- Questions to ask yourself
- Desktop PC or notebook?
- How important is mobility?
- What will I be using the notebook for?
- How much do I need to spend?
- Specialised portable computers?
- Ultraportable notebooks
- Tablet PCs
- Palm/hand top computers
- Ruggedised portables
- Processor and chipset
- Intel versus AMD
- Intel notebook processors
- AMD mobile processors
- Other key components
- Questions to ask the retailer
Intel versus AMD
The majority of notebooks you'll see advertised are likely to use Intel processors, primarily as part of Intel's Centrino platform, explained below. However, AMD does have a place in the Australian notebook market, primarily with its AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile Technology.
Intel has a range of Celeron, Core Solo, Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors currently available.
AMD's Sempron and Turion 64 X2 processors are still available in notebooks, though you're most likely to see the Turion 64 X2 processors in modern notebooks.
Intel Notebook Processors
Avoiding Centrino confusion
The majority of notebooks available today include Intel's Centrino technology. Centrino is Intel's name for its mobile computing platform that comprises three elements: a processor, an associated chipset and a wireless networking connection. Because Intel hasn't used a different logo or naming convention for the most recent Centrino updates, you need to make sure you find out which generation of the Centrino platform your potential notebook is equipped with.
The easiest way to do this is by looking at the chipset specifications. The first generation of Centrino uses the 855x chipset, the second generation (formerly codenamed Sonoma) uses the 915x chipset, the third generation (formerly codenamed Yonah) uses the 945x chipset, while the fourth and most recent update uses the 965x chipset.
Only notebooks featuring Intel's strict list of components get Intel's stamp of approval to carry the name "Centrino notebook". If just one component is missing or a competitor's product used instead, the notebook cannot be termed Centrino. Intel has created an architecture reference design to which notebook manufacturers must adhere (and have validated by Intel) if they wish to use the Centrino branding. It's important to remember that it's not like you couldn't wirelessly network a notebook before Centrino, Intel's marketing blitz as well as a surge in home broadband and networking just helped bring the idea of wireless to the masses. You can always get a Wi-Fi PC Card or Wi-Fi module to add wireless capabilities to a notebook without it built-in, though almost every notebook sold today will include wireless of some description.
The latest generation of Centrino, like the original, has three elements: the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors, a new 965 Express chipset and improved Intel wireless networking with support for the 802.11a, b and g standards.