Sure, tablets are getting all the buzz these days. But for many of us, a laptop is still our day-to-day workhorse. So it pays to be aware of what’s happening in the market and what new stuff is coming down the chute.
You may have heard that Intel has just announced a new generation of CPUs called Haswell. The new chips are the fourth generation of the silicon giant’s Core processors.
The first Haswell-based PCs, both laptops and desktops, are just coming out, so there’s not a lot of performance or pricing data to report. However, it does appear that systems based on the new CPUs will certainly out-perform those using the current generation of processors, known as Ivy Bridge, particularly in the realms of batter life and graphics, says Dean McCarron, principal analyst with Mercury Research, and a longtime Intel watcher.
Having said that, it’s not at all clear that consumers who are thinking about buying a laptop should wait until later this month when the new systems will hit the market in volume. In fact, a pricing analysis by dealnews.com indicates that many people who need a Windows laptop will get a better deal by buying an Ivy Bridge system right now. (Haswell will also appear in desktops.)
“So now that it’s June 2013 and Intel is replacing Ivy Bridge with its new flagship chip, retailers will have to move Ivy Bridge stock to make room for Haswell-based machines. And with PC sales still in the dumps — and likely to remain there — your chances of seeing some killer Ivy Bridge laptop deals are high,” writes dealnews’ Louis Ramirez.
Ramirez also figures that Haswell systems themselves will also get discounted in a hurry, meaning that by late summer there should be good deals on laptops with the new CPUs.
So what’s a smart consumer to do? As always it depends on a number of factors. If you already own a newish PC with an Ivy Bridge processor, you probably don’t need to upgrade. The performance difference, while noticeable, isn’t quite that compelling, says McCarron. But if you have an older system, stepping up to Haswell makes sense.
Of course, if budget is the biggest consideration in your planning, dealnews’ advice makes sense. Watch for the inevitable bargains on Ivy Bridge systems; chances are you will find a good deal in the coming weeks.
And later this year, Intel will likely announce yet another line of chips called Bay Trail that will target bargain-priced PCs, says McCarron. So if a tablet isn’t for you, there should be plenty of attractive laptops to choose from in the coming months.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.