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Dell trims OptiPlex prices

As more competitors move to adopt direct sales, the company stays one step ahead with more price cuts.

Dell is turning up the pricing pressure on Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard.

Dell (DELL) says it is cutting prices by up to 13 percent on all models in the OptiPlex line of corporate desktop PCs, the third price cut on its business PCs since January. This time, the company is responding to announcements from several PC manufacturers to emulate the direct-sales model pioneered by Dell.

A build-to-order, direct sales organization has helped Dell manage their inventory efficiently and resulted in significant cost savings, cuts that the company says it has been able to pass along to the consumer.

Many larger PC vendors are now trying to play catch up. Compaq (CPQ), for example, is expected to try to keep pace with Dell's price cuts by instituting its own version of made-to-order manufacturing over the coming months, as CNET'S NEWS.COM reported earlier this month.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP), IBM (IBM), Sony, and Packard Bell NEC have all also announced plans for direct sales or some variation on the model that should let them eventually lower prices too.

Some analysts expect the result to be an all-out price war.

If so, then Dell let loose the first volley today. Its OptiPlex GXi 5200L with 200-MHz MMX Pentium processor, monitor, and 4GB hard drive now costs $2,648, down from $3,030, a reduction of 12.6 percent. An OptiPlex GXi 5233T with 233-MHz MMX Pentium processor, monitor, and 3GB hard drive costs $2,497, a reduction of 7.4 percent.