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Power puts pedal to the metal

A month after breaking the known Macintosh speed limit, Power Computing went for a second record.

A month after breaking the known Macintosh speed limit, Power Computing today went for a second record by breaking the price-performance advantage long held by PC-compatible machines.

The new PowerBase line will feature the new PowerPC 603e RISC microprocessor at clock speeds of 240 MHz, 200 MHz, and 180 MHz that the company says outperform and cost less than Pentium-based Windows 95 systems. The models will come in desktop and tower cases and are to land on education, consumer, and small-office desktops by mid-September.

All PowerBase models will ship with 16MB of RAM (upgradable to 160MB), 256K upgradable level 2 cache, a 1.2GB hard drive, an 8x CD-ROM, three PCI slots, and accelerated 3D graphics capabilities. Users will now be able to take advantage of PC-compatible keyboards, mice, and joysticks with the addition of PS/2 inputs that will complement the usual Mac inputs. All models include a 3D accelerated graphics card with 2MB of DRAM.

Critics have bashed Apple Computer for not providing high-performance models under $2,000. Power Computing wants to fill that gap with the PowerBase 180 and 200 models. The PowerBase 180 will cost $1,495, the PowerBase 200, $1,795, and the PowerBase 240, $2,195.

"I think that it's a really good offering. Power Computing is filling in the low end of the market with computers that are comparable to their Windows counterparts. Apple just hasn't been able to do this and doesn't look like it can do this with their latest offering," said Kevin Hause, an analyst for International Data Corporation.

Power Computing also announced updates to its PowerTower line of computers. The PowerTower 180e and 200e will feature the new PowerPC 604e processor, which doubles the internal cache of its predecessor, the 604. The PowerTower 180e, which features the 604e running at 180-MHz, retails for $3,295. The PowerTower 200e, with a 200-MHz 604e, costs $3,595.

At the same time, the company says it is cutting prices on the PowerTower 166, PowerCenter 150 and PowerCenter 132 systems. The PowerTower 166 system, which has been shipping since May, will now cost $2,895, a price reduction of $900. The PowerCenter 150 and PowerCenter 132 will feature reduced prices of $2,095 and $1,895.

Related stories:
Apple updates Macintosh lineup
Mac attack launched on speed records
New Pentium Pro systems on the way