Dell unveils Gigabit Ethernet PC, Gateway ups graphics

Dell Computer and Gateway announced the availability Monday of new systems with updated hardware from Intel, including Gigabit Ethernet capability and enhanced graphics support, respectively.

Gateway will offer Intel's new 845GL chipset and six USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 connections with seven machines in its Gateway 300 series and Gateway 500 series. Dell introduced the OptiPlex GX260, which features an Intel Pro/1000 MT Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet controller.

Dell's OptiPlex GX260 will allow users to take advantage of Gigabit Ethernet technology, which is a networking technology that allows data to flow at 1G bps (bits per second), a significant improvement over existing 100M bps technology.

"Gigabit Ethernet technology has dropped significantly in price, and the incremental cost of moving up to it is not much (for Dell)," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

"There really isn't a mainstream movement towards Gigabit Ethernet on the desktop right now, it's mainly a server-to-server technology," he said. Companies that use high-bandwidth specialty applications, such as high-end media content creation software, would be most interested in the GX260.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, is also including the OpenManage Client Administrator, a management tool for system administrators designed to facilitate software deployment, system migration, and inventory of hardware and software. The application was developed in a partnership with Altiris Software Inc.

An entry-level version of the GX260, with a 1.7GHz Intel Celeron processor, 128M bytes of DDR SDRAM (Dual Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM), and a 20G-byte hard drive is priced at US$749. An alternate configuration with a 1.8 Intel Pentium 4 processor, 128M bytes of DDR SDRAM, and a 20G-byte hard drive starts at $849.

Gateway is headed after the home user with its announcement, looking to increase interest in its lower-cost 300 series and mid-level 500 series. Users will be able to choose between the standard Intel 845G or 845GL chipset on the following models: the Gateway 300LS, the Gateway 300S, the Gateway 300X, the Gateway 500L, the Gateway 500SE, the Gateway 500S, and the Gateway 500X. The systems range in price from $649 to $1,499, and are available immediately.

The new chipset's Intel Extreme Graphics feature allows users to view more graphics-intensive video and games, including 3D rendering, on their home PCs. The six USB 2.0 ports also cater to the entertainment-conscious user by providing connections for peripherals like digital cameras or audio players, and permitting faster downloads.

Also on Monday, MicronPC LLC introduced two new machines, the business-oriented ClientPro 325 and the Millennnia TS2 for home users. The ClientPro 325 is available in either a value or performance configuration. The value machine features a 1.7GHz Intel Celeron processor, 128M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 20G-byte hard drive, and a 10/100 network interface for $799. The performance model, with a 2.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 256M bytes of DDR SDRAM, a 20G-byte hard drive, 64M bytes of Nvidia Corp.'s GeForce4 AGP graphics, and a 10/100 network interface, costs $1,399.

The Millennia TS2 is a high-performance machine designed for demanding PC users. A sample configuration, with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512M bytes of DDR SDRAM, two hard drives storing a combined 240G bytes, and a DVD-R/RW (DVD Recordable/Rewritable) drive, was priced at $2,899.

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