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Intel Core i3, i5 laptops make inroads at retailers

Laptops based on the new mobile Intel Core i3 and i5 processors from Dell and Acer continue to roll into retailers at sub-$700 price points.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Laptops based on the new mobile Intel Core i3 and i5 processors from Dell and Acer continue to roll into retailers like Best Buy at sub-$700 prices. But don't expect Apple to offer deals like this on its upcoming MacBook Pro.

Dell 15.6-inch Core i3-based laptop priced at $649
Dell 15.6-inch Core i3-based laptop priced at $649 Best Buy

The mobile i5 and i3 offer a significant step up in performance. Tech Web site AnandTech said the i5 processor delivers "the single largest performance improvement we've seen from a new mobile processor in years."

And retailers have been quick to haul out systems based on the freshly-minted chips. This week, Best Buy is offering a Dell deal for $649. Typically, laptops built around new Intel mainstream mobile processors are priced well above $700.

The Best Buy Dell system--which follows an offer from Staples for a Dell Inspiron Core i5 17-inch laptop with Windows 7 for $649--has a 15.6-inch display and a Core i3 running at 2.13GHz. Like the Staples system, it goes for $649.

Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch laptop at Best Buy:

  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 i3-330M processor (2.13GHz)
  • Graphics chip: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Hard disk drive: 320GB hard drive
  • Optical drive: multiformat DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Display: 15.6-inch WLED high-definition widescreen
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds
  • Price: $649

Staples is also offering a 17-inch Acer (AS7740-5691) for $649 based on the Core i3-330M processor with specifications similar to the Dell system, including 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard disk drive, and Windows Home Premium 64-bit.

Apple is expected to follow suit with Core i5 MacBook Pros but don't expect the company to deign to Dell or Acer price points. Any replacements for current aluminum Apple MacBook Pro systems will likely follow its current pricing scheme, which starts well above the $1,000 price mark.

And though the Core i3 and i5 processors offer improved Intel graphics silicon, Apple, during the last year, has decided to forgo Intel graphics chips in favor of more powerful processors from Nvidia and ATI. By comparison, the Dell and Acer systems above come with Intel graphics only.