If you've been laptop shopping lately, you know many now come with Windows 7. Good news, but it's not necessarily a game changer for Windows users, according to Dean Gallea of Consumer Reports.

"Our tests showed Windows 7 starts up and shuts down faster than Vista, but the improvement was minor. And general performance was also faster with Windows 7, but only slightly."

Consumer Reports recently tested 20 laptops, rating features like ergonomics, battery life, and performance. There are plenty of inexpensive laptops out there, but testers caution to beware of rock-bottom prices.

"Some computer makers are using single-core processors instead of dual-core to save money. But if you buy one of these so-called bargains, you might end up with a slower computer," Gallea said.

That’s not good for creating videos or playing demanding games.

"We found several laptops with dual-core processors that offered solid performance for $600 dollars, or even less,” Gallea said.

One of the least expensive is the Toshiba Satellite l-505 -- a Consumer Reports Best Buy at $530.

Among midsized 15 or 16 inch laptops, the Dell Studio XPS 16 was the top rated Windows 7 computer. It sells for around $1,300.

For less, Toshiba Satellite laptops also rated "very good" in tests and have facial recognition software, which signs you on by scanning your face. It’s not a must-have feature but a fun plus on a solid-performing laptop.

If you're happy with your current computer and operating system, Consumer Reports says there's no need to upgrade. But if you're a frustrated Vista user, testers recommend upgrading to Windows 7.

Most computer manufacturers are offering free upgrades to people who've bought Vista-based computers from late June 2009 thru January 2010.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Chris Olsen