Avoiding Intel integrated graphics is no easy task when you're shopping for affordable consumer laptops. Dell's newly released Studio 14z should make that selection process much easier, though. The new notebook lineup starts at just $649, and all models feature GeForce 9400M integrated graphics chipsets from Nvidia.
In the launch press release, Dell says it aims the Studio 14z at students and folks who seek "the perfect balance of mobility and performance." The new machine has a 14" LED-backlit display with a resolution of either 1280x720 or "900p"—that's presumably 1600x900, since the screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio. A basic Studio 14z config should weigh in at a relatively light 4.3 lbs, and its thickness will range from 0.79" to 1.2" depending on where you measure.
Aside from the GeForce 9400M, the Studio 14z's innards carry a choice of Intel Pentium or Core 2 Duo processors, 3-5GB of DDR3 RAM, 250-500GB of mechanical storage, 802.11g Wi-Fi, a six- or eight-cell battery (the latter being rated for up to 6.5 hours), and a 64-bit copy of Windows Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. Shoppers can also customize the system with extras like Bluetooth support, mobile broadband, keyboard backlighting, and external optical storage. Yes, Dell apparently saw fit not to include an internal disc drive.
Incidentally, the GeForce 9400M happens to be pretty much the same product as the Ion chipset we've been hearing so much about lately. While the Atom processor limits the Ion's usefulness for gaming, the 9400M can do better when riding shotgun with a decent dual-core CPU. In Apple's MacBook, the 9400M has enough horsepower to handle Team Fortress 2 at 1280x800 with the detail turned down a notch. It can also help with high-definition video decoding and GPU-accelerated video transcoding.
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