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Cheapo boxes for smaller budgets

It took HP about 15 minutes to wipe off the Compaq brands off of its x86 servers and replace them with the HP when it acquired Compaq back eight years ago, but believe it or not, the Compaq brand is still useful for selling PCs in different market segments and in different countries. (Apparently, the Compaq name still means more to people in India, Thailand, and Mexico than the HP name). And so, HP still designs inexpensive machines that bear the Compaq Q.

Four such machines that were announced today. The first is the Compaq Presario CQ61-310US, which is a notebook with a 15.6-inch screen (1366x768 resolution) that is based on AMD's 2 GHz Sempron M100 processor. This notebook comes with 2 GB of DDR2 memory (in two slots) and supports up to 4 GB. It includes an ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics card, a 160 GB SATA disk drive, integrated wired and wireless LAN, a DVD drive, and a five-in-one media reader. Fully loaded, this CQ61 notebook weighs in at a cubby 8.9 pounds, but you can't complain much about the skinny $400 price tag, including Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (64-bit).

The Compaq Presario CQ4010F desktop machine comes in a tower case, and is based on AMD's 2.3 GHz Sempron LE-1300 processor. The machine has one memory slot, which supports either 2 GB or 4 GB DDR2 memory, and comes with a 250 GB SATA disk and a DVD burner. It has one x1 and one x16 PCI-Express slot, and all of its media bays are full, so forget about expansion. With Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (64-bit), the machine costs $309 - screen, keyboard, and mouse not included.

HP Compaq Presario PCs

HP's Compaq CQ4010F desktop PC, CQ61 laptop, and 505B microtower PCs (Click to Enlarge)

The final two Compaq PCs that bowed today include the 500B and 505B microtower PCs. The 500B is based on Intel's G41 Express chipset and uses the dual-core Celeron chip as its main brain. The machine has two DDR3 memory slots (with up to 4 GB max supported) and has a single SATA drive that ranges from 160 GB to 500 GB in capacity.

The box has a DVD drive, and sports one PCI slot and two PCI-Express slots (one x1 and one x16). The machine can be equipped with either an Nvidia GeForce G210 or ATI Radeon HD 4350 graphics card. The motherboard in this box as a 100 Mbit Ethernet port and wireless is optional (meaning, it eats a peripheral slot and costs money). A variety of Windows 7 versions can be preinstalled on the 500B, as can Windows Vista or SLED 11 from Novell. The 500B costs $359 in a base configuration.

The Compaq 505B is a similar microtower PC, although it is based on AMD's Athlon II processors (and you can pick from two, three, or four core variants, depending on your processing needs and budget). The 505B desktop PC uses Nvidia's nForce 430 chipset, and it has two DDR3 memory slots and maxxes out at 4 GB. The system has the same peripherals and slots as the 500B above. Prices start at $409. ®

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