Dell Latitude gets attitude with 166-MHz MMX chip

The Latitude LM M166ST, Dell Computer's new 166-MHz Pentium MMX notebook, produced
rocket-like performance gains-24 percent to 47 percent faster than Pentium notebooks-on
GCN Lab benchmarks.

 It is the first 166-MHz Pentium MMX notebook the GCN Lab has reviewed. Even with the
faster chip, the PC's battery life was long.

 On desktop PCs, the MMX Pentium microprocessor boosted performance by only 10
percent. But the 166-MHz MMX chip is the fastest ever for portables-150 MHz was the prior
speed limit.

 And its motherboard bus has increased velocity, too, up to 66 MHz from the 60 MHz
available on 150-MHz Pentium notebooks.

 These boosts will likely lead portable patriots to switch allegiance from their
plain Pentiums to the new MMX chip.

 The largest gain in our GCNdex32TM benchmark suite came for video-almost double the
speed of the same 128-bit NeoMagic Corp. graphics accelerator in the Dell Latitude XPi
P150ST [GCN, Oct. 7, 1996, Page 1].  

The MMX notebook's video scores-in fact, all of its GCNdex32 scores-were the highest
we've ever recorded for a portable. Even CD-ROM and hard-drive access improved, as
small-file scores jumped 24 percent and large-file scores 34 percent.

 Your mileage may be even better. The test notebook had 16-bit file access, but
buyers of the LM M166ST most likely will read and write to the 2.1G hard drive via 32-bit
file access.

 As to design, Dell also has made some improvements over the Latitude XPi P150ST, its
former leading portable model.

 The 800- by 600-pixel, active-matrix display has gotten brighter and has consistent
luminosity. And at 7 pounds, the new notebook is about a half-pound lighter.

 During the lab's maximum battery drain test, the notebook survived two hours with
CD-ROM, hard drive and video all going full tilt. Under normal conditions, you can expect
312 to 4 hours from one lithium-ion battery. The option bay that holds the 10X CD-ROM or
312-inch floppy drive can accept a second battery to double life span.  

Just above the keyboard, an LCD indicator shows battery life and whether the notebook
is plugged in. 

These readouts proved accurate. But Dell's power management software did not. Accidentally
loaded on the notebook, the software showed the battery always on the verge of failure and
never registered when the computer was plugged into AC current.

 A Dell technician said only the Microsoft Windows 95 power management software would
give correct results for the notebook, and he was right. The Win95 icons were accurate.

 Overall, the LM M166ST makes an excellent addition to Dell's portable line. With the
MMX Pentium's extra power, this notebook will prove hard to resist.


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