Hardware vendors cut prices, ready upgrades

System prices continue to fall as the cost of components keeps dropping and major hardware vendors such as Hewlett- Packard Co., Gateway 2000 Inc., and AST Research Inc. gear up for the release of upgraded products. Compaq Computer Corp. announced last week price cuts of as much as 24 percent across its ProLinea and Deskpro commercial desktop lines. For example, a ProLinea E5/100 Model 630 with a 100MHz processor is now available for $US1299.

HP will match Compaq's lower prices with reductions to be made on its commercial Vectra desktops June 1, HP officials said. HP also reduced NetServer LS and LC prices last week by as much as 27 percent. The price cuts include 166MHz, 133MHz, and 100MHz Pentium systems. A NetServer 5/166 LS Model 1 now costs $US9800.

HP also plans to announce June 3 Vectra models based on Intel Corp.'s 440FX (previously named Natoma) Pentium Pro chip set. The uniprocessor systems will come with either the 180MHz or 200MHz Pentium Pro with 256KB of on-chip Level 2 cache, HP said. Pricing is expected to start at less than $US3000, according to the company.

Gateway is also gearing up to deliver a mainstream 200MHz Pentium Pro desktop using Intel's 440FX chip set by mid-June, officials said. Specifications have not been made final. Gateway will also launch a 200MHz Pentium desktop, officials said. Intel is expected to announce the chip June 10, sources said. The Gateway P5 200 XL will be based on Intel's new 430VX chip set. The 200MHz system will come fully loaded for less than $4000, Gateway officials said.

Not to be left in its competitors' dust, AST will ship early in June 180MHz and 200MHz Pentium Pro Bravo minitowers using the 440FX chip set. Pricing will range between $US2695 and $US3400, officials said. The company also plans to deliver 200MHz Pentium desktops by mid- June, AST said.

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