Cheaper 1st-Gen Ultrabooks later this Year

Posted on 10 February 2012 by

acers3 priceIt’s almost a dumb thing to say really but yes, the price of 1st-gen Ultrabooks will drop. The question is, how much and will they be worth having?

Lets get one thing straight though, the Sandy Bridge platform is a good one and Ivy Bridge will be better but there won’t be a huge amount of difference for most people. Yes, they will be worth having although there’s a small matter of Windows 8 to consider!

You’ll probably see 15-30 minutes more battery life for average use cases as designs improve and there will be a significant increase in GPU 3D capability, some high-end improvements for Turbo, maybe a Thunderbolt port here and there and a small rise in baseline clock-rate (probably consuming any CPU efficiency gains) but in general there won’t be a huge difference for the average user. Your biggest decision will be around the operating system. Will you want a Windows 7 device when Windows 8 is available later in the year?

How cheap will the 1st generation of Ultrabooks be? Digitimes is reporting an average price of $699-$799 by the end of the year which is likely, but only for entry-level models. I’ve always said that we will reach $699 in 2012 and I expect that to be the baseline for all entry-level Ultrabooks models in 2012 and that you’ll see offers down to $599 during back-to-school and Christmas sales periods.

Price-reducing factors to consider:

  • More models mean more competition
  • 2nd-tier manufacturers building to a lower-price point
  • Windows 8 makes Windows 7 look old
  • AMD ultrathin competition
  • Economies of scale
  • Marketing subsidies from Intel ramping up
  • Cheaper SSD, CPU (2nd-gen Sandy Bridge silicon prices likely to drop), and more efficient production process.

At the moment we’ve got the Acer Aspire S3 holding the lowest price point of $799 / €699 and in Europe there’s the exciting prospect of buying the much better, in my opinion, Samsung NP530 (Series 5 13”) at €770. We’ve also seen the Z835 (Core i3 version) at $699 although that’s back to $849 right now.

My prediction is that price drops will start as Ivy Bridge products feed in during Q2 and that the ‘back to school’ period of July-August will be packed with offers. keep our product database bookmarked!

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  • Michael

    Intel cannot excite people like those of the yesteryears. For example, during the Pentium II 233 mhz days, when Pentium II 300 mhz came out, there was so much of hype that the herd mentality started to come into play, stupid people sarted selling their old machines to upgrade to the latest cpu. Well it does not work that way anymore. People are conscious about cost and they know their 5 year old pc can handle a given task just as fast as the latest pc. The same with ultrabooks, they wont bother much with Ivy Bridge when they know the Sandy Bridge is as good but half the price

    • Chippy

      I wasn’t into PCs back then but I remember getting excited about a P3 450 and spending £2000 on a top-end PC! Maybe I was one of those who got too excited.

      However, I think we mustn’t underestimate some of the brands and marketing dollars involved. I tend to agree with you but there’s always room for a surprise when so much it at risk.

      • James

        Yes, there are a lot of variables and one of them is how Ivy Bridge will work in combination with Windows 8.

        It should be remembered that Intel is bringing in a lot of power efficiency enhancements, which Windows 8 will take advantage of and help boost by being a more power efficient OS than Windows 7.

        Though some like me are waiting for Haswell before making the jump.

        • Chippy

          Good point. Windows 8 (on either platform) is likely to have more positive effect on battery life than a simple change up to Ivy Bridge.
          Maybe I underestimate the desire for Windows 8. Maybe some 1st gen models will get a Windows 8 refresh too!

  • Michael

    ha ha, chippy, unfortunately, I was one of them too. I started with a 166 mhz MMX and each time there was an upgrade, I too got excited and I would dream of buying it. It went on until Pentium III 500 mhz. It was then I slowly realised, it was just a sheer waste of money upgrading for it did not substantially improve the performance of my PC nor the applications I was using.

    Many people are the same now. Nearly everyone has a notebook or a netbook/tablet. Unless the new machine is substantially faster or so much lighter than the current machine owned, not many people will jump into the new boat. In your article however, I think many will go for cheaper Sandy Bridge machines to save money for they realise, its not really going to improve their lives substantiallly.

    With regard to Windows 8, that too has lost momentum. For most of us, like myself, I have been upgrading faithfully since Windows 3.1 and to be honest, most people can’t really see the difference from Windows XP and Windows 7. I doubt whether Windows 8 would be a selling point cause people have reached the “realisation” point already. I have asked many people who have previed Windows 8 and they have said that, after many upgrades over the years, they have just seen the light and realised its not worth the upgrade. So people won’t wait for Windows 8 and just continue buying their Win 7 machines now.

    • James

      There will always be people who buy what’s available now, and as far as that goes I’d agree, but I disagree that Windows 8 has lost momentum as it has yet to be actually pitched to us and there is a difference from a wait and see attitude and actual dismissing a upcoming new product before we even see it in action.

      You’re basically making assumptions based on pessimism and preconceptions. Since people have yet to actually see what Windows 8 will really offer and it’s mainly geeks who are really considering it at this time.

      However, the developers build doesn’t even count as it was little more than a proof of concept just to get the ball rolling on Metro development and we basically don’t have much more than a check list of most of the things they’ll be working on.

      While many people will wait for at least some hands on experience with the final products before deciding and they’ve yet to even begin beta testing.

      So the combination effect of both Ivy Bridge and Windows 8 should not be underestimated at this time, as we’ve yet to see how good they will be and how the advances will be marketed once they are ready to really push them out to us.

  • ldjjlchv

    “…and there will be a significant increase in GPU 3D capability,”

    Can someone please tell me what GPU 3D capability is used for? I plan to watch a lot of video, mostly streamed in 1080p, and a lot of sports via streams. I will also watch some movies, maybe in blu ray down the line, and a lot of videos on Youtube. I don’t play any games, though.

    Will I benefit from the significant increase in GPU 3D capability with Ivy Bridge?

    Thanks

    • Chippy

      For you, there won’t be much difference as video processing is much the same as before. You might see some battery life improvements but nothing significant. I have same requirements as you and I’ll be considering 1st gen until mid 2013. Being able to buy a 1st gen core i7 instead of a second gen core i5, for the same money, is an advantage.

      • ldjjlchv

        Thanks for the info, Chippy. You’re the best!

        • Chippy

          Spread the word! ;-)

      • James

        Well, performance isn’t exactly the same as the HD video decoder embedded in the Ivy Bridge can decode videos up to 4096 x 4096 (vs 2,560 x 1,600 for Sandy Bridge), possibly simultaneous 4K video decoding, support for up to 3 independent displays, and the quick sync engine is said to be noticeably improved and should take advantage of the improved performance.

        While we don’t yet know how the run times will compare before we can say the difference won’t be significant.

        The reduction from 32nm to 22nm by itself may only bring a small boost but we’ve yet to see how effective Intel’s efficiency boosting technology like the Tri-Gate Transistors will effect it.

        • Chippy

          I has read about the three screens support but where did whether information come from?

  • James

    Chippy :
    I has read about the three screens support but where did whether information come from?

    Whether information?

    If you mean the rest, articles like this one…

    http://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/4838?cPage=4&all=False&sort=0&page=1&slug=ivy-bridge-gpu-to-support-resolutions-of-up-to-4096×4096

    • Chippy

      Thanks James.

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