The Zoostorm 4-4623 is pleasingly understated, with subtle silver-black styling.

Lift the lid and you'll find a keyboard that's a little smaller than some of the competition, but it's as responsive as you could expect. There are no layout problems, either, so you'll be typing at full speed.

The system itself will be running quicker than you'd expect, too, because it's powered by an 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 CPU. This effortlessly stomps all over the rest of the field, with speeds that are around 30 per cent faster than anyone else can achieve.

It's also more expensive, and yet there's no real sign of compromise elsewhere beyond a few minor issues: 160GB hard drive, no FireWire port and just a one-year warranty.

A little slow in places

Benchmarking revealed more slight question marks, with memory bandwidth and hard drive speed proving a little below average. However, they were more than outweighed by the NVIDIA 8400M integrated graphics: an excellent chipset with 128MB of dedicated video RAM that managed an impressive 1,248 in 3DMark 06.

That's significantly more than you'd expect from a budget laptop, and good enough to play some games (although you may have to tweak the resolution and quality settings accordingly).

The overall benchmarks also placed the Zoostorm 4-4623 at the top of the performance chart, and it was noticeably zippier than anything else here. The only real problem was the battery life: not so good at 62 minutes under load, a little over two hours for milder use.

Yet if you can live with that, and speed is your top priority, then the Zoostorm 4-4623 won't disappoint.