Intel's brand new 333-MHz Pentium II gives PCs a boost

Desktop computers benefit from the clock-speed boost more than notebooks do, according
to benchmark scores of two Compaq Computer Corp. PCs powered by the new chips.


The 333-MHz Pentium II scored 11.1 percent higher than its predecessor on the GCN Lab's
GCNdex32TM integer and floating-point math tests.


Its extra oomph comes from the 0.25-micron fabrication process that Intel also uses for
its Tillamook portable processors.


The 266-MHz portable Pentium MMX had a 5.5 percent improvement on the GCNdex.


Compaq's 333-MHz Deskpro 6333X/4300/CDS performed flawlessly--better than any previous
Deskpro examined by the lab. Its 8M Matrox Millennium video card achieved the highest-ever
GCNdex video score: 25.13.


Another goodie in the new Deskpro was a slot-load drive for CD-ROMs, reducing the
number of moving parts and eliminating a tray that might break accidentally.


Moreover, the Deskpro almost doubled its hard-drive access scores compared to the
266-MHz version the lab reviewed in the fall [GCN, Oct. 13, 1997, Page 32].


Although the new Deskpro's Ultra SCSI drive isn't the fastest to come through the lab,
it garnered average scores for a high-end Pentium II desktop PC. Most Compaq systems
reviewed by GCN recently have had lower-than-average scores for hard-drive access.


The Armada 7792DMT, Compaq's latest portable, initially had dismal hard-drive scores of
lower than 1.0. It ran slower than a 66-MHz 486 baseline PC's 1G drive.


A Compaq engineer suggested we delete the xwin32.vxd file. After a cold boot, the
drive's score shot up to 3.0 for small files and 2.97 for large ones. That's still not
fast but is more in line with other Pentium MMX portables tested in the GCN Lab.


The xwin32.vxd file is part of Compaq's Intelligent Manageability functions under the
Desktop Management Interface 2.0.


It's safe to delete the file from any Compaq computer that runs Intelligent
Manageability 3.5 and the Microsoft Windows 95B operating system.


To check for the presence of Windows 95B, also known as OSR2, open the Control Panel
and double-click the System icon. The General tab should read, "System: Microsoft
Windows 95 4.00.950 B."


Compaq personnel said that future notebooks would not have this rogue file that slows
drive performance so drastically.


Otherwise, the notebook performed adequately. Its 13.3-inch XGA active-matrix display
gave crisper, brighter images than some earlier Armada 7700s did.


The graphics accelerator performed well, earning a 7.94 mark. It didn't quite equal the
all-time-best portable GCNdex score of 8.36, achieved by the 233-MHz Armada 7770DMT [GCN, Nov. 10, 1997, Page 1].


Then again, that notebook's 12.1-inch display had only SuperVGA resolution, not the
1,024- by 768-pixel resolution of the 7792's 13.3-inch screen.


The faster processor, larger display and 5G hard drive cut battery life by 30 minutes
to less than 1 1/2 hours on the GCN Lab's maximum drain test. In normal use with power
management, a user can expect to get 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours.


The Armada 7792's improvements are marginal. A 233-MHz Pentium MMX Armada 7790 still
does almost as well.


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