As performance laptops based on the Intel Core i5 processor proliferate, older Core 2 models look, well, old. That means Apple's core silicon is past its prime.
What began as a trickle about a month ago is now a torrent of new Core i-based notebooks. Although lower-end Core i3 processor-based systems are widely available for the more budget-minded, the Core i5 is now powering performance laptops for those willing to pay a little more money.
The mobile i5 and i7 chips are, in a word, fast. Made on Intel's cutting-edge 32-nanometer manufacturing process, they handily outperform the older Core 2 Duo. 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 Tom's Hardware said it "boasts the best balance between desktop-class speed and true mobile usability we've ever seen."
Dell: The Dell 15.6-inch Studio (S15Z-3630CPN) offered at Best Buy is a good example. Priced at $1,049, it comes, as many systems do, with the popular Core i5-430M processor (2.53GHz) and an ATI Radeon HD 4570 graphics chip with 512MB dedicated video memory.
Other features for this Dell Studio model include 4GB DDR3 memory, a 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive (7200 rpm), two built-in 2W speakers, a built-in optical drive, and Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit operating system.
Apple, by comparison, offers a 15-inch aluminum MacBook Pro for a pricey $2,299 that uses the older 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo and comes with specifications that are otherwise pretty similar to the (much) cheaper Dell system.
Hewlett-Packard: A $1,299 15.6-inch HP Envy (considered the company's consumer luxury laptop line) offers similar specifications to the Dell system but with more powerful graphics silicon. In addition to the Core i5-430M, it comes with a more powerful 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 graphics chip, a 320GB disk drive (7,200rpm), and 4GB of DDR3 memory. … Read more