Round Rock (TX) - Following Michael Dell's announcement yesterday, Dell today released configuration pages for its initial AMD-based systems this morning. The computers can be ordered now and the company promises to begin shipping the built-to-order systems later this week. Dell heavily promotes the green party, which indicates a long-term commitment to AMD.
AMD has cracked the last and strongest bastion of Intel-only loyalty. Dell, which so far had refused to adopt anything else than Intel processors is now offering first computer systems with AMD processors.
To the consumer, it is apparent that Dell is positioning AMD below comparable Intel models. The product catalog now offers the C521 and E521 with AMD CPUs with prices from $360 and $330, respectively. The slim-line C-series is AMD only, but Dell offers an Intel-based E520 model, which starts at more than twice the price of the E521 - $720. But if you check those options in Dell's online configuration pages to build a higher-end multimedia system and you'll find out that the E520 and E521 are similarly priced - just below $2000 with bigger harddrives, more memory, a 17" LCD, dual optical drives and a soundcard. In fact, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is slightly more expensive than a comparable Core 2 Duo E6400 system.
While its has been speculated that Dell may be using AMD just for the short term and to negotiate itself into a better position with Intel, the product pages almost set a scenario of no return. Compare the E520 and E521 side by side and you get a flashy note that the AMD system offers "more value". It's an obvious promotion advantage for AMD at this time to which Intel obviously must react, given the numbers of PCs Dell is selling.
The entry-level Dell AMD system is the C521, which arrives in a slim-line case for at least $360. The base configuration includes a Sempron 3400+ processor, 512 MB system memory, an 80 GB hard drives an Nvidia integrated graphics. The dual-core version with a 3800+ chip is priced from about $920 and $1170 with a 5000+ chip. The E521 version is a traditional minitower with more configuration flexibility, which for example includes Dell's "data safe" RAID-based storage system and dual optical drives. A dual-core 521 system (3800+ CPU) starts at $870 - below the $1000 that Dell charges for a Core 2 Duo system.
The AMD offering is a careful start for Dell, but it appears that the company is paving the way for more AMD desktop and possibly notebook systems in the future. And despite it only offers two AMD systems at this time, analysts expect a positive impact for the system builder. "AMD has gained a lot of respect and they have gained a momentum that can help Dell," said Tony Duboise, an industry analyst with Current Analysis. "Everyone else is already offering AMD. Dell is basically just catching up."