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11:05 AM

Mobile CPUs: What To Buy And When To Buy It

As you begin to plan the purchase of your next laptop or set of laptops, keep these five points in mind.

Consider Merom. If you pride yourself on buying machines with peak performance, you should wait for Intel to release its Merom-based processors in the second half of the year. If you buy a Core Duo-based laptop today and are a power user, you'll probably be disappointed in seven or eight months. In addition to an expected increase in performance, Merom CPUs will add 64-bit extensions, of which Windows Vista--also scheduled for release later this year--will take advantage.

Wait for Turion dual-core. Sure, Advanced Micro Devices' dual-core Turion 64 processors lack the sex appeal of Centrino Duo. But how will they perform? It may be worth waiting a few months to find out. With this said, however, we don't expect to see a major performance difference between the two.

Hold out for thin and light. Given AMD's cryptic hints about targeting the thin-and-light category, it might be worth waiting a few months to see what the chipmaker has in mind before buying that ultraportable 3-pound laptop. If (and admittedly this is a big if) AMD is able to come up with a major performance-per-watt breakthrough in this category, you'll be sorry if you recently forked over $2,000 for old technology.

Summer and fall bring lower prices. If you absolutely, positively must have a new laptop now, you won't go wrong with an Intel Core Duo. But keep in mind that when Intel releases its new mobile processor architecture later this year, prices of existing Core Duos should drop.

Get low prices now. Because Intel recently released the Core Duo, you can probably find a stellar bargain on an older and still fairly speedy previous-gen Centrino- or Turion 64-based laptop today.

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