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Dell 'committed' to AMD despite consumer kit shift to retail

Intel-only Inspirons online for now, almost

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With almost mud-like clarity, Dell has explained the way it's balancing the availability of AMD-based computers between its online, phone and retail sales channels. But one thing it wants us to be certain about is that it remains committed to AMD product lines.

A number of stories popped up on the web this morning claiming Dell was shifting all of its laptops and desktops that come with AMD processors over to its newly formed retail pipelines.

When we checked, there were still plenty of such machines on Dell's UK and US websites, so we asked the PC giant to put us in the picture.

"Currently the majority of our consumer AMD-based systems are available through our retail partners such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Staples, and through telephone sales," it told us. However, "our AMD-based energy-efficient consumer desktop, the Energy Star 4.0 Inspiron 531 is also still available on Dell.com."

Only one AMD offering on the website, then? Not quite. "Dell sells a full range of AMD-powered notebooks, desktops and servers online," we were told.

Intriguingly, that last quote was soon changed by Dell to read: "Dell also sells a range of AMD-powered business notebooks, desktops and servers online." The italics are ours.

So here's where we stand. Consumers seeking AMD-based Dell PCs have to go retail. Unless they want the Inspiron 531 desktop, an Inspiron 1501 laptop, or, if they're in the UK, an Inspiron 1721 laptop.

Business buyers can still buy Latitude, Vostro and Optiplex systems with AMD CPUs online if they wish.

"We are committed to the AMD product lines as a long-term partner to provide the maximum choice for our customers," Dell added, but AMD may not care to see it that way. AMD fans almost certainly don't. For them, it looks like Dell's pushing AMD-based kit out to what they might consider lesser channels. But then AMD buffs tend not to be the kind of folk who buy laptops and desktops from Dell, in our experience.

But is it? Consumers are arguably more likely to buy Intel-based machines than AMD ones, since they're more easily led that way by the chip giant's massive advertising spend. In a store, faced with a choice of machines and - hopefully - a knowledgeable store employee, they might well be more inclined to choose AMD than they would faced with a mass of configuration options on a website.

The retailers gain because it gives them product lines that punters can't buy from Dell's website, which is arguablty their biggest competitor.

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