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Intel 8th-gen processors: hold off buying a new laptop?

If you're about to buy a laptop, pause before you 'add to basket'. New, more powerful 8th-gen Intel PCs are on the way, so is now a good time to buy?

Launching this autumn, laptops running Intel’s latest 8th-gen chips claim double the speed of a typical Intel Core i5 laptop from five years ago. We examine whether you should hold off buying a new laptop until Intel’s 8th-gen models arrive.

The processor inside your laptop is the engine under the hood. It dictates everything from how quickly it starts up to how many programs you can comfortably run at once. Above all, the processor also dictates the price you’ll pay for a laptop.

Processors see generational updates all the time, but Intel’s latest announcement about its i5 (mid-end) and i7 (high-end) chips is eye-catching, particularly given its timing. Right now, all sorts of laptop offers are doing the rounds as part of the ‘back-to-school’ season. But, there are few worse feelings in tech than shelling out for a new device, only to see it surpassed mere months later.

With this in mind, should you snap up a 6th or 7th-gen Intel laptop now, or wait for lucky number 8? Put simply, the answer depends on whether you want the most powerful laptop you can get; whether you want power but fancy a bargain price; or whether you’re just after a simple day-to-day laptop.

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Faster Intel 8th-gen laptops are coming

Designed to meet the increasingly media-heavy needs of some PC users, Intel’s new 8th-gen chips are claimed to be 40% faster than the previous, 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors introduced last year.

Intel says that the latest, quad-core design brings the increased performance demanded for tasks like watching 4K video, but without compromising on battery life (although, we’ll believe that when we see it in our test lab).

The first 8th Gen Intel Core laptops with i5 and i7 processors will come to the market in September, 2017. Desktops will follow in the autumn, although we don’t yet have firm details on desktop ranges or pricing.

So, is now a good time to buy a laptop?

With the pace of innovation, you can never truly futureproof yourself when it comes to technology. However, if you’re in the market right now for the most powerful i5 or i7 laptop you can find, it makes sense to wait for the new 8th-gen models. You don’t want to already be behind the curve as soon as you ‘upgrade’, especially as an i7 laptop can easily set you back over £1,000.

If power matters, but you’re keen on a bargain, then we’d still recommend waiting. When the 8th-gen Intel models arrive, you can expect prices to fall sharply on 6th-gen and 7th-gen models. Between now and the New Year’s sales in 2018, that could mean cut-down prices on some truly impressive laptops.

Buy a 7th-gen Intel laptop and you’ll still enjoy some seriously pacey computing – prices could feasibly fall below that £1,000 mark on recent laptops when the new 8th-gen models arrive.

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Buying season for cheaper laptops

If you’re just a casual laptop user, however, now could still be a good time to bag a bargain. If you’re not using high-end programs, such as video or photo editing suites, then you may not need the extra juice of the 8th-gen chips.

Intel’s lower-powered i3 chip range is getting an 8th-gen update, too. But, if you need to replace your current everyday laptop and can’t wait for the newer models to arrive, it shouldn’t be an issue to go for one with an older i3 chip. These sorts of processors can easily handle simple tasks such as web browsing, emailing and watching YouTube or Netflix.

For a cheap and trusty laptop under £500, now is a great time to buy, as there’s a raft of ‘back-to-school’ deals on offer. Find the models that are worth your money by browsing more than 150 laptop reviews.

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