Compaq, Micron PCs shine with new Pentium

Today marks the release of two Intel Corp. Pentium III-based 500 MHz systems: Compaq Computer Corp.'s Deskpro PN 6500X and Micron Electronics Inc.'s Client Pro 500 CS.

The FCW Test Center saw both systems post performance gains of 10 percent and 16 percent, respectively over identically configured 450 MHz Pentium II systems on standard business applications. And when we ran a benchmark designed to show off the Pentium III's 70 new multimedia instructions, we saw a performance boost of more than 30 percent.

Micron Electronics Inc.'s Client Pro 500 CS

The Client Pro is a standard enterprise-class desktop platform from Micron. In fact, this machine came in second place in a recent roundup of 450 MHz Pentium II PCs. [FCW, Nov. 16, 1998].

The Micron Client Pro 500 CS gave us the best estimate of how much faster the 500 MHz Pentium III is than the 450 MHz Pentium II. The Client Pro 500 CS scored a 217 on Business Applications Performance Corp.'s SYSmark/98 benchmark, which was 16.6 percent faster than the 450 MHz Client Pro CP.

We also tested the Micron Client Pro 500 CS with an Intel benchmark designed to take advantage of the Pentium III's Streaming SIMD Extensions for multimedia. When the benchmark ran Dragon Systems Inc.'s Naturally Speaking 3.52 voice recognition software, the Pentium III machine managed commands in 330.22 seconds, which was 35.8 percent faster than the 514.07 seconds it took a 450 MHz Pentium II to run through the program.

The Pentium III system also executed commands faster in Photoshop 5.0, Adobe Systems Inc.'s high-end graphics manipulation program. It performed Photoshop commands in 207.37 seconds, which was 95.5 seconds, or 31.6 percent, faster than the Pentium II. In regard to streaming media software, the Pentium III system executed Microsoft Corp.'s Netshow 3.0 commands in 141 seconds, a reduction of 37.1 percent from the 224.1 seconds it took the Pentium II to execute the same commands.

Keep in mind, however, that the benchmark was provided for our use by Intel and has been optimized for the Pentium III processor.

The Client Pro 500 CS came configured with a Diamond Viper 550 TnT graphics card with 16M of VRAM, 128M of RAM and a 13G hard drive, and it ran Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4 loaded. Micron expects the Client Pro 500 CS to cost $2,675 including a 17-inch monitor.

Overall, the Client Pro 500 CS is a solid PC with very good features and support, however, it could be more expandable. For more information on the Micron Client Pro CS, see how it fared in our recent desktop comparison.

Compaq Computer Corp.'s Deskpro PN 6500X

For now, the Deskpro PN 6500X is the fastest PC we've ever tested. It is based on a chassis that can change from a desktop to a minitower with a flip of a switch. And, as always with systems from Compaq, the chassis is sturdy, the unit is quiet, and no stray wires were found.

The 500 MHz Deskpro PN 6500X scored a 220 on SYSmark/98 and is 10 percent faster than its 450 MHz predecessor. The Deskpro also was slightly faster than the Client Pro on the Intel benchmark. The Deskpro accomplished its Naturally Speaking tasks in 326.68 seconds, just 3.54 seconds, or 1 percent, faster than the Client Pro. The result was similar for the Netshow commands, with Deskpro taking 204.44 seconds to complete this application, or 1 percent faster than the Client Pro. And finally, the Photoshop test took the Deskpro just 131 seconds, a full 10 seconds, or 8 percent, faster than the Client Pro.

The 500 MHz Deskpro PN 6500X came configured with a Matrox G200 graphics card with 8M of SDRAM, 128M of RAM and a 14.4G hard drive, and it ran Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4 loaded. Compaq expects the unit to cost $2,705 including a 17-inch monitor.

The Deskpro PN 6500X is a stand-out system, with excellent case design and very good features. See our recent comparison of 450 MHz Pentium II PCs to find out why this machine was our winner.

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