- 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 Core 2
The GM/PM965 Express chipset family: The 965 Express chipset (formerly codenamed Santa Rosa) forms the centrepiece of 2007's Centrino update. The chipset supports up to 4GB of dual-channel DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2) memory at front side bus speeds up to 667MHz and supports CPUs with a front side bus (FSB) up to 800MHz, increasing the speed at which data flows between the processor and the memory. Intel Core 2 chips are currently the best performers on the market.
Other notable chipset features include support for up to 10 USB 2.0 ports and the option for manufacturers to include a power-managed Serial ATA (SATA) hard disk interface.
Notebooks based on the 965GM chipset variant will use on-board graphics in the form of Intel's Graphic Media Accelerator X3100. Although it's not for hardcore gamers, the X3100 is twice the speed of the integrated graphic solution Intel offered previously. Manufacturers can also include Intel Hi Definition audio that supports DTS, THX and Dolby technologies with HDMI.
Wi-Fi: Notebook manufacturers now have the option to include 802.11a/b/g and draft-n support thanks to Intel's new Intel PRO/Wireless 4965ABG and Draft-N network connection. As well as utilising the latest wireless technology standard, Centrino notebooks also use MIMO technology for greater signal strength.
Battery: Unless you really tinker with power management options, battery life on the latest Centrino notebooks should be marginally better than the previous generation and considerably better than the earliest Centrino notebooks; all while providing increasing performance benefits.
Intel Centrino Pro: The latest Centrino platform also includes the option for vendors to add Intel's active management technology (AMT). AMT is essentially a remote management tool that, theoretically, allows IT managers to remotely diagnose, repair and update notebooks in their fleet.
Intel Celeron M processor
The Celeron M is now a rather dated CPU and is compatible with a variety of Intel's old notebook chipsets (915 Express, 910GML, 855x, 852x). Just remember that you do lose a bit of performance (Celeron M processors have 1MB of level 2 cache -- half that of Pentium Ms. Celeron M processors all have a 400MHz FSB and range from the 1.2GHz Celeron M processor 310 to the 1.6GHz Celeron M processor 383. As is the case with the latest processors, there are also Ultra-Low Voltage versions available including the Intel Celeron M processor Ultra Low Voltage 383 which runs at 1GHz.