While it's fun to benchmark the latest Intel "Extreme" processor and hear about the performance tweaks that have been implemented over the previous iteration, the fact is that most buyers can't afford to drop $1,000 on a CPU, or even $200-$300 for its still-powerful but more affordable siblings.
Laptops & Desktops
John Morris and Sean Portnoy deliver straight talk about notebook and desktop computers.
John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine.
Sean Portnoy is a former executive editor at Computer Shopper magazine and editor at CNET Networks.
If you're not a notebook fanatic, you may not be aware of the Clevo brand, though you may be familiar with its laptops if you purchase a system from Sager or Prostar (which merely rebrand Clevo machines). You'll have to go the boutique vendor (like AVADirect, Malibal, XoticPC) to get hold of a Clevo au naturel, but if you're a hardcore gamer, you might want to track down the just released X8100.
Forget the gods being crazy: I might be a little nuts thinking Shuttle has an odd promotional tie-in with the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans. It's releasing limited editions of its new J Series small-form-factor desktop and X50 V2 all-in-one PC with designs based on the movie.
Intel may own the present, but AMD believes the future belongs to Fusion. At a recent conference AMD provided the first glimpse of its first Fusion APU slated to ship in 2011.
The Windows 7 budget laptop onslaught continues, this time courtesy of MSI, which has launched four new systems that all run Windows 7 Home Premium. One of them even includes a Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo drive for under $700.
Asus kicked off the netbook craze about 18 months ago with its original Eee PC, and now the line has graduated to Windows 7 and a multi-touch, swiveling screen that turns the T101MT into a tablet PC. The T91 was the first Eee PC that worked as a convertible tablet, but it had a smaller 8.
Nvidia's Ion graphics solution for netbooks provides the extra video power that's lacking from Intel's current Atom processor. It can handle Direct X graphics as well as 1080p "full" HD.
In the same week that it introduced its new switchable graphics mobile platform Optimus, Nvidia revealed that it's mulling an external graphics solution to boost the graphics capabilities of laptops. An Nvidia exec told X-bit Labs that it was a "big opportunity," but that the company hadn't decided if it would take the form of an adapter or a GPU docking station.
They get scorn for selling systems that costs thousands, but even in this "great recession" many boutique PC builders have done a lot better than you might expect. Digital Storm has one of the best reputations among this clique (which includes Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and several others), and with its new Black|Ops desktop series, it's promising extreme performance starting at a relatively modest price.
Other than iMacs, I'm not sure that all-in-one PC designs are actually big sellers. Nonetheless, companies like HP and Dell keep cranking them out.