Durango, AlphaStation 500, Personal Workstation 200i, APRI-31M/P200, Vectra XA 6/200, TDZ-410, Millennia Pro2 360 Plus

NT Graphics Workstations Roundup
As more people undertake home-grown 3D animation projects and engineers embrace Windows NT as a new standard for 3D CAD, more vendors are penetrating the graphics workstation market. Silicon Graphics MIPS once ruled the 3D virtual roost, then Digital Alphas and Intergraph Pentium Pros began to make inroads into the market. Now every manufacturer with a high-end Pentium Pro (or even a Pentium) system with a 3D accelerator card claims substantial offerings in this field. The Windows NT Magazine Lab picked seven representative machines well- suited for CAD, 3D render-farms, video editing, 2D compositing, or other compute-intensive graphics work, and reviewed their features and performance. The Lab chose some beefy systems--both Intel Pentium Pro and Digital 21164 Alpha platforms--with 64MB to 128MB of RAM, graphics accelerators, and fast SCSI disks. (For a summary of the systems the Lab tested, see "What We Tested." Because not all the systems had NT 4.0 drivers at the beginning of the Lab's tests, we tested everything under NT 3.51. All systems now offer NT 4.0 drivers.

One remarkable feature about all these powerful systems stands out: reasonable price. Barely six months ago, machines with this kind of power cost in the $8000 to $40,000 range. Now, you can get 500MHz Alpha systems or dual-processor 200MHz Pentium Pros for less than $5000; a single Pentium Pro or 466MHz Alpha costs less than $3000. With the price of memory and disks dropping significantly every month, you can build the ultimate desktop computer without taking a second mortgage on your house.

Alpha or Pentium Pro?
Because the Lab tested both Intel and Alpha-based systems, you might wonder which kind to buy. The decision used to be easy: If money was no object and you absolutely had to have the best possible performance, you bought an Alpha-based workstation; if performance was important but compatibility and affordability were paramount, then you went for a Pentium Pro. Not so anymore. Digital's FX!32 solved the Alpha's compatibility problem by providing a high-performance emulator/translator for Intel Win32 programs. (Some applications run faster in translation on the Alpha than they run native on the Pentium Pro--and the list of programs verified as functional under FX!32 is almost endless.) In the next six months, Alpha systems will continue to drop in price, and you'll see faster versions of existing chips, dual-processor workstations, and new chip designs such as the 21264 and 21164PC. You can look forward to 600MHz systems in the $5000 to $10,000 range, based on a new motherboard design from Digital Semiconductor.

In short, for 2D graphics work that requires a wide variety of software (such as Photoshop, Fractal Design Painter, or Adobe Premiere), you're better off with a well-equipped Pentium Pro system. For 3D animation or CAD work, an Alpha is your best bet because its native software blows the doors off the equivalent Intel versions. If you do a lot of simulation work (OpenGL for virtual reality or animation previews), then either Pentium Pro or Alpha with an OpenGL accelerated display card is fine.

Review Me
Each system possesses unique features, high points, and low points. The reviews that follow describe these items and provide general information about architecture, upgrade capability, and performance (plus some personal observations about these boxes). In "Over the Long Haul," page 65, we summarize the usability and reliability of other systems we've used in the Lab for six or more months. Although no longer considered top-of-the-line models, these machines and their long-term performance may surprise you.


Aspen Systems Durango
(All prices are without monitor)

The market offers a new breed of Alpha-based computers at price/performance points far below last year's models. For example, the high-end 300MHz Alpha workstation from Aspen Systems, the Summit, priced out at more than $17,000 last year (see "Experience Alpha!," March 1996). The Durango, a new high-end 433MHz 21164A system from Aspen Systems, costs less than $6000 with 128MB of RAM, a Dynamic Pictures OpenGL accelerator card, and an Ultra-SCSI hard disk.

Aspen Systems (an OEM for Digital Equipment) designs and builds reliable, high-performance system boards. The Durango, based on Digital's Alpha PC 164 motherboard, is Aspen Systems's latest-generation uniprocessor system. (Twin Peaks, Aspen's own dual-processor 500MHz system--with upgrade potential to 700MHz when the chips become available--will be out by the time you read this review.)

Aspen Systems offers the Durango in minitower, rack-mount, and server-tower cases. The Lab's test Durango came in a full-tower case. It includes a 433MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM, a Seagate 2GB UltraSCSI Hawk hard disk, a Teac 6X CD-ROM drive (the Durango now ships with an NEC 8X CD-ROM drive), a Cogent (now Adaptec) Ethernet 10/100Mbps NIC, and a Dynamic Pictures V192-D02 OpenGL 3D video card. Not bad for less than $6000.

You can choose among several CPU speed options--from 366MHz to 500MHz--at different prices, of course (a $1300 disparity separates the 366 and 500). The system board can accommodate up to 512MB of parity RAM, with a user-selectable 128- or 256-bit data bus width. Aspen Systems and most other Alpha partners have switched this class of workstation from large (2MB or more) asynchronous Level 3 cache modules to 1MB synchronous cache (with a 128-bit path)--a move that offers less performance, but slightly reduces price.

System-wise, you get four PCI slots (two 64-bit, two 32-bit), four front-accessible 5.25" half-height drive bays (one taken by the CD-ROM), and two internal 3.5" bays. You have several PCI SCSI options, ranging from standard Fast to Ultra Fast and Wide. Your 3D OpenGL video card options include the Dynamic Pictures cards with 1MB to 32MB of texture memory.

The Windows NT Magazine Lab has had good luck with Aspen Systems computers. The Durango is a top performer for the price (its overall SYSmark/NT score--604--was second highest among the systems tested), and the computers make excellent 3D animation, CAD, video-editing, or all-around high-performance systems. The Durango systems can function as low- to midrange application servers (if you use Alpha-native software, such as SQL Server or Oracle). The full-tower and server-tower cases contain enough drive bays to accommodate a substantial amount of data, and if you add a RAID controller card, you have a reasonably powerful, fault-tolerant database server.

Aspen Systems
303-431-4606 or 800-992-9242
Web: http://www.aspsys.com
Price: $5995 (as configured)

Digital AlphaStation 500
At the high end of its workstation market, Digital Equipment offers crossover systems for Windows NT and UNIX/VMS. The Windows NT Magazine Lab reviewed the AlphaStation 500 with a 333MHz 21164 chip and 128MB of RAM. The system came with a 4GB hard disk, a 4X CD-ROM, and a ZLXp-L2 OpenGL accelerated graphics card. Unfortunately, the AlphaStations are still priced like UNIX boxes--higher than other workstations. For the 333MHz, 128MB of RAM configuration without a monitor, you can expect to pay $20,965. For the high-end graphics card (the PowerStorm 4D40), add $4000 to the price. And if you want to dual-boot NT and UNIX or OpenVMS, add another $2000. I'm glad I don't do UNIX anymore!

The AlphaStation is a heavy-duty, large, purple, pizza box--and you can put a 21" monitor on top without squashing the system. The AlphaStation doesn't overflow with expansion capabilities; it has only one 64-bit and three 32-bit PCI slots. But because equipment such as Fast and Wide SCSI and 10Mbps Ethernet controllers are built onto the motherboard, you don't have to use slots for basic peripherals. The AlphaStation comes with two front-accessible drive bays (one 5.25" half-height and one 3.5" half-height) and three internal 3.5" third-height bays.

Performance isn't a problem for the AlphaStation. Its integrated Fast and Wide SCSI-2 disk controller, 64-bit PCI bus (for total throughput of up to 264MB per second), and a 256-bit data bus can accommodate up to 512MB of RAM and a 500MHz CPU (the 500MHz models can hold up to 1GB of RAM, using higher density Dual Inline Memory Modules--DIMMs) with 2MB of asynchronous Level 3 cache. All models have 16-bit CD-ROM-quality audio and headphone and microphone connectors for full-duplex operation.

The AlphaStation experienced no performance problems with the test applications and OpenGL demos. I didn't test any FX!32 functionality on this particular system because I needed updated NT 4.0 drivers and an updated BIOS. I can't complain about the speed I extracted from the test applications--either 16-bit emulated or native. The AlphaStation's SYSmark/NT score of 553 was higher than other 333MHz systems the Lab tested during the past year (and not too far off the 604 score for Aspen Systems's Durango with a 433MHz CPU). Several Pentium Pro systems in this roundup scored higher than the AlphaStation, but remember that the score combines runtimes from different types of applications. The Alpha scores much better on 32-bit native floating point applications, and not so well on 16-bit non-native integer-intensive programs.

Is the AlphaStation 500 right for you? If you need the UNIX capability to continue your day-to-day work and you expect to migrate to NT, this system could be the way to go. (And you might not suffer much sticker-shock if you're accustomed to paying UNIX workstation prices.) Make no mistake--Digital's AlphaStations are UNIX systems that happen to work with NT; as a result, you pay a premium for them. If you're new to both NT and UNIX and want an Alpha-based system, you're probably better off with one of Digital's Personal Workstations or with a system from a Digital OEM partner.

Digital Equipment
800-344-4825
Web: http://www.digital.com
Price: $20,965 (as configured)
(All prices are without monitor)



Digital Personal Workstation 200i
Digital Equipment doesn't make just Alpha chips and systems--it also makes fast-moving, Intel-based servers and workstations. The Windows NT Magazine Lab reviewed the new Digital Personal Workstation 200i, which offers a new architecture, a new case design, new features, and better prices than Digital's older Celebris XL computers. Our test system came with 64MB of RAM, a single 200MHz Pentium Pro CPU, a 4GB Ultra Wide SCSI disk, and a 4MB Matrox Millennium video card.

Digital markets the Personal Workstation line--the 180I, 200i, and 200i2--to a different audience from its commercial desktop line, although both lines share some features (such as board components and cases). The Digital Personal Workstations are designed for high-end graphics applications, where performance and upgrade capability are key.

One important feature of the new workstations is the extent to which you can upgrade processors. Not only can you upgrade the speed of your Intel chip or go multiprocessor, but you can swap out your Pentium Pro for an Alpha simply by switching the processor board--without replacing the whole system or even the main system components (e.g., audio, network).

Digital improved the Celebris feature set for the Personal Workstations. Digital dropped the Pentium option and offers only Pentium Pro (180MHz or 200MHz) with dual-processor capability and the new Natoma chipset. Other enhancements include either Enhanced Data Output (EDO) or FastPage Error-Correcting Code (ECC) RAM (up to 512MB in the 200i2), UltraWide SCSI (a.k.a. SCSI 3) with a standard 2GB drive, EIDE, and an 8X CD-ROM, five standard PCI slots (two dedicated, three shared with the ISA bus), integrated 10Mbps Ethernet (100-TX available), integrated 16-bit audio, two Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, and even a MIDI port.

A new, easy-to-use minitower case houses the Personal Workstations. A riser board separates the main processor board from the rest of the system, so you can slide out the main processor board without detaching peripheral cards and a web of cables. The riser board holds the integrated peripherals (e.g., audio, Ethernet) and expansion slots, and connects to the rest of the system (e.g., SCSI, EIDE, graphics); all components are discrete and easy to remove when failures or upgrades occur. Rounding out the new design are three 5.25" front-accessible half-height drive bays, two internal 3.5" third-height bays, and a front-facing floppy bay.

Don't forget that Personal Workstations are graphics workstations. A Matrox Millennium graphics adapter is standard, but you can choose the PowerStorm or AccelPRO 2000 from AccelGraphics for OpenGL acceleration. A whole family of PowerStorm cards replace Digital's older ZLX 3D accelerators with various models designed for different functions, such as OpenGL 3D texture mapping, 2D or wireframe modeling, animation, and so forth.

Digital says that it sells solutions, not just systems. So, when you buy one of these workstations, you're buying hardware, technical support, a three-year warranty, verified NT hardware and software, and a real NT out-of-the-box experience--not Windows 95 with NT bolted on top. Plus, you can buy these systems through ordinary PC channels.

The 200i is a reliable, high-performance graphics system suitable for everything from word processing to 3D animation. After I loaded the appropriate drivers, I experienced no problems with the prototype system from Digital. Adding and removing cards was easy, and people in the Lab liked the easy access to the processor board. Although the Digital Personal Workstation isn't the lowest-priced system the Lab tested or the fastest (with a SYSmark/NT score of 589), I recommend these units to anyone looking for a high-end box that offers excellent upgrade options, performance, and Digital's well-known NT technical support.

Digital Equipment
800-344-4825
Web: http://www.digital.com
Price: $7000 (estimated street, as configured)
(All prices are without monitor)

DTK APRI-31M/P200
DTK Computer is a lesser known--but large--computer company that has produced computer systems since 1981. DTK sells most of its products to Value Added Resellers (VARs) who sometimes put their label on the system. That system in your office labeled with a local vendor name might be a DTK system.

The DTK APRI-31M/P200 comes on strong with a Pentium Pro 200, 64MB of Enhanced Data Output (EDO) RAM, a Seagate Barracuda 2.1GB SCSI-2 hard disk, a Teac 6X SCSI CD-ROM drive, Adaptec's 2940UW SCSI controller card, a 10/100Base-T LAN card, and Number Nine's Imagine 128 video card. DTK Computer backs all its systems with lifetime technical support and a two-year warranty, which includes parts and labor.

The tower case is a breeze to take apart--you don't need any tools. Just pull the bottom of the front cover, slide the shell back, pull up, and you're in. You can even easily remove the motherboard. The roomy case houses four 5.25" drive bays (one is for the CD-ROM drive), one 3.5" floppy drive, and four 3.5" internal drive bays (one of which is used by the 2GB hard disk). Three of the internal 3.5" drive bays and all four 5.25" drive bays are mounted on sliding rails with spring-loaded locking clips, so swapping drives is easy. The DTK case design is great if you need to get inside your system often.

The APRI Pentium Pro motherboard is built around the Intel 440FX PCI chipset and includes four PCI and two ISA expansion slots, with one shared PCI/ISA slot. The board has six SIMM sockets that let it hold up to 384MB of RAM. The motherboard includes two built-in enhanced IDE controllers, a floppy controller, two serial ports, and one printer port. The AMI Flash ROM BIOS Plug and Play supports power management features such as suspend, standby, normal, and off modes.

The APRI-31M/P200 was the fastest system the Windows NT Magazine Lab reviewed (with a SYSmark/NT score of 636), probably because of all the SCSI hardware, the fast hard disk, the Imagine 128 video card, and the well-designed motherboard. I liked its easy access for swapping drives. I experienced only minor problems--the cover was hard to slide back on, and the power switch sometimes didn't properly engage (I had to pop off the front panel to shut down the system). Installing new RAM modules is a hassle because the SIMM sockets are directly under the cable paths of the drives (sliding out the lower hard disks helps). Because most software uses sounds, I wish DTK included a sound card with this system. The Microsoft Natural keyboard supplied with the system was a nice touch. If you need a high-speed, easily configured, expandable system that's a cinch to take apart and reassemble, the DTK APRI-31M/P200 is an excellent value.

DTK Computer
800-289-2385
Web: http://www.dtkcomputer.com
Price: $3149 (as configured)
(All prices are without monitor)



HP Vectra XA 6/200
Just buy it and plug it in. The HP Vectra XA 6/200 comes with everything you need: speed, security, and convenience. You don't even need to buy a sound card because--as the commercial states--it's in there.

The HP Vectra XA 6/200 includes an Intel Pentium Pro 200MHz processor, 32MB of EDO RAM, a 2.5GB IDE hard disk, integrated PCI 10Base-T Ethernet controller, a Matrox Millennium video card, and an IDE 8X CD-ROM. And those features are just the basics: The Vectra includes special features such as keyboard power-on; support for Windows NT soft powerdown; keyboard/mouse lock button; a quiet, variable-speed cooling fan; Desktop Management Interface (DMI) capabilities; a Flash BIOS; software such as HP's TopTOOLS; and good security features, such as a locking case.

You can open the system's desktop-style case without using any tools. You just slide in two locking switches, pull forward, and it's open. You can close the case just as easily and lock it with the built-in key lock on the back of the system. The front panel's uncluttered design includes power and reset buttons, a keyboard/mouse lock button, a volume control, a headphone connector, and hard disk and LAN activity lights. The drive bays (a 3.5" floppy drive, a CD-ROM drive, and a third-height expansion bay for either a 3.5" or 5.25" third-height drive) are located on the right side. Internally, the system has only enough room for the 3.5" 2.5GB hard disk.

The motherboard is built around the Intel 440FX PCI chipset and plugs into a bus (or riser) board that contains two PCI and one ISA expansion slots, one shared PCI/ISA slot, and one PCI LAN card. You can install up to 192MB of memory in the six easily accessible SIMM slots. Integrated on the motherboard are PS/2-style keyboard and mouse connectors, one parallel port, two 9-pin serial ports, one floppy connector, and two enhanced IDE connectors. Mounted on the processor is a big heatsink--surprisingly, without a fan; the only cooling fan is built into the power supply, which sits on the left side of the system just above the CPU and lifts out for easy access to the motherboard. This arrangement seems to keep everything cool enough.

The keyboard power-on is a very nice feature: Just press the spacebar and you're up and running. Shutting down the system is just as easy: Simply tell NT to shut down, and you're finished. The DMI lets you plug the Vectra XA into your network, and with DMI-enabled management software (e.g., HP OpenView, Intel LANDesk, or Microsoft Systems Management Server--SMS), you can see what is currently installed in the system, lock out the floppy or CD-ROM drives, or even password-protect the system and BIOS--all with the system shut off. The included TopTOOLS software package lets you manage the DMI features.

The Windows NT Magazine Lab used the HP Vectra XA to test the differences among Windows 95, Windows NT 3.51, and Windows NT 4.0 (see "Comparing Windows 95, Windows NT 3.51, and Windows NT 4.0," December 1996.). I also used it to test the differences between EDO and regular SIMM modules. The system worked well, except for a few problems. One problem was that NT 3.51 and 4.0 could see up to only 64MB of memory. HP said this problem was caused by a minor BIOS problem that the company expects to have corrected by the time you read this review. I initially had trouble running Windows NT 4.0 on the system, but HP sent a BIOS update that fixed the problem. This solution sure beat replacing chips or sending the whole unit back and waiting for HP to fix it!

The Vectra XA 6/200 is not as expandable as some of the other systems the Lab reviewed, nor is it the fastest system. (The system finished in the middle of the pack with a SYSmark/NT score of 598.) The Lab found the Vectra XA to be a reliable graphics workstation with lots of nice features. HP also offers the Vectra XW, designed specifically for the graphics market.

HP
800-752-0900
Web: http://www.hp.com
Price: $2832 (as configured)
HP Vectra XW Personal Workstation
Price: $8249 (base)
(All prices are without monitor)

Intergraph TDZ-410
Last month I picked Intergraph's TDZ-410 Pentium Pro graphics workstation as one of my favorite products of 1996 (see "NT Stuff We Like," January 1997). You can now purchase it for about $12,000 (with dual processors, 64MB of RAM, Z13 graphics)--a big difference from last year's $40,000 TDZ-400.

The Windows NT Magazine Lab's TDZ-410 came with dual 200MHz Pentium Pro CPUs (with 256KB of Level 2 cache), 64MB of RAM, a 4GB UltraFast SCSI disk, an 8X CD-ROM drive, and the new RealiZm Z25 OpenGL graphics card ($23,390 as configured--not cheap, but the graphics card options account for $7390). And what a screamer the TDZ-410 was, although you wouldn't know that from its SYSmark/NT score.

Let me explain the test results. OpenGL accelerators often slow applications that don't use the OpenGL routines because all graphics devices interface (GDI) functions pass through the accelerator. In other words, ordinary display functions (e.g., window redraws, display updates, and even application routines such as ray tracing) don't run as quickly. In NT 4.0, this slowdown is still a factor, but it is not as significant as in NT 3.51 because of the restructured GDI and the updated OpenGL and DirectX libraries. Unfortunately, the Lab had to test all the review systems with NT 3.51 instead of NT 4.0 because at the time of our test, not all the systems had NT 4.0 drivers.

But back to the good news: Running applications that use the OpenGL routines opens up the performance floodgates. I tested LightWave 5.0 and a number of virtual reality simulation programs, and the experience was like watching a movie--the frame rate, smoothness, color depth, and responsiveness were remarkable (even when I ran several programs at once). This excellent simulation capability is probably why the US military likes these machines so much--Intergraph's large government systems division provides software and hardware for high-end combat simulators and other secret stuff. You can't go wrong with a TDZ-410 workstation for applications such as LightWave 3D, Softimage, and other OpenGL or RenderGL-based programs for 3D animation or multimedia development.

Under the hood of the TDZ-410, you'll find many of the same components as in Intergraph's competitors, but the way the proprietary design puts these components together makes all the difference--as does the graphics engine. The TDZ-410 comes standard with two 200MHz Pentium Pros and 32MB of RAM. Its desktop chassis can hold up to 512MB of RAM on a 288-bit 2-way or 4-way interleaved memory bus; the deskside tower case comes standard with 64MB of RAM and can take up to 1GB of RAM.

Intergraph updated the integrated disk controller for the TDZ-410, so it now has UltraFast SCSI (20MB-per-second average transfer rate). Intergraph also upgraded the Ethernet controller to a combination 10Base-T/100-TX to improve performance in render-farm and file-sharing applications.

The desktop case has two 32-bit PCI slots, two ISA slots, and one shared PCI/ISA slot (compared to six, four, and zero in the deskside full-tower case). You get one internal 3.5" third-height, one combination PC Card/floppy drive, and two front-accessible 5.25" half-height drive bays (compared to one, one, and six in the deskside).

Multimedia features are not lacking in the TDZ-410, either. All TDZs come with integrated Creative Labs Vibra16C audio and a neat multimedia keyboard with built-in powered 3D surround-sound speakers; a microphone; and connectors for a subwoofer, headphones, and separate microphone.

The new RealiZm graphics cards, which Intergraph introduced in mid-1996, offer the next generation of 3D performance. Whether you map .avi files in realtime onto a spinning 3D object, or preview your latest Babylon 5 animation, you won't sit around waiting for the computer. The model I tested had 32MB of frame buffer memory and the optional geometry and texture acceleration with 16MB of texture RAM (it can take up to 64MB). This card can support up to 1824*1368 pixel resolution in true-color double-buffered mode, with hardware acceleration for everything from fog to stenciling.

You can see why I chose this as a "best of" machine. But, should you buy one? If most of your work is final scene rendering using ray tracing or other film-quality methods, you probably are better off with a TD-410 without the RealiZm graphics option. If you use Intergraph's G95 video card (based on the Matrox Millennium chipset), you'll get the advantages of the full rendering power of the Pentium Pros, without the OpenGL components getting in the way. Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP)-enabled programs such as Adobe Photoshop really scream in this environment. If your work entails mostly virtual reality simulation, preview work, 3D CAD, or data visualization (or other texture graphics or OpenGL applications), then the TDZ-410 is for you.

Intergraph TDZ-410Intergraph * 800-763-0242
Web: http://www.intergraph.com/ics
Price: $23,390 (list)
(All prices are without monitor)

Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus
You get a killer multimedia system with the Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus. The Windows NT Magazine Lab's test system included a 200MHz Intel Pentium Pro, 64MB of RAM, an excellent sound system, a Number Nine Imagine 128 series II video card, a built-in Iomega Jaz drive, a Quantum Grand Prix 2.15GB SCSI hard disk, a Plextor SCSI 8X CD-ROM drive (a 12X drive is now standard), and a BusLogic SCSI-2 controller--all in a small minitower case. Micron backs the Millennia Pro2 360 Plus with a three-year warranty on the system and a five-year warranty on the microprocessor and memory. All these features make this workstation one of the best multimedia systems around.

The sound system is powered by a Sound Blaster AWE32 sound card driving 32-bit heart-thumping sound to the Advent Powered Partners speakers and sub-woofer. This sound system is the best I've heard in a multimedia package.

The video card, loaded with 4MB of memory, is noted for 128-bit performance, 3D graphics acceleration, Windows acceleration, fast PCI bus performance, and good configuration software. The Lab considers the Imagine 128 series II video card one of the best cards available for a multimedia system.

I always like to check how easily you can get into the guts of a system. You can open up this case effortlessly without a screwdriver: Remove the top rear thumbscrew, hold in two plastic spring-clips, and slide off the plastic shell. The front of this easy-to-access case is simple with only power indicator and hard disk activity lights, a large power button, and a hard-to-hit reset button.

The minitower houses three front-accessible 5.25" drive bays (two of which are filled with the CD-ROM and Jaz drives) and one 3.5" drive bay for the floppy drive. Internally, the housing has room for two 3.5" half-height drives, but the Quantum Grand Prix takes up too much space to add a second hard disk and keep both properly ventilated. The system has four PCI and two ISA (one shared) expansion slots. For your demanding applications, this system can hold up to 128MB of RAM.

All the features that make this system a killer multimedia system also make it a killer workstation. The Lab used the Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus to run SQL and Microsoft Exchange tests, to monitor network traffic, to archive data using the built-in Jaz drive, and to prepare graphs with Microsoft Excel. The system performed all these duties well. The only problem I experienced with the system was finding the correct driver disks for the BusLogic SCSI controller and the Imagine 128 video card when I reinstalled Windows NT.

The Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus isn't the fastest kid on the block, but it certainly isn't the slowest either: Its 598 SYSmark/NT score placed it in the middle of the systems the Lab reviewed. The Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus is indeed a worthy system, and all its included goodies put the system at the top of my workstation wish list.

Micron Millennia Pro2 360 Plus
Micron Electronics * 208-893-3434 or 800-209-9686
Web: http://www.mei.micron.com
Price: $4699 (as configured)
(All prices are without monitor)