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Gigabyte Technology on Monday unveiled plans to offer cost-effective mainboards for customers in budget under its own brand. While Gigabyte has not said anything particular about its plans in this market, a big player will undoubtedly influence on the already very competitive market.

Gigabyte Technology is one of the largest mainboard makers on the planet and belongs to the so-called Taiwanese Big Four manufacturers. However, its shipments are usually considerably lower than the number of mainboards supplied by ASUSTeK, MSI or ECS since Gigabyte focuses on higher-end offerings leaving spacious market of entry-level solutions to its competitors. Even though this allows the company to post higher gross-margins and receive more profits from every SKU it sells, more and more customers prefer top-to-bottom product families that include cost-effective, mainstream and high-end solutions and Gigabyte needs to respond to the general trend somehow.

The motto behind RZ mainboard family is straight to the point: reliability, real performance, and right value (The Three R’s), according to Gigabyte.

Initially, there will be 10 mainboards in the RZ lineup – 7 for Intel processors (8I845PE-RZ, 8I845E-RZ, 8I845GVM-RZ, 8S648-RZ, 8S651M-RZ, 8VT800-RZ, 8VM533M-RZ) and 3 for AMD processors (7VT600-RZ, 7VM400M-RZ, 7VM266M-RZ). Pricing of all parts is not set.

All the models included in the RZ series are furnished with 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, USB2.0 ports and 6-channel audio. Gigabyte will also pack Xpress Install for easy software installation, EasyTune4 for convenient system control and Norton Internet Security 2004 software for system protection with its new mainboards.

In late January 2004 Gigabyte was rumored to establish a subsidiary called Gigatrend to sell cost-effective products. However, the firm now uses its own brand-name to sell entry-level mainboards. Initially, Gigatrend would outsource production to its parent company. But for the price-conscious entry-level market, Gigatrend would be forced to outsource production of entry-level mainboards to contract manufacturers to lower costs, according to Taiwanese press.

The destiny of Gigatrend is not clear now, but the unveiling of RZ series mainboards does not necessarily exclude Gigatrend from Gigabyte’s plans. For instance, ASUSTeK Computer sells cost-effective mainboards under its own brand (X-series) as well as under ASRock name.

Given that the market of entry-level hardware does not require serious R&D or marketing spending from component manufacturers, while the demand for inexpensive computers is growing rapidly, the competition among mainboard makers in this segment is bloody.

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