Socket vs Slot: What to buy?
As most of you are probably already aware of, the Celeron 400A is available in two distinct flavors, a PPGA Socket-370 version (Plastic Pin Grid Array, for use with Socket-370 motherboards) and a SEPP Slot-1 version (Single Edge Processor Package, for use with Slot-1 motherboards). The performance, reliability, and stability of the two 400MHz parts are identical (not taking motherboard designs into account), and the only real difference (other than the physical) between the two processors lies in the price difference.
The prices of the two processors, at the date of publication, actually reflected an inverse relationship than how things should be according to Intel. The physical size of the Slot-1 Celeron makes it more expensive to produce, however with the production of the Slot-1 300A having gone on for such a lengthy period of time, and the relatively few differences between a 300A and a 400A, the Slot-1 400A processors are currently cheaper than their Socket-370 counterparts. In a few weeks time the pricing structure should reflect Intel's "goal" for the Socket-370 vs Slot-1 argument, with the PPGA Celeron processors weighing in at a lower overall cost than the Slot-1 processors, but for now, the Slot-1 chips are simply cheaper.
What about motherboards? Socket-370 motherboards will generally cost $5 - $10 less than their Slot-1 counterparts, and Socket-370 boards will also offer low-cost 440ZX based solutions at a price point up to $15 cheaper than comparable BX Slot-1 motherboards, but for the most part, once again, the price difference between Socket-370 and Slot-1 motherboards is negligible. ABIT's overclocking wonder boy, the BH6 as well as the newly release BX6 Revision 2.0 are both under the $130 mark, with the BH6 often going for around less than $110. Until the prices of Socket-370 Celeron processors can come down another notch or two, there is absolutely no reason to opt for a Socket-370 MB/CPU combo at this point. The guaranteed upgrade path to a Pentium III is another benefit Slot-1 motherboard owners will hold over Socket-370 board owners, as Intel has yet to publicly disclose their plans for the future of Socket-370.
Socket-370 and Slot-1 400A processors overclock to pretty much the same limit, the latter being a bit more friendly in that respect. Although the 400A is clock-locked as described above, it does allow for an increase in FSB frequency to obtain a higher clock speed. Interestingly enough, the overclocking sweet spot for the 400A, like the 300A, seems to be 450MHz, or 75MHz x 6.0. AnandTech's tests illustrated that clocking the 400A at 500MHz, or 83MHz x 6.0, was not nearly as stable as the system at 450MHz, and the system wouldn't boot at all at the ridiculous 600MHz setting (100MHz x 6.0). The limitation of the Celeron processor in this case isn't because of the L2 cache, rather the processor's die itself, just as the physical limit for the AMD K6-2 was around the 500MHz mark (even with Kryotech's supercooled, -40 degree Celsius Cool K6-2 system), the physical limit for the Intel Celeron A seems to be a little above 450MHz. Does this mean that settings above 450MHz simply won't work with Celeron processors? Absolutely not, it means that the Celeron, in general, as it currently stands will probably never make it up past 500MHz in a reliable manner and in mass quantities. If Intel tweaks their production of the processors a little further then things may change, but, for now, this is how it is. Cooling the processor efficiently isn't the limiting factor here, it's the processor itself that can't make it that high (generally speaking, there will be exceptions to the normal, although very few).
The Socket-7/Super7 Test System Configuration was as follows:
- AMD K6 233, AMD K6-2 350, AMD K6-3 450 (engineering sample)
- FIC PA-2013 w/ 2MB L2 Cache
- 64MB PC100 SDRAM
- Western Digital Caviar AC35100 - UltraATA
- Canopus Spectra 2500 TNT AGP Video Card (16MB)
The Pentium II comparison system differed only in terms of the processor and motherboard in which case the following components were used:
- Intel Celeron 300, Intel Celeron 300A, Intel Pentium II 400, Intel Pentium II 450
- ABIT BH6 Pentium II BX Motherboard
The following drivers were common to both test systems:
- nVidia Reference Drivers 0.48
- DirectX 6.1
The benchmark suite consisted of the following applications:
- Ziff Davis Winstone 98 under Windows 98 & Windows NT4 SP4
- Ziff Davis Winstone 99 under Windows 98 & Windows NT4 SP4
- Ziff Davis Winbench 99 under Windows 98
- Quake 2 v3.19 (for 3DNow support) using demo1.dm2 and Brett "3 Fingers" Jacobs Crusher.dm2 demo
All Winstone tests were run at 1024 x 768 x 16 bit color, all gaming performance tests were run at 800 x 600 x 16 bit color. 3DNow! support was enabled when applicable.