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eMachines tees up Athlon 64 notebook

Best known as a budget manufacturer, eMachines is one of the first brand-name PC makers to build a notebook with AMD's 64-bit Mobile Athlon 64 processor.

eMachines has become one of the first brand-name PC makers to build a notebook with Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Mobile Athlon 64 processor.

The notebook, the M6805, comes with a Mobile Athlon 64 3000+ processor and a 15.4-inch screen. It appeared on Best Buy's Web site this week.

Like many others aimed at consumers, the M6805 appears to be designed to replace a desktop PC. Thus it has a processor--in this case the Athlon 64 chip--and a graphics card capable of tackling multimedia and PC games, but still sells for a relatively reasonable price. Desktop replacement notebooks have been wildly popular at retail in the United States over the past few years, thanks to consumers who have purchased them to take the place of aging desktops.

Although it's mostly known as a budget manufacturer, eMachines has emerged as one of the fastest-growing PC makers. The company became the fourth largest PC maker in the United States in the fourth quarter, according to IDC, putting it ahead of Gateway and Apple Computer. The company, which is based in the United States but has its PCs made in Korea, saw shipments grow by 20.8 percent over the same quarter a year ago, faster than Dell, Hewlett-Packard and the market as a whole.

Aside from its AMD chip, the 7.5-pound machine comes with 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, a combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM drive and Wi-Fi 802.11g capabilities. It also incorporates an ATI Technologies' Radeon 9600 graphics chip with 64MB of video memory. Best Buy's Web site lists it for $1,549.

The PC maker declined to comment on the new notebook. However, it's neither the first time that eMachines has quietly rolled out a new computer with retailer Best Buy, nor the company's first Athlon 64 system.

The eMachines notebook?-only its second notebook model in recent history--joins the company's T6000 desktop, which offers a desktop Athlon 64 3200+ chip. The company quietly introduced the T6000, which sells for $1,299, at Best Buy stores in early December.

AMD, which introduced the Mobile Athlon 64 chip line this month, says the chips use less power than its desktop Athlon 64s. That makes the mobile chips more at home inside notebooks.

Aside from eMachines, several other companies now offer Athlon 64 chips. Companies such as Alienware and Hewlett-Packard offer the Athlon 64 chip in their desktops. The chips are now available in both Compaq Presario and HP Pavilion desktops, for example.

AMD also augmented the desktop Athlon 64 line, adding Athlon 64 3000+ and Athlon 64 3400+ models earlier this month. Its three Mobile Athlon 64 models include 2800+, 3000+ and 3200+.