Gateway, the quad-core pioneer

Gateway appears to be the first brand-name PC maker to offer Intel's Core 2 Quad processor in a consumer desktop PC

Earlier this week, I asked, “Where are the quads?” I’ve been wondering when Intel’s Core 2 Quad, released in January, would show up in a brand-name consumer desktop PC. I expected to see the chip first from a company like Alienware. But the first Core 2 Quad system that I have found that isn’t a corporate workstation—Dell’s Precision 390, for example, offers the chip—is Gateway’s uber desktop, the FX530.

The Gateway machine, which is available only direct from the company, can be purchased with the 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor for under $2,000. After adding the quad-core chip, itself a hefty $895 upgrade from a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo E6300, I was able to price an FX530GV model at $1,646 on the Gateway’s Web site. To get to the lowest-possible base price, I chose the lightest configuration I could get away with. That meant only 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD-ROM combination drive and an ATI Radeon x1300 graphics card. I also left off a monitor and sound card.

It’s pretty safe to say that few people would purchase the FX530 with a quad-core processor, but choose such a minimal configuration just to get to the lowest-possible price. Thus, a more fitting starting configuration for a Core 2 Quad-equipped FX530GV model, which includes 2GB of RAM, 500GB of hard drive capacity (using twin 250GB drives), a DVD-burner, an ATI Radeon X1900 graphics card and a sound card, will increase its price to $2,349, the Gateway site shows. Adding a monitor or a pair of ATI Radeon X1950 graphics cards will add several hundred dollars more to the setup.

Given that choosing a Core 2 Quad saves only $144 over upgrading to Intel’s Core 2 Extreme processor—the extreme chip helped the FX530 get a good review from Tom’s Hardware, recently—I don’t expect many buyers to opt for the Core 2 Quad. But, to answer my earlier question, the Core 2 Quad chip appears to be slowly working its way into the market. Like all other processors, it will come down in price over time. 

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