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December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews Systems: Kingdom Pentium P200

My Kingdom for a Pentium!

By James Alan Miller

Kingdom Computers' new 200MHz Pentium system offers admirable value for the midrange price of $2,997. It's easy to expand and service, has mostly name-brand parts and delivers good performance.

Unlike most systems at this price, the Kingdom Pentium P200 has an extremely large 3.2GB 10.5ms Quantum Fireball hard disk, as well as an Iomega Zip drive with two cartridges. The cartridges boost your storage capacity out of the box by 200MB. The Zip drive is a flexible, removable storage medium only a littleslower than a hard disk. It's portable like a floppy, but almost 99MB larger. At $15 to $20 per cartridge, it makes adding storage capacity extremely cost effective.

Systems with screwless cases are common now, so there's no need to get one without this feature. With Kingdom's model, you simply pull off the front cover, then slide off the rest of the case. You must snap off the two metal plates in front of the two free external 5.25-inch drive bays before adding drives. Kingdom does a nice job of mounting the Zip and Goldstar 8X CD-ROM drives, and they'll slide out easily when you push in the two tabs on the narrow sides. The hard disk is securely mounted at the top of the tower, and there are three empty 3.5-inch bays.

Initially, wiring seemed to impede access to the SIMM slots. Then I discovered that pulling a handle on the rear of the motherboard totally exposed the components. Adding memory, or any other upgrade, is a breeze. The CPU sits underneath a heat sink with a fan directly on top, while another fan is located in the front of the case. In addition to the four SIMM slots, which on my test system held 32MB of EDO RAM, you get a DIMM slot. The system holds a maximum of 128MB whether or not you fill the DIMM.

In addition to the plethora of drive bays, the system presents three free PCI slots and one free ISA slot. You get three other slots as well. Two ISA slots contain a SCSI board for the Zip drive and the Amquest IBM Mwave 33.6 telephony modem/wavetable sound multifunction board, while a PCI slot has the Hercules Dynamite/128 graphics board with 2.5MB of MDRAM (multibank RAM). MDRAM is a new type of memory specifically designed to run with the Tseng ET600 chipset used by this card.

The video board delivers good performance. It supports a resolution of 640x480 at 16.7 million colors at a refresh rate up to 120Hz, while it handles 800x600 at that color depth up to 90Hz, 1024x768 at 65,536 colors up to 90Hz, and 1280x1024 at 256 colors up to 75Hz.

I was more impressed by the Princeton Ultra 70F monitor. It provides excellent brightness and color reproduction, as well as on-screen controls that incorporate nine buttons to allow easy access to the monitor's many functions. The first four buttons increase and decrease brightness and contrast, and you'll find them on the bottom left of the front of the monitor. All the other controls, except for degauss, which has its own button, are adjusted with four buttons labeled up, down, enter and menu. Press menu to bring up three menus: one for geometry, another for color and a third to position the OSD (on-screen display). The OSD uses icons to help you delineate each control's function. Most of the controls use a bar with plus and minus signs at each end and a number to keep track of changes.

The monitor has a large 16.1-inch diagonal viewable area, a 100MHz bandwidth and a 0.28-millimeter dot pitch, along with 13 preset and eight user-configurable controls. You get a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 and scanning ranges of 50Hz to 120Hz vertically and 30kHz to 65kHz horizontally. It meets the EPA Energy Star, VESA DPMS, MPRII and TCO-1992 power and emissions standards and regulations.

The sound system performs well, even though the modem and sound exist on the same card. The speakers, Platinum's SWX 1600 with subwoofer, offer adequate sound quality.

On our Wintune raw benchmarks, the system earned an excellent uncached hard disk mark of 4.23MB per second, and a typical 200MHz Pentium CPU score of 361.33MIPS. Though the real-world application macro scores of 11.33 seconds for Word and 11.0 seconds for Excel are speedy, they aren't among the best P200 scores.

The Kingdom Pentium P200 provides impressive storage, respectable benchmark scores and good-to-excellent sound and video subsystems. The Windows 95 keyboard and PS/2 mouse are a little flimsy. The bundled software consists of Lotus SmartSuite 96. With some other systems of this caliber, you get a lot more software. But still, you'll feel comfortable ruling your kingdom with this computer.

--Info File--
Kingdom Pentium P200
Pros: Storage (hard disk and Zip drive); monitor
Cons: Sparse software bundle; keyboard
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
Kingdom Computers
WinMag Box Score 3.5

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