Modern PCs That Run the Windows You Really Want

Here are 12 good laptops and desktops that will run Windows 7 for a very long time.

Windows 7 PCs and laptops for the long term

On April 8, Microsoft is ending all support for Windows XP, 12 years after its debut and seven years after its first successor, Windows Vista, debuted. Still, nearly a third of PC users continue to run XP. Microsoft wants people to adopt Windows 8, so it's launched a scare campaign to get people to toss their XP PCs.

You should move off XP, but not to Win8. Windows 7 Pro is a better Windows than XP, and it's got none of Win8's flaws. But Win7 PCs are hard to find, mostly available only from PC makers' business sites, so InfoWorld has picked the 12 best ones still available.

 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Credit: Lenovo
1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Many Win7 models still available from PC makers are old models that are usually underpowered and/or bulky. But not the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which has the stylishness you’d expect from an Ultrabook, yet runs Windows 7.

Top-rated by InfoWorld, the 3-pound X1 Carbon features a 14-inch screen, Intel 1.7GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. You get a USB 2 port and a USB 3 port; the USB 2 port is where the included Ethernet adapter plugs in. A MiniDisplayPort-to-VGA adapter costs $35 extra; to use a DVD or CD, you'll need a third-party USB drive. XP Mode is a free option when you order.

Price: $1,736
Where to buy: Lenovo's small business online store

Apple MacBook Air
Credit: Apple
2. Apple MacBook Air

Many tech websites have found that Windows runs better on a Mac than on a PC, due to the optimized drivers that need worry only about Apple's hardware. No Ultrabook matches the power and light weight of a MacBook Air, and you can set an Air to boot into Windows 7 directly so you don’t have to worry about supporting OS X.

A 13-inch model with a 512GB SSD and 1.7GHz Core i7 is cheaper than HP's similar Elitebook. Included are one Thunderbolt port, two USB 3 combo ports, and a MicroSD slot; an Ethernet adapter costs $29 extra, as does a VGA, HDMI, or DVI video adapter.

Price: $1,849 as configured, plus Windows 7 license
Where to buy: multiple stores, both physical and online

Apple iMac
Credit: Apple
3. Apple iMac

Just as a MacBook Air makes an exceptional Windows 7 Ultrabook, an iMac makes an exceptional all-in-one Windows 7 PC. It's very powerful, with a 3.5GHz Core i7, 8GB of RAM, 2GB of video RAM, and a 1TB hard drive (but no DVD drive; that's a $79 peripheral), and it's configurable up to 4GB of video RAM, 32GB of RAM, and a 3TB hard drive or 1TB SSD, as well as down to a 3.4GHz Core i5. Plus, it’s the only way to get a 27-inch built-in monitor on a new Windows 7 PC -- and a gorgeous one at that.

Price: $2,199 as configured, plus Windows 7 license
Where to buy: multiple stores, both physical and online

HP Elitebook 1400 G1
Credit: Hewlett-Packard
4. HP Elitebook 1400 G1

If you want power and portability, look no further than Hewlett-Packard's 3.3-pound Elitebook 1400 G1, which features a 1.7GHz Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 14-inch display, plus the ports you need: one DisplayPort (for which you'll need your own adapter), one USB 2, one USB 3, and one MicroSD.

Price: $1,979
Where to buy: HP's small business online store

Panasonic Toughbook F9
Credit: Panasonic
5. Panasonic Toughbook F9

The Toughbook has long occupied a beloved niche among PC buyers thanks to its extreme durability and survivability from drops, spills, and other physical harm. Even with its built-in handle, the F9 weighs just 3.6 pounds, yet sports a 14.1-inch screen.

The F9 does compromise on performance, however, with a 2.4GHz Core i5 processor, 2GB of RAM (upgradable to 6GB), and a 320GB hard drive, though it also includes a rewritable DVD drive. Ports are likewise basic: one VGA, three USB 2, and one Ethernet -- plus a rarity today: a modem port.

Price: $2,879
Where to buy: Panasonic resellers

HP ZBook 15
Credit: Hewlett-Packard
6. HP ZBook 15

The ZBook line is Hewlett-Packard's Windows 7-only line of "mobile workstations," available in a range of screen sizes. My pick is the 15-inch model, which comes with a 2.7GHz Core i7, 8GB of RAM, a 750GB hard drive, rewritable DVD drive, and a 15.6-inch screen with 2GB of video RAM. Ports include one Thunderbolt, three USB 3, one USB 2, one DisplayPort, one VGA, one Ethernet, and one MicroSD, as well as one multiformat memory card reader.

Price: $2,199
Where to buy: HP's small business online store

Dell Latitude XT3
Credit: Dell
7. Dell Latitude XT3

If you have a lot of money, you can get a really powerful laptop running Windows 7 from Dell in the form of the Latitude XT3. The maxed-out configuration boasts a 2.8GHz Core i7, 4GB of RAM (sadly, the maximum available from Dell), 256GB SSD, long-life battery, an external rewritable DVD drive, a FireWire port, a VGA port, an HDMI port, a MiniSD slot, three USB 2 ports, and an eSATA/USB 2 combo port. You'll need an extra-cost external drive for CDs and DVDs. The LCD screen can swivel side to side, which is very handy in presentations to a group of people sitting at the same table.

Price: $2,757
Where to buy: Dell's business online store

Dell Precision M4800
Credit: Dell
8. Dell Precision M4800

If screen size matters, Dell's mobile workstation series is a price-conscious option for Windows 7 laptops. The M4800 model has a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, a 500GB hybrid drive, rewritable DVD drive, 8GB of RAM, and a 15.6-inch screen. For ports, you get one Ethernet, four USB 3, one eSATA/USB 2 combo, one VGA, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort, plus a multiformat smart card reader.

Price: $1,689
Where to buy: Dell's business online store

HP EliteDesk 800 G1
Credit: Hewlett-Packard
9. HP EliteDesk 800 G1

Desktop PCs have been fading for years in favor of laptops and all-in-ones, but using a desktop does let you use any monitor you want. Traditional desktops take a lot of room on or under a desk, but there's a solution to that challenge: an ultraslim PC like HP's EliteDesk 800, which takes almost no space yet offers the computing power you need.

The EliteDesk 800 uses a 3.2GHz Core i5 processor, has 4GB of RAM (expandable to 16GB), a rewritable DVD drive, and a 500GB hard drive in its 10-inch-by-10-inch footprint and 2.6-inch height. Its ports are generous: one Ethernet, four USB 3, six USB 2, two PS/2, one VGA, and two DisplayPort.

Price: $914
Where to buy: HP's small business online store

Dell OptiPlex 9020
Credit: Dell
10. Dell OptiPlex 9020

Dell's the only game in town for an all-in-one PC that has Windows 7 Pro preinstalled, but fortunately, it has a strong player in the OptiPlex 9020. It features a 23-inch widescreen monitor, 8GB of RAM, a 3.1GHz Core i7 processor, a rewritable DVD drive, and a 1TB hard drive, plus the ports you need: one Ethernet, four USB 3, six USB 2, one VGA, and two DisplayPort.

Price: $1,289
Where to buy: Dell's business online store

Fujitsu LifeBook S752
Credit: Fujitsu
11. Fujitsu LifeBook S752

Most PCs recommended here are higher-end configurations, so your Windows 7 PC should be capable for years to come. But many users don't need such high-powered PCs, as they focus primarily on Web usage, email, and basic office productivity -- all tasks that a mid-level PC today can handle for years to come.

The Fujitsu LifeBook S752 should top such users' list. The 14-inch screen, 2.6GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM (expandable to 16GB), rewritable DVD drive, and 500GB hard drive is more than sufficient. The ports are basic: one Ethernet, one USB 3, one eSATA/USB 3 combo, two USB 2, one MicroSD, and one DisplayPort (you supply your own video adapter).

Price: $899
Where to buy: Fujitsu resellers and business online store

Toshiba Portegé Z30
Credit: Toshiba
12. Toshiba Portegé Z30

The A1302 Ultrabook configuration balances features with price, providing a 2.3GHz Core i7, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 13.3-inch widescreen display. The ports are mostly the basics: one USB 3, two USB 2, one MicroSD, and one Ethernet, plus an HDMI port for video. To use CDs and DVDs, you'll need a third-party optical drive.

Price: $1,479
Where to buy: Toshiba business online store

InfoWorld's buying guide to Windows 8 PCs and tablets

If you prefer to take the plunge into Windows 8, the InfoWorld Test Center has the product reviews you need to get the best hardware: