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).
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.