Best Multimedia Laptops

by Reads (45,260)

While most modern budget laptops work just fine for watching Netflix or DVDs and basic editing of your family photos, those low-cost laptops usually struggle to do more. If you want to edit HD video, play some of the newer video games, or watch Blu-ray movies on your laptop then you need to invest in a multimedia notebook.

The editors at Notebook Review have taken a look at many of the best multimedia laptops on the market and compiled our list of top picks based on editor opinions and the scores from our in-depth reviews. Multimedia notebooks offer higher resolution displays for watching high-definition video and usually come equipped with faster processors and mid-range discrete graphics for a premium visual experience. Most systems come with 15-inch or 17-inch HD displays, but there are some 14-inch premium entertainment notebooks that offer a better-than-average mobile multimedia experience. 

This category of laptops may also include “branded” stereo speakers and subwoofers that deliver theater-quality sound even when you’re watching movies on the road. These systems typically cost several hundred dollars more than a general purpose laptop with the same size screen due to higher performance components and often extensive use of metal alloys in the construction of the notebook. 

If you don’t see the perfect notebook in the list we’ve provided, be sure to seek out buying advice in our “What Notebook Should I Buy?” discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best laptop for your student.


#1 Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display


The MacBook Pro with Retina Display — despite its long name — is Apple’s latest and greatest multimedia notebook. This MacBook represents the culmination of a number of trends from one of the industry’s most visible players — from unibody aluminum construction and soldered-in components to solid-state storage and the much-vaunted Retina Display. 

Apple clearly has a vision for where they want to take portable computing, and while impressive, it has its drawbacks, too. The biggest drawback to its stunningly high resolution display is the price. A MacBook Pro with the same configuration minus the Retina Display is $600 cheaper!

Yes, you could buy a second budget laptop running Windows for the price of that greater-than-full-HD display. Still, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is a bit of the past and a bit of the future, wrapped up into one tasty, toasty present. Brilliant screen meets refined design.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display Review

#2 Samsung Series 9


The 15-inch Samsung Series 9 is one of the few large screen notebooks in the Ultrabook category and offers a 15.0″ matte display with 1600 x 900 resolution in an exceptionally thin chassis.

The 15-inch Samsung Series 9 NP900X4C priced at $1,199 now comes standard with Windows 8, an Intel Core i5-3317U processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid state drive (SSD).

The Intel integrated graphics put this notebook at a disadvantage when comparted to similarly priced notebooks with discrete graphics, but the 8GB of system memory combined with an extremely fast SSD results in a lightning-quick PC with plenty of muscle for family entertainment or editing HD content.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Samsung Series 9 Review

#3 Dell XPS 15 (L521X)


If you think the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro is cool but you want a Windows PC with a slightly softer touch then the Dell XPS 15 might be just the notebook you need.

The XPS 15 might technically be an “Ultrabook” but don’t think for a second that makes this notebook anything less than an exceptional multimedia and entertainment notebook. The two headline features are a 3rd-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and an all-new GeForce 640M graphics card based on the NVIDIA Kepler GPU core with NVIDIA Optimus technology (automatically switching between the discrete graphics and the built-in Intel graphics to give you high performance when gaming and extra battery life the rest of the time).

Combine that with 8GB of fast system memory and a 750GB hard drive paired with a 32GB mSATA SSD and you have an “Ultrabook” that is as good as (or better than) most thicker multimedia notebooks from last year.

Rating Average: 7 out of 10

Read the Dell XPS 15 (L521X) Review

#4 Lenovo IdeaPad Y480


Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y480 is a 14-inch multimedia notebook designed to give you a perfect balance between serious performance for work and multimedia features for play. Whether you’re editing HD video for a school project or playing the latest video games, this laptop has you covered.

Our review unit came equipped with an Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE with NVIDIA Optimus technology for extended battery life. In short, the performance from this 14-inch laptop isn’t that far off from the larger and heavier 15-inch Dell XPS 15 on our list.

Students looking for a more portable 14-inch laptop with plenty of performance for school work and games should seriously consider the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480.

Rating Average: 7 out of 10

Read the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Review

#5 HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart Ultrabook


The HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart — also called the HP ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4t — is the latest 14-inch laptop in the ENVY family of premium notebooks. This Windows 8 laptop is arguably the “easy sell” in HP’s new Windows 8 line; you essentially get a traditional Windows laptop at a starting price of just under $800 with the added benefit of a touchscreen so you can experience the new Windows 8 tiles the way Microsoft meant them to be used.

Although any new PC can run Windows 8, there’s just something intuitive about navigating the new Windows 8 Start screen tiles with your fingertips. If you want a premium notebook with a touchscreen for a relatively affordable price tag then this is certainly a good option.

Bottom line: The HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart combines the best features of an Ultrabook with the touchscreen interface of Windows 8 all at a fair price.

Rating Average: 7 out of 10

Read the HP ENVY 4 TouchSmart Review

Want to know which noteboooks are tops in the minds of NotebookReview‘s readers?  Check out our Most Popular Notebooks lists, based on traffic across our site!

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