What's the best Core i5 laptop?

Core i5 laptops
Performance, longevity and value for money from Intel's mid-range processors

Sitting between the cheaper Core i3 range and more powerful Core i7 chips, the Core i5 processors will, for many, offer the best value for money.

This is because, while they can feature both Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies found on the Core i7 chips, they cost significantly less.

Core i5 processors are remarkably powerful, especially when using Intel's Sandy Bridge platform. They can easily deal with heavy multimedia tasks, such as music and video editing, yet they're also resource-light enough to provide decent portability.

Perhaps, most importantly, these processors provide fantastic future-proofing - all these laptops will happily satisfy applications' system requirements for many years to come.

Here are our favourites in price order.

1. Lenovo ThinkPad G570 - around £580

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The Lenovo ThinkPad G570 has a great deal to offer and comes with very few flaws to speak of. If you enjoy watching movies, browsing or editing your photo collections, or simply want a laptop to work on each day, this is a great value solution and is easy to recommend.

One of Intel's latest Core i5 2410M processors provides the power, using cutting-edge Sandy Bridge technology, and there's 6GB of RAM, so you shouldn't have to worry about running out of memory when multitasking.

Read the full Lenovo ThinkPad G570 review

2. Samsung RF510 - £650

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The Samsung RF510 is a comprehensively featured, high-powered laptop that makes a fantastic home media centre. Its Blu-ray drive and Nvidia GT 330M graphics mean that HD video is a smooth as you could want, and the GPU will even suit gamers.

The Intel Core i5 CPU is more than powerful enough for most applications, and the large hard drive makes it a great package overall.

Read the full Samsung RF510 review

3. Dell XPS 17 - £699

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The Dell XPS 17 is an impressive multimedia machine that doesn't cost the earth. Great performance and usability are joined by a highly impressive features list to make this a competitive package.

A pair of JBL speakers provide excellent audio, while Nvidia's 3DTV Play technology means you can send 3D content to a compatible monitor or TV.

This all sits on top of strong performance from an Intel Core i5-2410M CPU, which is paired with a Nvidia GT 555M graphics card, so even gamers will find something to satisfy them.

Read the full Dell XPS 17 review

4. Sony VAIO S Series VPC-SB1V9E - around £930

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The Sony VAIO VPC-SB1V9E is a MacBook Air rival when it comes to portability, but packs in the power of Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, making it great for getting work done on the go.

The Intel Core i5 processor is paired with a dedicated ATI graphics card, so you could even manage some video editing – no mean feat for such a slender machine.

What's most impressive is that features haven't been skimped on, either. There's a 500GB hard drive, and even an optical drive has been squeezed. This is a fantastic choice for working on the go.

Read the full Sony VAIO VPC-SB1V9E review

5. Samsung 900XSA- £1,299

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The slimness of the Samsung 900XSA, coupled with the curved chassis, make this a laptop that's a joy to behold. The duralumin material used for the build also looks great, and the brushed grey, with a hint of blue, material gives a subtly classy look.

Performance is also key for an ultraportable laptop, and the 900XSA delivers here courtesy of the Intel Core i5 processor. Everyday performance is all conquering, and graphically the laptop is also very powerful as well.

This is an expensive laptop, no doubt, and it has a few usability issues that we wish were different, but the 900XSA is a laptop as capable as it is pretty.

Read the full Samsung 900XSA review

Best Core i5 laptop: verdict

Conducting a group test with purely Core i5-powered machines has proved what a powerful and versatile set of chips Intel has developed, and all the machines here impressed us.

The Samsung 900XSA is hard to resist thanks to its powerful specification and lust-inducing design, but the price tag puts it out of range for most people. Though its design isn't quite as appealing, the Sony is probably the better deal for those after an ultraportable.

However, it's the Dell XPS 17 that offers the best buy here. The 17-inch screen may be a little large for some, but it's also excellent value. Perhaps more importantly, it's also a supremely powerful machine for the money, and one packed with features.

It can play the latest games thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card, and offers support for 3D external screens, while also offering great audio quality. It's a great all-rounder, at a thoroughly reasonable price.