HP rolls out Athlon 64 desktop, gaming PC

Hewlett-Packard (HP) unveiled two new PCs for the high-end of the consumer market Monday at Comdex in Las Vegas, including its first model designed specifically for gamers, as well as its first PC based on Advanced Micro Devices's new Athlon 64 processor.

The Compaq X Gaming PC is part of a pilot program that HP is conducting to gauge the interest of consumers in its PC. The company believes that it can provide a retail alternative to companies such as Dell Inc, Gateway Inc. and Falcon Northwest Computer Systems Inc. that sell gaming PCs directly to consumers, said James Oliver, product marketing manager for the Presario product line.

HP's Compaq Presario 8000Z desktop will be available through retail kiosks and directly from HP with AMD's Athlon 64 3200+ processor, Oliver said. It is designed to provide a high level of performance for most users, but at a lower price than the Compaq X Gaming PC.

The company's decision to use the processor was expected. HP uses AMD's Athlon XP processors in desktops and notebooks, and it confirmed its interest in the Athlon 64 processor after specifications for a PC that the company was planning to release leaked on the Internet in June.

HP has no plans right now to offer AMD's new gaming processor, the Athlon FX-51, in its pilot program or in the Presario 8000Z, Oliver said. The chip is too expensive to use in the Presario line, and the company plans to make a decision in mid-2004 about the future direction of its gaming PC product line, he said.

The Compaq X Gaming PC will be available in two different configurations for sale at two different retailers. Best Buy Co. Inc. will sell the Compaq X07 for US$2,299, which includes a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel Corp. with hyperthreading, Intel's 875 chipset, 512M bytes of PC3200 (400MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 120G-byte hard drive, separate CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives, and a GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card from Nvidia with 256M bytes of DDR video memory.

The Compaq X09 will be available at CompUSA Inc. stores for US$2,999 with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 processor with hyperthreading, the 875 chipset, 1G-byte of PC3200 DDR SDRAM, dual 120G-byte hard drives with support for RAID (redundant array of independent disks) technology, separate DVD+RW and CD-RW/DVD-ROM drives, and the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra graphics card.

HP is using different retailers for the two models because it is testing different markets during the pilot program, Oliver said. The PCs are immediately available.

The Presario 8000Z PC will be available as of Wednesday with the Athlon 64 3200+ processor, 256M bytes of PC3200 DDR SDRAM, an 80G-byte hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive, and a Radeon 9200 graphics card from ATI Technologies Inc. with 128M bytes of DDR video memory for $1,139 after a $100 mail-in rebate.

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