Equium makes powerful, inexpensive desktop system

Equium makes powerful, inexpensive desktop system

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

I had high expectations for the fastest Celeron processor yet seen in the GCN Lab and, for the most part, the 500-MHz Toshiba Equium 7300D met them.

The Equium case has always been easy-entry. When Dell Computer Corp. and others went the route of a detachable side and thumbscrew, Toshiba instead opted for a drawerlike flip-down corner and a motherboard that slides out of its mounting for service.

Removing the Equium 7300D's motherboard is no problem'but don't forget to turn off the power first.

The thinking behind it was that completely removing the motherboard and cards cleared the way for easier upgrades and fixes.

Toshiba has not always implemented the design philosophy successfully. In an earlier Equium examined in the lab, the motherboard was wedged so tightly it had to be pried out. Its jagged edges sliced open the fingers of a reviewer working with the unit [GCN, March 15, 1999, Page 41].

Toshiba cleared up the problem. The new case had no sharp edges, and the motherboard fitted its slide-out track. Slight pressure dislodged it; the motherboard glided back in just as easily.

Of course, it's important to first disconnect any cables that are plugged into cards and turn the power off. Sliding the motherboard out with power on could endanger both the hardware and the troubleshooter. Toshiba should supply an autodetection feature that powers down when the case is opened.

Needs work

Box Score '''''''''''''''''''''

Equium 7300D

Business desktop PC

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.; Irvine, Calif.;

tel. 800-477-1616


Price: $1,277

+ Easy-access case and fast processor

+ Stands horizontally or vertically

' Power and control buttons poorly configured

Features and ConfigurationA
Benchmark PerformanceA
ZD's Business Windstone 9929.4
About two times faster than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX
ZD's Business Windstone 9923.8
About 24 percent faster than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX

The overall grade comprises scores for three factors: usability (40 percent), features and configuration (30 percent), and performance (30 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.1. For benchmark information, visit www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.

The case can be set up horizontally or vertically, which is nothing new, but the DVD-ROM drive has a unique switch for vertical operation. A spring-loaded peg holds the disk in place sideways.

But the case design still needs improvement. The reset and power buttons are too close and look nearly identical. When the unit stands horizontally, the power button is in a perfect spot to get bumped off by the corner of the keyboard.

Toshiba has made a third button, a sleep-inducing silver orb, larger than the rest. It would have been much better to enlarge the power button.

The Equium benchmarked well with its 500-MHz Celeron processor backed up by a large 128K cache and 256M of synchronous dynamic RAM. The 100-MHz system bus, nearly industry-standard for Pentium III processors, is unusual for Celeron designs.

The huge 17G hard drive was by default partitioned into a relatively tiny main 2G drive, leaving the rest of the capacity as a second disk.

Bad break

The test unit's integrated network card did not work. Review units often get banged around in repeated shipping, but finding a major component broken was worrisome. Nevertheless, I gave Toshiba the benefit of the doubt that the failure was an isolated incident.

Overall, the 7300D performed well for a Celeron desktop system.

The case design makes getting into the guts a lot easier than with most PCs, and the price is attractive for agencies that want to equip large numbers of employees with powerful and affordable computers.

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