Pixel by pixel, the screen on my old Compaq laptop is dying. I've had plenty of time to search and compare for the best budget laptops I could find, and I decided on the HP G60-535DX laptop because it came with all of the different features that I wanted to have, including Windows 7.
The HP G60-535DX laptop comes with 3 GB of RAM that's upgradeable to 4 GB, and a 320 GB hard drive. The operating system is pre-installed in the D partition, and I had to press the escape key upon powering up to load the operating system into my C drive as a recovery boot, but they don't tell you that in the instructions that came in the box. Not a problem for me, but for people who aren't tech savvy, let the Geek Squad at Best Buy help you out with the set-up.
The CPU is an Intel Pentium dual core T4300, which is one of the fastest versions of the budget priced Intel Pentium chips at 2.1 GHz. I have a 2.1 GHz AMD single core CPU on my old Compaq, and I really do notice a significant difference in program loading speed with the dual core chip, especially in an intense program like Flight Sim X. The screen is a 15.6" widescreen high definition display, and the graphics are just amazing on this laptop, especially compared to my old laptop. But the video card is an onboard Intel Graphics Media Accelerator with 1309 MB total available video memory, plenty for casual gaming and an occasional online DVD movie, but not powerful enough for Blue Ray or intense online gaming.
The HP G60-535DX laptop comes with a DVD+/-RW / CD-RW with LightScribe and dual layer support, so I can record up to 8.5 GB of data or 4 hours worth of video. The button on the DVD tray is so tiny though that I need to use a fingernail to open it. The built-in HP webcam is truly awful, but I don't use webcams anyway. The Altec Lansing speakers can be configured for bass boost, virtual surround, room correction and loudness equalization, which I really like, but the sound is tiny and tinny. Great sound came from plugging my Logisys Alien 2.1 desktop speakers into the earphone jack of the HP G60-535DX laptop and turning up the volume. The battery is short-lived at a maximum of 2 hours and 45 minutes with no other programs running.
As an all-around, general purpose computer, the HP G60-535DX laptop was the best of the bunch in the $500 or less price range. And after working with it for a few days now, I'm going to grow to love this new computer.