Since its release, the Athlon processor has had just one significant change made to it: AMD changed its manufacturing procedure from a 0.25- to a 0.18-micron process. Intel's latest chips, on the other hand, feature an improved caching system called Advanced Transfer Cache (from the 500E up to the 800EB - denoted by the E), a 133MHz system bus frequency (533EB up to 800EB - denoted by the B), and a switch to the 0.18-micron manufacturing process, which in turn has boosted its performance slightly beyond that of the AMD. This has been demonstrated in the recent benchmarking of previous Athlon and Intel processors in the Test Centre, where the jump in megahertz has not always equated to a jump in performance. (Last month, the 850MHz Athlon provided no performance advantage over the 800MHz Athlon).
A couple of manufacturers have already implemented the AMD chip into existing product lines, including Gateway, which submitted its Select 1000 machine to the Test Centre. When tested in the 2D arena with PC WorldBench 98, this machine returned an admirable score of 309. This is approximately 4 per cent faster than the previous fastest Athlon machine we have tested, the Gateway Select 850, and is the first time an Athlon system has cracked the 300 mark. The Select 1000 is slightly slower (3 per cent) than the fridge-equipped Kryotech, which achieved a score of 317.
In the 3D and gaming area, the Select 1000 did not improve much on the previous 850, although it did manage a score of 6081 3D marks in 3DMark 99 Max, the highest score from any Athlon machine that we have seen in the Test Centre.
Driving the graphics performance on this system was a 32MB GeForce adapter. Some 128MB of memory was installed, with a 34GB IBM hard drive for storage and a Philips CD-RW drive. In Adaptec's Threadmark benchmark, the IBM disk used the CPU 35 per cent of the time while managing 13.12MB/sec throughput.
The new 12x DVD drive functions as a CD-ROM and movie player, while Internet connectivity is provided by an internal 56Kbps modem. In Norton's Multimedia benchmark, the DVD-ROM drive scored 8.9 (based on the maximum transfer rate and seek time of the drive). The system shipped to us with a 17in monitor. Using aperture grille technology, the screen displayed rich colours and crisp graphics, and provided level geometry on a 16in viewable area.
Sound comes from a set of Boston Acoustic BA735s speakers comprising sub-woofer and two satellites, via a SoundBlaster Live! Value sound card. Quality during DVD playback and gaming was great, but the speakers struggled to provide ample power for music CDs.
The PC's components are housed in a full-tower casing, which features a 300W power supply; the sheer size makes it a little heavier than your usual desktop. The front panel contains a power switch as well as a reset switch.
Tinkering with the internal components is made easy by the amount of space, and all edges are rounded or filed to provide a safe environment. The side panel of the case slides off and is held securely by two thumbscrews. The motherboard provides three DIMM slots for memory and five PCI slots for expansion cards, although there are no ISA slots.
Standard issue connectivity is provided with one parallel, two serial and two PS/2 ports, plus three USB ports rather than the common two. There are four 5.25in and four 3.5in drive bays, of which one 3.5in bay is located on the floor of the case. Cooling is aided by the implementation of a huge out-blowing fan fixed to the rear of the case, while the processor itself is cooled by a fan-and-heatsink combination. The GeForce processor on the graphics adapter is cooled in a similar manner.
The machine comes pre-installed with Windows 98 and the featured software includes Microsoft Works Suite 2000, a DVD Adventure suite and Norton's Antivirus. A handy utility by the name of GoBack ships with the system and will restore it to its working order without resorting to special disks. The multi-function keyboard provides multimedia controls, such as CD\DVD and volume controls, as well as Internet shortcuts.
A three-year parts and labour warranty is provided, the first year being on-site. Pricing for the Select 1000 starts from $5999 and, as usual, customers may choose from a plethora of upgrade options, such as larger hard drives, extra memory and extended warranty plans.
Gateway Select 1000
Price: from $5999
Phone: 1800 500 731
Intel's 1GHz PIII edges AMD's Athlon
Speed for a price
PC WorldBench 2000