[ Go to April 1997 Table of Contents ]|
-- by Jim Forbes
Lots of people think the hot new MMX systems are destined for the home entertainment center, not the corporate desktop. But NEC's new PowerMate 2200M is one MMX system that will appeal to bean counters, administrators and cubicle dwellers alike.
This machine's shipping configuration will include a 200MHz MMX Pentium processor, 32MB of RAM and an IBM 3GB IDE hard drive. (The pre-production evaluation unit came with a Seagate ST32140 IDE 2.1GB hard drive. The other components were identical to those of the shipping version.) The ATI Rage GX PCI-accelerated graphics chip-which supports 2-D and 3-D graphics-and 2MB of VRAM are mounted on the motherboard (2MB of SGRAM-synchronous graphics RAM-is standard). The motherboard is an Intel-made LTX model with 256KB of level 2 cache and Intel's 430HX chipset. A 12X CD-ROM drive and a self-contained 100MB Iomega Zip drive round out the package.
In addition to Windows 95, the 2200M comes with inventory/asset management software. With it, network administrators can remotely track the individual configurations of 2200Ms as they are deployed throughout the organization. It's a nice touch, and it places the 2200M in the same market as Compaq's Deskpro, Dell's OptiPlex and Hewlett-Packard's Vectra lines.
The 2200M is a stout mini-tower measuring 14 by 8 by 17 inches and weighing 30 pounds. Knurled thumbscrews provide easy entry to the insides of the 2200M. Once you remove the sliding side panel, though, a crossbar and the 200-watt power supply make access to the SIMMs difficult. Worse, you must completely remove the motherboard to replace the hard drive, which is located on the bottom of the system case.
Most external connections are easily reached from the outer edges of the rear of the case. Because the video is mounted directly on the motherboard, the two ISA, one shared ISA/PCI and two PCI slots are open.
You cannot accurately compare the performance of this preproduction system to that of a production system, especially since the IBM 3GB hard drive (reputed to be a screamer), which will ship with the production units, was absent in the test system. Nonetheless, the following comparisons give some indication of the 2200M's performance potential.
WINDOWS Magazine's Wintune 95 benchmarks clocked the PowerMate 2200M's MMX processor at an average of 384.67MIPS, on a par with the processor score for Dell's OptiPlex GXi MMX on our Recommended List. The Seagate drive in my test unit managed only 2.03MB per second of uncached throughput, a very low score. The ATI GX Rage video pumped out 15.33Mpixels per second, again a mediocre showing for this category of system. Average times to execute our Word and Excel macros were 11 and 15.33 seconds, respectively-a good score for Word, poor for Excel, and worse on both counts than the Dell system. The overall score for Intel's multimedia benchmarks was 169.98, again inferior to the OptiPlex.
The PowerMate 2200M promises to be a good choice for corporate desktops, and its 12X CD-ROM drive and integrated 100MB Iomega Zip drive will make it appealing to both end users and MIS administrators.