Sorry if this is the wrong place to post, but the notebook forum isn't broken down quite as well as this one.
Anyway, I'm torn between two laptops that are almost exactly the same; the only differences are in size/resolution, hard drive space, and CPU.
While the smaller one has a 320 GB 5400 RPM HDD, the larger has a 500 GB 5400 RPM, but the size does not concern me much.
What concerns me is the difference in the CPUs: the smaller one has an i5-520M while the larger one has an i5-430M. For personal preference, I like the larger one more simply because I do not plan to be incredibly mobile with it and I enjoy the resolution. However, I'd be willing to make a (very slight) sacrifice and go with the other one if the processing powers of the two notebooks differed that much.
So, assuming I will be doing light gaming (WoW, Aion, maybe some FPS [but not Crysis]), how much would I be slighted by opting for the i5-430M as opposed to the i5-520M? They are only listed two spots away on notebookcheck's chart, but that is all Greek to me anyway.
The I5 430M will be plenty of power for you its only a 140 mhz difference in speed which will not be missed the max turbo on the 520 goes up a little higher but the 430 will be all you need. Now with that said what do the graphic cards look like in both them laptops thats what I would be more concerned about.
If they both have the same graphics option I would say get the one with the bigger screen.
Amazingly, I went to my local Office Depot to buy a new MSI laptop ( second one and after my experience with the hardware and support dept I'd never buy another brand ) that was advertised with the 430M for $579 - what's amazing is that when I fired it up it had the 520M instead of the M430.
Using PC Wizard for all my benchmarks that 520M just blew away the scores for my severely overclocked E6550 Desktop.
Curious as to why this was so fast I went to the Intel site to compare the 2 and if you look at the comparison you'll see there are some differences between the 430 and 520 beside just clock speed.
That's a great comparison link and it also shows at least two new interesting technologies are supported on the i5-520m that are not on the i5-420m.
The i5-520m supports VT-d. It is a device virtualization extension. I don't claim to understand it but I know Invisible Things Labs CEO Joanna Rutkowska's alpha super secure Qubes OS uses it to isolate your wireless drivers in case of a hack. Pretty cool because the promise of that is an OS that virtualizes, sandboxes, and snapshots various virtual environments for various kinds of work. I.E. you bank with one copy of your browser in it's own virtual OS 'window' and visit less secure options like watching a video of the hacker conferences in a separate window with it's own OS and browser. Check out the offending site, then you don't even care if it gets owned you throw it away for another 'insecure browsing' level window.
Anyway that sort of security is good but what if you have a wireless or network driver hack? With VT-d my understanding is Qubes is able to sandbox the network driver piece also to protect your banking or more secure virtual environments you have setup on Qubes.
Disclaimer - they are still in alpha 2 but folks are running it...
Next is AES encryption on chip. I believe there is more on this subject here on Tom's. Suffice it to say where implemented correctly it gives a great performance boost to encrypted disk to protect laptop and other mobile data. If they keep improving TPM (or whatever they call it now), OS's like Qubes, and the CPU we should soon see a laptop that's pretty hardened for the paranoid. At least Evil Maids and Black Hatter's will have to work to pawn you...