New Pentium II systems debut

Systems built around the new 350- and 400-MHz Pentium II processors and the low-cost Celeron chip are announced.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
3 min read
SAN FRANCISCO--New computers based on Intel's fastest chips as well as the controversial Celeron processor debuted today.

At the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Intel formally announced the Celeron chip for sub-$1,000 PCs and 350- and 400-MHz Pentium IIs.

A raft of new systems are predicated on the microprocessor giant's latest chips. Approximately 40 computer vendors were on hand to demonstrate their wares.

Celeron, which runs at 266 MHz, has been panned in early reviews

Intel Celeron processer
Intel Celeron processer
by chip analysts, who say the chip will not deliver the same level of performance as earlier Pentium MMX chips.

Meanwhile, the Pentium II chips constitute a speed upgrade from the previous top speed of 333 MHz. Each also will contain technology that boosts the speed at which the Pentium II talks to other components in the system via the system "bus." Current Pentium II chips use a 66-MHz system bus; new designs will use a faster 100-MHz bus.

For large customers, the 400-MHz Pentium II will cost approximately $800 in volume while the 350-MHz version will sell for a little more than $600. The Celeron chip will cost about $150.

A 450-MHz version of the Pentium II will come out in July, according to sources.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.

Dell Computer is announcing new Optiplex business systems that use the 350- and 400-MHz Pentium II chip and the faster bus, according to a Dell spokesperson. The systems are priced starting at $2,022 for a 350-MHz system with 64MB of memory, a 4.3Gb hard disk drive, a CD-ROM, built-in networking, and a 15-inch monitor.

Dell is also updating its workstation lineup

Paul Otellini 1M

Intel VP Paul Otellini on Celeron and job cuts
with a new name (the Precision Workstation 410), and offering a 350-MHz system priced starting at $3,189 and a 400-MHz system starting at $3,388. Four graphics card options will be available.

Gateway 2000 announced new desktops and servers using the Pentium II chips. G series systems typically come with 64MB of high-speed memory, an 8.4GB hard drive, a 17-inch monitor, modem, and a DVD-ROM drive. Prices for standard configurations in this line range from $2,499 to $3,799.

Hewlett-Packard offered new Celeron-based systems in its Pavilion consumer line. The Pavilion comes with the 266-MHz Celeron processor, 48MB of memory, and a 6GB hard drive for an estimated street price of $1,299.

Symptomatic of tepid support for the Celeron, however, HP also introduced a system with a 233-MHz version of the venerable Pentium MMX processor for $799. The system incorporates 32MB of memory and a 56-kbps modem, and will compete against the pricier Celeron system. Analysts have said that the Celeron chip offers approximately the same performance as a 233-MHz MMX Pentium chip.

HP added it would introduce workstations and business systems with 350- and 400-MHz Pentium II processors later this month.

Compaq Computer introduced a revamped Deskpro line of business desktops. The Deskpro EN Series uses Intel Pentium II processors running at 350 MHz and 400 MHz. Other features include an ATI Technologies 3D graphics chip, hard drives ranging up to 6.4GB, a CD-ROM drive, and a maximum memory configuration of 384MB.

CompUSA unveiled new custom-configurable desktop systems using the 400-MHz Pentium II processor and either 17- or 19-inch monitors that are priced from $1,999 to $2,999. The company is also offering a system with the 266-MHz Celeron processor and a 17-inch monitor with prices ranging from $1,199 to $2,099.

New Pentium II systems
Make/chip Memory Drive Price
Compaq Presario
400 MHz
64MB 8.0GB $2,599
Hewlett-Packard Pavillion
400 MHz
64MB 12.0GB $2,599
Gateway E-4200
350 MHz
128MB 8.4GB $2,499**
Gateway E-4200
400 MHz
128MB 10GB $2,999***
Gateway GP-400
400 MHz
64MHz 10GB $2,999***
Dell OptiPlex
350 MHz
64MB 4.3GB $2,022*
Dell OptiPlex
400 MHz
64MB 4.3GB $3,285***
Dell Dimension
400 MHz
64MB 14.4GB $3,394***
* includes 15-inch monitor
** includes 17-inch monitor
*** includes 19-inch monitor

Toshiba will use the new Pentium II in its Equium 7100 series business PCs with prices starting at $2,399. The systems will be available in May.

NEC's Computer Systems division will offer systems in the PowerMate series line of business PCs with either the 350-MHz or 400-MHz Pentium II processor. Prices will range from $2,400 to $4,000, but the systems won't ship until the beginning of June.

Reporter Jim Davis contributed to this report.