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9/96 Reviews Systems: Gateway 2000 P5-200XL

Listing of September 1996 Reviews

Well-Stocked System Stacks Up Well

By Jim Forbes

Great Expectations-sure, it's a novel by that Dickens guy, but it's also what every PC purchaser feels just before taking a big-bucks plunge into the high-performance computing arena. Yeah, you want lightning-fast graphics, expansive disk storage, state-of-the-art processor performance-and you want the system to be equally adept at handling demanding multimedia applications and business productivity apps. For the most part, the new Gateway 2000 P5-200XL is a real pip that admirably meets your expectations.

The P5-200XL offers enough bells and whistles for even the most gadget-happy user. The system is built around Intel's 200MHz Pentium processor, aided by 512KB of pipeline-burst SRAM cache and the PCI bus architecture. The standard RAM configuration is 32MB of synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), expandable to 64MB.(My test unit had 16MB.) The cache and the high-performance system memory contribute significantly to the P5-200XL's overall performance. A 2.5GB Western Digital EIDE hard disk provides abundant storage, and a Sanyo 8X CD-ROM drive makes it easy to access multimedia content and install software.

The P5-200XL's video system is comprised of a Vivitron 17-inch monitor with a 15.9-inch viewable area and a Matrox 64-bit PCI graphics accelerator equipped with 2MB of WRAM. On our Wintune video test, the video scored a sizzling 18.33Mpixels per second.

Audio for the P5-200XL is provided by an Ensoniq 16-bit Wavetable sound card and a set of Altec Lansing ACS-400 speakers with subwoofer that support Surround Sound. Also tucked into the P5-200XL's tower case is a Telepath 28.8 fax modem with voice-mail capability.

An unanticipated peripheral makes this system unique. In addition to its quick 8X CD-ROM drive, the P5-200XL has a built-in recordable CD drive (CD-R). Gateway claims this is the first system on the market to include a CD-R as standard equipment. The Panasonic drive can store up to 650MB of data on a single disc, which should be readable by most CD-ROM drives. The drive uses a SCSI interface, records at double speed and plays back at 4X. It can be used to exchange data or create multimedia titles.

The P5-200XL's tower case has ample expansion room. Gateway's new style case with front vents helps keep the system's components-including its 200MHz Pentium processor-running cool.

In addition to its blistering video performance, the P5-200XL fared well on the other Wintune low-level benchmarks and our application tests. The system's processor clocked an average score of 361MIPS, slightly above the norm for this CPU class. The P5-200XL's 2.5GB Western Digital hard disk also performed a bit above average, with an uncached throughput of 3.13MB per second. On the application simulations, the system did quite well, zipping through the Word and Excel macros in 14.33 and 8.33 seconds, respectively.

--Info File--
Gateway 2000 P5-200XL
Pros: Performance; CD-R drive; 8X CD-ROM drive; expandability
Cons: CD-R has learning curve
Gateway 2000
800-846-2000, 605-232-2000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

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