Millennia clients score high on lab benchmark

The two versions of this desktop client use different processors with good results: high speed and attractive price

The latest 3.07-GHz Millennia desktop clients from MPC Computers Inc., formerly MicronPC LLC, are lightning-fast office workhorses.

They averaged more than 7,000 on the GCN Lab's benchmark suite from Alterion Corp. of Conshohocken, Pa., shattering the Compaq Evo W4000's record of 6,077.

The first thing we noticed was the outdated, off-white chassis design with interior clutter. MPC has since begun a redesign for toolless entry.

A Millennia client generally costs more than $3,000 with all the bells and whistles. But MPC has aggressively priced this year's offerings, making them available without peripherals and with a choice of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Athlon or Intel Pentium 4 processors.

The two towers

The P4 Millennia 910i with 256M of RAM starts at about $950 without monitor. A 910a AMD equivalent starts at $799. As configured for our tests, the 910i cost $2,499 and the 910a, $1,999.

We tested both clients with memory- and processor-intensive programs used in computer-aided design and graphics manipulation.

Both towers had 512M of double-data-rate RAM, 40G Ultra ATA/100 hard drives capable of 7,200 revolutions per minute, and 48X-12X-48X CD-rewritable drives. The two towers differed only in processor, graphics card, price tag and benchmark score.

Averaging 7,905, the Millennia 910i with a 533-MHz front-side bus could blow the doors off most clients the lab has tested.

On the graphics side, the Millennia's Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4600 graphics card helped the 910i catapult to a benchmark score of 10,000 on one test'the highest score the lab has yet recorded.

The 910a's 128M of DDR graphics memory and Athlon XP 2800+ processor kept graphics-intensive operations running smoothly. Despite a slightly lower benchmark score, the 910a performed better overall than its Intel counterpart.

In three out of five tests the AMD system edged the Intel by 50 to 200 points. But in two tests the Intel scored high: 9,100 and 10,000. Those two scores pushed the 910i ahead of the 910a's 7,563 average. The difference wasn't enough for users to notice, however.

The 910i's erratic performance implied some operational inconsistency, borne out by two crashes in one week. Although we weren't sure why the 910i was less stable, we suspect the 910a's stability came from the Athlon XP, which Microsoft Corp. co-engineered with AMD specifically for Windows XP.

Video cards played the determining role in overall benchmark scores. When the 910i's 128M Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4600 went up against the 910a's 128M GeForce4 Ti4200, their main difference'besides the $200 in price'was that the former could handle up to 1.23 trillion operations per second compared with the latter's 1.03 trillion operations per second.

Another difference: The Ti4600 could process 10G of data per second, whereas the Ti4200 processed a maximum of 8G.

So the Millennia 910i had a more robust graphics card that could emulate more data more quickly. It was noticeable in 3-D applications, but on the Microsoft Excel portion of the benchmark suite the results were reversed.

Both Millennias performed well above the norm. The AMD version did better overall, especially in price.

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