Ultrabook parts could cost PC makers as little as $475

Crisis averted—or so it would seem. Just a couple of days ago, word out in Taiwan was that PC makers would have a hard time peddling ultrabooks for less than $1,000 a piece. Today, DigiTimes has more uplifting news: Intel is going to meet notebook design manufacturers next week and outline reference ultrabook bill-of-material costs as low as $475.

Reportedly, Intel’s reference BOM cost will be in the $475-650 range for 21-mm ultrabooks and a slightly pricier $493-710 for systems with 18-mm-thick chassis. Those prices don’t include assembly costs, technical support, marketing, and so forth, but they ought to give notebook makers plenty of room to undercut Apple’s MacBook Air laptops.

According to an analyst quoted by ComputerWorld last year, Apple’s previous-gen 11.6" MacBook Air had a BOM cost of $718. The system sold for $999 yet still had the highest profit margin of any MacBook, the analyst claimed. Assuming those numbers are correct, and if a build-your-own-ultrabook kit sets PC makers back as little as $475, then I’m guessing we can reasonably expect ultrabooks to start at less than $800.

Now that would be more like it.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Did anyone really seriously believe the laptop makers when they said the cost of building these things can’t go below $1K? They’d have you believe it to justify their prices, wouldn’t they?

    • Malphas
    • 9 years ago

    Who the hell wants a thin and light (or “ultrabook” if you like) for production work? Use a desktop or desktop-replacement for that, like a normal person. In my mind thin and lights have always been intended for casual everyday usage (i.e. running Windows 7 and a web browser basically, in this day and age) without being as awful as a netbook or a clunky plastic 15 incher, therefore the priorities are battery life, thermals, and construction quality rather than high performance. Easily doable for under $1000 retail, in fact I’d say $600 to $800 will be what we’re looking at once these hit second generation models.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      Thank you. This is exactly what I was trying to say in my post above.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      This is a consumer level product and is aimed thusfar. Professionals/business will still focus on performance/reliability/security at the cost of a tad thicker device.

      We have ultraportables from 3.8-4.25 pounds and no complaints. If that is too heavy for you to bring your work with you then you need to step out of Hippyland.

        • smilingcrow
        • 9 years ago

        “We have ultraportables from 3.8-4.25 pounds and no complaints. If that is too heavy for you to bring your work with you then you need to step out of Hippyland.”

        I would but my visa expired and I’m stuck here forever. The upside is that I don’t get to meet unhip-landers such as you.

      • grantmeaname
      • 9 years ago

      Other people want different things from their computers than you do. I’m a college kid who lives 1.25 miles from my nearest class. That means my laptop gets carried about three miles a day. You better believe I want a thin and light laptop. It would be my only machine, so it would need to perform.

      • btb
      • 9 years ago

      Who said anything about production work?

      Personally I could see myself buying one of these as a holiday/travel computer. Although I will probably be waiting for 22nm ivy bridge before i buy anything.

      One of my colleagues just bought the new 13.3 macbook air with 256GB SSD, and I kinda feel bad for him, shelling out all that $$ and then getting a computer with alot of fan noise. Thats why I’m holding out for the 22nm generation, I simply dont think the thermal levels are there yet to support quiet and cool ultrathin computers.

        • Malphas
        • 9 years ago

        “Who said anything about production work?” – various people, here and elsewhere in general. What you’ve just outlined is along the lines of what I was saying, these kind of devices are so you can have a take-anywhere device for lightweight everyday computing, therefore high performance takes a back seat to other factors – e.g. thermals, as you just mentioned.

        (#24 grantmeaname) Fine, fair enough, I’d say you were in a minority though; and, in addition, not really the intended market for an ultrabook. If I were in your shoes I’d just buy a regular budget 15″ laptop and man-up with regard to lugging it to class, and in fact this is what I did do when I was at university with a $2000 14″ notebook (which was cheap for a laptop back then) that weighed around 5kg/10lbs without any difficulty.

        (#23 indeego) Alright, not sure what that’s got to do with what I said. I’m coming at this from a consumer standpoint, I don’t care about businesses/professionals and this isn’t the target demographic thus far (as you pointed out) so I don’t see why it’s relevant. It’s not so much that the existing ultraportables that you mention are too heavy, just that they’re all crap really. What is it you’re issued with anyway?

      • End User
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]Who the hell wants a thin and light (or "ultrabook" if you like) for production work? Use a desktop or desktop-replacement for that[/quote<] Unfortunately desktop and desktop replacements are not viable in a mobile work environment where saving weight/space is a high priority.

    • Decelerate
    • 9 years ago

    Apple’s BOM of 718$ is probably closer to the total product manufacturing cost than other companies’ BOM cost.

    Can’t wait to see these ultrabooks. If only to see how Apple will react (or even bother to) to it.

    • TEAMSWITCHER
    • 9 years ago

    At $475 dollars this is going to be a joke. There is nothing “ULTRA” about a Plastic case, A cheap keyboard and track pad, a bottom of the line processor, a small patch of flash storage, Intel integrated graphics, and a weak battery. I can’t wait to see this crap….

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    I still think that the intel gpu solutions stinks and has no appeal to me, as such one of these laptops is kinda pointless to me. I need a discrete GPU.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      These machines aren’t designed for intense work. They’re designed for people that do office work, web browsing, email, etc and also travel a lot or want long battery life. They are not for gaming or photoshop or CAD.

      ‘Hyundais are awful cars. They dont have a V10 engine, and I find it kind of pointless to drive a car with less than 500hp.’

        • End User
        • 9 years ago

        “These machines aren’t designed for intense work.”

        What are you talking about? The current crop of mobile i5 and i7 CPUs are incredibly powerful. They are giving us CPU performance similar to quad core desktop CPUs from 2007. An ultrabook would make an awesome mobile Lightroom/Photoshop workstation.

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          If you’re using CPU only. The problem is that the screens are generally low res (I don’t know what the Ultrabook spec is on resolution). But having to carry a mouse around with you kind of negates the fact that its slim enough to put into a purse. I’m not saying you CAN’T do photoshop on it, just that thats not really the prime market for them. Now that the Adobe suite is GPU accelerated as well, the Intel GPU can’t really do that very well, I don’t think. I can’t speak from 1st hand experience though, as I use Pixelmator on my MBP15 and it does use the hardware acceleration of my discrete GPU. But i recognized that I wanted a discrete GPU for my work load and purchased accordingly. The fact that people can’t fathom a use case other than their own, and therefore anything that doesn’t fit their use case is stupid and shouldn’t exist is beyond me.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]The problem is that the screens are generally low res[/quote<] I'm guessing 1366x768 and up for ultrabooks. Mobile is always going to be about compromise. I prefer working on my dual display workstation but when I'm mobile 1366x768 works for me. [quote<]I'm not saying you CAN'T do photoshop on it[/quote<] You wrote they "are not" for Photoshop. A noob would take that as they can't run Photoshop. I'm saying that, for a mobile device, ultrabooks will run Photoshop very well. [quote<]Now that the Adobe suite is GPU accelerated as well, the Intel GPU can't really do that very well, I don't think.[/quote<] Lack of GPU assist does not render CS5 useless. The current i3/i5/i7 mobile lineup has plenty of power to make CS5 sing. [quote<]But having to carry a mouse around with you kind of negates the fact that its slim enough to put into a purse.[/quote<] Thank heavens I don't need a fracking mouse when I use a laptop! [quote<]But i recognized that I wanted a discrete GPU for my work load and purchased accordingly.[/quote<] If your app requires a GPU then ya, buying something that does not meet minimum specs is kinda dumb. The number of apps that are "designed for intense work" that absolutely must have a GPU are few and far between. CS5 does not require a GPU. [quote<]The fact that people can't fathom a use case other than their own, and therefore anything that doesn't fit their use case is stupid and shouldn't exist is beyond me.[/quote<] Don't be so hard on yourself.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Again, I didn’t say it won’t run. I said thats not what the machines are designed for. If you’re photoshopping without a mouse, then god bless you. I can’t stand using photoshop without a mouse or a tablet. As far as 1366×768, yeah you CAN do photoshopping but its not the most ideal. And I didn’t say no GPU makes CS5 useless, I said that the Intel GPU can’t accelerate it very well, if at all. And I didn’t mean that only apps designed for intense work required a GPU. I was thinking more towards gaming. You shouldn’t be trying to game on an Ultrabook…. unless you have one of these:

            [url<]http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/08/villagetronic-planning-thunderbolt-version-of-their-vidock/[/url<]

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]And I didn't mean that only apps designed for intense work required a GPU. I was thinking more towards gaming.[/quote<] If you did not mean what you originally wrote then why did you write it?

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            “They are not for gaming or photoshop or CAD.” That is EXACTLY what I said. Please show me where I said that intense work apps will only run with a GPU. I said nothing about them requiring a GPU. I stated that Intel’s video chips are not good at accelerating CS5. I stated that its not designed for doing work outside of office, email, et al. I stated that its not designed for gaming or CAD or Photoshop, and I stand by that statement.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            you guys are usually bff’s.

            you’re right corrado. you never said what he is claiming. he’s not going to stop replying. so MILK IT.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Shouldn’t you be off somewhere working on a Mango app?

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            i submitted my app, but it was rejected cause it didn’t work. funny that, but not altogether surprising, since i just needed to submit SOMETHING so they’d give me developer access.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Fair enough.

          • Farting Bob
          • 9 years ago

          If you are doing 3D modelling or anything that regularly needs as much CPU (and maybe GPU) power you can give it then why are you looking at extra slim laptops? If you want more performance for your money, you go for the slightly fatter, heavier option which will have superior CPU, GPU and cooling (at least it will have the potential for all that, depends on the model you get obviously).

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            I think things are getting a tad muddled. The mobile i3/i5/i7 cpus that will appear in ultrabooks are decent performers (checkout the 2011 MacBook Airs). As I mentioned before they are ballparking quad core desktop CPUs from just 4 years ago. If you need a lightweight mobile solution with good CPU power then an ultrabook is worth a look (they are certainly way beyond just web/email/facebook). If you are doing 3D modelling or anything that pushes the CPU/GPU for extended periods of time then no, an ultrabook is not for you.

            I’m typing this on my 1201N (Ubuntu 11.04 x64, 3GB, 1366×768, ION). Spec wise this is a on the low end of the scale yet I’m very impressed with the performance. Obviously it does not compare with the outright performance of something like my dual x5650 rig but photo editing and 1080p mkv playback is not a problem on the 1201N. Performance is way beyond basic web/email/facebook.

      • DavidC1
      • 9 years ago

      Sure I’d like to see how adding a discrete GPU of ANY level would do the the price.

      • demani
      • 9 years ago

      For what? Honest question.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        I’d like to know as well.

        • My Johnson
        • 9 years ago

        Drivers would be updated regularly and possibly more stable.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Possibly not.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      -12? Fanbois are at it again.

      He has a point, and he talks about [i<]his[/i<] needs which IGP doesn't meet.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        And thats fine. But to say that these laptops are pointless because he doesn’t meet the specific demographic is silly. He didn’t say they are pointless FOR him, meaning he is not the targeted market. He said they’re pointless TO him, inferring that as a whole, they have no point. Thats clearly not the case.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          That sort of detail falls within the realm of inaccurate grammar. I agree that miscommunication can be a source of serious misunderstandings.. but in an international forum such as this one, you really need to be able to evaluate what the actual purpose of the post was – not just what the rigid framework of English language makes it seem to be. Pay attention to context and tone.

        • maroon1
        • 9 years ago

        Please explain how IGP doesn’t meet his needs ? Did he even use any Sandy-bridge-based IGP ?

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Please explain why you believe you know better what his needs are than he does. He said “I need a discrete GPU”. I think that’s a pretty solid statement.

          I don’t have any idea why you have to argue about it. Do you feel violated somehow because somebody said your SB stinks, and have this innate need to prove to yourself that you didn’t make a mistake buying one by discounting other people’s opinions and needs?

            • maroon1
            • 9 years ago

            He didn’t explain how exactly intel IGP doesn’t meet his needs. Is he going to play metro 2033 on Ultrabooks ? What are things that won’t meet your needs if you are using Ultrabooks ?

            Based on my experience many people don’t exactly know how SB IGP performs. I’ve heard many ignorant people who thinks that SB IGP can’t handle HD videos, or can’t handle some web stuff(which is completely false).

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]He didn't explain how exactly intel IGP doesn't meet his needs.[/quote<] He doesn't need to. He doesn't owe you an explanation. It's enough that he knows it's not enough. If I had to guess, most likely he wants to play some 3D game, and he needs a discrete card for that. So, why do you want to shove this Ultrabook down his throat, telling him that he doesn't need anything better than an SB IGP, and that he needs to stop playing games?

    • jjj
    • 9 years ago

    So you get a BOM range of 475-710$,you add the manu cost,all the leechers from the factory to retail,the retailer and you end up with way more than 1k$.When the retailer gets some 30% and the factory door-retailer trip is again up to 1/3 of the retail price you can’t expect prices to be at 1k except maybe for some of the lowest end models.
    In the end it doesn’t matter much if it’s 1k or 1.2k since at that price,while having to manage with little storage, it will be a niche product.

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      you have lost your mind if you think retailers are making 30% margin on systems

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Still, hard to imagine that a BOM of $710 can result in a retail price < $1,000.

          • DavidC1
          • 9 years ago

          I don’t think the $710 part is meant for under $1k pricing. That’s the higher end one. The $475 version would definitely have room, probably even reach under $900. So $475-710 probably translates into $800-1500 in actual products.

          • demani
          • 9 years ago

          Here’s my assumptions (some are guesses, some are researched):
          – $20 for assembly (say 2hours @ $10/hr according to glassdoor.com-2 hours seems to be enough to assemble the relatively simple ultrabooks, given no optical and limited ports that need alignment)
          – $20 for shipping to the US from China (all the way to the storefront).
          – $50-100 for retail markup (5-10% of sales cost goes to retailer)
          – $25 R&D costs to be recouped (someone has to make the plans and create the molds)

          That leaves 12-18% margin for the manufacturer (and that’s right in the ballpark of what Dell and HP get on their machines, though actually probably high given the price competition they get into). That’s not a ton of profit, and doesn’t count discounts.

          Also remember- Apple keeps very few actual models (currently they have 5 laptop form factors-HP and Dell have how many each?) so they get to sell a lot of units of each. Asus and Acer have a bunch of models, and they have to take that setup cost hit on each model line. That also adds up, especially when factoring in their much larger machine turnover (i.e. Apple’s 15in MBPs have had one port change on the case since 2008-that saves the duckets). So I can see how that causes some concern for the manufacturers. The issue isn’t that they can’t do it on budget, its that Apple is already at that point, and has the sexy designs to go with it (HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo-which of those does fine looking design?).

            • d0g_p00p
            • 9 years ago

            Lenovo makes great laptops that look good if you are looking at the Thinkpad line. HP’s DMx series and Elitebooks are great looking machines as well. Alienware from Dell looks great and even though you did not add Asus to that list but Asus makes some fantastic looking laptops. I have one of their ROG laptops and it’s a great looking really build machine.

            I guess if you like flashy chassis and want to blend in at the local coffee house then yes, Apple is great for that. I personally have no interest in these “Ultrabooks” I like having ports on my laptop and not having to carry dongles around for things like Ethernet and video.

        • Kharnellius
        • 9 years ago

        No kidding, we’re ECSTATIC if we’re making anywhere remotely close to 10 pts on a computer model. Almost never happens.

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