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Sub-$1,000 PCs adding options

MidWest Micro also reduces the cost of a 333-MHz Pentium II system with a 17-inch monitor down to $1,950.

MidWest Micro unveiled two sub-$1,000 systems aimed at consumers searching for low-cost yet upgradable computers.

The Ohio manufacturer also cut PC prices by as much as 12 percent, bringing the cost of a 333-MHz Pentium II system with a 17-inch monitor down to $1,950.

As competitors continue to crowd into the sub-$1,000 market, low-cost PCs have become notorious for thin profit margins, and manufacturers have accordingly trimmed back on options and expandability

MidWest Micro's strategy for selling in the low-cost market rests on its main circuit board, or motherboard, which has more expansion slots than the typical sub-$1,000 PC. Expansion slots allow the user to upgrade a system with multimedia features such advanced sound and graphics.

"You have to have a lot of expandability," said company spokesman Matt Adams. "People will realize that soon. You can keep it around longer than an original sub-$1,000."

Midwest is also touting its systems as the first in the low-cost segment to offer 233-MHz processing power. The MR-233X consumer PC comes with a 233-MHz Pentium MMX processor as well as 32MB of memory, a 3.2GB hard drive, a CD-ROM, and a 14-inch monitor.

The NJ-2233 workstation, designed to be a replacement component within a corporate network, features a 233-MHz Pentium II and includes 32MB of memory, a 3.2GB hard drive, and a CD-ROM.

Separately, MidWest Micro cut prices across its line of business and consumer systems. At the high end, the PRW-333 model falls to $1,949 from $2,219. The system comes with a 333-MHz Pentium II chip, 64MB of memory, a 6.4GB hard drive, a graphics card, a CD-ROM, and a 17-inch monitor.