Wyse Decision 486SI. (graphics workstation) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Stephen Levy
Wyse Technology knows how to make a quality product. The company's designers take the time, and spare little expense, to add conveniences and features not often found on other systems. But these extras and conveniences come with a price--namely, a higher price tag for Wyse computers.
I tried a Wyse Decision 486si, which includes an Intel 486DX/33 CPU with 4MB of RAM, a 200MB IDE hard drive, and a VGA color monitor. The system I tried, which costs about $2,159, also came with two floppy drives and 256K of external cache and a local-bus video with 1MB RAM. Wyse describes this unit as a high-performance graphics workstation, since its video is much faster than standard VGA and it's easily upgradable.
Using its own local-bus video, Hyper 16 VGA, Wyse can boast the fastest high-resolution graphics performance available, with more than 300-percent improvement over conventional VGA systems. And indeed, I did find the graphics to be fast and of high quality.
The CPU is this system is Intel's latest 80486, the easily upgradable 486si. In addition, the memory is expandable to 64MB. And since many of the system's features are integrated on the motherboard, all six ISA bus slots are available. The system includes up to five mass-storage bays that support both 5 1/4- and 3 1/2-inch floppy drives.
Other conveniences include the placement of the on-off switch on the front of the system, as well as a front-panel door that covers all the floppy disk drive bays. This door helps keep dust out of the drives, as well as giving a sleeker appearance to the unit. The keyboard is a 102-key enhanced PC-style keyboard, and its quality is higher than that of many keyboards I've seen.
Setup of the system is simple and fast. Everything you need is included, and all the ports are clearly marked. The setup manual is one of the best I've seen. Its illustrations and explanations are easy to follow. The only DOS manual included is The MS-DOS Version 5.0 User's Guide and Reference, Concise Edition. And, although it gives an excellent introduction to computers and MS-DOS, it's not a complete DOS manual. It would've been better for Wyse to have included the full MS-DOS manual, too. The system also comes with Windows 3.1 and a mouse.
I put the system through its paces using Windows 3.1 and running Word for Windows, Quattro Pro for Windows, and PageMaker 4 employing the standard VGA display. In addition, I tried some graphic-adventure games and flight simulation programs. I was satisfied with the Decision 486si's performance and was especially impressed with the general quality of the system.
But, as mentioned above, this quality comes with a higher price tag. If you're willing to pay for it, you'll probably be quite happy with this system. If you need a high-performance, top-of-the-line graphics workstation, I can certainly recommend the Wyse Decision 486si.