Peas in a Pod?
by M Carling and Dan Lavin
Intel, the chip maker, has a division that produces computer boxes for integration into complete systems by other resellers. No systems are sold under the Intel name.
Several resellers are marketing Intel's GX/Pro to the NEXTSTEP community.
Individual integrators take the GX box and add memory, floppy and hard drives, and a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. The choices they make in peripherals, how they sell and support their products, and the price tag they put on the package all affect the value received.
The GX/Pro has a higher degree of integration than most PCs. Included on the motherboard are ATI Ultra Pro graphics, 16-bit sound, and a SCSI controller. NEXTSTEP 3.1 drivers for these are newly available. Newer GX/Pros with Rev. 6 ATI controllers display 1120-by-832 16-bit color. The current SCSI controller has no internal SCSI connector and will not boot from a SCSI device, but this may be fixed in later models.
Some machines overcome these deficiencies by adding an EISA SCSI controller, others by using an IDE hard disk. We recommend the former except for those on the tightest of budgets. The GX/Pro has one ISA and two EISA slots that, given the integration on the motherboard, should accommodate most users.
Performance of the GX/Pro is comparable to other high-end 486 systems. Graphics performance is typical for systems with ATI graphics, which is slower than NeXT hardware, JAWS, or Wingine PC graphics. Disk and memory size are the choices that will most affect the performance of any given GX/Pro. A fast SCSI controller and hard disk will perform significantly faster than an IDE drive, as shown in the accompanying box scores.
As always, because NEXTSTEP is memory intensive, more memory will improve performance.
Workstation 2000 W2000-PGX02
$7223 (as configured)
DX2/66; 24MB RAM; 453MB IDE drive; 1120-by-832 16-bit ATI graphics; 1 ISA, 2 EISA slots; 20-inch Sony color monitor.
Good performance from the GX chassis. The performance of this GX/Pro configuration suffered slightly due to choice of IDE drive.
ATI graphics doesn't match JAWS or Wingine but is adequate for most applications. This GX/Pro included the new Rev. 6 ATI controller, which is slightly faster and capable of displaying 1120 by 832 pixels. Bright color, slightly jittery monitor.
GX has great construction and form factor; it's easy to service. Clunky keyboard supplied.
NEXTSTEP 3.1 preinstalled (though not included in price) but without drivers for on-board sound and SCSI. Knowledgeable tech support.
One-year warranty, ten-day money-back guarantee, toll-free support planned.
Lower price of this configuration reflects IDE choice. Includes large monitor. Solid value.
Workstation 2000, 3921 Concordia, Fallbrook,
CA 92028. 619/723-4827.
Continental Professional NeXT Workstation
$7610 (as configured)
DX2/66; 32MB RAM; 520MB SCSI drive and Bustek EISA SCSI controller; 1024-by-768 16-bit ATI graphics; 1 ISA, 2 EISA slots; 17-inch Sony color monitor; SMC Ethernet card.
Fast SCSI and more memory make the difference in jazzing up GX design. Middle of the pack for DX2/66 machines.
Suffers from slow ATI graphics. This GX/
Pro included the slightly older Rev. 3 ATI controller, which is slightly slower and displays a maximum of 1024 by 768 pixels. Future models will include later revs.
Medium-sized monitor is crisp and steady. Clunky keyboard. Compact GX chassis.
The machine arrived with all of the latest NEXTSTEP drivers for this model preinstalled. Knowledgeable tech support.
Extensive documentation, one-year warranty, toll-free technical support, 30-day money-back guarantee.
Not the low-price leader, but a good value with the SCSI card.
Continental Computer Systems, 835 North Mountain Rd., Newington, CT 06111.