Gateway takes E-3200 in right direction, but not far enough

Pros and cons:
+  Improved chassis design
– Arrived without integrated Ethernet card’s drivers loaded or working


Gateway Inc. finally seems to be grasping the enterprise PC game. The
easy-access, low-profile chassis for the E-3200 proves the South Dakota company is serious
about building network clients, which account for nine out of every 10 government PCs.


But the essential network interface card did not work at first. In fact, the first
E-3200 test unit arrived dead, and I sent it back. The second worked for the most part,
although I could not get Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 to acknowledge the
NIC’s existence, and NIC drivers were missing or impossible to find on Gateway’s
CD-ROM.


The CD of system drivers and other handy tools was hard to use and confusingly
organized. The front end failed to mention any drivers. I browsed and found some from
various vendors but, because the operating system could not see the NIC, I was uncertain
which driver to load.


Out of curiosity, I loaded Beta 2 of Windows 2000 Professional, the successor to NT
Workstation 4.0. Microsoft Corp. promised Plug and Play with Win 2000 Pro, and this little
test showed it just might deliver. After a seamless upgrade, Win 2000 Pro located the NIC
and installed the appropriate drivers.


The E-3200 performed as expected—that is, a little better than an average 400-MHz
Pentium II desktop system except for the integrated graphics accelerator, which completed
2-D video tests about 25 percent faster than average. The test system had several
upgrades: 128M of RAM, a 21-inch monitor and speakers.


The small-form-factor chassis can sit flat or on its end. Access to the interior via a
single thumbscrew and two latches is easier than for any previous system in this series.


Gateway has moved the chassis intrusion cable that formerly blocked access to the
interior card slots, and the intrusion switch is now integrated on top of the card riser.


Gateway needs to take care of more of the little details that earn administrators’
brand loyalty. The E-3200 does show design improvements over the E-3110 and even the
E-4200. But it lacks the lagniappe to play a strong enterprise role.





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