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December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews Systems: Micron Millennia Pro2 400 Plus

Power Up A Dynamic Pro Duo

By Marc Spiwak

Micron's new Millennia Pro Plus puts true workstation power into the average Joe's hands. Powered by two 200MHz Pentium Pro CPUs, the system is an upgrade of the single-processor version reviewed in the October issue of WINDOWS Magazine.

The Micronics motherboard, with its Intel 82430HX chipset, accepts only DIMMs (dual in-line memory modules) for RAM. It has four DIMM slots that can accommodate a total of 256MB of RAM. My test system was loaded with 64MB of RAM. The system also features a 512KB pipeline-burst secondary cache.

The motherboard has three PCI slots, one ISA, and one shared PCI/ISA slot. Two of the PCI slots are filled with a SCSI adapter and a graphics accelerator, and one ISA slot holds the sound card. This system lacks built-in networking: Once you install an ISA network adapter, your ISA slots are filled. The same holds true if you install an internal modem, which was not included with this system. The system has two internal bays, one of which was occupied by the hard drive. It also has five external bays, with one 3.5-inch and one 5.25-inch bay left empty. Four fans cool the system: One is mounted atop each processor, one is built into the power supply, and a separate one pushes heat out the back of the tower case. The system came loaded with Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and a Microsoft Office CD-ROM.

A BusLogic FlashPoint PCI SCSI adapter controls a Seagate 2GB Ultra SCSI hard drive, a Plextor 8X CD-ROM drive and a 1GB Iomega Jaz drive. The Jaz drive is nearly as fast and just as easy to use as a conventional hard drive. Cartridges pop in and out like floppy diskettes.

Micron's 17-inch, 0.26mm-dot-pitch monitor has such a beautiful picture that I'd like to use it every day. The system also includes one of the fastest graphics accelerators on the market, Number Nine's Imagine 128 Series 2. The Millennia Pro Plus also came with a Creative Sound Labs Sound Blaster 16 sound card, but no speakers. Its 8X Plextor CD-ROM drive is also a fast performer.

According to our Wintune benchmarks, the system cranks out 833MIPS. The Millennia Pro Plus ripped through our Word and Excel macros in average times of 8.3 and 4.3 seconds, respectively.

But you can't credit the system's dual processors with those fast numbers. Neither Word nor Excel take advantage of two processors-in fact, very few programs do at this time. The Dell Dimension XPS Pro 200n on our Recommended List (reviewed in November) has only one 200MHz Pentium Pro processor, but was a tad faster on our Word and Excel macros.

You need a program specifically written for two processors if you want to take advantage of that feature. Photoshop can make full use of the extra processor, as can some of the latest 3-D animation, CAD and rendering programs.

If you can't use the second processor, you're wasting $699-the difference between a single-processor Millennia Pro Plus and the dual-processor version we tested. Though there's quite a price difference between this speed demon and the Dell Dimension XPS Pro (which sells for $2,999), the Dell machine comes with a smaller 15-inch monitor and no Jaz drive. Most importantly, you can't add a second processor to the Dell system.

The Micron Millennia Pro Plus earns a place on our WINDOWS Magazine Recommended List: It provides all the workstation power you'll need for the most advanced graphics applications.

The Micron Millennia Pro2 400 Plus offers top-level performance, but only for applications that can make use of two processors.

-- Info File --
Micron Millennia Pro2 400 Plus
Pros: True workstation power
Cons: Few apps make use of second processor
Micron Electronics
800-730-0931, 208-893-3434
WinMag Box Score: 4

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