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December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews Systems: IBM Aptiva S66

IBM Flaunts a Stylin' Aptiva

By David Hafke

Heads will definitely turn as IBM trots out the new Aptiva S66 and its unconventional design. But its uniqueness is not purely cosmetic; it also packs many practical features that are unavailable in other systems in its class.

The Aptiva S, IBM's latest line of home PCs, is built around a 166MHz Pentium processor with 16MB of EDO RAM and 256KB of pipeline-burst secondary cache. Speakers are built onto both sides of its 15-inch multimedia monitor,which rests on a tilt-and-swivel base standing four inches above the desktop. Interestingly, when you peek at the mini-tower you'll notice no external drives or power button. A separate media console houses the floppy drive and a Hitachi 8X CD-ROM drive.

The system also includes a wireless mouse and a USB port. The Aptiva also introduces a new power-management feature called Rapid Resume. This allows the system to automatically power down after a set period of inactivity. When you're ready to use the PC again, simply press the switch on the media console, and in seconds, you're ready to go with all open files and applications unaffected.

You won't find much under the hood, so the system is wide open for any future upgrades. The motherboard holds an ATI Mach 64 video with 2MB of DRAM, four SIMM slots (two of which hold 8MB SIMMs) and an unused DIMM slot. The Aptiva S66 has seven expansion slots: five ISA, one PCI and one shared. Two ISA slots are used by the media console's proprietary interface card and an Mwave modem/sound card. There are also six drive bays (three internal and three external). All the bays are unoccupied except for the internal bay that holds a 3.2GB hard drive.

Performance-wise, the Aptiva is consistent with other 166MHz Pentiums. Its CPU churned out a respectable 303.33MIPS on our Wintune 95 benchmarks, and the system took 19.67 seconds and 13 seconds to complete our Word and Excel macros, respectively.

The Aptiva S66 is a worthy competitor of the Compaq Presario 3020 on our Recommended List. It will add personality to any room in your home. However, its presence comes with a price: $3,148. This is a fairly expensive system for what it offers. The Presario's portability and higher bang-to-buck ratio make it a better buy.

The Aptiva does come with a good joystick and a generous software bundle that includes Lotus SmartSuite, Encarta 96, Quicken, MechWarrior 2 and Rand McNally TripMaker 1996 SE. The Aptiva S66 may be more expensive than many systems in its class, but it's ready for the future and offers a fine assortment of features.With its sleek, unusual case, IBM's Aptiva S66 is the latest of the so-called fashion computers.

--Info File--
IBM Aptiva S66
Pros: Design; expandability; power management; software bundle
Cons: Price
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
800-426-7235 x4340
WinMag Box Score 3.5

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