Vendors announce 200 MHz Pentiums

Intel Corp. cranked its Pentium processor one more notch to 200 MHz last week, and several PC vendors immediately announced new models using the chip. The speed boost is expected to be the chip's last as the Pentium Pro gains popularity.

Advanced Logic Research Inc., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway 2000 Inc. and IBM Corp. were quick to jump on the Pentium 200 bandwagon with new product launches. But federal computer buyers may have a hard time getting their hands on a Pentium 200 during the busy season because many of the new PCs will not be available until August, when the faster chip becomes available in volume.

But even buyers who do not opt for the fastest version of the Pentium will benefit because the new chip will drive down prices on PCs using the older versions, according to Richard Zwetchkenbaum, a PC analyst for International Data Corp.

"I don't think there is going to be that much 200 MHz Pentium PC availability in the next couple months," he said. "But the effect of the announcement will be to push down the prices on the old 133 MHz, 150 MHz and 166 MHz machines."

The Pentium 200 has also hit Pentium Pro pricing as vendors moved to keep their Pentium Pro products price-competitive with the speedy new Pentium variant. For example, ALR cut its Pentium Pro prices by $700 across the board.

Dell announced 200 MHz Pentium versions of its Dimension machine, designed for small offices, and OptiPlex product, designed for complex networked environments.

The Dimension product line has been upgraded to support the 200 MHz chip with Intel's latest Pentium chipset, the 430VX, a higher-performance video adapter from Number Nine Visual Technology Corp. and more double in-line memory module sockets.

The Dimension's commercial price starts at $2,499 for a unit with 16M of RAM, a 15-inch monitor, 2M of video RAM, a 1.6G hard disk drive, an 8x enhanced IDE CD-ROM drive, Vibra 16-bit audio, Altec-Lansing speakers, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Microsoft's Office Professional.

A representative example of the OptiPlex costs $3,067 when equipped with 32M of RAM, a 15-inch monitor, 2M of video RAM with MPEG full-motion video, Vibra 16-bit audio, 3Com Etherlink III networking, a 1G hard disk drive, an 8x EIDE CD-ROM drive and Windows NT 3.51.

Dell said it will begin shipping the new models this month.

ALR's new 200 MHz Pentium Evolution 5 PC will cost about $2,400 on the General Services Administration schedule when equipped with 16M of RAM and 256K secondary cache, according to Kevin Roberts, an ALR product manager.

Gateway 2000 introduced a high-end Pentium machine that costs more than many Pentium Pro systems. The P5-200XL includes a recordable CD-ROM drive, an 8x CD-ROM player, a 2.5G hard disk drive, 512K of secondary cache, a 17-inch monitor, a 28.8 kilobit/sec modem, a sound card and speakers for a commercial price of $3,899. The company is taking orders now.

IBM also opted for an approach involving multiple options. It announced a machine that targets the consumer game market but might also appeal to some federal buyers because of its emphasis on 3-D graphics and 3-D Web page browsing.

The top-of-the-line IBM Aptiva 200 MHz Pentium includes a 3.2G hard disk drive, an 8x CD-ROM drive, 32M of RAM, a 256K cache, an ATI 3-D Rage video adapter chip, a 28.8 kilobit/sec modem and Netscape Communications Corp.'s Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

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