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Sandy Bridge Laptops - Does It Mean I Have To Upgrade Again?
Compiled and Written by Titus Hoskins
Laptop and computer technology changes at such a blistering pace, there is something new almost daily. Just when computer users were getting their heads around the confusing i3, i5 and i7 processors - Intel comes out with its new 2nd generation Core processors which have been codenamed Sandy Bridge. These processors offer much greater performance with hyper threading, multi cores, overclocking and much more robust integrated graphics. Computers and laptops with these new Sandy Bridge processors are currently hitting the marketplace.
There are, as of January 2011, around 29 variants or versions of these processors. So you have 14 desktop and 15 mobile models to choose from when buying that new PC or laptop. For the mobile market at the low end you have the i5-2537M which can have 2/4 cores at 1.4GHz and with turbo boost to 2.3GHz. At the high end we have i7-2920XM with 4 to 8 cores at 2.5GHz and turbo boost to 3.5GHz. For the desktop market we have a little more higher specs, for example the Intel Core i7 2600K at 3.4GHz with turbo boost to 3.8GHz.
What's so special about Sandy Bridge?
As with the 1st Generation Core Processors, the emphasis is again on Hyper Threading for all your multi-tasking and on Turbo Boost to give you peak performance when you need it. You can have 4-way or even 8-way processing with Hyper Threading to do several tasks at the same time. You also have a larger cache size which will give you better responsiveness when multi-tasking on your computer or laptop.
Graphics seems to have taken a big improvement (well within reason) with these new chipsets, Intel has introduced its own built-in HD Graphics 3000 which should be good enough for causal gaming, but for high-demanding games you will probably still need discrete graphics especially for gaming at the highest resolutions or settings. However, this is still a step forward for Intel regarding graphics, especially when it comes to HD and 3D images. Plus, Quick Synch Video is a feature which will make video editing and sharing a breeze.
Keep in mind, what makes these new Sandy Bridge processors very popular is overclocking, especially with the high end ones. Gamers who demand the highest specs will no doubt be very pleased. For those who want the best performance possible, an upgrade to Sandy Bridge will be a no-brainer. However, for the causal PC or laptop user, their current CPUs will probably do. Besides how much processing power do you need to send an email, check your Facebook page or watch the latest viral YouTube video?
In other words, if you're not into computer gaming or need a high performance computer for video editing or processing, you really don't need to upgrade just for the sake of upgrading. If your current PC or laptop can do all the chores you want it to do without freezing up or slowing down, then you obviously don't need a new one. Save your money and spend it on something else. Again, it all comes back to performance and how much you have to pay for that performance. In a very detailed review of Sandy Bridge, well known tech writer Anand Shimpi of Anandtech.com stated: "For the same money as you would've spent last year, you can expect anywhere from 10-50% more performance in existing applications and games from Sandy Bridge."
For this reason alone, many computer users will be taking a second look at Sandy Bridge to see if they do indeed need this increase in performance. Many consumers wait until new platforms and operating systems are introduced before they upgrade... if you're still using Windows 98 on a Pentium 2 computer, it's probably time for an upgrade.
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