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WinLab Reviews
Digital Celebris GL 6200
Good Things Crammed in a Small Package

-- by Deborah K. Wong

Though Digital has failed to turn a profit over the past year, it hasn't forgotten how to make competitive computers. Case in point: the Celebris GL 6200. This new enterprise-ready Pentium Pro mini-tower offers some admirable features and comes optimized with Windows NT 4.0.

Access to the Celebris GL 6200's case is easy-I just twisted off three thumbscrews to remove the cover. Inside I found a tangle of wires and buried components along with the 200MHz processor, 256KB on-chip cache, 8X IDE Toshiba CD-ROM and Quantum Fireball 2GB hard drive. The cramped setup made it hard to get at things.

Using a Digital motherboard with Intel's 44FX chipset, the system boasts 32MB of EDO RAM (upgradable to 192MB) on six 72-pin SIMM sockets. To allow for quick upgrades, the motherboard conveniently slides in and out on rails, but mine unfortunately had jarred loose during shipping and wouldn't boot until I found the problem.

The GL 6200 has three ISA slots, one PCI slot and one shared ISA/PCI slot on a riser card, all of which are available. It also bears two 3.5-inch internal bays (one available) and four external bays-three 5.25-inch (two available) and one 3.5-inch. IDE disk controllers are integrated on the motherboard for the floppy drive and other EIDE devices, which explains the abundance of vacant slots. With built-in support for SCSI connectors, PCI SCSI is available as an add-in card.

Also standard are a flash ROM Phoenix 4.05v BIOS and an MGA Matrox Millennium graphics accelerator for 2-D/3-D graphics processing with 2MB WRAM (expandable to 8MB). Digital's 32-bit PCI 21142 Ethernet chip is integrated on the riser card, with 10BaseT/10Base2 networking capabilities, upgradable to 100BaseT via add-in cards. BIOS-based protection security allows for two levels of power-on password protection, a keyboard lockout password, floppy disk boot disable, and hard disk and floppy write control.

At the rear of the system are two serial ports and one enhanced parallel port, a game/MIDI port, color-coded I/O ports and two cooling fans. The system I tested came with a 200-watt power supply. Two USB ports are included, though no peripherals are currently available to take full advantage of this new technology. Other external peripherals include a three-button mouse and an ergonomically designed Windows 95 keyboard.

I found Digital's own 15-inch (14-inch viewable) Super VGA PCXBV-Yx multimode color monitor a tad small for such a high-powered system. Nonetheless, it has a fine image on its antiglare screen with antistatic coating. It meets EPA and VESA power management standards and the strict Swedish MPRII requirement for low magnetic emissions. Set upon a tilt-swivel base, the monitor has on-screen controls for adjusting horizontal width and position, vertical width and position, pin and barrel distortion, trapezoid distortion, zoom and color levels. Once you adjust one or more of these settings, the monitor automatically remembers it even when turned off. Seven of the 30 memory locations for display modes are factory preset to popular video modes.

The Celebris Enterprise Suite bundles tools, utilities and software to assist with maintenance and asset management across the network. In addition to Netscape Navigator and Adobe Acrobat Reader, the suite includes ClientWORKS v2.3, which is DMI- (Desktop Management Interface) compliant asset-management software. Rounding out the software package: Digital Clusters for Windows NT Server 1.0a and AMI PC Care for Windows 95 diagnostics (utility software). Digital provides the Celebris with a standard 3-year limited warranty.

The GL 6200 blazed through our Wintune benchmarks, churning out 416MIPS, 2.1MB-per-second uncached disk throughput and a 53Mpixels-per-second average video throughput. It burned up our Word and Excel macros at lightning average execution times of 5.0 and 3.6 seconds, respectively-top-level scores for a system in this class.

Though previous Digital Celebris systems-notably the Celebris GL 5133ST-have been recognized on our Recommended List in the past, in the class of Pentium Pro 200s, the GL 6200 doesn't measure up to the Dell OptiPlex GXpro and the Dell Dimension XPS Pro200n. It is, however, considerably cheaper, partly due to the small monitor. In terms of expansion and serviceability, the GL 6200 falls short, with the microprocessor buried within the severely cramped interior. In addition, the unit I tested came preloaded with Windows NT 4.0, yet I was provided with a Windows NT 3.51 CD-ROM. This could complicate matters if I wanted to add components and hardware that need the 4.0 version, or if I wanted to reinstall the operating system.

Although it's not the ultimate dream machine, the GL 6200 still merits a look.

Dual USB ports are included, though no peripherals are currently available.

W Info File

Digital Celebris GL 6200
Price: $3,495
Pros: Speed
Cons: Cramped interior
Platforms:3x, 95, NT
Digital Equipment Corp.
800-DIGITAL, 508-460-8894
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 178.)