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Want to buy a PC this holiday? Intel’s latest roadmap makes it a wise move

Intel cleared up its product roadmap for the remainder of 2014 and 2015 in a recent investor call. First up, to no one’s surprise, is the Core M line, which is already available in a few notebooks such as Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro. More options should become available throughout the holiday season, but don’t expect a buffet of new choices. Manufacturers are running out of time to announce models before the holiday rush is over.

Related: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro review

Next is the 5th Generation Core line, which is also based on Broadwell but operates within a larger power envelope (and thus provides better performance). These chips are expected to arrive in Spring of 2015, so manufacturers will likely announce upcoming systems with the hardware at CES.

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Interestingly, Intel’s slides state the 5th Generation core will target notebooks and 2 in 1 PCs but make no mention of desktops. The company stated earlier this year that Broadwell “won’t be a full stack” on the desktop, meaning there are no plans to refresh the entire lineup. Now it seems desktops could skip the 5th generation entirely.

That might seem crazy, but it would make sense if the next architecture, Skylake, arrives on time. Unlike Broadwell, which refreshes the Haswell design found in 4th-generation Core and shrinks it to a new 14nm production process, Skylake will be a significantly revised architecture built at 14nm.

Related: Intel’s Core M tested

Intel still has it slated for the second half of 2015, so it could conflict with Broadwell desktop chips if they were released. Skylake’s arrival in late 2015 would make sense if Intel has limited or no plans to release 5th-generation desktop Core processors and intends to skip directly to the 6th generation.

Its also possible Skylake will end up delayed just like Broadwell, which was initially slated for the final quarter of 2013. That’s right; the design is now over a year behind schedule and even today is available in limited quantities. Haswell missed its January 2013 launch target by about six month, too.

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One more final important tidbit was revealed in the investor call. Braswell, successor to the Bay Trail design currently used in Intel Atom and some Celeron/Pentium processors, is now slated for the second half of 2015. This is also behind schedule, as Braswell was originally supposed to appear in the first half of next year.

So, what does this mean for the average user? Buying a PC this holiday is a safe  bet unless you’re in the market for a powerful 2-in-1, convertible or ultrabook.

The mainstream 5th-generation Core notebook processors won’t arrive until sometime between March and June of 2015. Affordable 2-in-1s, which generally have an Atom, Celeron or Pentium based on Bay Trail, won’t see a major update until holiday 2015.  Desktops are also unlikely to have new silicon before the 2015 holiday season begins; if new chips do arrive over spring and summer it’ll be in the form of a few select products.

So go ahead and shop this Black Friday. Intel has little on the horizon that will make you regret it.