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Graphics Switching on the Fly: 5 Best Nvidia Optimus Notebooks

Laptop shoppers no longer need to be faced with the unenviable choice of long battery life or powerful graphics. Notebooks with Nvidia's Optimus technology attempt to deliver the best of both worlds by seamlessly switching between two GPUs—one discrete, one integrated--to give you plenty of oomph for playing the latest titles as well as close to all-day endurance. And unlike previous switchable graphics laptops, there's no need to flick a switch or deal with screen flicker. It all happens automatically.

Here are our top five Optimus notebooks in a range of sizes, from $500 to $1,300.

ASUS Eee PC 1215N ($499)

ASUS Eee PC 1215N ($499)

The addition of Nvidia's Optimus graphics technology makes this the best 12-inch notebook you can get under $500. Read The Review

Pros Strong performance Good battery life Larger touchpad than predecessor Runs cool Improved webcamCons Sluggish boot time Deck and lid pick up fingerprints

Alienware M11X (Optimus) ($1,319)

Alienware M11X (Optimus) ($1,319)

The most portable gaming notebook ever just got even more powerful. Read The Review

Pros Cool design Innovative lighting features Faster new Core i7 processor Excellent gaming frame rates Good battery lifeCons Runs hot Fan gets loud

Toshiba Satellite M645 ($1,049)

Toshiba Satellite M645 ($1,049)

This stylish thin-and-light combines strong graphics with the best speakers we've heard from a 14-inch notebook. Read The Review

Pros Stylish textured design Best-in-class sound quality Strong graphics scores Good keyboard and touchpad Cool temperaturesCons Relatively short battery life Murky webcam images Relatively pricy

Gateway ID49C08u ($849)

Gateway ID49C08u ($849)

This 14-inch laptop delivers excellent graphics performance and a sleek design for a reasonable price. Read The Review

Pros Flashy metal lid and deck Svelte design with glowing touchpad Great performance for the price Fast Wi-Fi data ratesCons Touchpad depresses a bit too far Mediocre audio

ASUS U33Jc-A1 ($999)

ASUS U33Jc-A1 ($999)

A one-of-a-kind bamboo design, long battery life, and Optimus graphics make this 13-inch notebook a very good value. Read The Review

Pros Gorgeous bamboo and brushed aluminum design Strong overall performance Good sound quality Long battery life Equipped with Intel Wireless DisplayCons Weaker graphics performance than predecessor Left underside runs hot Keyboard a bit mushy, not backlit
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking, tablets, chromebooks and accessories. She loves each of her devices equally, including the phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.