Intel apparently delayed the launch of its Core i7 for laptops to oblige manufacturers who weren’t doing well in the current economy. However, now several new and exciting notebooks based on the new platform are starting to trickle out, and just in time for Windows 7.Needless to say, the performance boost from the new laptop processors will be significant. The first three chips codenamed Clarksfield are all quad core, and with Intel’s Hyperthreading technology they can handle up to eight threads simultaneously. This makes the i7 platform the biggest performance leap since 2006, when dual cores were introduced in laptop CPUs. To get the best gaming performance you still need a powerful enough graphics card of course, but it looks like a fair share of the new batch of Core i7 laptops are well equipped.
MSI: GT640, GT740
MSIs previous gaming laptops, the GT620, GT630 have been equipped with Core 2 Duo CPUs and cost-cutting AMD Turions respectively. Their successors, which are scheduled to launch with Windows 7, both ship with Core i7. Both laptops look almost identical to their predecessors – the GT640 is a 15-inch model while the GT740 has a 17-inch screen, and both use the same Nvidia GeForce 250M GPU.
Dell: Alienware m15x, Studio XPS 16
Dell is actually offering Core i7 even in its mainstream lineup – both the Studio 15 and the Studio 17 can be configured with the new CPU, although none of them really qualify as gaming laptops. The new Alienware m15x on the other hand, does. As with most Dell laptops, you can tailor it to suit your wallet (but in this case even the basic configuration is quite pricey). All of them are based on the i7, and for a premium you can also get it with a GTX 260M GPU. The Studio XPS 16 isn’t targeted at gamers, but will still suffice for most games thanks to its ATI Radeon 4670.
HP: Envy 15
HP just released some more details on its new Envy series, and it looks impressive. With the Core i7, an ATI Radeon 4830 and dual hard drives/SSDs in RAID mode it might well grab the spot as the most powerful 15-inch laptop on the planet. Another plus is the shameless but attractive MacBook Pro design.
Asus: G60J, G51J
Asus also has a few i7 laptops in store for the Windows 7 launch. The G-series gaming lineup, for example, get two new additions in the G60J and G51J. The 15-inch G51J comes with 1920×1080 resolution, an Nvidia GTX260M, and some fancy stickers. Surprisingly the 16-inch option G60J has the same graphics card but a lesser 1366×768 screen.
Toshiba: Qosmio X505
Toshiba’s Godzilla Qosmio gaming/entertainment laptops get a new sibling in the X505. This is a barely luggable 18-inch desktop replacement with below-average specs in this category. Other than the base Core i7 CPU, it’s only fitted with a 320GB hard drive and a GTS 250M GPU. If you fork over a little extra on top of an already inflated price, you can probably configure it with some better parts.
With an Nvidia GTX 280M and dual drives in RAID 0, the Sager NP8760 can easily take on Alienware’s new m15x – it is slightly larger, but it weighs less. Another advantage of an ODM such as Sager is a more attractive price tag.
In all probability there are lots more interesting gaming laptops waiting to be released after the shift to Windows 7. You’ll find them all on this site the moment they’re announced.