2015 laptop buying guide: the sound of silence

In this part we tell you which CPU to look for if you want a silent laptop

Silent laptop: Apple 12in MacBook

Silent laptop: Apple 12in MacBook

A few things have changed since the last time we completed a feature article on what to look for when buying a laptop, but the main thing we want to highlight for this particular instalment is processing technology. Intel has come along and redefined the way slim laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids can be constructed thanks to its low-energy, fifth-generation Core M CPU.

Armed with the Core M, laptop manufacturers have been able to create not only thinner and lighter products, but also silent products, thanks mainly to the CPU not requiring an active cooling device, which can be cumbersome and noisy.

Better yet, these good traits haven't come completely at the expense of performance, as the Core M can still boast of frisky enough performance for everyday office applications, home entertainment, and communications tasks.

The use of the Core M CPU has been most apparent in the announcement of Apple’s new 12in MacBook laptop, which is even slighter than the MacBook Air before it, though the Core M has already received a run from vendors such as Lenovo and Toshiba. Asus will also be featuring it in its 13.3in ZenBook UX305. (HP has used it, too, but for slightly different purposes, such as the big and not completely silent Envy X2 Notebook PC.)

It's an interesting CPU to focus on because it has been specifically designed by Intel for thin, light, and silent computing. It isn't just a low-power version of a Core i processor, or a jacked up version of the Atom -- it's a new CPU based on Intel's most advanced manufacturing process (14 nanometres) that's designed with a purpose. That purpose is to bring a full Windows computing experience to smaller 2-in-1 and laptop form factors.

With this CPU, manufacturers have already created silent-running hybrid laptops that can offer a comfortable user experience, without compromising heavily when it comes to speed for mainstream tasks. We've seen it in the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2, and also in the Toshiba Portege Z20t. We also saw it in the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible laptop last year, though that laptop still has a fan in it and doesn't run completely silently.

Apple and Asus are therefore the first manufacturers to announce actual laptops (and not hybrids or convertibles) based on the Core M CPU, and there should be plenty more to come we would think. After all, who doesn't want to have a thin computer that runs completely silently?

The fan-less Core M is merely the next step in the advent of silent laptop computers. The first step was moving from hard drives to solids state drives.

There will be a price to pay for these silent laptops, however. The new MacBook will start at $1799, while the Asus ZenBook will be a more palatable $1399. The business gear remains expensive, as always, with the Toshiba and Lenovo hybrid laptops commanding price tags over $2000.

The key point we're making here is: if you want a silent, thin and light laptop that can give you a full and comfortable Windows experience, wait for one that has an Intel Core M CPU in it.

Key specs
Code name: Broadwell
Power: 4.5 Watts
Speed: from 800MHz to 1.2GHz
Turbo Boost: from 2GHz to 2.9GHz
Cores: 2
Hyper Threading: Yes
Integrated graphics: Intel HD 5300
Manufacturing process: 14 nanometres

Related: The top 10 things to consider when buying a new laptop

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intellaptopsCPUsconvertibles2-in-1

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?