Intel originally set the target price for Ultrabooks at $1000. As the category developed, they seemed determined to push that target price down even further and, with the Ultrabook-laden news out of Computex earlier in the month, it would seem that they’ve certainly accomplished that. Back to school time is coming and students will be looking for powerful and lightweight laptops which have great battery life — Ultrabooks fit the bill perfectly; even more so now than the first generation thanks to reduced prices!
What you’re looking at here is a list of 4 affordable Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks from 3 manufacturers. Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks are the second and latest generation of Ultrabooks featuring Intel’s powerful third-generation Core i processors.
1. Lenovo(14″, $799)
Lenovo’s IdeaPad U410 is the Ivy Bridge update of the company’s previous U400 Sandy Bridge Ultrabook. The U410 is at the top of the list at $799 but also features something that the other Ultrabooks on this list do not — discrete graphics. The inclusion of a GPU means that the Lenovo U410 is almost certain to graphically outperform any of the other Ultrabooks on the list. If you’re looking to do some gaming on the cheap, the U410 is for you.
The U410 has a 14″ screen with a 1366×768 resolution. The weight is a bit heavy (for an Ultrabook) at 1.8kg and the thickness is 21mm. It comes in three colors: graphite gray, sapphire blue, and ruby red.
The U410 isn’t available just yet and while we know all of the possible configuration options, it isn’t clear exactly what will be included in the $799 configuration; here’s our best guess: An Intel Core i3-3217U processor at 1.4GHz (note that Core i3 processors lack the ability to turbo boost; you may consider upgrading to Core i5 core this function, but that will put you beyond $799). You’ll likely see 4GB of speedy 1600MHz RAM with a 500GB HDD and 32GB SSD cache. The discrete GPU is Nvidia’s GeForce 610M which has 1GB of dedicated video memory.
For ports you’ll find: 2xUSB 2.0, 2xUSB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone, 3.5mm microphone, full HDMI, multi-format card reader (SD and MMC), as well as an ethernet/LAN (RJ45) port.
You can find detailed specifications at the U410 tracking page in our Ultrabook database.
The U410 isn’t available just yet but the company says it will be available before the month is out, as we would expect for back to school shopping. Keep your eye on Lenovo’s U410 product page for availability in the coming weeks.
2. Sony(13.3″, $769)
Sony surprised us with a $769 price for the VAIO T13 Ultrabook. The company usually offers premium-priced products so it’s great that they’ve got this affordable option. What’s more, the T13 appears to share much of it’s design with Sony’s premiere ultraportable, the VAIO Z, so you’re looking at premium design for a low cost. Indeed the T13 might turn out to be the best Ultrabook on this list in the build-quality department.
You won’t be surprised to find that the T13 has a 13.3″ screen with a 1366×768 resolution. The smaller footprint brings it in a bit lighter at 1.6kg than the 14″ U410. It’s thinner as well at 18mm.
Inside theconfigured for $769 you’ll find Intel’s Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U at 1.7GHz which has more power than the i3 processor and it has the ability to turbo boost up to 2.6GHz when your computing tasks become particularly demanding. There’s 4GB of 1333MHz RAM which isn’t the fastest that the chipset supports (1600MHz) but it’s close. For storage you’ll find a 320GB HDD with a 32GB SSD cache for improved performance. If you think you’ll need more space, you can go with a 500GB HDD which will only add $30 to the price which keeps the total cost at $799.
The port set is also pretty good, except we wish there was one more USB port: 1xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB3.0, full VGA, full HDMI, multi-card reader (SD and MS Pro Duo), 3.5mm headphone, and ethernet/LAN (RJ45).
You can find detailed specifications at the T13 tracking page in our Ultrabook database.
The Sony VAIO T13 is available today directly from Sony; if you wait a few more weeks you may find some discounts or free upgrades for back to school season.
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