All eight PC clients had to have identical specifications

All eight PC clients had to have identical specifications

The GCN Lab asked PC makers to submit 550-MHz Pentium III clients for this comparison review. Eight minitowers met our specifications:

  • 128M of RAM
  • One 7,200-rpm Enhanced IDE hard drive storing 8G to 13G, one EIDE CD-ROM drive and one integrated Iomega Zip 100M drive
  • A 16M video accelerator
  • Sound on the PCI bus with basic or integrated business-audio speakers
  • A 100-Mbps network adapter on the PCI bus
  • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Workstation with Service Pack 5.

The lab staff checked each PC for compliance. Those with operating systems earlier than Service Pack 5 were upgraded before testing. The only system that didn't meet all specifications was SGI's, which lacked a Zip drive and received a deduction from its features and configuration score.

All the PCs were connected to the GCN Lab network. Following the same order and process each time, the lab staff loaded and executed Ziff-Davis Business Operation benchmark suites.

Detailed disclosures of the individual results appear on the Web at

Once benchmark testing was completed, the staff checked the systems for year 2000 readiness using Norton 2000 2.0 from Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif. All passed.

After a month of testing, including client management tool testing, the systems were turned off and disconnected for internal inspection.

Systems received grades in three areas: Usability, features and configuration, and performance. Usability, which accounted for 40 percent of the overall grade, is a measure of how easy a system was to learn and use.

Taking into account client manageability and accessibility, the lab reviewers considered abstractions such as whether a product was found to be user friendly or frustrating.

Features and configuration characteristics, which made up 30 percent of the overall grade, weighed the presence and completeness of manageability tools, plus quantifiable aspects such as proper configuration. Industrial design and engineering quality were considered in this score, as well as room for expansion and adherence to standards.

Performance, which made up 30 percent of the overall grade, came from scores on the following ZD benchmarks: Business Winstone 99, High-end Winstone 99, CPUmark 99, Business Graphics WinMark, High-end Graphics WinMark, Business Disk WinMark and High-end Disk WinMark. The scores from all benchmark tests, which were run at 1,024- by 768-pixel resolution and 32-bit color depth, were weighted equally.

GCN Lab assistant Donovan Campbell assisted in the testing.

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