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-- by Jonathan Blackwood
One of the TEN Commandments requires us not to covet. But once you've seen Gateway 2000's hot new dream system, the G6-266XL with DVD, chances are you'll find yourself violating that edict.
Talk about complete: This system features a 266MHz Pentium II processor, 512KB level 2 write-back cache, a 9GB (nominal) Seagate SCSI hard disk, 64MB of EDO RAM, a 21-inch (19.7 inches viewable) Vivitron 1100 monitor, an STB ViRGE 3D video adapter with 4MB of RAM and an Ensoniq Vivo 90 16-bit wavetable sound card. Also included are a TR4 SCSI tape backup, Boston Acoustics speakers and subwoofer and a Microsoft IntelliMouse. And don't forget Toshiba's dandy DVD drive, teamed with a Chromatics Impact media processor. The drive is considered "1X DVD," which translates to approximately 12X performance on CD-ROMs.
The huge tower (23 by 7.88 by 17 inches, with a flat base that adds a full two inches to the width) is not one of the curved new-look Gateway models. You must remove eight screws with a screwdriver to gain access to its interior. Inside, you'll find room to set up shop: five internal drive bays, with one occupied by that giant SCSI drive, and five external drive bays, with three occupied by the floppy disk drive, the DVD drive and the tape backup. Intel's Portland system board with its 440FX chipset provides three PCI slots, all of which were taken (by the sound card, the media processor and the SCSI card); two ISA slots, one of which was occupied by the TelePath x2 (56Kb per second) modem; and one shared ISA/PCI slot, taken by the video card. You'll also find the usual bevy of ports, including USB.
That Vivitron monitor has a .30mm stripe pitch on its Trinitron tube, and its performance was awesome. Its crisp, distortion-free images were mated to simple, comprehensive on-screen controls. Not only was it a treat to use, but it made the DVD component more pleasurable. You can actually watch a movie from a more comfortable chair across the room.
Naturally, Gateway's 104-key keyboard had the Windows 95 keys and a good tactile feel. The Boston Acoustics speakers and subwoofer paired perfectly with the Ensoniq sound card for incredible clarity and definition, with a deep, well-defined bass. They really enhanced the DVD video playback (which includes digital sound) and were also great just for playing audio CDs.
Software includes Microsoft Office 97 Small Business Edition, a range of MMX titles (Imagination Pilot's Eraser Turnabout, Ubi Soft's Pod and DK Multimedia's The Ultimate Human Body 2.0) and a DVD title (which was not finalized at press time). The disc that came with our evaluation system was a demo disc of movie trailers from Warner Brothers. DVD's ability to change languages (or camera angles, though it's doubtful much software at present includes multiple camera angles), go to subtitles, jump to specific chapters or watch a digital frame-by-frame advance promises to change the way we watch movies. It also gives users the ability to have the largest reference databases on a single disc.
The G6-266XL we tested was a dual-boot system; performance scores under both operating systems were very good. Under Windows 95, the G6-266XL racked up averages of 558MIPS, 161MFLOPS, 79MB-per-second cached disk throughput and 46Mpixel-per-second video throughput. The G6-266XL executed our new application macros in 41 seconds for Word, 91 seconds for Excel and 10.95 minutes for our Photoshop/DeBabelizer/MMX script. NT 4.0 ran somewhat faster, producing 560MIPS, 166MFLOPS, 111MBps cached disk throughput and 49Mpixel-per-second video. Our new Word macro ran in an average time of 42 seconds, Excel ran in 88 seconds, and our MMX script ran in 10.47 minutes.
Another DVD system, the Toshiba Infinia 7220 (see WinLab Reviews, April) sells for $1,300 less than this Gateway, but the bang you get for the extra buck is well worth it-higher performance, a much better monitor, better speakers, nearly three times the hard disk space, a tape backup unit and much more expansion room.
The price of this system puts it out of reach for many consumers, and it's probably overkill for the typical corporate desktop. But for the power user/enthusiast who lives to have the most powerful, completely equipped system with all the latest bells and whistles, the G6-266XL with DVD is the only system to have. It earns a spot on our WinList.