Editor's Choice

The winner of the "Windows NT Magazine" Lab's NT-on-laptops experiment.

Joel Sloss

February 28, 1997

2 Min Read
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Picking the best of a group of systems is alwaysdifficult­especially when several machines perform comparably. The vendorsthat participated in the Windows NT Magazine Lab's NT-on-laptopsexperiment are AST, Broadax Systems, Compaq Computer, Digital Equipment,FutureTech Systems, IBM, Polywell Computers, and Texas Instruments.

And the Winner Is...
Who took home the trophy? The Lab picked winning systems in two categories:high-end machines (portables designed for power users) and low-end machines(reasonably priced portables with just enough features to run NT). We picked theIBM ThinkPad 760ED as the high-end winner, for its overall features,performance, and support for NT. The Lab's configuration cost $5614, but for themoney, you get quite a system­ features such as extensive multimediacapabilities, a superb display, long battery life, and power management. For thelow-end machines, the Lab didn't identify a clear-cut winner between the twoparticipants­Broadax's BSI NP8620D and Digital's HiNote VP 535. Eachportable exhibits winning attributes: The Broadax BSI NP8620D has an excellentprice for its features and performance, and the Digital VP 535 has the bestbattery life (of all the systems we tested). Both systems come withhigh-quality graphics adapters, comparable performance (which you can improvewith more memory), and equivalent sets of features.

Selection Criteria
We judged the systems on the following criteria: performance (SYSmark/32 forNT composite score), price, performance per $1000 cost, CPU speed, Level 2cache, upgrade capability (memory, disk), display (size, resolution and colordepth, video memory, external resolution and color depth), CD-ROM speed,multimedia (audio, video), battery (type, life, support for NT APM and PnP),case (weight, dimensions), and NT 4.0 support (vendor sells NT, providesdrivers, offers technical support).

The bold entries in Table 1, "Summing Up the Laptops," page 58,identify the winner (or ties) in each category. We weighted the criteria equallyin our decision because what one of us might consider important (e.g., displayquality), someone else might find trivial (e.g., compared to CPU speed). The IBMThinkPad 760ED leads in performance at 800*600 resolution (we tested all systemsat 800*600; the ThinkPad scored 30 percent lower at its maximum resolution,1024*768), memory expansion capability, hard disk space, display size andquality, multimedia features, and NT support.

Picking the high-end winner was tough: Almost all the systems performexcellently, offer great features, and make fine power-user laptops. IBM,Compaq, and Digital sell for $5000 to $6000, and although these machines aremarvelous, that's a heap o' dough! Therefore, special mention goes to theBroadax BSI NP8620A, which costs less than $3500 fully configured and has thebest performance-per-price ratio. The BSI NP8620A's upgrade capability is lessthan that of other systems, and its technical support infrastructure is not asstrong. However, the BSI NP8620A is a fast performer that offers excellentvideo, works without a hitch, and maintains reasonable battery life.

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