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Best Buy eyes early August for Core 2 Duo PCs

Velocity Micro, Best Buy think they'll be first to offer the Intel systems at retail.

Intel plans to announce its Core 2 Duo processor next week, and Best Buy thinks that come early August its stores will be the first place consumers can go to pick up a PC featuring the chip.

The largest consumer electronics retailer in North America will have Core 2 Duo systems from Velocity Micro available in 200 stores throughout the continent on Aug. 8, the first day Intel is allowing PC companies to start shipping systems, a Best Buy representative said. Best Buy says it will be the first retailer to have the systems in stock on the 8th, though PC companies will be able to take orders over the Web starting July 27. An Intel representative declined to comment on the specific timing of the Core 2 Duo launch.

"Intel is very serious about making this their quickest ramp ever," a Best Buy representative said in an e-mail. Intel has moved quickly to get the Core 2 Duo chips out as soon as possible, in no small part because its Pentium D chips don't stack up well against Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 X2 processors. AMD's chips had enjoyed a performance advantage over Intel's designs for several years, but chip reviewers last week praised Intel's forthcoming Core 2 Duo chip for desktops, formerly known as Conroe.

The Velocity Micro systems will be available with both the Core 2 Duo processors and the Core Extreme processor. Velocity Micro will launch three systems in its ProMagix desktop lineup at Best Buy with the new chips. The systems, like most of Velocity Micro's products, are high-end PCs designed for gamers and PC enthusiasts, and will range in price from $1,299 to $3,299.

It's unclear how many Core 2 Duo chips will be available at the outset, since it usually takes a few weeks to a month before a new chip is available in large volumes. Intel reported Wednesday that inventory rose a bit more than Wall Street had expected during its second quarter. The company said that was due to the earlier-than-expected production of Core 2 Duo chips in advance of the launch.