In stark contrast to the budget and hybrid laptops, top-scoring high-end laptops are scarce right now. Most manufacturers are either attempting to out skinny the MacBook Air with their ultraportables or are focusing on complying with the Intel marketing requirements to get an Ultrabook stamp.

12. HP EliteBook 820 G1


HP Elitebook 820 G1

If thin is your only form of beauty then look away now. The HP's EliteBook 820 G1 is a solidly built, well-specified and powerful laptop.

When we say solid, we mean in a 'throw it around a warzone' way as it meets military specifications. And when we mean well specified, the G1 has, for instance, the latest generation of Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. The integrated graphics isn't up to intensive gaming, but productivity is the priority here, as reflected in the firm but comfortable isolation keyboard.

Battery life is reasonable, in general use it achieved five hours, but this could be improved by slotting in a bigger battery thanks to the tool-free access to the internals. It's straightforward approach doesn't have space for a touchscreen either, which is unlikely to be a missed feature as it has an excellent trackpad with twin sets of buttons.

Overall, this is straight-shooting, good value laptop that will take a fair few knocks on the road and keep on rolling.

13. Fujitsu Lifebook E743

About AU$1,736

Fujitsu Lifebook E743

Fujitsu has chosen the modular route for the Lifebook series. The 14-incher has a bay on the left that enables you to swap modules out for different uses: Need a Blu-ray writer? Slot it in. Running out of power? Then grab a second battery module, and if you make a lot of presentations, it has a handy LED projector module too. We'd call this the Swiss Army knife of laptops, except we wouldn't recommend trying to open a tin of beans with one.

The E743 has an Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5 processor, which means it loses out on the battery boost the latest Haswell chips offer, but it does offer adequate integrated graphics for the business user. Connectivity is well taken care of, particularly when it's connected to the supplied dock.

We found its battery life adequate, around 4 hours in a working day, but a little heavy at 1.9kg. The lack of juice could be resolved with a second battery module, however.

This is a very versatile business laptop though and a not too shabby looking system either, with its smooth metallic finish and red trim around the keyboard.

14. Toshiba Satellite P70


Toshiba Satellite P70

Here's another 'bigger boned' high-end laptop powered by a top-end Haswell Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor - and it's a fast machine.

It's not the most stylish number, however, with a top and bottom of brushed aluminium and the rest being a cheap-looking plastic. The visible seals around the edges aren't that appealing either, but it does offer a stunning screen, a whopping 2TB of storage, discrete graphics and a Blu-ray writer.

Where the Toshiba falls over is battery life - a mere 77 minutes chains it firmly to a desk. That compromise may be satisfactory for many who want a powerful portable-type machine with a vivid 1920 x 1080 screen and speakers, but it doesn't excuse the choice of Nvidia's mid-range discrete graphics, which delivers more than integrated GPUs but not much more if you're after a true desktop replacement.