200-Mhz Compaq Desktop can compete with some of the best

In its entry-level Deskpro 2000, Compaq Computer Corp. has a winner.

The GCN Lab received an early unit just off the production line. It came with a 200-MHz
Pentium CPU and 32M of extended-data-out RAM but lacked the eight-speed CD-ROM drive
that's available on other Deskpros for about $249 extra.

The test system suffered slightly from its entry-level status, yet its scores on the
GCNdex32 benchmarks were on par with three other Pentium 200s the lab has tested. The
video score of 5.67, indicating 5.67 times the video performance of a baseline 66-MHz 486
PC, was the second-highest we've ever seen for a Pentium desktop.

The Deskpro 2000 comes standard with an integrated Cirrus Logic 5436 video accelerator
and 1M EDO video memory that's expandable to 2M. The test unit had 2M; I recommend that
you opt for the 1M extra.

I was extremely impressed by the GCNdex large-file access speed score of 4.1--the
highest ever seen in the GCN Lab, even for Pentium Pro workstations. The 1G Quantum Corp.
hard drive reacted very quickly to CPU commands.

Benchmarks aside, the Deskpro 2000 lacked some desirable features that Compaq will put
into the Deskpro 4000 series: toolless entry, PCI/ISA card cage, removable motherboard and
security notification whenever the case is opened.

Even so, the 2000's two thumbscrews were pretty easy to open, though I needed a
screwdriver to pry off the tight casing. The interior looked a lot like Compaq's Presario
line, with an extra shared PCI/ISA slot for a total of four slots in the low-profile
desktop chassis.

The motherboard could be accessed by removing a support bar and the PCI/ISA
daughtercard. Four single in-line memory module slots for EDO RAM were easy to reach.

Compaq gets my kudos for its new external bay design. Previously, installing a CD-ROM
drive in the 5 1/4 inch bay meant buying an extra bracket screw rail, about $17 from
government resellers. No more. The new Deskpros have at least eight screws on the chassis
under the faceplate. Screw them into the CD-ROM drive or other device, slide it into place
and tighten from the accessible side--it's that simple and at no extra cost, even for the

At a $2,560 street price without monitor, the Deskpro 2000 costs more than a similarly
configured system from Gateway 2000 Inc., priced just under $2,000, or a Dell Computer
Corp. OptiPlex around $2,500. But the extra cost may be worth it for Compaq's convenient
Intelligent Manageability feature for networks, ease of interior access, excellent
performance and overall quality. Government pricing, available soon, should be lower.

Speaking of value, whether or not you buy the Deskpro 2000, take a close look at
Compaq's $729 V70 17-inch monitor with 15.67-inch viewable area. Its closest competitor,
Panasonic's PanaSync/Pro C-1729P, and a few others cost about $100 less, but the V70's
quality puts it ahead of the pack.

The contrast and brightness are hardware-controlled; degaussing, position, size and
other adjustments are handled by three small buttons. The screen is very tight and crisp
with 0.28-millimeter dot pitch. On close examination, the PanaSync and V70 look almost
like twins.

Compaq wouldn't tell me who makes its CRT screens except to confirm it isn't Sony
Corp., maker of the popular Trinitron.

That said, the V70's biggest claim to fame is in back. A removable panel covers the
plugs for VGA input and power, which point downward instead of out. This has two big

The first is saving space, because 17-inch monitors tend to be very deep--about 18
inches. Cords sticking out the back add another 2 inches. On a standard 30-inch-wide desk,
that leaves less than a foot of work area.

The V70 is 17 1/2 inches deep, and you don't have to give up another 2 inches for the

The second advantage: a much more pleasing appearance in open offices or anywhere the
backs of monitors can be seen. And the V70 is Apple Macintosh-compatible right out of the

All these pluses add up to make the Deskpro 2000 extremely desirable. Compaq always has
been a solid company, but the new Deskpros might just push it ahead of the two current
federal PC leaders, Gateway 2000 and Dell.

Deskpro 2000 Model 5200/1080

Compaq Computer Corp., Houston; tel. 703-758-8852


Price: $2,560

Overall grade: A-

+ Excellent performance, especially for a value-priced PC

+ Very accessible, but keep a flat-head screwdriver handy

[-] Less expensive than before, though you can find better deals

GCNdex32 scores

Deskpro 2000 Average 200-MHz Pentium

Integer math: 4.48 4.48

Floating-point math: 2.16 2.19

Video: 5.67 5.6

Small-file disk access: 3.75 3.64

Large-file access: 4.1 3.54


Review at a glance

V70 monitor

Compaq Computer Corp., Houston; tel. 703-758-8852


Price: $729

Overall grade: A-

+ Good image with tight pixels and appropriate controls

+ Attractive, space-saving design

[-] Lacks Sony Trinitron crispness

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