Performs like a high-priced workstation

The Digital PC 5510­a reasonably priced, fast workstation loaded with software­performs like a high-priced CAD workstation. I tested a 300MHz Pentium II with 32MB of RAM, a 4GB Ultra direct memory access (DMA) hard disk, a CD-ROM drive, and a 17" PCXBV-FZ monitor. The workstation has Intel's 440LX chipset, an Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) add-on card, a Crystal Audio chip, a Digital PCI 10/100Base-TX Autosense Ethernet controller, and a PCI Bus Master EIDE with Ultra DMA/33 disk controllers integrated onto the motherboard. The Digital PC 5510 I tested came with Windows NT Workstation 4.0 with Service Pack 3 (SP3), Internet Explorer (IE), Zero Administration Kit (ZAK), Adobe Acrobat Reader, AltaVista Search My Computer, and Digital ClientWORKS Desktop Management Interface (DMI) software. (For example, if the system overheats, ClientWORKS alerts the Simple Network Management Protocol--SNMP-based administrative console.) The Digital PC 5510 also supports Windows 95 and Novell NetWare.

I tested Microsoft's Visual C++ compiler, Borland Delphi compiler, Word 98, CorelDRAW, FrontPage 98, and the graphics- and processor-intensive game Quake 2 on the Digital PC 5510. The results were exceptional: Program load times were short and screen draws were fast.

Security Features
The Digital PC 5510 provides three security features: SecureBOX, SecureBIOS, and SecureON. SecureBOX protects the system's cabinet enclosure from tampering and theft. This security feature works even if you disconnect the power cord, because SecureBOX uses power stored on the motherboard. If SecureBOX detects someone trying to open the cabinet cover's security latch, it stores the information on the motherboard and reports the event to an administrator. ClientWORKS lets you monitor the cabinet intrusion events that SecureBOX records. SecureBOX must report the event over an Ethernet network. Because SecureBOX doesn't function if you take the workstation off site, you must monitor your network connections vigilantly.

Like many computers, the Digital PC 5510 uses a flash BIOS, so you can upgrade the workstation with software instead of replacing the BIOS chip. The unit's BIOS, which also incorporates Plug-and-Play (PnP) technology, automatically detects the hardware on the system (e.g., sound card or hard disk) when you boot up. When the system detects this hardware, it writes the hardware parameters back to the BIOS. Thus, you must write-enable the BIOS. However, a write-enabled BIOS can make the system vulnerable to corruption. Digital's SecureBIOS feature protects the system BIOS from corruption because it blocks write operations to all sections of the system BIOS except the PnP area.

The Digital PC 5510 uses an Ethernet packet called Magic Packet, a series of 16 specialized packets that it sends to the network card media access control (MAC) address. The system interprets this action as a signal to power on and boot up. Digital's SecureON feature incorporates a password into the Magic Packet so you can power up a remote system securely.

Additional Benefits
The Digital PC 5510 is easy to work on. You don't need tools to access the system's cabinet, cover, or motherboard. The motherboard contains the components, so you can use the system's PCI/ISA slots for add-on cards. You can also disable and replace the components built into the system BIOS.

A CD-ROM drive, a 3.5" disk, and a hard disk occupy three of the Digital PC 5510's six drive bays. You can use the other three bays, one 3.5" and two 5.25", for additional devices.

The Verdict
According to the Windows NT Magazine Lab, the Digital PC 5510 outpaced other Digital systems equipped with 533MHz Alpha chips. (For information about the Digital PC 3500, see "Digital PC 3500," page 114.) On AIM Technology's Workstation Benchmark for Windows NT Peak and Sustained Performance tests, the Digital PC 5510 scored 515 and 180.7, respectively. (For more information about AIM Technology's benchmark, visit AIM's Web site at http://www.aim.com.)

If you're in the market for a new Pentium II-based PC workstation, consider the Digital PC 5510. The system's speed saves you time, and its easy-access case, DMI capabilities, and bundled software help justify the cost.

Digital PC 5510
Contact: Digital Equipment * 978-493-5111 or 800-344-4825
Web: http://www.digital.com
Price: $1899
System Configuration: 300MHz Pentium II processor, Windows NT Workstation 4.0, 32MB of RAM, CD-ROM drive, Digital PC 5510