The Advent of Cheap Branded Centrinos

acer 3628.gifI’ve been a laptop junkie for the longest time. Even though I couldn’t afford the latest, greatest model, I’ve always been on the lookout for great deals and for machines with specs to make any serious gamer drool. Of course it helps that I write for a laptop blog, too. I guess it’s just too bad that I haven’t been sent units for review, like Gary of Exchange.PH (I’d love to have a MacBook Pro–or two!–sitting on my bed!).

Having been in the market for a new laptop to replace my aging ThinkPad the past few months, I’ve finally settled for a Compaq Presario V2617TS earlier last month. It’s probably not the greatest in terms of specs, but hey, it’s a brand new Compaq Presario for PhP 31k. Not bad for a branded model and for a laptop with teh sexy looks (or so they say).

Still, I’ve been monitoring prices lately, and it seems inexpensive Centrino-based branded models are popping up here and there. Check out the Acer 3628, which retails for a little less than PhP 40k. That’s a Centrino system running on a Dothan core Pentium-M 735A (1.7GHz) with a 256MB DDR2 RAM and a 14.1-inch anti-reflective widescreen. Well, 256MB isn’t that great for systems today, but that’s already dual-channel DDR running at 400MHz (faster than single-channel DDR running at the same speed) and less than a couple of thousand pesos more, you can up that to 512MB DDR2.

Granted it’s still not the latest Sonoma-core Pentium-Ms, or even the Yonah class processors (Core Solo, Core Duo, etc.) that have been popping up on laptops of late, but that’s still a good deal. It’s in the same price range as ODM Centrinos, and even cheaper than Celeron-M based laptops from other brands.

Brand Matters?

I’m not much of a fan of Acer, though (I do have a Pentium-100 class Acer still lying around somewhere at home), but it seems this brand is coming up with good deals lately. And why am I too brand-conscious when it comes to laptops, when there are quite a number of whitebox/ODM brands coming up with better specs at lower prices? I’d have to agree with Cooltoyz in its argument for branded laptops. You get better support with branded laptops.

Also, I tend to think it’s like buying a car. Funds permitting, which would you go for? A Benz, a Bimmer or a Civic? Or rather, if you had a million pesos lying around at home, would you get a 2006 Civic or a pre-owned series-5 BMW? It can be a matter of preference. But you also get to appreciate the value of great engineering and great design. But we digress.

Falling Prices

So if you’re looking into buying a new laptop it pays to be in-the-know It seems prices are dropping every couple of months or so locally, especially with the fast pace by which the chipmakers are updating their processor lines. Take note that with the recent marriage of AMD and ATI, we can expect better processor+chipset designs in the near future. What made “Centrino” such a good marketing move is that it espoused a good balance in terms of power, efficiency (the battery life factor) and size. Perhaps competition with AMD will even produce better systems.

Back to the inexpensive Acer Centrinos, a friend just bought one (for P39k and that includes an extra stick of 256MB DDR2) and asked me if he got a good deal. I said “yes.”

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  • I’m tempted to get one for the house – even if I don’t need it! (Already have a Dell Latitude D510, office issue – not exploding so far)

    Note about dual channel memory: this chipset feature only takes effect if you have two memory sticks. Storage is interleaved between the two banks, so that reads/writes to consecutive memory addresses go to alternate physical chips.

  • compaq was my first laptop, and it works great with games, starcraft, warcraft, CounterStrike, etc. Unfortunately, the chief thief makes his move. I lost it, and the only thing I remember about the laptop, it was running with 512mb and 40G HD.

  • “(Already have a Dell Latitude D510, office issue – not exploding so far)”

    Yeah, read about the Dell battery exploding issue. Also, I have a Dell 5150 sent in here from the US for repairs (mas mura daw dito). That model had a design defect in which the system overheated and melted some mobo components.

  • I’m on my 2nd compaq presario and am satisfied with them so far. The touchpad is a little bit sensitive though.

  • What presario models are you using, Kates? I’ve been working with the ThinkPad’s trackpoint for the longest time, so touchpads get a bit getting used to. But I like trackpoints and touchpads better than mice. Less travel for the hands.

  • Haha, you and I are one of the few who prefer laptop “mouse” devices over the real thing. Most people I know plug a real mouse if they have the chance. Yes less travel for the hands – less injury.

  • rom

    Got a MacBook Pro and loving it. Using Parallels to run Ubuntu Dapper Drake LiveCD (not, don’t want to install it yet since I really have no use for it). As for Windows – possible but I’d rather not since I have trashed it since I don’t remember when. 😀

    Don’t believe the hype of the MBP and MB being flawed. It’s only flaw is the heat but it is tolerable (I know this is subjective). Mine does not whine and moo nor does it drop wifi connections.

  • Migs, we are a rare kind.

  • Rom, my only problem with the MacBook Pro is that I don’t have one.

  • So with more people with WiFi laptops, and maybe some more people with WiFi phones – are the pay hotspot providers seeing more business? Or are the free indie hotspots increasing in number?

  • DarkOcelot

    Anyone know what kind of Laptop i could run Mac OS X 10.4.6? With no mac hardware required?

  • DarkOcelot

    I’m very excited about Autodesk Maya 8! Try to check it out. Check my Blog at for more info about being a poor technician who was to deal with everything he could get his hands on, my adventures to building something great that wouldn’t require you to get two jobs in a day or even three, plus some secrets and updates that would sure to amaze some of you.

  • lemme know if you wanna take a look at it j angelo! I can bring it to galeria, it’ll be with me for a week pa 🙂

  • Wow, Gary. Thanks for the offer. I’ll drop you a line if I can make it to Ortigas sometime next week.

  • Laptop users EB?!

  • vmyap

    well, i’m still waiting for the newest intel duo core processor for laptops…

    Acer has some cheap ones lately with a linux os, though ugraded models are also available. The price goes from 40k – 60k, depends on the memory capacity you want (512 or 1 gig).

    Neo has some cheap laptops too.

    i’ll settle with a macbook non pro which cost around 65k to 80k, of course you have to buy it from a good shop not the retail store (10k to 20k additional kasi)

    another thing with laptops, I don’t think manila has the cheapest ones with most latest technology. I heard its still better to ask someone to buy it for you from the US, kasi the prices is so cheap, you can get a intel duo core laptop from toshiba for around 50k, with dvd burner pa.

    Isn’t that ddr 2 runs on 533? not 400? or its different for laptops?

  • The US will always be the cheapest since they have the biggest market.

    Yes, DDR2 starts at 533 and goes up to 667 (and beyond)

  • You also get rebates and student discounts when buying in the US. Here, well, your only options are cash or credit card. Heh.

  • vmyap

    so i guess mali yung sinabi ng writer, no offense:

    256MB DDR2 RAM. Well, 256MB isn’t that great for systems today, but that’s already dual-channel DDR running at 400MHz

  • Well, I just quoted from the Cooltoyz site, which said “DDR2 400Mhz”:

    HighLights: The NEW Best Value Level Entry Laptop
    – Intel Centrino Pentium-M 735A(1.7Ghz / 2Mb L2 Cache) (Dothan Core)
    – 256mb [email protected] Technology Upgrade to 512mb for only 1,800
    – 14-Inch WideScreen with CRYSTALBRITE… wOw!
    – 40Gb Harddrive
    – Internal DvD + Cd-Writer Combo Drive
    – Intergrated Wifi 802.11b/g
    – Tested 3Hour Battery

  • “Neo has some cheap laptops too.”

    As for Neo, yes they’re quite inexpensive. But most models are using SiS chipsets, which don’t perform as well as Intel chipsets. Some of their lowest-end models selling today are even using processor technologies that are two generations old — namely the Banias core Celeron-M.

  • In hindsight, I would think Cooltoyz advertised the system as having 400 MHz DDR2 because they’re Pentium-M Dothan core-based, and not Sonoma. Dothans run at 400 MHz FSB, while the Sonoma ups that to 533 MHz. So I guess even if you slap in 533 MHz RAM, you’d still be running at 400 MHz.

    Or at least that’s my guess.

  • So, kelan ang EB? 😛

  • Sorry, I was wrong: there is a DDR2 400 Mhz.

    I took a look at the Acer specs: yes it uses a Dothan processor, but the platform (“Centrino”) is Sonoma, thus the DDR2 support. (There is no “Sonoma” processor.)

  • I stand corrected. The Sonoma platform runs at 533MHz+, while older non-Sonoma Centrinos (“Carmel,” though rarely used as a marketing term) at 400MHz, right?

    Apparently, these Acers are running on the Sonoma platform, since they’re on i915GM chipsets.


  • vmyap

    ah, I see. thanks for the info.

    Well i’m using a neo laptop.

  • im importing laptops straight from the middle east. There’s no tax here and there’s no tax there once it hits manila. It makes the units pretty darn cheap. Check out the specs and prices at . Im sure u could find the laptop u want:)

  • Oops forgot the website. its if ur interested in getting a good deal. tnx

  • mackoto


    i just installed 10.4.7 on a neo core duo, dual booting with xp2. almost everything runs except wifi and sound. well, i guess it depends on the board. here are some of the best guides i could give you after 6 mos. of reading, but then results may still vary for you. this will surely run on a 10.4.8 too

    chipset: 945
    video: nvidia 9XXX series, ati x800 up
    sound: anything that has ac97 codec, if you bought a realtek based sound card, there are forums that will give you patches for it
    lan = realtek
    wireless = atheros, broadcomm (with patches)
    usb mouse = i havent tried the apple mouse

    hope that helps, keyword for g.oogle is osx86. goodluck 😀

  • spiderwaui

    Hi guys,

    I just bought a NEO 505GL sonoma system with intel 740(1.73GHZ) 533MHZ processor for 32K. At first, because it only has 256K DDR2-4300 which is 533 MHZ memory, I’m not satisfied with the speed. But when I upgraded my memory and added another 1gb DD2-4300 memory, It rocks hard! I played MS Freelancer at 1024×768 32-bit resolution and the gameplay was far great than my PC with older celeron 1.8GZ S478 system with 256 PC266 RAM and NVidia MX400 64MB vc. I say, higher memory with sonoma systems can also performs well as expected and not spending too much on higher branded models

  • The Compaq Presario V2617TS is not very good at all if you are going to use it for business, i thought in the same way in where i will buy a cheap laptop just to see if it can compete against the big boys and oops NO NO NO NO NO oh did i say NO. It is ok for the first couple of months but if your are working full out on it 24/7 it will slow up on you big time if you do not defrag, empty this empty that. my advice home use maybe work no chance.

  • red716

    if you really want a good deal im importing brand new macbooks starting from 76k. details at

  • My previous comment got garbled somehow.