HP G61-320US Notebook at $549.99

What is so special about a 16" HP laptop? Well...this is among the first wave of laptops based on Phenom II based mobile chips from AMD. And since there were no Phenom based mobile chips, these chips should make a great advance from already impressive Turion and Athlon Mobile chips like ZM-, RM- and QL- series.

AMD based laptops

For serious and semi-professional users, there is one major factor that makes AMD based laptops (or desktops) more attractive than Intel based ones: As a differentiating factor between their premium range chips and rest of the line (i.e. medium and value chips), Intel removes support for Virtualization Technology from all but the premium range chips. The result is that very few Intel based laptops below about $900 have Virtualization. In contrast, the only differences between premium range AMD chips and their rest of the line are the speed and (sometimes) size of the cache. You get ALL the functionality but at reduced speed.

Till the days of XP and Vista, the lack of Virtualization Technology was only a concern for those who were running virtual machines - using certain virtualizers that supported hardware virtualization. However, that changed with Windows 7 (which seems to have caught Intel unaware). Windows 7 comes with something called Virtual XP mode which allows you to run applications in a native XP mode. This functionality requires Virtualization Technology: Advantage AMD!

Unlike Phenom II, Turion II chips lack L3 cache, but that shouldn't affect the performance too much.

G61-320US is a pretty well specified laptop. 16" (1366x768) screen, 3GB DDR2 memory, 250GB hard disk, DVD Writer, HDMI port, webcam...the works. Integrated HD 4200 graphics chip is pretty good for mainstream applications but not very useful for gaming or video processing. I am very impressed with the new trackpad on HP and Compaq machines, where the trackpad is not a separate pad, but is continuous with and same texture as the rest of the body - with just a dip to show the extent of the trackpad. It has a nice feel to it and is pretty responsive.

NewEgg sells it for $499.99 with free shipping ($449.00 after Rebate), which makes it even more attractive.

Update on 11/13/2009: Fry's has it on sale for $449 ($399 after Rebate). Grab it while it lasts! The sale is good from 11/13/2009 to 11/19/2009.


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