PC prices drop again!


A few weeks ago Dell advertised new laptops for $849AU, this was a significant development but I didn’t get around to blogging about it. Now I have just discovered that they have a special deal for $799AU for a laptop including delivery! This is an amazing deal and gives you an AMD Sempron 3500 CPU (not a really fast CPU and only 32bit, but it’s faster than the 1.7GHz Pentium-M that is currently satisfying all my requirements for portable computing), 512M of RAM, an 80G hard drive and a 1280×800 display.

It’s far from a high-end laptop (having a lower screen resolution and less RAM than my 3yo Thinkpad) but it will suffice for most things you might want to do on the move apart from running Xen.

The exciting thing about this is that as it’s so cheap that most people will probably choose it in preference to a desktop system – the cheapest desktop system that Dell currently offers as a package is $898. The cheap desktop has a dual-core Athlon64, 1G of RAM, and a 160G hard drive. But for most tasks other than games such things aren’t really required.

Also a local PC company Suntrom has advertised a new Lenovo Thinkpad with a Celeron-M 1.5GHz, 256M of RAM, 1024×768 display, and a 40G hard drive for $799. The Thinkpad has considerably less compute power than the Dell laptop, but it is a bit cheaper. If Lenovo has maintained the Thinkpad quality (while IBM owned the brand Thinkpad was the Rolls-Royce of laptops) then it would probably be the better choice.

On many occasions I have heard people say that they want a laptop computer to save space. When a desktop machine cost $1200 and a laptop cost $3500 that idea was ridiculous. But now that a laptop appears to be the cheapest system in the Dell range on sale in Australia that would be quite a reasonable criteria for purchases. Of course the extra sales of laptops will help fund further laptop technology developments (such as flash storage) that will be of use to those of us who are serious about computing and use laptops they way that they were intended.

4 thoughts on “PC prices drop again!”

  1. chithanh says:

    If it was not intentionally crippled or is a very old stepping, the Sempron 3500+ will support AMD64. Moreover, significantly improved Xpress chipset support has very recently been added to mesa and X.org (yay!)

  2. Erich says:

    The first thing you’ll want to do with the Thinkpad is to throw in an extra GB of RAM. Depending on what type you need, that is somewhere between 45 and 90 EUR (~75 -150 $AUS?)
    With todays applications, you can’t reasonably work with 256 MB anymore. At least not when you are used to multitasking and having open a large email client, a web browser and an full-blown IDE or some office software. Even 512 MB will then be too little..

  3. etbe says:

    chitanh: Interesting to know that a new Semperon may support the AMD64 ISA. Even without 64bit support it is a good deal though!

    Erich: I know quite a few people who do all their computing on 256M of RAM. If you don’t use OpenOffice much and only do light work then it’s adequate. My current Thinkpad has 768M of RAM, it’s a little low for the intensive things that I do (such as simulating clusters with multiple Xen domU’s) but when I only have one domU running it’s quite good.

    I’m not sure what the prices are for Thinkpad RAM, 512M may be significantly cheaper than 1G (IE less than half the price). If that’s the case then 768M would be a better option than 1.25G for most people. I would advise people who are serious about computing (such as me and most other Debian developers) to not get the cheap Thinkpad. The 1024×768 screen is not adequate for serious software development.

  4. Pavel says:

    (following your route :) Got like original ThinkPad T30 couple of months ago with PIII-M 1.8GHz. My biggest problem with it is that the BIOS, seems, supports only single chip up to 1GB.

    Surprised that you are considering new Lenovo laptops. They are even looking cheap (terrible keyboard, body with “sound effects” when one put some pressure on it). MediaMarkt in Amsterdam was selling one like you’ve mentioned for 666 (good number, ah?) Euros, but stopped as they were, probably, not competitive with others (Toshiba’s and Sony’s).

    Some German manufactures are coming to 400 Euros per reasonably featured laptop models, but I could not judge if they are as good as Dell or Lenovo ones.

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