horse power. If you buy a Laptop and get the screen resolution higher then 1366x768 which is 720P, and you get 1600 x 800 which is 720HD, or 1080P which is 1900x1280 you will be spending from 1200 - 1500 and if you get a Sandy Bridge, the sky is the limit. The best place to buy is Amazon.com. I recommend the Asus Core I7-740 with a built in 425M graphics chip. It doesn't have blue ray, and for blue ray you need 1080P period. The laptop has HDMI output, and VGA output so you can plug it into a 1080P HD TV or smaller 1080P 19-23 inch separate desktop screen. This may be your best bang for the buck, as a 1080P laptop is going to be a boat anchor. The more you put on it, the more it weighs. If you get a i7 laptop don't think you are going to run it for very long. The more windows you have have open the more power you draw. So you would have to get an i5 processor. Hyperthreading means you have say in the case of an i7 4 real cpu's and each one can multithread so you have 4 extra dynmic procssors when you need it. On an i5 you will save battery, but you will suffer in performance some as the i5 is clocked anywhere from 2.2 - 2.8 ghz. The i3's will be clocked higher and not have hyperthreading. So i5 you will have 2 + 2, and i3 just 2. Of course you get better battery life. Since you did not state how much unplugged time you will need it is hard for someone to recommend one for you. Since you seem leaning towards an i7, I suggest 1 of these 2. The first is an Asus with some great digital imaging software, and you can run DVD's at 720 on the screen or 1080P on a Hidef TV or desktop monitor. A desktop Monitor will run 150-300 dollars depending on screen size and can many can take HDMI or VGA inputs. Asus makes good displays for not a lot of money. I have a 23 I got for 200 dollars and I use it to watch hidef cable and work on my desktop. Go to www.newegg.com and get a monitor. The Asus destop is 899 and like I stated has good graphics horse power but only about 90 minutes of battery. Check the site info and read some reviews.
The next is a low cost with a i7-720 which runs at 1.63 instead of 1.73, so it is not as fast as the Asus and has a different GPU. It is a Samsung and has an Nvidia like above but slower 330M and both laptops have 1 gig of their own dedicated memory. The Asus has a 2 year warrenty with a 1 year accidential damage and 30 day zero defect on the screen so if you have stuck pixels you can send it back righ away. The samsung is different, only 1 year and I don't know what you have to do if the screen is bad. Sometimes you have to RMA back to the MFG or you can send it back to Amazon. I think you can send it back within 1-7 days without any problems and state it is defective as they have good customer service. The Samsung is 799 and is not as good in the graphics area, but is simiar in the audio performance as the Asus. The Asus has a special Audio system created by Bang and Olfson, and the samsung is their own True2Sound, and they both have USB3 ports. The samsung has 2 and Asus 1. They both have 1 USB3 that can charge devices like MP3, and the Samsung has bluetooth 3.0 so you can connect your phone or MP3 if you like. But again that is more stuff to run down you battery. If battery life is important, 2 USB3 ports may run you battery down even quicker as they are up to 10x faster then USB2. The Asus has 4 memory slots and Samsung 2. So Asus can upgrade to 16 gb of mem and Samsung only 8. They both come with 4 installed. They don't advertise what type of modules they have but I am sure the Samsung is 2 slots with 2 gigs, and Asus is either 4 slots with 1 gb or 2 x 2 for a total of 4gb. So read the reviews, and if you can live with the battery life then choose what you think will be best. If you want to try both, you might start with the Asus first as it has a better return policy upfront. The samsung link = http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-RF510-S02-15-6-Inch-Graphite-Radiant/dp/B0045UB68G/ref=pd_cp_pc_2
I just bought the Asus as I have had Asus products for years and they have great customer service. I don't know About Samsung, but the reviews seem positve. I am like you did my reasearch. Newegg had some sandy bridge laptops that were reg 1600 but returned so you dont know if it is missing anything like recover disk, but you they were sure you would get the power supply, and battery. They sold out in a few hours for 1099. I was going to by one has they had blueray, and 1080P screens but like my brother pointed out they weigh like 9.5 lbs. So that is too much wieght for me. I am going to be plugged in, so battery life is of no consequnce to me.
Good Luck and May the laptop Gods by with you, and dont buy something because I did. Make up your own mind. They have suggestions on other laptops, and you will not be able to buy Sandy Bridge for about a month or so. So your best bet is to get a good i7 on sale that used to be over a G!
Thank you, Lardo, for your reply. Insightful and even more to consider. I have hung out at newegg, dell, hp, and toshiba websites to research my next laptop. At this point though I am mainly searching for the best processor to meet my needs and an understanding of clock speeds, turbo and such to help with my decision making. Sorry to have slanted my original towards i7s.
As I mentioned I do need long battery life. However, for intense work, I will actually, generally, be plugged in. When I'm not plugged in, I'd like to go for as long as possible ... at least 5 hours I am thinking.
Weight is a crucial factor too. I am currently on a 17" Toshiba (way too heavy at likely 10+ lbs) with 3 Ghz.
Most importantly though, I am still a bit unsure as to how to read the intel numbers when comparing the processors. I want the fastest of course within my budget (which I don't want to say because I don't want that to influence answers at this point). Having USB 3.0 and DDR3 would be awesome, since that is where technology is heading and I'd like to be as up-to-the-minute at time of purchase as I can "afford".
As I mentioned, I have compared several processors but am unsure as to read which are "actually" among the fastest (of course if money were not a factor I would get the i7-900 quad series and call it a day on research):
Processor Clock Speed (Ghz) Turbo (Ghz) Cache (MB) i7-640M 2.80 3.46 4 i7-740QM 1.73 2.93 6 i7-2630QM 2.00 2.90 6 i5-580M 2.66 3.33 3 i5-560M 2.66 3.20 3 i5-480M 2.67 2.93 3 My Processor 3.00 ? 2
Looking at Clock speed, Turbo, etc., and noticing the Ghz are not that much different. Moreover, I'm seeing that the 2nd gen numbers, although 4 core and 8 threads (depending on the model) have often less Ghz. I know that threads affect the performance and speed so this may account for the less Ghz, but am still not following as to performance and speed when the overall clock speed and turbo numbers still prove less than some of the 1st gen processors.
Already understand that my processor, though 3 Ghz with hyperthread and only 2 cache is slowest among the chart group (don't know how to figure it's exact numbers, going by "System - General" tab); that's not the point though ... it was at-time-of-purchase among the fastest processors. And it is odd to see that just on sheer"clock speed" my processor "outbeats" them all at 3 Ghz (though yes mine also should prove slower than them all ... confusing).
When just looking at the above chart, I'd personally say that i7-640M, i5-580M and i5-560M are pretty close in speed with one another and that my untrained eye would likely not notice the difference, but then I see the quads with less clock and turbo but more cach--I even see the i5-480M just on surface value alone out clocking i7-740QM and matching her turbo--and wonder how much faster are these chips from the i7-640M, i5-580M and i5-560M ... if at all.
Thanks for any help and understanding of the above chart (and more importantly Intel's comparison chart) in determining which processors would prove faster (even accounting for the slightly slower processors of the fastest group -- if that makes sense) ... and which would prove more powerful. Among them which is faster and more powerful (even taking into consideration slight advantages or disadvantages).