The second quarter has seen worldwide shipments of personal computers rise 16.6 percent. Shipments have been driving to their highest quarterly growth rate in nearly five years. At least, that's the word from IDC.

A report from another technology research firm, Gartner Inc., put overall growth at a more modest 14.8 percent for the April-June period. Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner uses slightly different measurement methods than IDC, of Framingham, Mass.

IDC said the 16.6 percent gain compared with the same quarter a year ago was the fastest growth rate since PC shipments posted an 18.9 percent year-over-year increase in the third quarter of 2000.

Low-cost desktop computers and more affordable laptops seem to have helped to drive this trend.