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Acer adopts K6 for the home

Acer America adopts the K6 and K5 microprocessors from AMD in over half its new home computers, including two models that will retail for under $1,000.

Acer America has adopted the K6 and K5 microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) in over half its new home computers, including two models that will retail for under $1,000.

Acer's decision to continue to go with AMD chips in new systems comes as welcome news for AMD, which has been feverishly courting major U.S. PC manufacturers to adopt the K6. So far, Digital (DEC) and Acer have been the only major manufacturers active in the U.S. market to adopt the K6. Digital is currently engaged in a bitter lawsuit with Intel (INTC).

The K6, which was introduced back in April, offers performance that is faster than MMX Pentiums and on par with lower-speed Pentium II processors from Intel.

Recent price cuts by Intel have made AMD's sales pitch--that its alternative chips are better and cheaper--somewhat less compelling. Nevertheless, AMD followed with price reductions that undercut Intel's. This competition benefits the customer. Acer's K6 computers sell for approximately $100 to $200 less than their Intel counterparts.

The eight new Aspire computers released by Acer today range in price from $799 for a unit featuring a 166-MHz K5 to $1,899 for a minitower containing a 233-MHz Intel Pentium chip with MMX. Five of the computers contain the K6 while three others contain Pentium-enabled MMX processors from Intel.

Two of the computers are desktops, both of which sell for under $1,000. The Aspire 1250 features a 166-MHz MMX-enhanced K6 processor, 16MB of memory, a 20X CD-ROM, and a 2GB hard drive. It costs $999 without a monitor.

The Aspire 1240, which costs $799 without a monitor and $999 with, comes with slightly fewer features and a K5 processor. A K5 is the equivalent of an older, low-end Pentium processor.

Both prices are roughly in line with sub-$1,000 computers from other manufacturers. Compaq (CPQ), for instance, released a 166-MHz Pentium computer last month for $999 without MMX.

Additional models include mini-towers and allow for a head-to-head price-performance competition between Intel and AMD.

The lowest-priced model contains a 200-MHz Pentium and costs $1,199. Three others contain MMX-enhanced K6 or Pentium chips and range in price from $1,299 to $1,499, with varying amounts of memory. At the high end, Acer offers a 233-MHz K6 with MMX and a 6.4GB hard drive for $1,699; a similar Pentium MMX machine costs $1,899.

The new computers were also designed with home decor in mind. Each computer comes in white or charcoal gray, while the minitowers adopt a curvy, contemporary case design. The minitower chassis has also been redesigned for easier upgrading, the company said.