I thought just to add in mine
which ones would work best with Linux Mint 12/13. What do you all use?
I had two dells, old already.
this new laptop is Asus X42J laptop with intel i5viewtopic.php?f=46&t=78209&hilit=+asus
The laptop needs at least an Intel Core i3 or comparable processor, 4gb of ram, 500gb hdd, and 128mb graphics card.
Yes, all met your requirement.
see lspci on the link
graphic is RADEON HD6470M
Also, I want Linux Mint 12/13 to work out of the box with all the hardware.
Yes Mint12 works out of the box. Just like Mint10,11 and many other Linux OSes.
No Mint13 unknown
I also want it to be able to adjust the screen brightness, even if that means I need to use some sort of work around.
Try jupiter, it can save battery life by setting to power save more and thus screen is dim most of the time until you set it to performance more ( bright and drain battery )
Otherwise, it'd defeat the purpose of using it for school as the battery would die pretty fast.
Suggest you read those posts regarding power regression since kernel 2.6.38 and their work around.
For this laptop of mine, win7 is the coolest of all when run all the way till battery flat.
Mint is either warm , hot, warm to hot depending on version, as you can read from some data I captured.
Fuduntu plus jupiter works as cool as win7...