PC makers embrace Core i7 chips in new desktops

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware, chip, Core i7

PC makers on Monday launched desktops that incorporate the latest technologies to work alongside Intel's new Core i7 chips, which have received praise for their speedy performance.

Gateway, Dell and Falcon Northwest are offering the latest hardware, such as graphic cards and Intel's new 80G-byte solid-state drive, in PCs to take advantage of Core i7. The PCs, which will come preloaded with the 64-bit Windows OS, are geared toward users, such as gamers, who want cutting-edge desktops.

The launch of the PCs coincides with Intel's Monday release of Core i7 chips, which are built on the next-generation Nehalem microarchitecture. The new chips improve system speed and performance-per-watt by cutting bottlenecks on Intel's earlier chips, used in most laptops and desktops today. Nehalem integrates a memory controller and provides a faster pipe for the CPU to speak with components. The architecture also includes faster hyperthreading for quicker applications performance.

Nehalem chips will later be scaled down for less-expensive consumer desktops and laptops in 2009.

Gateway on Monday introduced two FX gaming desktops, including one with a solid-state drive. Gateway is putting Intel's latest 80G-byte solid-state drive in the FX6800-05 desktop to accompany a 1T-byte hard drive. Priced at US$2,999.99, the system is powered by a quad-core Core i7-940 processor running at 2.93GHz and has 6G bytes of memory.

The company also launched the FX6800-01e desktop, which is priced at $1,249.99. With a quad-core Intel Core i7-920 running at 2.66GHz, the system includes a 750G-byte hard drive and has 3G bytes of memory. Both Gateway systems will come with ATI Radeon HD4870 X2 graphics cards and are preloaded with 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium OS. The systems will be available at online retailers.

Dell is launching a desktop, the Studio XPS, that includes Core i7 processors. Targeted at "technology enthusiasts," Dell said the PC is better at performing multimedia applications such as video editing and encoding. Prices for the system start at $949 without a monitor.

Alienware, which is owned by Dell, is launching the Area-51 X-58, starting at $1,649, and the ALX X-58, starting at $3,699. The systems have up to 12G bytes of memory, liquid cooling and 4T bytes of storage. Both will come loaded with the 64-bit Windows Ultimate OS, while the Area 51 X-58 will come with the option to load 64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium. The company is offering ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 cards with the systems.

The X58 chipset from Intel gives users more choice in selecting graphics cards from either ATI or Nvidia to take advantage of multiple graphics card working together, said Marc Diana, desktop product marketing manager for Alienware. The chipset connects components like graphics cards to the CPU. Previously, users had to choose cards for dual graphics from one or the other graphics-card vendor rather than being able to choose between them.

Alienware will continue to provide older Intel chips in more affordable PCs. However, while Nehalem prices may start coming down in the middle of next year, some PC buyers will be itching to get the next-generation chip sooner, Diana said.

"We're talking about [moving from] a product that was around for 10-15 years, to something that will be around for the next 10-15 years."

Falcon Northwest on Monday said the Core i7 chips will be available in the company's Mach V customizable gaming systems, with a minimum configuration starting at $2,495, said Kelt Reeves, the company's CEO.

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