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7/96 Reviews Systems: NEC PowerMate P150

Listing of July 1996 Reviews

High-Performance Partner

By James Alan Miller

A good business partner is hard to find-and a silent one is even more elusive. To get both, you don't have to look further than NEC's PowerMate P150. This new 150MHz Pentium system is a solidly built, well-equipped and reliable work companion. The PowerMate P150 matches the competition in the high-end systems market and then raises the ante by including bonuses such as an infrared port and a fine NEC monitor.

The PowerMate P150's handsome mini-tower case offers plenty of room for expansion despite its relatively small form factor. That's due to the system's motherboard and to the way its two 3.5-inch internal expansion bays are implemented. The slots for add-in cards are on a perpendicular riser card that plugs into the motherboard. The brackets and other hardware required to use the vacant expansion bays aren't installed-they come packaged separately. When it's time to add a device that requires a bay, you'll have all the parts you need. Until then, the inside of the system stays neat and uncluttered. The trade-offs are that installing a drive requires a little extra work, and the drive will cover up the SIMM slots. The PowerMate P150 also has two external 5.25-inch drive bays.

There are five expansion slots on the riser card. One of the two PCI slots is available, as are the three ISA and single shared slots. The occupied PCI slot holds a Matrox Millennium graphics card with 2MB of WRAM. The graphics card connects to an outstanding NEC MultiSync XV17+ monitor, which offers excellent on-screen controls. The AccuColor control system helps achieve color fidelity between the monitor and a printer, a color standard such as Pantone, or another monitor. Also available is Sonnetech's Colorific software to facilitate color matching. The monitor supports a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 and can handle 1024x768 at a refresh rate of 75Hz, while complying with a number of safety and environmental standards, including VESA DPMS, TCO NUTEK and SWEDAC. The MultiSync XV17+ has a dot pitch of 0.28mm, and autosync ranges of 31-65kHz horizontal and 55-100Hz vertical.

Other system components include a 2-gigabyte Seagate IDE hard disk drive, a Goldstar 6X CD-ROM drive, 16MB of EDO RAM (expandable to 128MB) and an infrared (IR) port mounted on the front of the PowerMate P150's case. The IR port can be used for wireless communications with similarly equipped printers and other PCs. This system's IR port runs at the IRDA 115Kb per second specification and uses Puma Technology's TranXit 2.0 wireless infrared connectivity software.

Heat generated by the 150MHz Pentium CPU is dissipated by a heat sink, and a large fan bracketed to its side provides additional cooling. The system incorporates Intel's Triton chipset and 256KB of synchronous pipeline burst cache. Audio is provided by a motherboard-mounted chip. The sound system uses FM synthesis rather than wavetable technology but, when coupled with the very good Goldton 20-watt speakers, the result is more than satisfactory. A microphone and input jacks are also included, but there is no MIDI/game port.

The PowerMate P150 performed well on tests using WINDOWS Magazine's Wintune benchmarks. All the scores put this system near the top of its category among similarly equipped 150MHz Pentium systems. It garnered a solid 273MIPS rating for the CPU test, 3.5MB per second for uncached hard disk throughput and a video score of 15.67Mpixels per second for video. On our application tests, it completed the Word macro in 15 seconds and the Excel macro in 13 seconds, high-ranking results for a system of this type.

NEC preinstalls the operating system on the PowerMate P150-actually it installs a choice of operating systems. When you first boot the system, you can choose either DOS and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 or Windows 95. The operating system you choose is then fully installed, and the other is deleted. This is very convenient for companies that haven't yet made the leap to Win95.

The PowerMate P150's software bundle includes XSoft TabWorks, QA Plus Pro, Pro Share, Netscape Navigator and software for America Online, Prodigy and CompuServe. The PowerMate's sound system is complemented by Voyetra's Multimedia Sound Software.

As complete as the PowerMate P150 may seem, it still lacks two key ingredients: a modem and a network connection. However, these components are available as options.

NEC backs the PowerMate P150 with a three-year limited warranty. The warranty includes one year of on-site service, which you can optionally extend another year or two.

When you add up its assets-performance, price and parts-the PowerMate P150's bottom line is very convincing.

Info File
NEC PowerMate P150
Price: $2,646
Pros: IR port; monitor
Cons: Lacks modem and network interface
NEC Technologies
800-NEC-INFO, 508-264-8000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

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