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200MHz to the Max: Put your power where the apps are. Today the applications are still with Windows 95. And if you need all the power a Pentium P5 chip can muster, three new 200MHz systems from Xi, IBM, and Quantex are good places to begin.

IBM PC 350
Features as Tested
Quantex QP5/200 SM-2
Features as Tested
Xi P400 MTower DP
Features as Tested
  • 32MB RAM
  • 1.6GB EIDE drive
  • Matrox MGA Millennium graphics card

    $4,546 est. street price

    VERDICT: ***
    One of the fastest -- and most expensive -- 200MHz Pentium systems.

    IBM Corp., (800) 426-2968

  • 32MB of RAM
  • 3.2GB EIDE drive
  • Matrox MGA Millennium graphics card

    $3,049 est. street price

    VERDICT:
    ***
    The most 200MHz Pentium for the least.

    Quantex, (800) 787-8686

  • 32MB of RAM
  • 2.2GB SCSI-3 drive
  • Matrox MGA Millennium graphics card

    $3,699 est. street price

    VERDICT:
    ****
    The fastest 200MHz P5 money can buy.

    Xi Computer, (800) 432-0486

End of the Line Intel's 200MHz CPU is not only the fastest P5, it also has the highest clock speed you'll ever see in that family of processors. Businesses have already begun the long-awaited migration to Windows NT -- and, by corollary, to the Pentium Pro chip. Yet the lion's share of business apps coming out this year will run under Windows 95, and the 200MHz Pentium runs Windows 95 as fast as or faster than the Pentium Pro.

The latest 200MHz machines bear this up. The Xi P400 MTower DP is the fastest 200MHz system we've tested. No surprise here: The machine features a 2.2GB Wide SCSI-3 hard drive. It also supports two 200MHz Pentium processors. A $699 option, the extra chip pops easily into one of the system's two upgradeable CPU sockets -- a design aimed at high-end graphics users.

The rest of the system is outfitted accordingly. There's a Matrox MGA Millennium video card with 4MB of Window RAM for speedy true-color graphics, a 512K L2 cache, a six-speed SCSI CD-ROM drive, and a 28.8Kbps fax modem. With 32MB of EDO RAM (expandable to 512MB), it costs $3,699 -- cheaper than many 166MHz Pentiums.

The same can't be said of IBM's PC 350. Though impressively fast, it will set you back $4,546. The same amount will get you a similarly configured Pentium Pro, which will carry you into the 32-bit future.

Full Fare Our IBM unit came with Quantum's 1.6GB EIDE Fireball hard drive, 32MB of RAM, a six-speed CD-ROM drive, a Matrox MGA Millennium video card, and an infrared port. It also has IBM's Wake-on-LAN, which lets network managers power up the system remotely for maintenance. Oddly, there's no audio circuitry.

As dollar value goes, neither of these systems can beat the Quantex QP5/200 SM-2. Just look at what $3,049 buys you: 32MB of EDO RAM, a 512K L2 cache, a 3.2GB EIDE hard drive, an eight-speed EIDE CD-ROM drive, 16-bit audio, a 28.8Kbps fax modem, and a 17-inch monitor. When you need maximum Windows 95 performance on a minimum budget, Quantex's QP5/200 SM-2 delivers a solid value.