Dell adds its Dimension to MAS, countering Gateway and Micron

The two lines differ in more than just price. Dimension usually gets new components
first-for example, it probably will come out with 6.4G hard drives six months earlier than
OptiPlex and will be first with the Pentium II processor, Intel Corp.'s Pentium Pro with
MMX technology.

 Because Dimension uses Intel motherboards, installing the newest processor in them
is faster. Dell designs the OptiPlex motherboards.

 OptiPlex tends to upgrade to new technologies three to six months after
introduction, following compatibility testing. The OptiPlex line is optimized for eight
operating systems, Dimension for just two: Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0
Workstation. OptiPlex has the high-end Desktop Management Interface; Dimension may get
low-end DMI.
 


OptiPlex tends to have a longer life cycle, about 112 years. A particular version of
Dimension is available, on average, for 10 months.

 OptiPlex is more administrator-friendly with an easily opened, recyclable chassis.
Dimension has a harder-to-open side panel. The Dimension chassis is the same used by
Micron Electronics Inc. of Nampa, Idaho [GCN, March 31, Page 30], but Dell
officials said they are working on alterations or a possible new design.

 The GCN Lab examined a Dimension XPS M200s system with 200-MHz MMX Pentium, 512K
pipeline burst cache, 4.3G hard drive, 32M RAM, 4M Matrox MGA Millennia video card,
WaveTable sound, 10/100-megabit/sec 3Com Corp. network interface card and Universal Serial
Bus. This system is priced at $2,095, without monitor, on GS-35F-4076D.

 Benchmark performance was among the best the lab has seen for a 200-MHz MMX Pentium,
outpacing the OptiPlex GXi and Gs+ for video and disk access. That's not surprising
because the OptiPlex hard drives were only 2G. The larger the drive, the faster the
access. The Dimension had a 12X CD-ROM drive, the OptiPlex models had 8X drives.

 Of the Dimension's two 514-inch and three 312-inch external bays, one and two were
vacant, respectively. It had one shared, two ISA and three PCI card slots with all but two
PCI slots vacant, and two dual in-line memory modules with one available.
 


This spells plenty of room for expansion-generally more than on the OptiPlex. But the
Dimension's interior lacked the easy OptiPlex access to components.

 Its bare-bones motherboard integrated only sound, with video and networking
available via PCI cards. In contrast, OptiPlex can integrate video and networking into the
motherboard, leaving card space free.

 Overall, Dimension should add new dimension to Dell's federal marketplace, but it
could eat into OptiPlex sales.

 Contact Dell Federal at 800-829-1180.


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