Reality check on Intel Sandy Bridge laptops

Systems using Intel's new "Sandy Bridge" chip are available from top-tier vendors--but they're not cheap. Less-expensive dual-core Sandy Bridge systems are due in the spring.

Intel's perplexing "innovation" endeavors notwithstanding, it does make, lest we forget, the world's fastest PC processors. Namely, Sandy Bridge. Systems using the freshly-minted chip are now widely available from top-tier vendors--but they're at the very high end of the pricing spectrum.

Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba serve as arguably the best examples of Sandy Bridge systems. Let's start with Toshiba's Qosmio X500-Q930S, which uses the Sandy Bridge i7-2630QM quad-core processor. That chip is rated at 2GHz but can automatically overclock--what Intel calls "Turbo Boost"--to 2.9GHz.

If Intel's most advanced quad-core processor doesn't get your attention, maybe other goodies will. The Qosmio includes 8GB of DDR3 memory, 1 terabyte of hard drive storage (7200rpm), an Nvidia GeForce 460M with 1.5GB of memory, a Blu-ray drive, LED back-lit keyboard, and an 18.4-inch display with a native resolution of 1920x1080.

All of that high-end hardware will cost you, of course. About $1,800 to be exact.

HP's Pavilion dv7-4290us offers some pricing relief, however. For $1,049.99, you get the same i7-2630QM processor, 6GB of DDR3 memory, an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 6570 graphics chip with 1024MB of memory, a Blu-ray drive, and a 17.3-inch LED Display (1600x900).

Fujitsu has announced laptops due this spring in Japan that will use upcoming Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processors.
Fujitsu has announced laptops due this spring in Japan that will use upcoming Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processors. Fujitsu

There are plenty of other less expensive dual-core Sandy Bridge-based laptops on the way--many due in the April-May-June time frame--using Intel's upcoming Core i3-2310M, Core i5-2520M, power-efficient Core i5-2537M, Core i7-2629M, and Core i7-2620M processors, as just a few examples.

Laptops are due from Fujitsu in Japan (which use the Core i5-2520M among other Sandy Bridge chips) and from Lenovo--its IdeaPad Z570, Z470, and Z370 models will also use the Core i3-2310M and Core i5-2520M chips cited above.

Specific system pricing hasn't been announced but mainstream dual-core laptops usually start at about $600.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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