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6/96 Reviews System: Sys Performance C166+

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Chip Choice: 166 Cyrix CPU

By James Alan Miller

(Editor's Note: The WinMag Box Score: rates products on installation, usability, supporting materials, functionality, performance and utility. Our overall ratings follow this scale: 5,Outstanding or breakthrough product, best of its kind; 4, Exceeds expectations, superior to most competing products; 3, Works well, meets all our expectations, no major problems; 2, Has serious difficulties or limitations; 1, Has critical flaws. A list of recommended products follows the Reviews section.)

You need more than bells and whistles to be heard in today's multimedia PC market. Sys Technology's Sys Performance C166+ makes a statement with its Cyrix 6x86 P166+ CPU, rather than one of the pervasive Intel Pentiums.

The Performance C166+ turned in some interesting numbers on the WINDOWS Magazine Wintune performance tests. The system exhibited something of a dual personality, performing like a 133MHz Pentium on some tests, while surpassing most 166MHz Pentiums on others. For example, the system's CPU score of 255MIPS ranks it just above most 133MHz Pentium systems but well below those using the 166MHz Pentium. The Performance C166+ notched a decent 3.3MB per second on the uncached hard disk test and a very respectable video mark of 12.33Mpixels per second.

The system's two faces appeared again on our Word and Excel macro application tests. The C166+ averaged a spectacular 10 seconds to complete the Word macro, placing it in the upper echelon of 166MHz Pentiums. But its Excel macro score-'20.67 seconds-'tumbles into the 100MHz Pentium zone.

The review unit had 16MB of EDO RAM, 512KB of pipeline burst cache, a 1.28GB Quantum Fireball hard disk, a TEAC 6X CD-ROM drive and the excellent Cardinal 28.8 modem. Also included were MLi 65 stereo speakers and a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Pro-compatible Acer SP301 16-bit sound card.

MAG InnoVision DX15T 15-inch monitor incorporating a Sony Trinitron CRT. MAG InnoVision's DX15T monitor, with its on-screen display (OSD) controls, provides a very sharp, well-focused picture with impressive color reproduction. The monitor has a 0.25mm stripe pitch, supports a 1280x1024 maximum resolution, and has scanning ranging from 30KHz to 65KHz horizontal and 50Hz to 120Hz vertical. Other features include 14 preset graphics modes, and VESA DPMS power management and MPRII radiation-reduction compatibility.

Using the front-panel controls, you can con-trol display characteristics such as degauss, pin-cushion, trapezoidal, rotation, recall, horizontal and vertical position, and size. You use the color manager to select color temperatures of 9300 or 6500 degrees Kelvin, and change red, green and blue individually. The monitor does have a shortcoming: You can't completely widen the image horizontally. Also, given the system's other components and horsepower, it's surprising that it's not equipped with a 17-inch monitor.

The mini-tower case offers very good external expansion, with its two available 5.25-inch bays and one 3.5-inch bay. You can easily distinguish the system's large power button from the much smaller red reset button which-'annoyingly-'you need a pen to get at.

The Performance C166+ has only one free inter-nal 3.5-inch bay. The C166's four SIMM slots can hold up to 128MB of RAM. Two free PCI slots and a single unoccupied ISA slot can accommodate addi-tional expansion cards. The system's crowded inter-nal wiring could complicate an upgrade. And the modem sits in the shared PCI/ISA slot, rather than the empty ISA slot. Buy this machine, and the first customizing you'll want to do is move the modem.

Based on my Wintune tests, the C166+ clearly doesn't perform consistently at a level you'd expect from a sys-tem based on Intel's 166MHz Pentium chip.

Still, this is a solid alternative to Intel-based competitors and, at $2,669, offers fairly good value. If the C166+ consistently performed on par with a 166MHz Pentium sys-tem, that price would be very good.

Info File
Sys Performance C166+
$2,669 (direct)
Pros: Expandability; modem
Cons: Cabling; performance
Sys Technology
800-613-9963, 714-821-3900
WinMag Box Score: 3.5
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