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Einstein Galileo 6x86-P166+ Mid-Tower- by Francis Reddy


I had already been thinking about buying a new system when Indelible Blue's Spring/Summer catalog landed in my mailbox. Within its pages was an ad for the "Fast 5" -- three desktop and two notebook systems preloaded with OS/2 and ready to run right out of the box. I got on the phone with Indelible Blue's helpful sales staff and priced out various configurations. I eventually purchased the "Galileo," a mid-tower setup with a Cyrix 6x86 P166+ CPU, 32 Mb RAM, 2.1 Gb hard drive, 8X CD-ROM, 33.6 kbps modem, ESS 1868 sound card, and an HP Colorado T1000 tape drive.

Selecting the Options

The systems themselves are actually manufactured by Diamond Flower (Northeast), Inc. (DFI) in New Jersey and a one-year on-site warranty is included (in the USA). Indelible Blue said delivery would take about two weeks; each system is sent first to Indelible Blue for checkout and loading of the software and then shipped out to customers. The system ordered can be configured with any CPU the customer wants. My choice was based on my budget and on my satisfactory experience with previous Cyrix CPUs.

At order time customers can specify how they want the hard drive partitioned and what optional Warp components (such as VoiceType or the BonusPak) are to be installed. Some additional software can be loaded at no extra charge: Stardock's Object Desktop, the SIO communications drivers, Clear & Simple's Performance Plus Version 4, Hilgraeve's KopyKat (included primarily for troubleshooting), and IBM's DualStor (for systems with tape drives).

I asked for OS/2 itself to be installed on the C: partition with my applications on a much larger D: partition, a setup I've always meant to evolve toward but never had, and I requested installation of VoiceType, FaxWorks for OS/2, and HyperACCESS Lite. Of the additional pre-loads, I declined only the shareware SIO drivers as I already had registered versions of them. While in the buying mood, I also registered my copy of PMMail and purchased Stardock's Trials of Battle. Nothing left then but to run some good backups and watch the calendar!

Arrival Day

The day before the system was scheduled to arrive I received a call from Indelible Blue. The folks who check out the systems had found a problem with my motherboard -- OS/2 was not seeing the keyboard -- so the computer would not go out the door until a replacement motherboard could be installed. Since I was buying a new system specifically because I no longer wanted to muck around with the innards of my old computer, I was happy to wait a couple of days if it meant I wouldn't have to mess with the insides of the new one. (Which, as it turned out, I had to do anyway -- but more on that later.)

When the system finally arrived, everything was packed in one box, which was slightly heavier and larger than is typical in my experience. The case of the system itself is a rugged metal mid-tower about 17" high and 7.5" wide and seems designed for accessibility: each side panel slides off with the removal of just two screws. The warranty number and service center support phone number are printed on a label affixed to the rear panel. All of the ports on the back are clearly labeled.

The keyboard is a standard full-size (18" x 8") keyboard. Yes, it does have those silly Windows keys, but I guess there's no getting away from that now. It's also pretty common to see two-tone keyboards, where darker keycaps are used for the shift, alt, control, and function keys, but unfortunately that's not the case here. Looks aside, the keyboard lacks the snappiness of my six-year-old Northgate Omnikey 102, so the new keyboard is now in storage.

The hard drive was partitioned correctly with all the preloaded apps on the D: drive. I would have preferred seeing VoiceType treated as an application and placed on D: rather than on the smaller C: partition, but since I didn't explicitly request it, I can't complain. The sound card and video drivers were all correctly installed, but there was some tweaking of CONFIG.SYS required. Maxwait was set equal to 3 and the swap file was merely 2 Mb. Performance Plus Version 4, which was already loaded, has an Optimizer that provides recommended values for just about everything you'll want to change in your CONFIG.SYS though, and the interface lets you easily modify them to suit your tastes.

One change that adds more snap to the system that was not made: enable bus mastering on the PCI disk controller by changing the BASDEV=IBM1S506.ADD line in CONFIG.SYS to BASEDEV=IBM1S506.ADD /A:0 /BM. This peps up things enough that I'm surprised Indelible Blue isn't doing it as a basic part of the install routine.

At this point all that was left to do was install a printer driver and restore my applications and data from tape backup. IBM's DualStor wouldn't read the backups I had created using Colorado Backup for OS/2, so I had to reinstall that program and restore using it. Once that was done, backing up using DualStor was a breeze.

The modem on my machine identifies itself as "TI RK Voice 33600 FAX RS Rev 1.15." Selecting the "Other Modem" options in FaxWorks and Dial Other Internet Providers seems to get it working just fine.

The video card included is an S3 Trio64V+ with 2 Mb on board. While cards such as the Matrox Mystique or Millennium leave it in the dust, the S3 is much faster and has better drivers than my old VESA Cirrus Logic card. (Click here to see my card's video results from Performance Plus.)

Was That a P150 or a P166?

It was only after playing with the system for a couple days that I noticed it seemed to be using a different CPU from the one I thought I had ordered. I checked both Indelible Blue's order sheet and DFI's installation checklist just to be sure. They both agreed that I should be running a P166, yet the system was claiming a "6x86L-P150 at 120 MHz" was installed. Indelible Blue's customer service told me that the problem was probably due to an incorrectly set jumper reflecting the chip's speed. The manual included with the system gave all the details on the location of the jumper and the available options. Despite the relative roominess of the mid-tower case, I found it difficult to get at the jumper without first disconnecting cables from the connectors on the motherboard. That done, the system now booted up with "6x86L-P166+ at 133 MHz." Much better!

I had attempted to run VoiceType on my old system using the Cyrix 5x86/133 and an ESS 1688 sound card but unfortunately, voice recognition proved to be too much for the Cyrix 486. I completed the training for voice navigation and dictation quite easily with the new CPU, however. At this point I'm not sure how well voice recognition will meet my needs, but at least now I have the option of figuring it out.

Wrap Up

Once the CPU speed was correctly set, Sysbench could give meaningful results. For comparison I've compiled results from Sysbench 0.91c for the Galileo system, a P150 Einstein system reviewed here earlier this year, and a home-built 6x86 system. The full Sysbench result files for each system can be accessed via links in the table. Please note that the Galileo's Disk-IO and File-IO test were done before I enabled bus mastering; they are 47.93 (with Disk use CPU load reduced to only 12%) and 3087.94, respectively, when bus mastering is active.

Overall the Galileo mid-tower system and Indelible Blue have met my expectations.

Rating:

4 out of 5 (Good buy!)


System Configuration:

CPU: Cyrix 6x86 P166+
Cache: 256 K
RAM: 32 Mb
Video: S3 Trio64 V+ w/ 2 Mb RAM
Hard Drive: 2.1 Gb Western Digital Caviar 22100
CD-ROM: Mitsumi 8x FX-800
Floppy: 3 1/2"
Sound Card: ESS 1868
Modem: TI RK Voice 33600 fax/modem
Price: US $1,619
Shipping Area: U.S.A. and Canada (on-site warranty available in U.S. only)

Manufacturer:
Indelible Blue, Inc.
3209 Gresham Lake Road, Ste. 135
Raleigh, NC 27615
U.S.A.

Voice: (800) 776-8284
Fax: (919) 878-7479
e-mail: sales@indelible-blue.com or hardware@indelible-blue.com


Francis Reddy is a freelance writer and a computer technician with Aerotek, Inc. of Knoxville, TN.

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