If you’ve ever wondered why Intel-based Chromebooks have been so cheap over the past year then you may be fairly surprised, or maybe unsurprised, to know it has been because Intel was subsidising them. For anyone looking at Chromebooks the obvious options are Intel based ones since ARM based ones tend to be a lot more expensive, but of course that in itself makes no sense: ARM CPUs are broadly always cheaper than Intel ones. The example in question is the newest Acer Chromebook based on an Intel Haswell Celeron which costs just $199 while Samsung’s Chromebook based on the ARM Exynos 5 processor costs $279. Intel has apparently been offering its Haswell Celeron mobile CPUs to hardware partners, like Acer, at an “extremely cut rate” allowing vendors to create high performance Chromebook devices at a price point that “should not be possible”.
It has been nice while it has lasted but apprently the end of Intel subsidies is near. Intel is rumoured to be withdrawing its subsidy program in the near future and will try and push hardware vendors towards using its newer Bay Trail chipsets and SoCs instead. This allows Intel to offer similar price points, but obviously with much less performance. Intel’s Bay Trail platform will be competitive with similar ARM based Chromebooks but neither will be as fast as current Haswell Celeron based Chromebooks. The only benefit of Bay Trail is expected to be slightly better battery life of around 11 hours compared to the current Haswell Celeron 9.5 hour battery life. So if you’re in the market for a Chromebook, buy now before the subsidies vanish!
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