By Louis Ramirez, dealnews Senior Feature Writer
The days of paying a premium for a desktop replacement have come to an end. While fully equipped 17" quad-core laptops may retail for $1,000 or more, over the past 10 months, we've seen deals on such souped up systems drop in price from an average of $900 to an astonishingly low price of $550.
And we're not talking budget laptops here. Desktop replacement laptops are high-end systems with a quad-core Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a minimum 750GB hard drive. So while Apple may be toying with the idea of terminating its desktop replacement, we're here to tell you that desktop replacements are where you'll find the best laptop deals today.
Desktop Replacement Prices Fall
Traditionally, prices for laptops tend to creep back up after Black Friday. However, after last November, deals on these premium laptops have not rebounded; instead they remained at Black Friday lows. So far in 2012, we've seen desktop replacement deals that have actually been lower than our best Black Friday deal. (Just three months ago, we saw the HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition Intel Core i7 2GHz 17.3" Notebook drop to $550. That's been the lowest price we've ever seen for a premium desktop replacement.) And just when we thought prices would stabilize at $800, April brought about the second-best deal on a premium desktop replacement at $700.
There's more good news too for high-end systems: Intel just released its latest line of CPUs, the Ivy Bridge series. As the newer processors find their way into top configurations, prices on notebooks that feature the older, but still comparably-performing, Sandy Bridge line should begin to dip even more in price. What does this all mean?
It's a Buyer's Market
If you're in the market for a new desktop replacement, we recommend $800 as the cap on what you'll want to pay. Any deal under $760 is a must-grab, and if you happen to see a desktop replacement hit around $550, snatch it up immediately, as that is the current all-time low. But remember, getting a laptop at these prices requires deal-hunting; logging on to a computer manufacturer's site on any given day may not yield these savings. Rather, you should consider setting up an email alert for the minimum configurations you're looking for, and be prepared to jump on a deal when the prices dip.
Models & Vendors
Models to look for mainly include HP's Pavilion line as well as HP's "quad edition" laptops. We also saw discounts on Dell's 17" Inspiron line. With regards to vendors, the majority of the deals are coming directly from the manufacturers such as the HP Home & Home Office Store, the Lenovo store, and the Dell Home store. Big box retailers like Best Buy and J&R are keeping their desktop replacements in the $1,000 range, albeit, their systems are often customized with 2GB video cards and dual hard drive configurations.
Front page photo credit: Tech Quark
An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez
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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire
unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were
available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of
publication (unless otherwise specified).