The Celery Report: Issue #3

by Russ Stringham on January 17, 1999 9:06 AM EST
Despite inclement weather conditions in many growing regions of the country, the Celery yield is still quite excellent! All is coming up green (or, should I say blue, as in "Boxed"), and the crop is healthy and strong.

As was the case after each of my first two reports: Report #1, and Report #2, I received much interesting and helpful e-mail. I even received a variety of missives from ex-Intel employees confirming some suspicions many of us have had about the differences between the Retail Boxed versions and the OEM versions.

This weeks report won't be quite as lengthy as the first two as we won't need to cover as many of the basics now that you've all been doing you homework.:-) I do have some additional glitches to report about the BH6, and some new graphics to help you in your Celery hunt.

Before we move on, I'd like to clarify some confusion entirely of my own making from last weeks report. In my table listing the results of my testing with various processors, I noted that the "98" in the table denoted a Retail CPU. I was attempting, in the limited width available, to show the difference in the CPU's I had tested.

Many of you e-mailed to point out, and rightly so, that the 98 is Malay, and the 08 is Costa. I've changed the table a bit, and dropped the PCB color section, so I could add a notation of OEM or Retail.

Again, the information contained in these reports is simply a discussion of my experiences testing these CPU's. As is the case with all things in life, your results may vary and nothing here is unequivocal.

More BH6 errata

The debate rages on about the quality of the BH6 motherboard. Is it manufactured to the highest quality control standards? Is it problem-free? The answer is no in both cases.

But, the BH6 is a niche product. It is exactly what we, in the "Need to tweak" community desire. It has features and flexibility that no other current motherboard provides, so it fills this niche and fills it quite well. Besides, as we travel down that hardware highway to the upper limits, might we expect a bump or two in the road?

As I noted last week, and as is reported all over the web, the BH6 is very picky about it's memory diet. RAM that works perfectly on any other board can poop on the BH6. Well, as it turns out, the same can hold true within the BH6 family. From board-to-board RAM sensitivity can vary.

Many times this week I had boards that just wouldn't stabilize with a particular stick. I'd switch sticks, of the same flavor, and all would be well. Then, moving on to the next combo, I'd try the previously failed memory module and it would work perfectly!

Another phenomenon I encountered was a change in core voltage needs when adding a second DIMM. I had several orders this week calling for 256MB of RAM (2 x 128MB). I'd pop in a trusty 128MB Micron 8E and give her a whirl at default of 2v without incident. Add the second stick, and suddenly she de-stabilizes. Bump the voltage up a tenth, and presto, stable again. So, if you suddenly have problems with your Celery after adding another stick of RAM, don't automatically assume you've got bad memory.

Finally, I also found out that memory is not the only thing this board is picky about! It's also finicky when it comes to processors! Several times, during testing, I'd have what I believed to be a dead motherboard. I always set these aside to get on with burning in my orders. Later, I come back to the boards and check again and, sure enough, many of them worked beautifully with a different Celery stick! Go figure.:-)

Retail Boxed, OEM, & the Difference
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