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-- by Jonathan Blackwood
Having a dual-processor system may appeal to you because you think it will provide unbridled power for all your applications. We looked at Xi Corp.'s 532 PII MTower, a dual 266MHz Pentium II system, and found that, unless your application is dual-processor enabled, you may be disappointed.
This system is nicely configured: Besides the dual PIIs, there's an IBM 4.32GB (nominal) Ultra-Wide SCSI hard disk, 65MB of SDRAM, 512KB of level 2 cache, a Number Nine Imagine 128 Series II video card with 4MB of RAM, an excellent 17-inch (15.8-inch viewable) ViewSonic Optiquest monitor, a Hitachi 16X CD-ROM drive, a Creative Labs AWE32 sound card matched to Altec Lansing ACS45 speakers and subwoofer, and a 33.6Kb-per-second U.S. Robotics Sportster modem.
Wintune clocked this dual-boot system at a stunning 1029MIPS under NT. Other results were good, but not as impressive: 163MB-per-second cached-disk throughput and 45Mpixel-per-second video throughput. Application performance was also good, but not earth-shattering: It took an average of 40 and 86 seconds, respectively, to run our new Word and Excel macros.
Though this system is billed as an AutoCAD workstation, its performance on our new AutoCAD R14 benchmark-7 seconds to open and 28 seconds to render-was no better under NT than that of the single-processor 266MHz Gateway 2000 G6-266XL system on our WinList (7 and 26 seconds). On the other benchmarks, under NT, the Gateway scored 560MIPS, 111MBps cached-disk throughput and 49Mpixel-per-second video throughput. Application macro times averaged 42 seconds for Word and 88 seconds for Excel.
If you regularly use software that makes use of multiple processors, the Xi 532 PII MTower is well worth considering. If not, put your money into additional RAM or a larger monitor. At present, it will yield you greater dividends.