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.
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.
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.
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.
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.