Written by James McLean
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The days when notebook computers were only manufactured by a select group of major companies have come and gone. Today you can find everything from poorly made knock-offs to cutting edge notebooks from second-tier builders across the country. Knowing which companies are worth your investment and which aren't even worth a second look takes some expertise in the subject.

Not all computers that have the same specs operate the same way. The truth is that brand names you see on video cards and optical drives are only a part of the larger story, which can include everything from chipsets to motherboards. Even when a manufacturer tells you it's the same Pentium chip, he may be hiding some other piece of shoddy engineering in the machine as a whole.


That said, there are some smaller companies that have earned national followings for their high-end work. One of the best examples is City of Industry-based ProStar, a company that focuses exclusively on notebook computers. Because they spend next to nothing on advertising, the ProStar team has been able to build a solid reputation for designing some of the finest portable computers around.

You don't have to pay an extra $300 for a brand name if all the parts truly are identical. Experts advise sticking with smaller sellers whose machines have endured rigorous testing and won contracts from major companies. Anything less and you could find yourself wondering why that deal you got turned out to be anything but.

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