Intel Atom 1.86 GHz Too Rich for Netbook Blood

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!

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • computerninja7823
    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.

  • hellwig
    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.
  • Edex
    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...
  • pug_s
    Dual core 330 for less than $43. That's strange.
  • Aragorn
    I want a Dual Core Netbook on the ION platfrom!!!
  • 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.
  • computerninja7823
    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
  • the last resort
    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.
  • Master Exon
    Dual core atom + Ion plz.
  • sammo505
    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.