Despite all the buzz about Intel's new third-generation Core i-series CPUs (also known by the code name Ivy Bridge), you can't actually buy a laptop with these new parts just yet.
The first few systems to be available, starting April 29, are not even the ones you're most likely to be interested in. Those initial Ivy Bridge offerings only include the highest-end Core i7 quad-core chips, usually found in massive 17-inch desktop replacement rigs, such as the Origin Eon 17-S.
For the more mainstream dual-core Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs found in most midsize and mainstream laptops, you'll have to wait at least until the end of May or beginning of June. And even then, if there's a specific laptop model you're interested in, it may take even longer for the PC maker behind it to update the processor options (if they do at all).
Some of our favorite recent laptops have labored under that important caveat. While still highly recommended, we've known (and pointed out to readers) that versions with updated CPUs might not be far off. Still, if you needed a laptop immediately, that might not have been incentive enough to wait.
But now that Ivy Bridge is right on our doorstep, the decision should be a little easier. If you can put off a purchase for the next four to six weeks, we're at the point where we'd strongly consider waiting for the updated processors. While application performance and battery life will likely see only modest gains, integrated graphics performance is much improved, which is handy if you're looking for the ability to play games on a non-gaming machine.
Below are a selection of the laptops we're most eager to see Intel's third-generation Core i-series CPUs in. For more on Intel's new CPUs, see our detailed Ivy Bridge FAQ here.
Apple MacBook Pro
A MacBook Pro (including the 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch versions) is a significant investment, especially when adding in optional upgrades. Cost aside, there's not a better choice (there are, however, some close ties) for an all-around powerhouse that will work in the home, the office, and in between.
HP Folio 13
When it comes to Windows ultrabooks, the HP Folio 13 is the best of the bunch in terms of performance, price, and ergonomics, provided you can live with a less-than-razor-thin design. This laptop is targeted at small businesses but it's really for anyone who wants a reliable ultrabook that isn't a MacBook Air.
The huge screen makes a surprising difference over slightly smaller 17-inch ones, and if you're eschewing a flat-screen TV in a den, dorm room, or vacation home, the M18x can be an all-in-one entertainment center, especially as it has a separate HDMI-in port for your game console, cable box, or other device.
Toshiba Portege R835
If you're looking for the thinnest and lightest 13-inch around, take the same money and put it toward an under-$1,000 ultrabook. But if you're willing to trade some portability for features and a great price, the scrappy little Toshiba Portege R835 remains one of our go-to laptop picks.