Gateway has gone with an unusual combination of chips for its latest line of business desktops.
The PC maker on Feb. 16, released two new E-Series desktop models based on ATI Technologies Radeon Xpress 200 chip set. It will pair the chip set, silicon that serves as a PCs nervous system, with Intels Pentium and Celeron processors.
Whereas Gateways business desktops—and many belonging to its competitors—have traditionally used both Intel processors and chip sets, Gateway chose the ATI chip set in an effort to create a lower-priced desktop for its small businesses and local government clients while granting some flexibility to buyers at larger companies, said Marc Demars, senior director of product marketing at the Irvine, Calif., company.
The Radeon Xpress 200 has "got a lot of bang for the buck," Demars said. "It stacks up nicely against the [Intel] 945."
ATI also offers an image stability program for the chip set, which limits changes that would affect company software packages. Tapping the ATI chip set allowed Gateway to offer a mix of good performance and low price in its Gateway E-1500, he said.
Gateway, which has said it wants to place more emphasis on its business customers and direct sales following the departure of CEO Wayne Inouye, will start the E-1500 at $599. It will also offer an E-2600 model fitted with the chip set with an expanded set of features, such as a tool-less chassis and faster Pentium 4 chips for prices starting at $749.
The Radeon Xpress 200, which offers a single channel for DDR DRAM (double data rate dynamic RAM) and incorporates an ATI Radeon X300 graphics processor, is basically equivalent in performance to Intels 945G desktop chip set, which comes with two memory channels and a built-in Intel graphics processor, Demars said.
ATI also offers a provision for adding a PCI-Express graphics card with its Xpress 200 chip set, granting Gateways customers some additional flexibility. Although its likely to be a fairly rare occurrence given the price-sensitive audience of the E-1500, some E-2600 buyers may opt to add a card, he said.
Given that ATI also makes a version of the Radeon Xpress 200 for AMD chips—that chip set is used widely in consumer PCs by Gateway, Hewlett-Packard and others—its inclusion might make it simpler for Gateway to offer AMD-processor-based desktops to business customers. The company already sells numerous AMD-based PC models, both under its eMachines brand and its Gateway brand, to consumers.
However, "We get a lot of bid requests that still specify Intel chips," Demars said. "Intel has done very well for us" over the years.
Gateway continues to offer Intel processors and chip sets in its midrange and high-end PC models, such as its E-4500. That machine can be ordered with Intels new Pentium D 900-series chips, for example.
For its $599 opening price, the E-1500 includes a Celeron D 331 processor, 256MB of 533MHz DDR2 DRAM, a 40GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive and Microsofts Windows XP Professional Edition operating system. It uses a six-bay, micro ATX case and also comes with a 10/100 Ethernet local area network connector and a three-year warranty.
The E-2600, available in two form factors, starts out with an Intel Pentium 4 521, 512MB of 533MHz DDR2, a 40GB serial ATA interface hard drive, a CD-RW drive, a Gigabit Ethernet LAN connector, Windows XP Professional and a three-year warranty. A small-form-factor Micro BTX chassis version of the machine with three bays starts at $749. A mini tower with six bays begins at $759.
Gateway will begin taking orders on the machines on March 2, company officials said.