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Well-equipped 15-inch HP laptop drops to $349

Chips from Advanced Micro Devices are powering inexpensive but robust laptops from vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Acer.

Best Buy and Staples are selling well-configured but inexpensive 15-inch laptops from Hewlett-Packard and Acer based on AMD dual-core processors.

The HP 15-inch laptop at Best Buy is well equipped for $349.
This HP 15-inch laptop at Best Buy is well equipped for $349. Best Buy

The specifications on the 15.6-inch HP laptop (model: 2000-219DX) are respectable for a $349 system, including Windows 7 Home Premium, 3GB of memory, a 320GB hard-disk drive (5400rpm), a Webcam, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and an optical drive.

Under the hood, the marquee feature is the 1.6GHz E-350 processor from Advanced Micro Devices. The all-in-one chip integrates AMD's Radeon 6310 graphics silicon onto the main dual-core processor, yielding good performance for its price class. AMD's claim to fame is its graphics silicon (formerly branded as ATI), which offers better performance than the graphics silicon found in processor offerings from Intel.

Staples is selling a similarly configured Acer laptop (model: LX.RD502.032) for the same price--$349, sporting a dual-core AMD C-50 processor with Radeon HD 6250 graphics.

The price breaks on these two machines herald systems based on newer AMD A series processors. These laptops are expected to become available in the coming weeks from PC makers like HP and Toshiba.

Smaller laptops starting at $329 are also available at stores like Costco. That store is selling an 11.6-inch Acer laptop for $329 with the AMD C-50 processor.