The launch of a new operating system always means new hardware—lots of it—even if the operating system’s requirements aren’t a whole lot more demanding than the previous OS. In this case, Windows 7’s official debut on October 22 will usher in dozens of new laptops and desktops that aren’t that different—internally—from those you could buy in early October. Here are Microsoft’s Windows 7 system requirements:
· 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
· 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
· 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
· DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
See? Nothing to it. All of the computers included in the following (mostly laptops, with a few desktops for good measure) will be launched on or around October 22. They’ll each ship with a fresh Windows 7 installation. They run the gamut from barebones browsing machines to juiced-up gaming rigs; from thick, boring configurations to sleek and ultra-light designs. There are almost never this many options from which to choose, so if you’re in the market for a PC, now is a good time to start shopping around. Nearly all computers that were on the market for the past few months will now start shipping with Windows 7 installed—this article covers the computers that are launching, brand new, this week.
For those of you who jumped the gun and bought a PC in the last few weeks (or bought a machine running Vista anytime between June 26, 2009 and January 31, 2010), yes, you can get a coupon for a free Windows 7 upgrade. But remember, netbooks are not eligible. And, you'll have to do the installation of Windows 7 yourself.
Please let us know in the comments if the computer you’re most excited about isn’t included in this roundup. In a couple of days, you'll be able to use this tool from Microsoft to search and shop for more PCs that come with Windows 7 pre-installed.
We’ll start out with a healthy compromise between weight, size, performance, and price. The silver Asus UL80vt-A1 ranges in thickness between 0.6" and 1.0". It has a 14" LED-backlit screen and weighs just under 5 lbs. The 1.3 GHz dual-core CULV SU7300 processor is low-powered enough to let Asus claim this machine will run for 12 hours without plugging in for more juice. It comes with 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive, as well as a DVD player/writer and webcam. Switchable discrete graphics mean you can snap out of battery-saving mode and into turbo-charged movie-watching mode.
Asus’ multimedia offering, the N61, is beefed up with a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 processor, a gig of memory just for the souped-up graphics card, a 320 GB hard disk and 4 GB of RAM. It also has a Blu-ray disk drive and Altec Lansing speakers, so you can take real advantage of this laptop’s 16" screen. A multi-touch trackpad makes looking at pictures and browsing the web a much more interactive experience. While it is a bit hefty at 6.5 lbs., this laptop won’t force you to leave it at home. It also comes with a case and a mouse. If you like subtle touches, you’ll appreciate the shimmering brown exterior.
This is Asus’ gaming entrant. It features the new 1.6 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. A 16" screen with 1920x1080 resolution—yeah, that’s 1080p, baby—makes use of the Nvidia GeForce GTX260M graphics card. While it doesn’t have a Blu-ray player, the laptop does come with two 320 GB hard drives, a webcam, and Altec Lansing speakers. This weighs in as a true desktop replacement at 7 lbs. 8 oz. The case is black, blue, and silver and looks a bit like a Wolverine scratched menacingly at your rig.
Sony Vaio CW
Price: Starting at $719
Sony’s CW is a little bit like the television network with which it shares a name: youthful, glitzy, and consistent. Available in five colors (red, pink, white, black, and purple), the CW series isn’t super skinny (more than an inch thick and over 5 lbs.), but it is shiny. For many people, its 14" screen will be just the right size. It is also upwardly mobile—for a little more cash, upgrade to a Blu-ray drive or a mightier graphics card. Media card slots, and ports galore—including HDMI—make this a respectably-spec’d designer notebook.
Sony Vaio X
Price: Starting at $1,299
This computer is vying to be America’s next top Windows model. It is thin enough at 0.5" at its thickest point and 1.6 lbs. with a standard battery. It is pretty enough—available in either black/copper or shimmering gold. Is it tough enough? It boasts a scratch-resistant 11.1" LED backlit screen (too small to win?) and manages to eke out 3.5 hours of battery life. How does it manage that? With a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a hard disk, of course—either 64 GB or 128 GB. Card slots, GPS, and Bluetooth round out this glamorous machine’s feature set.
Sony Vaio L All-In-One
Price: From $1,149-$1,999
This computer belongs in a hipster’s studio loft. You know, a design-conscious person’s tiny dwelling where there isn’t room for both a desktop and an HDTV. The All-In-One is supposed to be both. With a sliver-like profile and a 24" 16:9, 1080p screen, it can be. Though it is on the pricier side for an all-in-one, it does include a Blu-ray player, wireless mouse and keyboard, and a remote control. But will you need those gadgets? This computer is a touch screen. It can also act as DVR. An HDMI port connects to gaming systems and other peripherals.
HP Envy 13
Can’t have a MacBook Pro? Have an HP Envy. It might just be the next best thing (or the best thing, if you’re not a Mac fan). Costs are comparable between the two, and looks are similar as well—thanks especially to the brushed aluminum unibody design. This laptop boasts a high-def 13" display to take advantage of discrete graphics, and is less than one inch thick. Battery life has clocked in at more than 16 hours when tweaked to just the right settings, according to HP. The low-powered 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor helps on that score. What makes it unique? The undulating pattern on the palm rest.
HP Mini 311
HP first started shipping the HP Mini 311 netbook a couple weeks before Windows 7 came out, but don’t worry—units are now shipping with Windows 7. This computer stretches the definition of netbook—11.6" is on the big side, and the 1080p screen is much better than we’re used to seeing on a netbook. Though it has a typical netbook chip—Intel’s Atom—the graphics processor is the new Nvidia Ion, which pumps up the machine’s ability to process video. Available in classic black or white—with a silver swirl pattern—the computer weighs 3.2 pounds, which feels just like a chunky netbook should. For a fee, you can throw in broadband wireless access.
Price: about $2,000
HP’s new version of the DV8 hasn’t officially been announced for the United States yet, but we have a strong feeling that it is coming soon. For now, it has launched in the UK, and it is a monster with an 18.4" screen, a Core i7 processor, two 320 GB hard drives, Nvidia GeForce GT230 graphics, a TV tuner, a Blu-ray drive, a subwoofer, and a battery that’s on steroids. How much does it weigh, you ask? It will crush you. But it will also replace your TV, if you let it.
Compaq Presario CQ61-310US Notebook PC
A 16" laptop running Windows 7 for under $500? Sure, that’s doable. HP’s Compaq brand offers this basic package: a retro 2 GHz (but yes, still supported) AMD Sempron M100 processor, a widescreen 720p screen, 2 GB RAM, a DVD player/writer, a card reader, VGA and USB ports, and a 160 GB hard drive. Weighing in at just under six lbs., this Compaq will stretch your dollars further than expected.
Toshiba Satellite T115
This is Toshiba’s category-blurring netbook. With an 11.6" LED backlit display—and choice of Intel Pentium SU4100 or Intel Celeron 743 processors, this 3.5 lbs. machine can last for up to nine hours between charges (according to Toshiba). Included are all the ports you’d expect: card reader, HDMI, eSATA, and USB. Other features include a 250 GB hard drive and webcam. The T115 is available in red and black.
Toshiba Satellite T135
The T115’s big brother upgrades to a 13.3" LED backlit screen and adds a white finish to the black and red options. Choose between an Intel Pentium SU4100 or SU2700 processor. Otherwise, specifications are the same as the T115.
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q850
Here’s another beast. An 18.4" 1080p screen would be de rigeur on a machine like this. What wouldn’t you have guessed? The dual hard drive configuration with one 320 GB hard drive and one 64 GB SSD, with 6 GB of RAM. Naturally, this machine runs the quad-core i7 processor. A less spectacularly spec’d model is available for $1,499. The black and red highlights look typical for a multimedia and gaming desktop replacement, but we’ve seen much more garish versions, while this one’s positively classy in comparison.
Toshiba Satellite U505
This thin-and-light comes with a few more features than an average 4.5 lbs. laptop. Discrete graphics, 4 GB of memory, a 500 GB hard drive, and a Core 2 Duo T6600 processor make up the internals. But the 13.3" screen has touch screen capability. It has a textured body—more like cloth than slick fingerprint-prone plastic—and comes in red, white, or black. Bluetooth, an HDMI port, and a webcam are also included.
Toshiba Satellite M500
For an extra 0.7 lbs. (this one weighs 5.2 lbs.), the M500 adds another inch to the U505’s screen for 14.4". It also adds an illuminating LED backlit keyboard, as well as a touch-screen energy-saving LED backlit screen. Otherwise, this model is similar to the U505.
Toshiba Mini NB205F-N330BL
Toshiba’s Mini existed before Windows 7, but with the arrival of the new OS, this netbook launched in new colors: blue, white, pink, and brown. It will ship with Windows 7 Starter Edition. Specs remain the same as before: 1 GB RAM, an Intel Atom processor, a 250 GB hard disk, Bluetooth, a webcam, 10.1" screen, and a battery that’s set to last up to nine hours. The mini weighs just a hair under 3.0 lbs.
While MSI has not released exact pricing info or shipping dates for its gaming behemoth, it has made clear that the GT640 is coming. It sports the new 1.6 GHz Core i7 720QM quad-core chip from Intel, as well as Geforce GTS 250 graphics from Nvidia. Other specs include 4 GB RAM, HDMI, eSATA ports, a 1680x1050 screen, a webcam, Bluetooth, and 7.1 channel audio. In the tradition of blazing-hot gaming machines, this one is red and black.
Acer Aspire AS5738PG
Acer throws its hat into the touch-screen ring with the Aspire 5738PG: a 6.2 lbs., 16" multimedia handler with a 320 GB hard drive and 4 GB of RAM. The keyboard is spacious and includes a numeric keypad. With four USB ports and a card reader, plus an HDMI output, you won’t be hurting for peripheral space.
Acer Aspire Timeline Series (AS1810T)
Common refrain: Is it a netbook or a notebook? The new 11.6" Timeline from Acer has the price of a basic notebook, even though it weighs 3.1 lbs. It has an Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 instead of an Atom processor. It boasts 4 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive. It manages to fit a webcam, a card reader, Bluetooth, a multi-touch trackpad HDMI, and three USB ports into its tiny body. Want this one but slightly bigger? The AS3810T has a 13.3" screen, slightly bigger hard drive, and a few more ounces of heft for $799. The AS4810TZ bumps it up further to a 14" screen and a 4.4 lbs. body ($649). The AS5810 weighs 5.3 lbs. and features a 15.6" screen. All of the Timeline models are just about one inch thick. Colors include black, blue, silver, and brown.
Gateway EC Series
Two laptop sizes emerged from Gateway’s EC series: the 11.6" EC14, and the 15.6" EC54/58. The former weighs 3.8 lbs., while the latter weighs 5.3 lbs. The small one comes in glossy red and black and the larger one comes with brushed aluminum in silver or blue. The small one has a 320 GB hard drive, while the larger one’s hard drive is 500 GB. Battery life on both computers can last up to eight hours and the screens on both sizes are 16:9 with LED backlighting and 1366x768 resolution.
Gateway One All In One ZX6800
Price: starting at $879.99
This All-In-One PC is a good deal cheaper than some of the others on the market, but it packs much more punch than a nettop. A full HD 23" screen, and a 2.6 GHz Intel dual-core processor mean you’ll be able to watch movies on this computer without straining your eyes or your patience. Oh, and it also features a touch screen, naturally, plus a wireless keyboard and mouse. A 750 GB hard disk comes inside.
Dell Adamo Desire
Price: starting $2,299
Dell announced the ultramodern Adamo Desire this summer, but just in time for Windows 7, luxury gets even more luxurious: 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo SL9600 processor, a 256 GB SSD, and 4 GB of RAM. The Desire is about half an inch thick, and features a 13.4" screen in 16:9 aspect ratio—the glass screen goes from one edge of the device to the other. Choices you get to make: onyx or pearl color? Mobile broadband or not?
Dell Adamo XPS
Price: TBA, about $2,000
There’s nothing thinner than this. Dell hasn’t said much about this machine, which is expected to launch October 22, but we do know a few details, such as the fact that it is 9.9 millimeters thick (that’s 0.39"), and includes a 2.1 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a 256 GB SSD. Reports have hinted that the computer will feature a heat-sensitive “latch” that when touched will automatically open the lid of the computer. That’s hot!
ViewSonic VOT132 PC Mini
If you’ve already got a monitor, but want to upgrade from an old desktop PC to a small new PC, the PC Mini from Viewsonic might make sense for you. It attaches to the monitor (or stands alone), and consumes 80% less energy than older desktop PCs and uses 45% less plastic than a standard desktop, too. Using it should feel like a nettop—which, for some, might be an upgrade. This computer runs on an Intel Atom processor and 2 GB of RAM.
Lenovo IdeaPad S12
Price: Under $600 (TBA)
This 12" computer makes for a fancy netbook. It is shipping in Japan, first, but we expect it soon in the United States. It will be one of the first to carry the new Ion mobile graphics processor—which means you might actually be able to watch a film on a netbook. Other features include a card slot, an ExpressCard slot, and 2 GB of RAM (with a standard Intel Atom processor). It weighs 3.5 lbs.—but it is a little bigger and better than your average netbook, so that should be worth the weight trade-off.
Price: Starts at $1,999
Lenovo added multi-touch to the screen of this 14" laptop. Its insides aren’t spectacular for the price, but the computer weighs under 4.0 lbs. and is less than an inch thick, so we forgive it. In fact, its components are more than adequate for the suits that will thrill to the idea that they can buy a T400 running Windows 7 with 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD that make this computer perfect for the road.
Fujitsu Lifebook P3010 and M2011
Price: $549 and $449
Fujitsu will release two small computers. The P3010 has a 12" screen, weighs 3.5 lbs., and is just over an inch thick. At $549, it might be one of the cheapest 12" notebooks running Windows 7 without an Atom processor (this one has the AMD Athlon Neo).
The M2011 netbook has a 10" screen and the typical Intel Atom processor. It comes with Windows 7 starter edition, 1 GB of RAM, and a 250 GB hard drive.