PCs for a Networked World from HP and Micron

SAN FRANCISCO (07/26/2000) - In a networked world, PCs must offer security, stability, and enhanced performance. PC World tested two new systems that were designed with these features in mind: Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Vectra VL400 and Micron Technology Inc.'s ClientPro Cn. We found that these systems do deliver, although what you get for the price significantly differs.

Both are based on Intel Corp.'s new 815E chip set--the company's first to support faster PC133 SDRAM memory--and are geared toward midsize and larger companies looking for high-end features (such as integrated network adapter boards, better graphics, and enhanced hard drive support) at a midrange price.

Like Intel's 810E chip set, the 815E integrates a graphics adapter, but it also supports an AGP 4X graphics slot and ATA/100 hard drives, so the Vectra and the ClientPro are compatible with the latest technologies.

The Vectra system, loaded with 128MB of PIII-933 memory and Windows 2000 Professional, earned a 188 on our PC WorldBench 2000 tests--one of the highest scores we've seen in our short time testing Windows 2000 systems. The shipping unit offers many security tools, including the HP ProtectTools 2000 smart card kit (which scans a card to grant access to the PC), chassis intrusion detection, a case lock with keys, and the HP Power Protection Device (which takes up a drive bay but provides short-term backup power). It also comes with a 4X/4X/24X CD-RW drive and HP's E-DiagTools for remote management and troubleshooting. This US$2569 system would make a powerful and secure addition to any corporate environment.

Accessing the interior of the Vectra is simple: Pop a latch and lift a sturdy side panel. Inside you'll find three open PCI slots (with two ISA slots added on an extension board) and two open drive bays. Both the slots and the bays provide uncomplicated, toolless loading. The 19-inch HP-P910 monitor delivered sharp text up to the maximum resolution of 1600 by 1200 through its Matrox Millennium G450 Dual Head AGP 4X graphics board, which also provides support for two monitors. In our test images, colors did appear a tad light.

The shipping version of the ClientPro Cn we tested offers fewer high-end features than the Vectra, and it turned in a merely so-so performance record:

This Windows 98 SE machine, also equipped with 128MB of PIII-933 memory, scored a mediocre 158 on our PC WorldBench 2000 tests--average for similarly equipped PIII-866 systems.

The $2738 Micron does include an impressive software bundle, featuring Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition, Norton AntiVirus 2000, and Intel's LANDesk Client Manager software.

The huge midsize tower lets you open the case without tools (it takes some work to reattach the side panel) and has tons of expansion room: six open bays and five open PCI slots on a toolless riser board.

The system's 17-inch 700 Ex monitor produced rich colors and crisp text, but it blurred slightly at the maximum resolution of 1280 by 1024. Micron wasn't content to stick with the 815E's integrated graphics; it also tossed in a Visiontek NVidia RIVA M64 AGP 4X board. There's no reset button, and the PC ships with a plain 20X-48X CD-ROM drive, but you can fill one of the open bays with a CD-RW or DVD-ROM drive.

For corporate buyers, the HP Vectra offers much better performance and polish.

The Micron ClientPro is costly and provides far fewer features. Both are a bit pricey, but we think the Vectra (unlike the ClientPro) is worth it.

--Joel Strauch

HP Vectra VL400

PRO: Excellent performance, strong security features.

CON: Expensive, though extras in this system make it worthwhile.

VALUE: Lots of features included in this high-end corporate system.

Street price: $2569

Hewlett-Packard

800/752-0900

www.hp.com

Micron ClientPro Cn

PRO: Decent performer, nice software bundle, expansion room.

CON: Plain CD-ROM drive, no reset button, very pricey.

VALUE: Corporate workhorse.

Street price: $2738

Micron Electronics

800/964-2766

www.micronpc.com.

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