Data Stor. (Data Stor 486-25SX microcomputer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Bruce M. Bowden
The Data Stor 486-25SX, built around the 486SX, 25-MHz, 32-bit microprocessor, is as powerful as it is fast and efficient
While you'll want to note that this particular flavor of 486 has no math coprocessing capability built in, most common applications don't need one. If you required it at a later date, however, a coprocessor could always be added or the CPU could be upgraded.
Above and beyond the standard 4MB of RAM, there are up to 32MB available by expansion. Expansion RAM is held in single inline memory modules (SIMMs), making upgrades and maintenance easy and efficient. A 64K hardware cache, using fast static RAM, is a part of the motherboard and can be upgraded to 256K.
Because each machine is configured based on the needs of the specific purchaser, there's no standard configuration for the Data Stor 486, other than the basic motherboard specifications: a 1 : 1 interleave IDE hard/floppy disk drive controller, a game port, a parallel port, and two serial ports.
Input and output is handled through AMI BIOS wit on-board CMOS for storing the system configuration. A ISA local bus slot, tied to the system's own memory bus and allowing direct access to the CPU by peripherals, accommodates local bus add-on cards. The local bus adapters run at the same speed as the CPU for consequent high performance.
To test speed and smoothness of operation, I ran several common programs on the Data Stor 486 and a Gateway 2000 386DX/33. These included Windows applications such as MacDraft and Hollywood--which are heavily graphics and processing oriented--and DOS applications such as Dance of the Planets, Color Works, and DeluxePaint Ile, also heavily processing oriented. Dance of the Planets, in fact, needs a math coprocessor to run at its best, yet it moves along at an acceptable rate on the Data Stor 486. In all cases, the Data Stor 486 showed enough improvement over its 386 equivalent to be the computer of choice if both were available and both were running the same software.
To obtain data not biased by my own interpretation, I also ran the Norton Utilities SYSINFO program and looked at the benchmark tests. What the benchmarks told me was essentially what I experienced--significant speed in both file access and processing. With the IBM XT 8088 running at 4.77 MHz as a base value of 1 in all indices, the Data Stor 486 has a computing index (CPU speed) value of 54, a disk-speed index of 7.5, and an overall performance-index value of 38.5. Compare this with the 386 values--which are, respectively, 34.8, 7, and 25.5--and you have a 50-percent improvement.
My review unit also came equipped with a Tseng 4000 local bus video board offering Super VGA capability, a high-resolution monitor, a 207MB hard drive, high-density 51/4- and 31/2-inch floppy drives, and a Logitech Series 14 mouse. All of these were put through their paces, and nothing was found to be problematic or wanting. Also available for upgrades, but not included with the review unit, are fixed drives with capacities of up to two gigabytes, a Weitek math coprocessor, and, of course, multiple video displays and modems.
This computer is a member of a family of Data Stor 486 ISA Series computers. Depending on the flavor of 486 microprocessor you choose, clock speeds may be 25, 33, or 50 MHz. The computer is fully IBM compatible, attractive, well designed, and easy to use.
There are three buttons at the front of the unit: a turbospeed button, a reset button, and the power button. Although a keyboard seems a mundane thing, it can make all the difference when you're using a computer, since it's the peripheral you have most immediate and lengthy contact with. The Data Stor 101 keyboard is IBM standard and has a terrific feel, with pleasing tactile feedback and a solid click.
Case dimensions are 161/2 x 141/2 x 7 inches. The interior is well laid out and is accessible with the removal of seven screws.
With attributes ranging from a fast operating speed to a keyboard with a nice feel, I found plenty to like about the Data Stor 486-25SX. It's a well-designed, powerful machine. Data Storage Marketing (303) 442-4747 $1.685 Circle Reader Service Number 446