The spec that we consider the absolute minimum for acceptable computing (Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB) is now the most affordable ever, inside an ASUS laptop selling for $477 at Harvey Norman this weekend. What's more, the laptop is surprisingly good looking for a machine selling under $500. It looks almost Mac-like, with its thin chassis, chiclet keyboard and black trim. Alright, it's made of plastic rather than aluminium, but who cares? At this price what matters is what's inside.
And this is where this laptop at this price is a great deal - because the ASUS X501A-XX036V’s processor and its 4GBs of RAM give you enough grunt to get through all your common computing tasks (i.e, running Office, web surfing, email, photo & video editing, etc.) without making you feel as if you’re watching grass grow, which is what happens with laptops running less powerful chips, such as Pentiums, Celerons or the lower-end AMDs, that you tend to find under $500.
The Intel Core i3 is a previous generation processor, recently superseded by Intel’s Ivy Bridge Generation 3 chips, but for us to quibble about that is like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Yes, the Gen 3 chips give you better battery life and graphics performance, but when it comes to general computing performance the Gen 2 chip in this machine is basically the same.
The 500GB hard drive is also a good size for this price; normally any laptop under $500 will come with a 320GB hard drive.
The sale has laptops with better processors (i.e, with Core i5s next up the Intel processor rung) but if you want to pay as little as possible for a laptop that can give you the most basic uncompromised computing experience, this ASUS with a Core i3 and 4GBs of RAM inside is a good one.
Note that Harvey Norman has advertised it around the country but unusually has removed details of the laptop on its website, asking users to check with their local Harvey Norman store if it's available. The sale ends COB Monday (Sep 24).
See the deal below