Declaring the PC far from dead, Compaq has unveiled its Evo D500 ultra-slim desktop featuring a space-saving design that runs quietly even when sporting Intel's fastest processors.

Compaq announced the system at the Comdex IT show in Las Vegas last week. The PC maker plans to ship the first unit running Intel's desktop Celeron processor in the first quarter of 2002.

Systems based on Intel's upcoming next-generation Pentium 4 chip, code-named Northwood, will ship sometime after that, said Jeri Callaway, Compaq vice president and general manager of the access business group. Compaq did not disclose pricing on the units.

Calling the beige box PC "a dying breed", Callaway outlined the design improvements of the slick, black-and-silver D500. Among its attributes are modular drives, a tiny footprint, wireless capabilities, and nearly silent operation.

The Evo family in May replaced Compaq's Armada, Prosignia, and DeskPro brands. The light, sleek systems have been well received.

The D500's small footprint is designed to catch the eyes of cube-dwellers and other business users. Situated horizontally, it takes less space on a desk than a 17in monitor.

Using a stand that comes with the Evo, you can place the system on its side and run it as a super-thin tower. In keeping with its notebook-like dimensions, the D500 also features a MultiBay for hot-swapping removable storage devices such as disk drives and various optical drives. The MultiBay technology is the same Compaq uses in its Evo notebooks, which means you can swap drives between mobile and desktop PCs, Callaway adds.

Despite its small size, the D500 isn't limited to slower, cooler-running processors. A cooling system that uses specially designed heat sinks and fans enables the PC to safely operate Intel's future Pentium 4 chips. Of course, thanks to a die shrink and other changes those chips should also run significantly cooler at higher speeds than today's P4s.

That same cooling system should help make the D500 more people friendly — running as much as 50 percent quieter than previous desktop PCs, Callaway said.