Intel has unveiled plans to let customers of some of its low-end chips pay a little extra to unlock a performance boost. For instance, if you get a 2.1 GHz Intel Core i3-2312M processor, you’ll be able to pay for an upgrade and suddenly the chip will turn into an Intel i3-2393M processor with a faster clock speed (possibly as high as 2.5 GHz).
In other words, you’re paying to unlock capabilities that are already in the chip.
It feels a lot like Microsoft’s pricing scheme for Windows 7 Starter Edition. When you buy a cheap netbook you get a crippled version of the operating system — not because your computer can’t handle a full-blown Windows 7 operating system, but because you didn’t pay full price. If you want to change your desktop background or enable other desktop effects, you’ll have to pay to upgrade… or find an unofficial way around Microsoft’s restrictions.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since it allows you to get Windows, or an Intel processor for less money than you would pay to buy the full version. But it still feels a bit silly to spend money on a processor that you know has been adjusted to run at a lower speed than it’s capable of.
According to the Intel Upgrade Service website, there will be three chips that can be upgraded as part of the program: The Intel Core i3-2312M, a 3.1 GHz Core i3-2102, and a 2.6 GHz Pentium G622.
Intel hasn’t announced the pricing for the upgrades yet. The last time Intel offered a similar upgrade service the company charged $50 for an upgrade.