Irvine (CA) - You knew it was coming. Gateway, to our knowledge, has become the first large PC vendor to ship most of its retail PCs with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium. The refreshed product line also brings back an Intel quad-core processor, which had been dumped by the company in the previous product cycle.
When we wrote about Gateway’s spring retail PCs back in January of this year, it was quite obvious that, at least for that product cycle, Gateway had thrown out Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q6600 quad-core processor in favor of an AMD Phenom X4 chip. Back then, company representatives assured us that an Intel quad-core would return soon. It took some time (four months), but an Intel chip is back, but only for the pricey "FX" version. The more affordable "GT" versions - four of them - continue to rely on AMD and integrate triple-core and quad-core processors.
The FX7026 comes with a Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor, an "over-clocked" Nvidia 8800 GT graphics card, 4 GB of memory and 640 GB of hard disk space. The system sells for $1099.99 and is positioned on the higher end of the retail segment. The mainstream remains in the hand of the GT series (GT5670, GT5674, GT5676 and GT5678), which is priced from $549.99 to $849.99, include AMD Phenom X3 or X4 processors, 3 GB or 4 GB of memory and integrated Nvidia 6150SE or ATI HD 3200 graphics. Hard drive capacities range from 320 GB to 750 GB.
A unique move is to ship the majority these PC models with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium, the company’s rivals still ship the 32-bit operating system. Gateway said that the FX7026, GT5676 and GT5678 come with the 64-bit OS to attract buyers among "serious gamers, high-quality media creators and enthusiasts".
Gateway also launched new desktops that are available only through the vendor’s website, including the FX541, which sells for prices ranging from $1199.99 to $3499.99.
The inclusion of AMD processors in these mainstream desktop may not look dramatic, but every small victory counts for AMD these days. And if you look a bit closer, you may notice that the company’s X3 and X4 processors are successfully penetrating the mainstream segment at least in Gateway’s retail PCs - while Intel’s quad-core is priced well out of range for the typical mainstream buyer (who stops looking at about $800 and above) and dual-cores are completely absent from this refresh cycle.
Intel recently dropped the prices of two of its last-gen 65 nm quad-core processors but that price drop may have been too late for Gateway’s and possibly other retail refresh cycles.
Let’s see if Intel will drop its prices more aggressively in the coming months and become more visible again in back-to-school systems.