One of the historical problems with PCs is that it often isn’t clear who truly owns the user experience. The operating system comes from one company, the processor from another. While the OEM often puts the thing together, they have been out of the loop for problems resulting from either the processor or the operating system vendor. While Microsoft has undoubtedly improved operating system quality even, they often can’t address hardware variants they haven’t seen. The only time they are genuinely in the quality loop is with their Surface line.
To address this problem, Intel has created the Evo brand, where Intel assures the quality of the core components reducing the load on OEMs and the risk for users significantly. This week Intel announced the first wave of Intel Evo notebooks and support from Acer, Porsche Design, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, HP, Lenovo, Razer, MSI, and Samsung.
Dell and Lenovo are the most aggressive, with Lenovo having 4 Evo notebooks and Dell 3. This support is impressive because you’d think this effort would be more attractive to second-tier rather than first-tier manufacturers, but if Dell and Lenovo see value in this effort, everyone else likely will as well.
Let’s talk about Intel Evo this week.
One of the stories I heard when I was young made it clear I never wanted to be an astronaut because they sit on a massive flying skyscraper, all of which is built by the lowest bidder. But that is often how a lot of things, including PCs, are built. The vendor has a price target and then picks the components that best balance that price and the performance people in that price range want.
Over the years, we’ve had many broad quality issues with PCs ranging from batteries that caught fire in laptops to drivers that resulted in frequent crashes. In fact, in the early days of Windows 95, that was the biggest problem, poorly written drivers that drove us all nuts and resulted in multiple crashes a day and tons of lost work.
By assuring the core technology in these notebooks, Evo becomes a brand kind of like Mercedes AMG, where you are more assured of higher quality and that you’ll get the performance for which you paid.
These notebooks are tuned, so they are less likely to bottleneck something that often troubled products like the MacBook Air. It makes no sense to pay extra for a high-end graphics card or processor if the system throttles down to lower the heat or otherwise constricts the performance.
That is what Evo assures, a better, more refined experience, and it will be interesting to see if these live up to their potential. Still, if anyone can improve PC quality, it would be Intel, and we’ll see if AMD and others step up with similar offerings. I expect they will if Evo is successful.
Why Not Microsoft Surface?
Initially, I wondered why Microsoft didn’t embrace this platform with their line, given they were historically blamed for the lack of reliability in early PCs that Evo seems to address. This forbearance is because Surface products are already assured by Microsoft, who has their internal processor unit and is fully capable of doing this validation themselves.
The Surface offerings are already tuned, and while they could embrace Evo in the future, it would mostly be redundant to their efforts on what is already a premium brand.
One surprise was that Dell had put this solution into their XPS line, their high-end offering. This combination is like having a double luxury band where EVO and XPS are partially additive. It will be interesting to see the result because the layered quality checks should make the XPS products uniquely reliable.
Wrapping Up: Evo Is A Game Changer
The focus on quality, efficiency, and reliability that Intel Evo promises is compelling if the products hold up to that promise. I see no reason why the products wouldn’t, given Intel’s capabilities and history but still have to wait on reviewers who will publish their reviews shortly. It is also too early to see if others will follow. NVIDIA hasn’t rolled out its integrated PC solution yet, having yet to complete their ARM acquisition. Qualcomm already assures their platform when leaving AMD the one company to watch to see if they follow the near term.
But pretty much everyone can get behind a more reliable platform. If Intel had only done this back in 1995, it would have made a far more significant difference. Still better late than never, and that expected extra performance kick along with the higher quality should be well received.