Summary: Here's a case where it's definitely worth paying a little bit extra to get Intel inside. The $620 Satellite L655 is faster, offers better graphics performance, and runs quieter than its AMD counterpart (which costs $598 from Walmart). Plus, the L655 lasts nearly two hours longer on a charge. To us, that's worth the extra 20 bucks. For $70 less, both the HP G6x and the Samsung RV511 are very good options, and we especially like the Samsung for its sleeker design.
Summary: Though not particularly inspiring, the basic 15-inch Toshiba Satellite L655 has a current-gen CPU and can be found for around $600, making it a worthwhile budget choice.
Pros: The 15-inch Toshiba Satellite L655-S5161 is a good entry point for midsize laptops with Intel's second-gen Core i-series processors, and we've always liked the company's sleep-and-charge USB ports.
Cons: The design is strictly no-frills, and there are no high-speed data ports, such as USB 3.0 or eSATA. Plus, we hate the shortened spacebar on the keyboard.