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-- by Cynthia Morgan
My mind's-eye view of Intergraph users runs to FORTRAN nerds with pocket protectors, thick eyeglasses and single-speed bikes. On second thought, make that FORTRAN nerds with WinCE hand-helds, designer specs and Ferraris. An addiction to fast graphics and data handling costs a lot, and Intergraph happily feeds that expensive habit with fast CPUs, faster video and ungodly amounts of RAM.
The last thing I expected from Intergraph was value pricing, so the Intergraph TD PC series came as a surprise. The machines target high-end business users with a yen for incredible graphics, primo performance and relatively limitless expansion. Although the company skimps on basic necessities for this market (I predict it'll quickly fix that), it has made a strong start.
Prices for the TDs start at $1,495 for a bare-bones 100MHz Pentium-albeit a nice one-with 16MB RAM and no monitor. The TDs use up to four Pentium or Pentium Pro processors; a quad Pentium Pro, the TD-610, runs about $13,500. The loaded TD-200 I checked, a 200MHz Pentium Pro with Windows NT 4.0, 64MB RAM and a 10/100Mbps PCI Ethernet card, came to a stratospheric $8,246. The base price for this machine is an easier-to-swallow $3,175, with 32MB RAM, ISA Ethernet, a 2GB hard drive and modest video; several thousand dollars' worth of video components ran up the price of mine. With a 17-inch monitor 64MB RAM and standard built-in video, it's a more manageable $4,990 and competitive with 200MHz Pentium Pros currently on our Recommended List, the $4,000 Micron Millennia Pro Plus and the $3,275 Compaq Deskpro 6200.
But it's video that sells this machine. Mine came with Intergraph's premium Intense 3-D graphics accelerator, which supports dual simultaneous displays. Our Wintune benchmarks assume a 256-color palette with 800x600 screen resolution, too low for the Intense, but even its minimum 32-bit true-color resolution scores a slightly above-average 17Mpixels per second. Screen redraw in programs such as AutoCAD and Adobe Photoshop is wonderfully fast. The monitor, a Hitachi 21-incher with an Intergraph label, has a 20-inch viewing area, crisp, flicker-free display and truly simple on-screen controls.
Wintune rates the TD-200 at an average 416MIPS, with an average uncached disk speed. Although it sped through our Excel and Word macros, it couldn't beat the Compaq Deskpro 6200's scores. The TD-200 averaged 10.7 seconds to complete the Word test and 7.7 for Excel. The Compaq took 4.33 seconds on Word and 7.67 seconds with Excel.
The TD-200 might disappoint, sound-wise, with relatively small computer speakers, 3-watt Koss HD-30s, and no subwoofer. SCSI is optional. Its 2GB hard drive is a tad tiny for a graphics system's hefty file sizes.
The system is extremely expandable, with three of six bays free. There are three PCI, three ISA and one PCI/ISA shared slot. Most-updated components such as memory are out in the open, although the common tower practice of hiding the power supply behind the top drive bays makes them tough to reach.
Intergraph makes a great start with the TD series, offering excellent video options. I'd highly recommend it for anyone building animated Web graphics, 3-D or multimedia applications, or more traditional advanced computer graphics files. With the addition of SCSI, better speakers and more storage, this could easily make our Recommended List.
Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.