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Gateway slims down business PCs

The company unveils a diminutive chassis for its E-2000 and E-4000 desktop PCs, in hopes of squeezing in among its competitors.

Gateway on Wednesday unveiled a smaller chassis for its E-2000 and E-4000 desktop PCs for businesses.

The new chassis is 35 percent smaller than a Gateway micro-tower, the company said, allowing it to fit more easily on or under a desk or into an area such as a call center where space is tight.

Smaller desktop PCs are becoming more popular as manufacturers have improved them by using the same components, including motherboards and optical drives, as full-size desktops.

Early designs used special motherboards and often included more-expensive notebook drives, requiring companies that bought them to create and manage a separate software image from the rest of their PCs. Companies try to maintain the same image--which is the collection of the operating system, applications and driver software installed on each PC--in order to reduce IT costs.

Gateway's new E-series chassis measures 13.5 inches wide by 15.5 inches deep by 4 inches high. But it uses the same components as its full-size siblings and can accommodate four bays for CD-rewritable, DVD and other drives.

The new Gateway chassis is a little larger than IBM's new small PC, the NetVista S42, which measures 12.2 inches by 13.6 inches by 3.3 inches. But the IBM PC, which starts at about $900, offers one less drive bay.

All of Gateway's main competitors, including IBM, Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard, offer small desktops. HP's newest Evo D510, for example, measures 13.1 inches by 14.4 inches by 3.9 inches and starts at $849.

The version of the E-2000 with a small chassis starts at $889 and includes a 2GHz Intel Celeron chip, 128MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive and a 15-inch monitor. The E-4000 with a small chassis features a 1.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 but not the monitor; otherwise, it is the same configuration. It starts at $739.