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Looking for a 486 in all the wrong places.

Bruce K. Kirchoff KIRCHOFF at goodall.uncg.edu
Wed Apr 14 14:01:38 EST 1993

    A month or so ago I posed a message asking for your opinions of
various 486 computer vendors.  I want to thank all of the people who
responded either personally or through this discussion group.  Instead
of posting all the responses I wanted to let you know what I
purchased and how satisfied I am.
    I purchased a Gateway 486-66 VESA system with 8 megabytes of
memory, 350 megabyte hard disk, 15 inch monitor, a local bus ATI
video card with 2 megabytes of video memory, and a tape backup in
lieu of the CD rom that is bundled with the system.  In general, I am
happy with my choice.  This is the first computer I have owned that
has worked when I took it out of the box!  It is fast, both in disk
access and in processing speed.  The video is my one disappointment.
The problem is in the video driver mach32 driver).  This driver is
apparently still under development.  The version the came with my
computer would not support 16.7 million colors, a feature that I
thought I had purchased with the 2 megabytes of video memory.  Bugs
in the driver also cause errors when running WordPerfect for Windows
version 5.1.  These errors cause the program to hang and sometimes
make the file I am working on unreadable - I loose my whole file
following an error.  Last week I received a new copy of the video
driver (which I had to request form customer support, it was not
automatically sent to me as is stated in the user's manual!).  The
new driver supports 16.7 million colors, but still causes the same
errors with WP 5.1.  I have found several work-arounds for this
problem, but it is annoying!  Looking through the readme file that
came with the new driver I found that mine is not the only bug in the
driver.  Gateway reports quite a number of bugs (problems as they
call them) with the driver (or its interaction with certain programs).
Apparently the fancy video card/driver that I purchased is not
completely functional.
    Even worse that the above problem was Gateway's response when I
spoke to them about a new versions of the driver.  I was left with the
impression that they were not overly concerned with my
dissatisfaction with the driver I was sold.  The technical person I
spoke to did not seem to know much about the mach32 driver or its
problems.  He could walk me through how to set it up on my system,
but had little knowledge of its capabilities (or lack thereof).  Am I
pushing the technology envelope by purchasing a high performance
video card?  perhaps, but it seems more likely that I am pushing
Gateway's technical competence.  Taken as a whole, my computer is
great!  But if you are thinking of purchasing a local bus video card
from Gateway maybe you should wait.  How long?  This is hard to
say given Gateway Technical Support's lack of knowledge about their
own products.  Perhaps six months . . . But by then the Pentium will
be out and DEC's Alpha chip may be available in a PC (??).  These
developments will change the whole playing field.
    Thanks again to everyone who responded to my initial request.
Bruce K. Kirchoff                     Phone:  919-334-5391
EMAIL: kirchoff at goodall.uncg.edu      FAX: 919-334-5839

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