Kobalt is an infant in manufacturing terms, having only been around since 2004, yet we were highly impressed by its GS150 Optimus.

The eyebrow-raising specification certainly delivers, with plenty of extra features adding strong value for money. The main talking point is the Intel Sandy Bridge processor, as this is one of the first laptops to feature this high-performance technology.

The quad-core processor can easily handle multiple tasks and we were blown away by this laptop's speed, although we did find the same processor performed marginally better in the Alienware M17x and Sony VAIO VPCF21Z1E/BI.

The 'Optimus' in the name comes from Nvidia's Optimus technology, which can automatically switch between a powerful dedicated graphics card and integrated graphics, depending on your current task.

The Nvidia GeForce GT 540M GPU is strong enough to run the latest games and multimedia software thanks to its support for DirectX 11, while the integrated Intel graphics are perfect for playing high-definition video.

Despite the powerful components, we still managed to squeeze just over four hours of battery life from a single charge.

Benchmarks

Battery life: 242 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 249
3DMark 2003: 21,064

Portability is slightly limited by the 2.8kg weight and bulky chassis, but you can feasibly take it on the road if required.

We liked the firm plastic chassis, which has a fake brushed aluminium finish to the palm rests and a fingerprint-proof lid. The responsive touchpad supports multi-touch gesturing and scrolling, while the isolation style keyboard is perfect for touch-typing, with the keys separated by covered gaps.

Another highlight is the anti-glare 15.6-inch screen, which is surprisingly vibrant despite the lack of a glossy Super-TFT coating. Images are sharp due to the 1600 x 900-pixel resolution, while brightness levels and contrast are excellent. The screen also bends right back, so you can find the perfect viewing angle.

Fully featured

At this price point, laptops normally have a good range of features, and this is no exception. A fingerprint scanner provides an extra layer of security, while the capacious 500GB hard drive spins at a speedy 7200 revolutions per minute.

Connectivity is also strong thanks to 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 3.0, all of which are built in.

Two of the four USB ports are USB 3.0, for faster communication with peripherals. eSATA and HDMI ports are also included.

We were truly impressed by the Kobalt GS150 Optimus, which provides stunning performance, comprehensive features and excellent build quality, all at a realistic price. With next to no flaws to speak of, we can highly recommend this laptop to anyone after a bit of power.

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