Hi I'm just considering an upgrade on the cheap, however, my current setup is a Lenovo Thinkpad T520 Laptop Core i5 with VPro, 4 Gb Ram and 250 Gb SSD. (Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.
In addition I put the majority of VSTs on a large Western Digital My Book external hard drive.
Now whether its the VPro platform I don't know but the laptop has proved reliable, bought as a refurb ex-business unit some years back and I've been looking at similar Core i7 Thinkpads T or P range with more memory and poss bigger HD. The i5 is quick and i have the same battery I started with probably 6-7 years back. Had to replace the HD when the SSD was put in.
I use Tascam US 122 and US 100 USB Audio interfaces - basic but OK for my needs.
I don't know whether this will give some food for thought - Phil