Asus ROG GL551
There isn't anything too surprising about the Asus GL551. It checks off all the boxes you'd expect from gaming laptops without breaking the bank. Despite the value-packed price, this laptop isn't lacking in power at all. It performs admirably playing just about any title on medium to high settings.
The Asus GL551 isn't the best looking gaming laptop around, however, it's mostly a joy to use and that's what really matters. The metal keyboard deck and palm rests is a solid platform for gamers to tap and click on well into the wee hours of the night. Plus the notebook comes with a decent set of tweeters. That saves you from having to invest in a headset to hear all of the splashy in-game explosions.
Sadly, our biggest (and only) hangup with the Asus GL551 is its downright awful display for day to day use whether you're gaming or just browsing the web. Save for the display, though, the Asus GL551 is a sweet package for its affordable price and one of the very best affordable gaming laptops currently out today.
- Read our Asus GL551 review
Acer Aspire V7
Acer set out to split the difference between a 14-inch gaming machine with a portable Ultrabook machine, and it's struck a good balance with the Aspire V7. It's one of the slimmest 14-inch laptops around, thanks to its Ultrabook-inspired styling. As just barely a gaming laptop rig, the Acer will play games far better than most ultraportable machines that lack dedicated graphics processing.
The Acer Aspire V7's screen was really love at first sight. Whether we were streaming movies or working in Lightroom the colorful display impressed us consistently with its visual fidelity and sharp resolution and great colors working in Photoshop. Acer has put one of the best laptop screens we've ever seen into the Acer Aspire V7, and photographers as well as media junkies alike will love it.
The Aspire V7 also has a surprising amount of gaming power behind it despite its rather middling components. The machine was able to play a handful of modern games including Wolfenstein at 30 fps, and then at 58 fps with some visual tweaks.
- Read our Acer Aspire V7 review
Surface Pro 3
This is not only Microsoft's most striking and versatile device to date, but the most convincing poster child for the hybrid category yet. And this ringing endorsement comes from a long-time skeptic of such devices.
That said, the Surface Pro 3 (starting at $799, £639, AU$979) is hamstrung by flaws that cannot be ignored. Namely, the battery life might be in line with most Ultrabooks, but isn't close to what Apple's leading laptop and top tablet. And the Type Cover billed as an accessory doesn't help Microsoft's cause – it's quite pricey to boot.
At any rate, this version of the tablet comes in cheaper than the most affordable iPad Air and 13-inch MacBook Air combined, even with the Type Cover, and that's the point. On paper, this slate is more powerful than either Apple device, not to mention most other comparably priced laptops and tablets. The Surface Pro 3 might not be perfect, but it's far and wide the brightest shining example of a potential tablet takeover.
- Read our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 review