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Intel Atom 1.86 GHz Too Rich for Netbook Blood

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 12 comments

Look at any netbook on the market today, and you’ll see that the specifications for each one even across different OEMs are remarkably the same.

In fact, one key differentiator between both notebooks and desktops is processor speed, but for netbooks it’s virtually homogenous – it’s almost always the Intel Atom running at 1.6 GHz.

While seeing a system with an Intel chip is commonplace, seeing it running at the same frequency across the board is unusual. That phenomenon, however, could be explained after taking a look at the official Intel processor price list (PDF).

As pointed out by Fudzilla, the Atom Z530 1.6 GHz chip currently sells for $65, while the Z540 1.86 GHz is a huge leap away at $130. At double the price, it’s no mystery why OEMs are selecting the more sensible option for their sub-$400 netbooks. Some system makers choose to drop it down to 1.3 GHz for the $40 price tag.

The very popular Atom N270 sells for $44, but what’s interesting is that the dual-core 330 goes for less at $43.

At any rate, this should answer some of the questions why we’re all sitting with 1.6 GHz Atom chips. At least some netbook models give the option to overclock to 1.8 GHz levels!

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  • -1 Hide
    computerninja7823 , March 11, 2009 4:56 PM
    whats with the wildly varing prices? weird. but i know would not mind spending a few extra buck to buy a "faster the rest of the pack" netbook.

    ~compninja~
  • 5 Hide
    hellwig , March 11, 2009 5:41 PM
    Since when have Intel's fastest chips ever NOT been a rip-off? Over $1k for an extreme-edition i7 CPU? Its all just a certification process anyway. Intel spends more effort to certify those chips at 1.86GHz, and expects people to pay for it. When you talk about netbooks, I can't really see why someone would care about that extra 260MHz. Unless you're like computerninja and want to brag, which seems to be a common theme.
  • 0 Hide
    Edex , March 11, 2009 5:51 PM
    You can overclock the N270 to 1.9Ghz with ease. To get it to 2.0Ghz is a little bit more difficult though.

    The market is SO monotone...
  • Display all 12 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    pug_s , March 11, 2009 5:59 PM
    Dual core 330 for less than $43. That's strange.
  • 5 Hide
    Aragorn , March 11, 2009 10:05 PM
    I want a Dual Core Netbook on the ION platfrom!!!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2009 12:13 AM
    One problem with the dual-core Atom 330 - it's a desktop chip rated for 8 W, not a netbook one rated for 2.5.
  • 0 Hide
    computerninja7823 , March 12, 2009 12:23 AM
    hey hellwig. im not bragging here, all im saying is i would spend the extra money in the first place to get something better...jeez man
  • 1 Hide
    the last resort , March 12, 2009 12:26 AM
    didnt Toms decide a while back that the Atom was kinda on the sluggish side? Im thinking of buying a cheap laptop before i go to college. My brother said get a netbook, they are meant for typing and internet. I wanted a tiny laptop. I did some research, and basically i can get a moderate dual core laptop that could blow away the Atom for around $400.

    I realize that the netbook is popular because of its tiny size, and that Im looking for a 15" notebook.

    And I still think that AMD could and should put its foot in the door and stop giving Intel this market, even if it could die soon.
  • 1 Hide
    Master Exon , March 12, 2009 3:53 AM
    Dual core atom + Ion plz.
  • 1 Hide
    sammo505 , March 12, 2009 4:57 AM
    Hmm an extra 260mhz for double the price. Whats the prob? What pisses me off more is that theres more bang for buck with a Athlon64 or Core 2 for even less. This is just another price conspiracy like the LCDs TH just reported on. I can get a Athlon X2 1.9ghx for $35. Well I guess that's what you pay for having the fastest slow PC.
  • 1 Hide
    JimmiG , March 12, 2009 8:14 AM
    Jumping from 1.6 GHz to 1.86 GHz won't allow you to use the Netbook in any different way. It will still be too slow for games, encoding etc., and it will still be fast enough for basic office work and web browsing. I'm kind of surprised they don't even use the 1.86 GHz chip in some of the overpriced $700 "netbooks" that are available, though. The profit margins on those must be huge and a slightly faster CPU might convince a few more idiots to pay that much money for Pentium-M 1 GHz-class performance.

    Once Atom gets graphics, memory controller etc. integrated on-die, people will find it makes more sense and differentiates itself more from other mobile CPUs. The current Atom is really just a proof of concept. With the chipset drawing many times the power as the CPU itself, it's no wonder people look at other solutions like low-end Athlons or the Via C7.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 23, 2009 3:46 AM
    Only if you could tweak the voltage then overclocking would be so much easier on these things. Being 45nm hitting 2.5ghz @ 1.3 volts would be super easy if not more....Unlocked CPU voltage?