In a departure from its build-to-order PC business model, Dell has begun selling a $599 pre-built PC, the SmartStep 100D, on its US website.

The move is a break from Dell's successful PC manufacturing strategy, which requires that PCs be assembled only once a customer order has been received.

Whether Dell will be offering an equivalent system in the UK is as yet unknown.

Based on a 1GHz Celeron processor from Intel, the SmartStep 100D comes with 128MB of SDRAM, a 20GB hard drive, a 48x CD-ROM and a 15in monitor.

Unlike other desktop PC models offered by Dell that can be configured to meet the specific demands of a customer, the SmartStep 100D offers limited room for customisation — only warranty and extras are options, so what you see is what you get.

Taiwan-based MIN (Mitac International) declined to comment on international press reports that it is building the SmartStep 100D under contract for Dell. MIC is bound by contractual terms not to comment on the activities of its customers and was neither able to confirm nor deny that it is building the SmartStep 100D, according to Michael Hsu, a company spokesman.

Dell officials could not immediately be reached for comment.