So a few people have being asking me about the cheap computers that seem to have appeared from nowhere in places like Harvey Normans and JB Hi-Fi. The most popular question people ask is simply why they are so cheap closely followed by is there any catch? What you are seeing is these companies selling of all of their old stock to make way for the newest processor architectures released by Intel, Sandy Bridge.
Which should you buy?
Usually I never recommend a normal user to buy the latest and greatest hardware because to be honest they simply just don't need it but if you are in the market to buy or build a new computer the Sandy Bridge architecture throws some other questions into the mix which make it a viable choice for all computers and even more so with budget PC's. First lets take a look at what the common processor architectures are because things are quite confusing at the moment with Intel simply using the names i3, i5 and i7 for both the older line of processors and the latest Sandy Bridge processors. The only way you can tell the difference is by recognising the number of pins on the processor.
Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad Processors ranging from E5000 through to the Q9600
I still myself use a Q9600 in my Windows based machine and they are a great processor which offer a lot of performance. I bought it not long before the release of the first "i" range of processors. Any processor in this range can be beaten on both performance and price by their successors and rarely come into consideration when buying or building a new computer.
Nehalem Core i3, i5 and i7 Processors
This range of processors are what everyone is selling off. They have been around for a few years now and offer great performance at a good value. If you are looking to buy a new home PC and you can get a good deal on a computer with one of these processors then I wouldn't hold you back. The i7 range of these processors is ideal for gaming and you are not likely to need the additional performance you will gain spending the extra dollars on the Sandy Bridge processors, that said most gamers just like wasting money on the newest hardware.
Sandy Bridge, i3, i5, i7
I'm led to believe that Intel simply decided that everyone understood the i3, i5 and i7 terminology so decided to stick with it. It's true most people understand that i3 is the bottom end and is perfect for your home computers, i5 is faster still and can run most if not all commercial applications such as AutoCad and MYOB and is therefore great for a business computer. And as just mentioned the i7 computers are left for the extreme gamers and those of you who are into some hardcore video editing. Unfortunately that's about as much as the consumer wanted to know and now we are left with two ranges of processors that use this terminology which seems to cause quite a bit of confusion. I just recommend above that I wouldn't pay the extra money for a Sandy Bridge i7 if I was building a new PC for a gamer so when would I use them? Well with the new processors architecture Intel has also added a graphic core into the processor itself. This means that for those of you who are looking for either a home or business PC the additional cost spent on the Sandy Bridge processor is going to save you the additional cost of a dedicated graphics card and offer you far better performance than then equivalent Nehalem processor and a budget dedicated graphics card or a suitable motherboard with on-board graphics. Therefore the Sandy Bridge range is a great selection for your new home computer or laptop. Many laptops now have the Sandy Bridge processors so they can take advantage of the graphics core as dedicated graphics cards have always been expensive for laptops.
If you are still compelled to go out and buy one of the bargain computers from the likes of Harvey Normans with the previous Nehalem line of processors in then I can't say you are getting a bad deal or a computer that is soon going to be outdated and not able to handle the latest applications but if you do some home work and look around for a PC that features the Sandy Bridge processor then I believe you will have invested well in a better product for around the same if not a lesser price. Note: When the Sandy Bridge processor was first released there was a design fault with the motherboards which prevented the safe use of more than two SATA ports. This is OK if you buy the computer built and never intend to expand either your storage or add another CD/DVD drive but if you are buying a computer with the intention of upgrading in the future or you simply don't want a motherboard which has known defects (I certainly wouldn't buy one) then make sure you ask the reseller if they are selling you the latest version and now fixed hardware which is version 3 for the record.