7 December 1999 - Tuesday


Quake III Screenshots 23:03 pm - Kan
If you still haven't got your paws on Quake III, then check out SystemLogic screenshots on the game. Now now, you regretted it didn't you? You gotta get the game NOW! :)

Just for some background, Quake 3 Arena is the next creation in a series of very popular first person shooting games. In this latest release, id Software has made the game multiplayer only, where the single player mode is deathmatch play with computer controlled opponents in an arena style battle system.   

AMD Overclocking FAQ 23:01 pm - Kan
There's a useful FAQ over at The Tech Report in which they covered all the essentials you need to know on how to overclock your Athlon

Not all motherboards are capable of altering bus speed; the Asus K7M (and its clone, Freeway's FW-K7VM) is the only one we know of that will do so. With the right motherboard, however, raising the system bus speed is a relatively easy way to run the Athlon above its rated clock speed. If it works, it's as simple as changing a setting via a BIOS menu.

Note that there is the potential for problems when manipulating the system bus speed, especially when running well outside of spec. Other components, such as PCI cards, use the bus speed as a reference for their own speed. If you overclock the system bus, you're overclocking the PCI interface, as well as the hard drive controller built into the motherboard. Some cards and/or drives are more tolerant of higher bus speeds than others. The bottom line is, if you bump up the speed and start to notice problems, something isn't happy. You may be able to figure out which component is unwell and—if possible—replace it with a more tolerant one. Otherwise, you'll have to kick the bus speed back down.

Behind The Lines 22:57 pm - Kan
Sure sounds exciting! ExtremeHardware started a new editorial called Behind the Lines in which their first article by Bao (dunno, but I always like this name) talked about the public's reaction to the newest hot products covering the CPU, RAM, heatsinks, 3D video, and speaker markets.

That’s the Intel side of the story, but what about the AMD K7 Athlon?  Unfortunately, at this point in time, the Athlon (at least in Toronto, Canada) seems to be the dream, and not the reality for many consumers. The CPU’s and the motherboards are available, however no one seems to want to make the jump to a new non -BX platform just yet. The lure of a $600 CAD dollar CPU + motherboard combo that can out perform a BX + Intel Pentium III 600 combination is just not attractive enough. This seems a bit strange, given that an Intel Pentium III 600 alone costs more than an Athlon 500 + Gigabyte 7iX combination. In my experience working for various stores on College Street and at Computer Fest, it seems that although Athlon interest is extremely high, there is no real desire to buy. 

Internet Connection Sharing Guide 22:54 pm - Kan
Those hotrods over at FiringSquad posted an article on Internet Connection Sharing Guide where they answered all those questions which you always wanted to know, but didn't dare to ask:

With the Release of Windows 98 SE, you have the option of using the Windows Internet Connection Sharing(ICS). Windows ICS does the same job as Wingate and Sygate, but it's already integrated into the Windows 98 SE operating system, and allows for seamless operation without any user intervention outside of the initial setup. This can, admittedly, be a trial for a first time installation, but once you know what to look for, the setup can be quick and painless. This guide is going to walk you through the steps to get the ICS up and running on your home LAN.

Gamer's Christmas Shopping List 22:52 pm - Kan
BoomGames posted an article called Gamer's Christmas Shopping List. I know, I know, Christmas is coming and we are all dying to get something new for our computers (I just did)...

For the gamer stuck on a 56K
A cable modem or DSL line. You can decide how to play this one - someone will incur monthly charges. I'd go DSL if I could. It's a little more money, but the speed is gaurenteed bandwidth - you should always get no more than 5 K under your target speed. Cable, being a big network in which your neighbors browse on, can get bogged.

TFT Speakers Review 22:51 pm - Kan
3AG posted a review on the 4Q Tech QX-TFT02 speakers based on the latest NXT technology.

The benefits of having speakers that are less than a quarter of an inch thick are obvious. They can go anywhere—and look really cool. If you have a TFT monitor, bulky speakers might look strange next to it, but these would be right at home. The only bulky object of the package is the subwoofer, and it is fairly small itself. The speakers come in a package and in 3 parts: Speaker, Speaker, and Subwoofer. All the cables you could possibly need are there, whether you’re coming from a standard headphone jack or from RCA plugs, you’ll have all the cables you need. Installation is very simple, and the instructions are good. 

RC3 Build 2194 22:46 pm - Kan
Just when I am about to install RC3 2183, out comes Build 2194. Thanks to NT Compatible, you can grab the files from ntbeta.microsoft.com.

On another piece of news about operating systems, the boys over at Hardware Abyss did a preview on Windows Millennium Beta 2.

With so many different version of Windows to choose from, how do you know if this is right for you? What fits your needs? Well for starters, Windows Millennium can be looked at as being one really big browser, containing many webpages from with-in. It was developed with simplicity in mind. Redesigned Help menus which resemble a simple web browser and newly featured programs such as PC Health create a sense of ease for inexperienced users.

Athlon 750 Review 22:43 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme had a bite at the fastest kid on the streets, the Athlon 750Mhz processor. Gosh, I will never be able to afford it... 

It's hard to grasp exactly how fast 750MHz really is. We happily forget that it wasn't long ago that we were looking forward to the introduction of Intel's P5-166 and 200MMX CPUs, just three short years later 1GHz chips are now looming large. AMD's Athlon series has proven to be quite the golden goose for the veteran company, taking them off the ropes and putting them on the offensive for the first time in recent memory.

3D Mark 2000 Released!! 17:58 pm - Wymun
If you are finding it hard to show off your newly bought SDR / DDR GeForce to your buddies or just crave for a new benchmark to test your 3D card with, look no further and download the official 3D Mark 2000 benchmark from Mad Onion.  This includes hardware T&L optimization and graphics that will make you savour the future of 3D gaming...

3DMark2000 is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. Combining DirectX7 support with completely new graphics, it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed upgrade decisions by delivering game content of tomorrow - today.

Mini Monster 7 Review 17:48 pm - Wymun
Well, I think names for coolers nowadays are gettin' stranger and stranger...;)  But nevertheless, check out The Tech Zone's custom-made "cool" Mini Monster 7 review for the overclocker in you.  This consists of attaching a Global Win FEP32 heatsink to a  Sunon 80x80x25mm 3-pin speed sensing fan.

More SDR GeForce luvin' 17:37 pm - Wymun
iXBT Labs have rounded up most of the commercially available SDR GeForce cards and put them through their paces.  So if you really can't afford a DDR this Christmas, check out their opinions on the next best alternative.... 

NVIDIA GeForce 256 promises to be a really bright star among the 3D-accelerators, however, there is a very tangible drawback, which spoils the whole picture. This is a rather slow memory. And although 5 and 5.5ns SDRAM was quite enough for NVIDIA Riva TNT2 Ultra it appears really insufficient for GeForce 256. We have already described an analogy with a bottle, which has a very narrow neck, and no matter how large the bottle itself is, with the neck of the same size you will never manage to fill or to empty it quicker. That is why the manufacturers, who provide their cards on NVIDIA GeForce 256 with this type of memory, simply drive this chipset into a corner.

For The Golfer In You... 17:27 pm - Wymun
Well, for the avid gamer cum golfer, Gamewire has just issued a comprehensive review including a whole plethora of screenshots of Microsoft Links LS 2000.  So if you're really "ball" enough, do check it out... 

What was this silent assassin of industry? A coffee shortage? Electric staplers? The Book of 101 Paper Airplanes? Nay. Something much simple. Golf. But no ordinary golf. This was electronic golf, in which any paraplegic could drive the white ball like Arnold Palmer. Suddenly managers could engage in their weekend profession right from their weekday desks. There was much rejoicing.

nVidia Spotlight 17:21 pm - Wymun
Our fellow nV News gurus have managed to snag their first interview with one of Nvidia's popular Group Manager himself - Nick Triantos.  Have a look, especially if you're interested in Nvidia's stance on things to come....  

I am pleased to announce nV News' first interview and
who better to get us jump started than NVIDIA's Nick
Triantos.  Nick has been extremely helpful in the NVIDIA
community and we wanted to give him an opportunity
to let us know what he does at NVIDIA.

Intel's New Coppermine Benchmarks 17:10 pm - Wymun
The chaps at Hardware Central have reviewed and put up a whole host of benchmarks for all Coppermine hungry readers!  Check out their little summary below.

We take a closer look at the performance of the new .18 micron Coppermine CPU and tell you what to expect. We also look at how well it performs using different busspeeds and videocards to see how well it'll scale up and what to expect of the pending 800 MHz model.

Yamaha XG Movie 5.1 06:59 am - Kan
Our sound gurus pals over at 3dSoundSurge posted a preview of the Yamaha XG Movie 5.1 soundcard. This is probably the only soundcard with Dolby Digital AND DTS hardware decoding!

As you see the XG-Movie’s strong features are the DTS and DD 5.1 decoding rather than gaming with only 8 3D sound channels and 18 DirectSound channels. While it has few 3D sound channels they are all of excellent quality using Sensaura’s 3D audio technology which supports headphones, 2 and 4-speakers. Just like the cards using QSound’s Q3D and the Live cards the Digital-XG in addition to DS3D also supports A3D 1.X by converting the A3D 1.X calls to DS3D. It should according to Sensaura work in all A3D 1.X games even a few that fails using the Live. The only ones I’m aware of that fails to work with the Live (e.g. Freespace I) also supports DS3D so not a big benefit but still nice. The XG-Movie 5.1 also uses Sensaura’s reverb engine and with current drivers supports EAX 1.0 but will in the near future support I3DL2 and EAX 2.0.

ASUS GeForce V6600 05:48 am - Kan
GamePC reviewed the ASUS GeForce V6600 SDR graphics card. Ever since the GeForce DDR came out, I knew which card to get already. :) Check out our own review on the ASUS as well

The best extra features of this card would be the multimedia features, such as TV-out and DVD playing. The card comes with Composite and S-Video TV-out modes, and even camcorder input. This card has enough video features to lay the smack down on that shiny new iMAC DV. Bundled with the card is Ulead's VideoStudio software, which allows for video editing and capture software. We didn't have time to fully test these features, but since it uses the same basic features as the V3800, with a more powerful graphics chip and more memory, we can only assume it's gotten better.

Unreal Tournament Review 05:45 am - Kan
Chick's Hardware UK penned down their thoughts on Unreal Tournament. Yup, this game is good! (go ask those fraggers over at Hardware One!).

The UT interface is all windows-esque, none of that menu system crap. The interface is the once again the best that I have seen in any FPS game. Especially the multiplayer bit. Joining specific game style servers is as easy as breathing, you just select the tab, and UT automatically sorts the servers out in to fastest ping time and you double-click to join. Starting up a server is as simple as joining one, allowing you to select the map, number of players and bots, frag limit etc. via the windows interface.

There's also a rant on Consoles vs PC. Sorry, don't argue, I still prefer PCs than Consoles.

  • Uses & versatility

    The first point a console freak will usually come up with is that PCs are many times more expensive. That's because they're much better, of course. They pack more equipment in, and as a result can not only play games better but can do other things as well. Anything, from word processing to programming to e-mail to browsing the Net to video conferencing to 3D modelling…. I could (and almost have!) filled my hard disk with fun, useful and real-life things to do on a PC. A mere 3GB (out of my 17GB) are used for games.

Athlon Overclocking Guide 05:42 am - Kan
3DRage posted the Athlon Overclocking Guide. Overclocking the Athlon is still more like a art than skill (compared to Intel processors), so take care when dismantling your Athlon processor!

First, you will need a metal object with a flat end, such as a screwdriver or butterknife. I would probably go for a flathead screwdriver since the shaft is much sturdier and secure than that of a butterknife. The Athlon processor's casing is held onto the processor by means of 8 small, metal pins. Take your screwdriver(or whatever metal object you happen to be using) and push it between the heat transfer plate and the CPU casing near any one of the four outer pins.

Age Of Empires 2 Review 05:36 am - Kan
CRUS posted their thoughts on Microsoft's Age of Empires 2. Here's a blurb from the review:

With this game and Settlers 3, my historical game play side is complete. The game play is very good, however not in everything. The campaigns are a little dull and don’t have that pull of most other games, the worst thing about it is that I can’t figure out what’s missing, what’s driving me away from it. When you look at it, there isn’t anything missing, it’s all there, the learning curve is good, the levels are good, the story line behind it is good and fairly accurate so you feel a bit at home with it, knowing that it actually happened.

12X CD-R Drive 05:34 am - Kan
It's finally out! CNEWZ dropped us a line on the latest 12X CD-R drive from Smart & Friendly. Wait a minute, you definitely need high-grade CD-R blank discs (I don't think they are available in the market yet) in order to achieve the 12X speed.

Ideal for small, medium and large business users, the CD Copy Rocket Mach 12 is an invaluable tool for software developers, graphic designers, and many data sharing applications. The user simply inserts the source CD, drops in the blank CD, and copying starts automatically. The low ESP means even individual users will be able to enjoy numerous uses for the CD Copy Rocket Mach 12 including sharing photos on disc, backing up software and data files, as well as sharing custom music creations.

WinRAR vs WinZip Part 2 05:30 am - Kan
Adrian over at Adrian's Rojak Pot posted Part 2 of the WinRAR vs WinZip Compression Guide. If you want to know which software gives you the best compression, check it out:

Archiving or compression software have been with us for a long, long time now. They enable us to pack and compress data to reduce filesize and save hard disk space. Of course, hard disk space is cheap these days but with the advent of the Internet, archiving software has become even more important. Although people now can download files from servers all around the world, the bandwidth available is low. So, downloading uncompressed files can take forever and bog down the server.

DFE-905 Network Kit 05:23 am - Kan
GameWire sent note on their latest review on the D-Link DFE-905 Network Kit. The DFE-905 is being replaced by the DFE-910 Kit, so check out our review on it as well.

The kit has native support for 802.3 10Base T and 100Tx, which basically means it's compatible with some older networks and some newer ones. The hub itself is small, feels solid and doesn't tend to move easily while the two cards are small, fit in easily and have the nifty power light. Plus the NICs are PCI 32-bit rather than the 16-bit ISA that provides more stability and slightly faster speeds.

SharedWare Savage PCI 03:06 am - Wilfred
SystemLogic sent word of this PCI card that allows you to split the resources of your PC and have multiple consoles. Each Savage PCI card comes with a keyboard, mouse, audio, video and even a TV-Out connector, and each card installed will get you an independent console which will use the central system's memory, CPU, HDD and share the same apps. Amazingly enough, you not only can run multiple apps, but you can also simultaneously run the same apps on different consoles.

As you probably guessed, a device like this has many applications. From a multiplayer game machine to a corporate terminal server environment, the Sharedware Savage can make it happen. Being able to place multiple boards in a single computer is also a plus, allowing many people to use just one computer. This can be a good solution for a small home office where one console could be for work, and one could be for the kids. 

This all seems too good to be true. The Savage does have its limitations. Some applications might behave abnormally or not even work with the board. Also, the resources of your computer are split, which means that each user gets half the memory and CPU time. A fast system with lots of memory is recommended if you plan on supporting more than two users, or if you will be using the system for gaming. For most other applications, 32-64 MB per user is probably enough. Of course, the more the better. Another limitation is that the Savage uses Windows 95/98.

Mouse Tweak Guide 02:57 am - Wilfred
Yes, you know Tweak3D is famous for tweak guides, but still doesn't it surprise you when the tweak monkey manages an informative 3 page guide for a tool as small as the mouse?

PS2 Rate is probably the single most popular mouse tweaking program to date. Recently, PS2 Rate Plus was released by the authors of the original mouse tweak. The program adjusts the mouse sampling rate of a PS/2 mouse and it has an area where you can test your settings to make sure your mouse rate is actually at what you set it to. When you increase the mouse sampling rate, the mouse cursor's position is refreshed on screen at a much higher rate than by default. This allows for much smoother operation. It's hard to explain how it works, but trust me.. it works wonders. Use this program for a week or two and play your favorite games and programs, then stop using it and you'll definitely be able to see the difference. At 200 Hz, my average mouse rate is around 120 Hz. It's a lot better than 40 Hz though!

6 December 1999 - Monday


HW1: DeskTop Theater 5.1 DTT2500 Digital
- Wilfred
I didn't write this! But instead it's Jeremy who got a set for review, so check out his say on the cool black system for your PC entertainment. I like it, and I'm sure most of you will too!

Unreal Tournament Review 19:20 pm - Kan
How can we miss this? Our Down Under pals over at Tech-Junkie posted a review on Unreal Tournament. This must be the game all of you are waiting for, so here's a blurb:

The story of UT is set in the Year 2341 where tournament style no-hold-bar fighting is legal. Like most FPS the story line is an excuse for a game which predominately features good doses of violence and fast paced action - the perfect antidote after a stressful day at work or study. Yes, not to mention the massive advances made in human cloning, after all, the average life-span in any typical arena is about 15 seconds...

Asheron's Call 19:18 pm - Kan
Another game review from those boys over at FiringSquad. Asheron's Call is an online RPG game which is similar to games like Ultimate Online and EverQuest. Highly addictive, play only when you have lots of time.

On the same token Asheron's Call doesn't have the level of detail on its character images like EQ does. However, there is a really good explanation for this. Everquest allows users to create characters and choose one of several faces from a short list. AC lets you choose each feature of the face, which leads to some serious customization of your appearance. UO had system very similar to this where you could choose hairstyle and color and even skin tone. AC expanded this to allow different eye color and even choices for noses and lips. For an RPG I enjoy games that allow someone to create a unique appearance for themselves. I think it is far better to have a system like that then to depend on one's armor or clothing to distinguish who they are, like in Everquest.

Abit VA6 Motherboard 16:54 pm - Wilfred
OWB just posted a review on latest Abit's VIA Apollo Pro 133 motherboard - the VA6. Disclosing a secret along as well, we're in the middle of testing her too... =)

If you are looking for VIA Apollo Pro based mainboards, you might want to consider the VA6 as a cheap alternative to Intel BX based boards. It works the same way with Softmenu plus some new features specfically for optimising your systems memory performance.

Easy tweaking is what an Overclocker wants. Although this feature is now available in most mainboards from other manufacturers, SoftMenu has been proven and has been around for the past 1.5 yrs. If you're looking for AGP 4x support, it is sad to say that this board does not support that yet. ATA 66 is supported though. It is an interim solution for those who wants certified 133mhz FSB support which Intel based is not proven to run correctly at 133Mhz.

Motherboards in 2000 Preview - Part 1 16:19 pm - Kan
The gurus over at AnandTech posted an article called Motherboards in 2000 Preview - Part 1. So, what new motherboards are in store for you in Y2K? Here's an example:

The i840 in its simplest form is a 3-chip solution like the i820 composed of the 82840 Memory Controller Hub (MCH), the 82801 I/O Controller Hub and 82802 Firmware Hub (FWH) the latter two we are already familiar with from the i820 and i810E platforms. The 82840 MCH provides support for dual RDRAM memory channels that increases the total peak memory bandwidth from 1.6GB/s of PC800 RDRAM on an i820 to 3.2GB/s of PC800 on an i840 board. This figure is very appetizing for high-end workstation users that are dependent on having a large amount of available memory bandwidth, but, at the same time, it is also a very expensive figure to back up with RDRAM.

Fastest 3D Card RoundUp 15:14 pm - Wilfred
Ace's Hardware delivered a roundup of today's fastest 3D accelerator cards with their usual dose of goodness. More relevant than anything else, I think this introductory blurb is better than anything if you're searching for a board now. Better don't skip this!

To decide which videocard is best for you, you should consider these four points.

  1. The platform. I can imagine that you simply want to upgrade your videocard, without going through the tedious process of changing the motherboard and processor as well. We verified system stability with each video card on MVP3, ALI V, i820 (camino), BX, and AMD 750 (Athlon Slot A) chipsets. We will also benchmarked on three different platforms: MVP3, BX, and AMD 750 to give you an impression on how the videocard behaves on different motherboard types.
  2. The sort of games you play. You will see that a flight simulator behave totally different than a first person shooter (FPS) or a real-time strategy game (RTS). People who hardly play games, but who want their own personal movie theater will need a different video card.
  3. Upgrade rate. How long will you keep your video card? Do you want your video card to be (somewhat) future-proof or do you prefer to upgrade more frequently and spend less money?
  4. The videocard you own right now. Do you really need an upgrade? Is your current video card really that much slower to justify a new investment? Maybe after you have read this review you will come to the conclusion that there is no need to upgrade your video card.

A Look At Benchmarking 15:06 pm - Wilfred
Ga'ash Soffer at VoodooExtreme cooked up a nice piece on benchmarking. Interesting reading, check it out!

Average FPS numbers are surprisingly conclusive if results under various processor speeds and resolutions are posted. If we were to have detailed graphs of "instantaneous" frame rate, it is even easier to analyze performances of video cards. Unfortunately, there is one major assumption we failed to discuss; all of these analysis assume the the demo recordings timed accurately reflect real game performance. The bottom line when it comes to video card is actual game performance. It is assumed that timedemo results for games like Quake2 and 3 are reflective of actual game performance. Unfortunately, this doesn't have to be the case.

Memory Management In Windows 15:02 pm - Wilfred
Well, if you were expecting a guide of some sort, you are wrong. Check out this editorial at osOpinion, so full of figures discussing the memory management present in Windows.

The point of this exercise has been to indicate that Windows has diagnostic tools that monitor its goings on, and that should have been utilized by the constructors of the operating system to ensure that the OS behaves itself and operates properly. Instead, Windows itself causes deterioration of memory resources that it is supposed to manage so as to run application programs properly, to users' satisfaction. Without even opening any useful application, without doing anything of use with the machine, Windows' intrinsic goings on have been shown here to be such that the users should indeed say a prayer to that Computer Angel, hold their breath and hope for the best. Often in vain, unfortunately.

Quake 3 Arena Review 14:51 pm - Wilfred
Speedy3D put together a review on Quake 3 Arena - the game most awaited this Christmas? You want it? I do.

Quake3Arena takes the best of Doom, Quake, Quake2 Multiplayer and Modification ideas and slaps them all into one great big bundle of carnage. Add in some bots (automated off-line opponents) to appease the single player fanatics and you have an all round winner. Supporting the famous Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes and now also adding tournament and team games, Q3A is certainly packed full of goodness.

Pentagon Turns To Image Recognition 14:45 pm - Wilfred
For what? Oh, to guard against terrorism, so said Scientific American. Quite a good reading for those of you seriously into Sci-Fi. Fiction could very well translate into reality in a few years.

The result is a program known as Image Understanding for Force Protection (IUFP), which the agency hopes to get started in 2001. Described by the Pentagon as "an aggressive research and development effort," IUFP is supposed to improve site surveillance capabilities by "creating new technologies for identifying humans at a distance."

Biometric systems in use with ATM machines and computers have two advantages over what DARPA has in mind: proximity and cooperation. For military purposes, biometric sensors and networks must be able to "see" and identify subjects from distances of between 100 and 500 feet--subjects who probably don't want to be identified. In addition, they must be capable of picking faces out of crowds in urban environments, keeping track of repeat visitors who, according to DARPA's George Lukes, "might be casing the joint," and alerting users to the presence of known or suspected terrorists. Databases could even be shared by different facilities, informing security officials, for example, that the same person is showing up repeatedly near different potential targets.

The software behind Newham's anticrime system that has drawn DARPA interest is called FaceIt, from New JerseyÇbased Visionics Corporation. FaceIt scans the visages of people and searches for matches in a video library of known criminals. When the system spots one of those faces, the authorities are contacted. A military version might work the same way. Over the past year, according to a DARPA document recently sent to Congress, "several new technical approaches have been identified" that could provide improved face recognition at longer distances, as well as extend the range of iris-recognition systems.

FIFA 2000 14:35 pm - Wilfred
Our bud at 3DSpotlight reviewed EA Sport's premier title: FIFA 2000. What do we expect, but a huge thumbs-up? We gave it too.

Once again, EA Sports has made it. Bringing something fresh and very addictive to all soccer fans out there. As always there are a few things that should be improved but anyway we are talking of the best soccer game available here. If you have played previous versions and you liked them or if you like sports videogame, FIFA 2000 will be a nice addition to your list.

3dfx Interview 14:31 pm - Wilfred
The company is still an industry heavyweight for 3D graphics technology and surely the zillions of Voodoo card owners will want to know if they'll stick with them for the good they have in their sleeves. In any case, HotHardware did this interview here:

Some VSA-100 features were easy to add to the Voodoo3 base, but others required significant redesign. Things like 32-bit rendering, 64MB memory support, and 4X AGP were not a great challenge. I suppose that we could have shipped this kind of "Voodoo3+" a long time ago but we didn't think that it was compelling for our core customers: we went a lot further. Real SLI is very hard to do, even for the guys who invented it. That's why four years after Voodoo Graphics no one else even has two-way SLI while we're up to 8-way on a single board. FXT1 and DXTC texture compression, combined with full 32-bit texture support and 2K x 2K texture size, was also a non-trivial feature addition and beyond what anyone else in the industry is doing. We also took time to trick out the basic 3D engine. VSA-100 is a full two pixel per clock architecture as opposed to Voodoo3's single pixel per clock, we improved the raster efficiency by about 20%, we increased the texture cache size, we added new texture combines and alpha blends, and we added guardband clipping which significantly offloads the CPU from doing 2D
clip operations to speed up applications.

The SLI boards, that is the Voodoo5 products, enable the full-scene antialiasing (AA) and T-Buffer effects and provide incredible pixel fill rates. Once you've seen a game with full-scene AA you'll never want to go back. Jaggies and scintillating pixels are totally annoying, they suck. One of the beauties of our AA is that it will work with any games now and in the future. Gamers who buy Voodoo5 will get an immediate, huge benefit on their favorite content. The insane fill rates of the SLI boards, like over 1.3 gigapixels on the Voodoo5 6000, will enable high frame rates at serious resolutions: no more knocking the res. down to 640x480 to survive a death match!

ComputerNerd USA Introduces Athlon Cooler 14:20 pm - Wilfred
DimensonX sent word of a press release they got hold of, regarding a new Athlon cooler (with special mention of the Asus K7M as the targetted motherboard). Check the Cool-It Dude! FAK780B Eighty On:

The cooler uses the same heatsink as the Cool-It Dude! FAK7X2B Super-Cooler with dual 60-mm fans, but with a single Y.S.Tech FD1281257B-2A 80-mm dual ball-bearing tachometer 3-wire fan rated at 47.4 CFM. Cooling performance is approximately 0.37 degrees C/W, which is slightly superior to the dual fan model, but the noise rating of 34.2 dBA makes it a little quieter er than the dual-fan version. MTBF is 75,000 hours, and the cooler carries ComputerNerd's standard five-year warranty. Price when purchased alone is $49.95, and it will also be available in ComputerNerd's overclocked Athlon® bundles with the Asus K7M motherboard which are being offered at very competitive prices. For example, the bundle with FAK780B EIGHTY-ON cooler, Asus K7M motherboard and Athlon® 500 overclocked to 700 MHz is priced at $544, which is less than the current price for the unmodified Athlon® 700 alone.

 

5 December 1999 - Sunday


GeForce Comparison Update
20:49 pm - Wymun
Dan's data has just updated its GeForce comparison to include Asus'  V6600 Deluxe, together with the plain V6600 and the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256.  So check this out if you're lookin' for some SDR GeForce luvin' for your system!!

I've got my hands on the full retail version of ASUS' all-singing, all-dancing AGP-V6600 Deluxe card, which is probably the most expensive non-DDR GeForce you can buy these days, but for a reason. It's got onboard hardware monitoring so it can manage its own overclock level in response to chip temperature, it's got video in and out, it's got 3D glasses, it's got security camera and DVD player software, and it's even got a half-decent game bundle!

T-Buffer Investigated - 2nd Installment 15:58 pm - Wilfred
Beyond3D released the second installment of their investigation on 3dfx's T-Buffer technology. Love these guys! Want to know how the Voodoo 5 will be implementing this technology alongside their branding term "SLI" or VSA? Don't miss this!

The T-Buffer effects can be generated in such a way that a lot of data can be re-used. We need to render 4 buffers, each representing a slightly modified version of the same scene. One way to do this would be to render each buffer sequentially. So, render buffer 1, buffer 2, buffer 3 and then buffer 4. This approach would be very inefficient in terms of data re-use. After all, every scene contains roughly the same objects, and each object has the same texture detail. Now, if you render per buffer you end up using the same textures for the same objects in each buffer, but by rendering buffer per buffer the use of those same textures are split up. So, it makes much more sense to render triangle per triangle to each buffer at the same time.

A New 3D Chipset: GigaPixel 3D 15:51 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! Heard of this? OneWorldOnline has put together a short review on this new 3D accelerator chipset from GigaPixel. They've got a couple of screenshots and some specifications. Check this:

The company was started back in August of '97 by three ex-SGI engineers and the CEO of CompCore. It seems that they all decided that they could bring SGI quality rendering to the PC, so began milling away at the GP-1 3D technology.

Their main selling point is the fact that they do full screen anti-aliasing at any resolution. Not that I'm any sort of 3D mathematician or anything, but the gist of the idea is that instead of rendering all the polygons in a scene, these guys just render the ones that you can see. All the other technologies render all the polygons - even if you don't see the polygon. The reason the other technologies render all the polygons is because of the high complexity of the algorithms to figure out if a polygon is visible or not. There is also a huge speed and resource penalty r computing visibility. These GigaPixel guys have figured out a way to use the algorithms without a speed or resource hit.

Nightmare Down Under? 15:44 pm - Wilfred
Since we are always drilled on the topic of tolerance and non-interference, I shall restrain my comments on this issue. But Wired ran an interesting story that the Australian Govt legalised the hacking of private companies by their security intelligence agency.

Under the new law, Australia's attorney general can authorize legal hacking into private computer systems, as well as copying or altering data, as long as he has reasonable cause to believe it's relevant to a "security matter."

The keyboard spies will come from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), Australia's equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency. Catherine Fitzpatrick, spokeswoman for Attorney General Daryl Williams, said the law merely "modernizes" an existing 1979 statute that previously governed ASIO, and sorely needed updating.

InterState '82 15:37 pm - Wilfred
Fans of 3D driving shooters should check out this review at Sharky Extreme at once. Driving and killing... oh well, I guess a lot of you thrive on that huh? Here's a blurb:

The game play of Interstate '82 involves two main things, driving and killing. Every once in awhile you get to walk and kill, but that's a rarity. On some levels you just drive, but those levels aren't nearly as much fun as the ones where you get to kill too. Fortunately the driving-only levels are few and far between. Most levels are well designed, with interesting places for combat to take place, like Uranium mines and shopping malls. Often times a level will seem impossible until you actually think about it. You can't always go in guns blazing when you're massively outnumbered. Having to think in a game is usually a good thing. However, because the game always involves driving and killing, things can get dull after a while. And since the enemy AI is not exactly brilliant, whenever anything is challenging, its more due to level design than the AI that gets stuck running into walls.

Powerstrip 2.55 09:51 am - Kan
DemoNews sent note on the latest version of Powerstrip 2.55 which you can download from here.

Another build of PowerStrip 2.55 (697kb) for Windows 2000 has been released, to keep in sync with the accelerated D3D and OpenGL W2K drivers that the board manufacturers have been leaking or releasing lately. This build also features better DDR support, and a fairly comprehensive diagnostic module that may come in handy from time to time. Like the previous ones, this beta is backwardly compatible with Windows 95/98 and NT 4.0, and you are encouraged to check it out even if you aren't running W2K.  

Games Reviews 09:38 am - Kan

Who is Gabriel Knight, anyway?  Why is he so grand that they made three games out of him?  Well, he’s a charming, rakish New Orleaner who has a way with women when he’s not (and sometimes when he is) tracking down supernatural forces.  Gabriel is the Schattenjager, an inherited role in which he serves as a modern-day Inquisitor.  his great uncle Wolfgang Ritter passed the title, which translates literally as “Shadow Hunter,” to him after sacrificing himself to rescue the family talisman (which Gabriel now wears at all times).  

I am an avid Half-Life (Team Fortress Classic) online player. When playing a game like Quake 2, it’s basically run in and kill. That’s just what I though Rogue Spear would be like. You see, I have never played Rainbow Six. So I assumed that it was a run in, get the hostages, and run out deal… Well, I was wrong. I read the plans, changed my suit options, chose the guns and team members, and started the first level. Needless to say, I was slaughtered right away. I didn’t understand that this was based on real life to the extreme. You see, in the world of Rainbow you can get killed with just one good placed bullet - just like in real life.

RAMBUS 09:32 am - Kan
You know, Rambus RAM is what we are looking for urgently right now. Our pals over at HotHardware managed to spite us by getting their paws on these RAM. :)

 

The module on the top is actually the memory and the bottom module is a "Continuity RIMM" for loading down an empty socket if you only install one memory module. That's right folks we are back to pairs again, just like in the days of the original Pentium. Have no fear though, the C-RIMM has no memory on it so it is dirt cheap. Of course, if you have two modules you wont need the C-RIMM. :-)

Also, dig the metal case shielding on the RIMM! It seems these little fellas are susceptible to noise so they need some serious EMI/RFI Shielding! Hang with us homes! We are just gettin' warmed up! i820 and RAMBUS, soon to come!

PineUSA D'Music 64MB MP3 Player 01:58 am - Kan
Another mail trickled in as BoomGames dropped us a line on their new review on the PineUSA D'Music 64MB MP3 Player.

The packing is the exact same thing as before -- a box with the player. Infact, the box claims the unit to be the 32 MB model! The only indication I received the correct product came from a star-shaped 64MB sticker. So, I decided to follow the same process of ripping out the player and loading up the music.

The first and foremost thing to note is that this player is the same exact hardware we had before. The firmware (software driving the player) has been updated and there's a 32MB memory card slid in back. I was sort of irritated to find this out, but once I discovered the new firmware I decided to continue giving the unit a go.

ACT-Labs RS Shifter 01:22 am - Kan
Now, how come we don't have a chance to play with such toys. :) AnandTech just posted a review on the ACT-Labs RS Shifter which is basically a 8-gears shifter unit to be used along with the Force RS. Hmm, 8-gears reminds me of the Mercedes I used to drive previously (yeah right!). 8 forward, 4 reverse gears. How about that!

Well, it's quite simple actually. The shifter unit is a metal rod with a shifter knob attached to it. The shifter knob can actually be interchanged with real shifter knobs (i.e MOMO). The base of the shifter is plastic, but what isn't these days? Inside the shifter is a spring-driven mechanism that simulates real shifting force and gives the impression of syncronized gears. What I mean by that is, similar to when you shift from gear to gear in today's cars, the transmission actually guides you to each gear; granted you can still foul it up, but for the most part, it works. 

Macase K10 Sunrise Mid-Tower ATX Casing 01:20 am - Kan
Overclockers Australia took a look at the Macase K10 Sunrise (what a name) Mid-Tower ATX casing. Nothing much to say, except that I still prefer those tower casings where you can stuff lots of fans inside'em.

The Macase K10 is an exception, with a lot of features you would normally only expect to see in a full-tower. For example, it not only includes an 80mm case-front fan, but it has an air-filter and neat-o door mechanism to assist airflow. It has room to mount another exhaust fan in the rear of the case, next to the processor, and combines some of the internal cables together into one unit. People who are constantly in and out of their PC's will be impressed by the nice non-sharp metal edging inside and the slide-out motherboard-and-cards tray. All this in a mid-tower!

Wilfred Coughs 00:54 am - Wilfred
My! Were we lazy or were there no news?! Hmmm... BOTH! Actually, more of the latter, we were out chatting about future plans (Kan getting Rinoa pregnant, Wilfred going to study harder for his next hurdle after PSLE... =P) over a few cuppas.

And I came home to find my mailbox acting strangely... issit Magix playing tricks with me and Wy Mun? We are getting multiple duplicates of emails flooding out boxes. I've 434 messages in the inbox now. Damn.

Wheel Of Time 00:40 am - Wilfred
FiringSquad has a review on Wheel Of Time. Since time is something I don't usually have, you have to tell me if you like the game at all.

It's a shame, really. If not for a few annoyances that added up really quickly, this could have been a great game. It's definitely not the graphics or the sound, but the gameplay. It lacks that magical, impossible to plan or design "suck me in" feeling. I certainly played to get more of the story but there were too many times I got frustrated by something in the game. You might be going up a staircase or through a hallway, and suddenly some trollocs jump in behind you, or in front and even if you do defeat them, more often than not you just die or are too weak to bother continuing.

China: Death Penalty For Computer Hacker 00:30 am - Wilfred
So you think the local penalty for sending those juvenile hackers to jail is too much? Ha! You gotta read this. Well, I tell ya... if you're talented, don't make people jealous of it!

A Chinese court has upheld the death sentence for a man who hacked into the computer system of a state bank to steal money, the Financial News reported on Saturday.

The Yangzhou Intermediate People's Court in eastern Jiangsu province rejected the appeal of Hao Jingwen, upholding a death sentence imposed last year, the newspaper said. Hao Jingwen and his brother Hao Jinglong hacked into the computer network of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and shifted 720,000 yuan ($87,000) into accounts they had opened under false names, it said.

 

4 December 1999 - Saturday


Modified Athlon
18:14 pm - Wilfred
This is cool! How I wished companies here offer these deals! Grrrr... The Hardware Wizards reviewed a modified Athlon 500 from Trinity Micro and overclocked it to a smoking 750Mhz. No insane cooling, just a good o/c core...

Made it up to 700mhz with L2 cache at 1/2 and up to 750mhz with L2 cache at 1/3. Completely stable, ran Unreal loops for 12 hours and Prime95 for another 12 hours with no problems at all. 750mhz is 150mhz over the rated core speed, not bad. Maybe without the heatplate on and some copper cache spacers 750mhz will run stable at 1/2 cache but that's for another article later on. It made it through about 10 loops of Unreal and a few hours of Prime95 at 1/2 but wasn't totally stable. I tried setting the voltage as high as 2.0 volts but no luck booting at anything higher than 750.

Communicator To Be Delayed Again 18:08 pm - Wilfred
Looks like the inability to deliver is not only plaguing Microsoft, but Netscape as well. The company says that the first trial won't happen in another 2 months. Check this CNet article!

The difference between 4.7 and 5.5 may not seem like much, but the technology gap is vast. To catch up with Microsoft, Netscape is rebuilding the product from the ground up, replacing its legacy software with a leaner, more standards-compliant architecture composed of separable components that developers can use more easily with their applications.

But the delays have clearly hurt Netscape's efforts to hold on to its dwindling market share and remain a credible alternative to Microsoft's IE. 

Critics say that in falling so far behind Microsoft in its browser development, Netscape is ceding more of its tenuous position in the browser market, and that allowing Microsoft to lock up that market poses a serious threat to both content and software companies, as well as to consumers.

AOpen AX63 Pro Motherboard 18:02 pm - Wilfred
Check out this review at SharkyExtreme on AOpen's VIA Apollo 133 Pro based motherboard. Looks like a neat board and you can count on AOpen for reliability and stability.

In regards to supporting up to 155MHz FrontSide Bus speeds, the VIA chipset is nothing new. What it does offer, however, are AGP dividers that let your system operate at these speeds. With a PCI divider of 4, the board allows your PCI bus to run at 33MHz while still having an FSB speed of 133MHz. The AX63Pro also allows a divider of 2 on the AGP bus, bringing the AGP clock down to 66MHz when the FSB is at 133MHz.

Coupled with built in UDMA/66 support, the AX63Pro is able to deliver some value added features without having value added prices. Some of the best new hard drives in the market are UDMA/66 capable, and taking advantage of this feature is generally a speed booster, especially in your everyday Windows usage.

Email Can Betray Personal Info 10:58 am - Wilfred
You don't want to know what kind of information people can sieve off your web surfing. Take a look at this Wired article about privacy loss when using email clients like Eudora, Outlook, and Communicator... 

"Web surfing is supposed to be anonymous, but with the cookie leak security hole, companies can easily match our email addresses to the Web sites we visit."

Smith said that the data tracking is set up by sending a Web page in email. The messages' HTML code contains enhanced cookie information that includes the recipient's email address. Anyone using Netscape Communicator, Qualcomm Eudora, and Microsoft Outlook is vulnerable, since those programs can view messages as HTML pages and store cookies without the recipient's knowledge.

Using code that embeds graphics into the email message, the sender can easily cause the recipient's email address to be sent along with a cookie to Web sites they visit, Smith said.

New Worm Gets Double Punch 10:20 am - Wilfred
W32/Mypics.worm is one bad worm that packs, yeah, a double whammy. Symantec now grades it 'medium risk' but warns that it may be upgraded in view of the worm virus' maliciousness. Here's the snippet for your reading:

The W32/Mypics.worm comes in an e-mail without a subject line and contains a message that reads "Here's some pictures for you!" At first, the worm acts like Melissa, immediately sending itself to as many as 50 listings in a user's Outlook address book. The mass-mailing will not be triggered if the virus recipient doesn't use Outlook.

But the e-mail also contains an executable attachment, labeled Pics4You.exe, which infects the user's PC with the worm if it is opened. Once opened, on Jan. 1, 2000, the worm also overwrites part of the hard drive of the infected PC. If that PC is rebooted anytime after the New Year, the worm has the potential to completely reformat the hard drive, causing a loss of data. The glitch will try to disguise itself as a Y2K problem.

GeForce SDR Results 08:53 am - Kan
nV News smacked some new benchmark results on Q3 demo by running the GeForce SDR at 150/190. Ah, forget it. After reading our own review on the GeForce DDR, you will know which one to get. :)

Glad to see the final Quake 3 demo, which is version 1.11, is still running nicely.  Only had time to run a few benchmarks, and I noticed a few things that changed from the previous demo.

The demo001 has changed and there is a new setting for "medium" geometry.  I also couldn't find a save/load player settings on the menu.  This was a nice feature since there are 3 of use that use the PC to play Quake 3.  Back to executing custom configs again I guess.

Slot-A Mainboard Comparison 07:00 am - Kan
Our buds over at iXBT-Hardware published a Slot-A mainboard Comparison in which they compared boards like the ASUS K7M, BIOSTAR M7MKA, FIC SD11, Gigabyte GA-7IX and the Microstar 6167. Usually good stuffs smacked in one page. Here's an excerpt:

But let's return back to our boards. All of them are based on AMD 750 (Irongate) chipset since there is not much to choose from, actually. The features of this chipset are very similar to those of the good old i440BX probably with the only major exception: EV6 system bus support, which is so important for Athlon. EV6 is a high performance bus working at 100MHz as well. However, unlike GTL+, in EV6 the data is transferred along the two fronts of the signal. That is why the real data transfer frequency makes 200MHz. And as for the rest, Irongate's features as well as those of the graphics cards based on this chipset are quite common: AGP 2x support, up to 768MB PC100 SDRAM memory and up to 6 PCI-devices. The mainboard manufacturers usually provide their products with the AMD-751 North bridge combined with either AMD-756 or VIA 686A as a South bridge. Both controllers support Ultra DMA/66, 4 USB ports and other standard functions. However, the main advantage of VIA 686A South bridge over that from AMD is first - an integrated AC'97 codec supporting software modem and sound card and second - a built-in hardware monitoring controller.

Coppermine 650E Review 06:56 am - Kan
GamePC has a lube on Intel's new Coppermine 650E processor. The guys were able to crank this processor all the way up to 800 Mhz on a ABIT BE6-II. Sweet.

It's nice to see Intel back in the ball game after taking such a hit when AMD's Athlons have been plastering Pentium's in benchmarks left and right. The Coppermine 650 is for the most part, right in between the Athlon 600 and 700 chips. While it was still beaten out by the Athlon 700 by quite a bit on the Quake 3 : Normal setting, Intel has still proven they've got what it takes to make a great processor. And oh my, look at that overclocked Q3 : Fastest score, the fastest we've seen yet. Although when we hit the High Quality benchmarks, we see the scores even out between the overclocked and non-overclocked processors, which can only mean one thing. Video card fill-rate limitation, which will be helped greatly by a next generation card like a GeForce DDR, Savage 2000, or Voodoo4.

StarHub Offers Free Unlimited Access 04:32 am - Kan
This news is more for the local scene. Apparently StarHub aka Cyberway is trying to get a bigger pie in the market by offering a free unlimited access plan. Check out C|Net for more information:

The Surf for Free plan is a no-frills package which allows users to get an Internet connection but nothing else. There is no email, no international roaming and no disk space. There is no registration fee and users only need to pay normal telephone charges. Calls to the helpdesk will be charged at S$0.30 a minute. StarHub will throw it in a mailbox for S$23.88 a year.

Interested applicants need only to register online and they will be given a free starter-kit.

The lack of email access and hard disk space is not likely to be an issue in an era of free Web-based email accounts such as Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. In addition, numerous companies such as GeoCities and Tripod offer free hosting for Web pages.

P3 Continues to Ship After Bug is Found 04:23 am - Kan
Certainly crappy sounding, CNEWZ dropped us a line that Intel continues to ship their new Coppermine processors to customers even though a bug which may interfere with the bootup processor had been found.

Intel Corp. will continue to ship its most advanced microprocessor, despite the recent discovery of a minor defect.

The company has disclosed that up to 2 percent of its Coppermine chips — the Pentium III produced at 0.18-micron linewidths — have a bug that may interfere with the boot-up process.

A spokesman said the glitch has only been seen in a lab environment, but that it could occasionally prevent the machine from switching on when the start button is pressed, requiring users to hit the switch a second time.

He said there are no other known problems in the Coppermine, and that Intel will not pull the product off the shelves for such a minor issue. The cause of the problem has been determined, and it will be corrected when the chip goes through its next stepping, or tweak.

Intel is already having difficulty keeping up with demand for the Coppermine product, and the spokesman said that no customers had indicated they would curtail orders because of the bug.

AMD Likely To Beat Intel, Alpha To 1Ghz 02:48 am - Wilfred
According to their sources, The Register says that AMD will be able to release their 1Ghz part early next year if it wants to, due to surprisingly good runs with their fabrication lines. The story in full.

According to information from a source close to AMD's plans, it can, as we have said before, produce an air-cooled Athlon K7 running at the magic 1GHz spot early next year, if it wants to.

The fabrication of the processor has gone more smoothly than anyone could have anticipated, and the only reason for holding back on producing a 1GHz Athlon early next year is that AMD can maximise its profits by gradually rolling scaled processors out of its fabs.

Compaq, meanwhile, is unlikely to produce a 1GHz Alpha before the middle of next year, according to analyst Terry Shannon.

Although Intel will demonstrate a 1GHz IA-32 chip at a conference in early February, its roadmap shows that the highest clock speed on the Coppermine track is likely to be an 866MHz Pentium III at the end of Q1, 2000.

Final Quake 3 Demo Out 02:44 am - Wilfred
Even as the game went gold, many are still anticipating the final complete Quake 3 Demo to hit town. And why yes! It has! You can grab the 47Mb file from these areas:

Tom's Intel Cape Cod i820 02:28 am - Wilfred
Dr Tom Pabst doesn't recommend it. What stronger words? Hmm.. You get it? Else read the review at Tom's Hardware regarding Intel's i820 motherboard.

I certainly wouldn't purchase an i820-based motherboard just yet. Not until RDRAM pricing comes WAY down and/or there is proof of its superior performance. I just can't see spending $900 + bucks for 128MB of RDRAM memory. Especially since the performance advantage is minimal if any...

 

3 December 1999 - Friday

Kan Yawns
- Kan
In case you think we didn't update for the whole day, we did! Just scroll down the page a little and you will see our usual rants smacked right in the middle of the page. 

HW1: Gadgets, Toys And Such - Wilfred
Okie! We've compiled 3 mini-reviews and strung them together for your reading! What's in there? Well, first off there is the locally (Singapore) available Creative Surround Station, then TNC's VR ViewCam and lastly RoadTools iCoolPad. For a better impression, here are 3 pictures, check them!

Ultima IX : Ascension Review 22:10 pm - Yingzong
Had to steady my mouse to post this. The Adrenaline Vault has done, I believe, the first review on Origin's final saga in the Avatar adventures of Ultima. Apparently the game is a shame as there are numerous technical glitches and bugs. I've been a fan of Ultima since Ultima II and I was hoping that the final take would be a deserving and solid conclusion to the saga. I've already heard several bug complaints but I had no idea it was that damning. I guess Chris Harding was sorely disappointed. I would be too if I experienced what he did. *Sigh*

Beyond the performance problems there are a number of bugs, including memory leaks, interface glitches, problems with spellcasting and inventory management, and inconsistent graphics. The longer you play Ascension, the worse your performance will be. System resources seem to fluctuate dramatically, which appears to be a problem with the game being unable to clear its cache. There are countless problems with the interface that I will discuss on the next page as well as a number of components such as spell casting that seem prone to causing crashes.

So what prevents Ascension from being one of the worst titles ever made? The fact that it contains the content to be one of the best games of all time. Hidden beneath all the bugs and performance issues is one of the most entertaining products ever to grace the computer screen. It has an outstanding cast of characters, a blessed story that is as epic as it is thrilling, and a world so vibrant and rich with color that once you enter it, you'll never want to leave.

This has been by far the most difficult review I have ever had to write. Never before have I wanted a game to succeed as much as this one. I've been an Ultima fan since its creation and admire Garriott more than anyone in the industry. Personally, I've had a lot of fun with Ascension and will surely play it all the way through again once it's patched. But for this review, I cannot recommend it to anyone. It's unoptimized, buggy and just plain broken in numerous spots. While hardcore players are bound to wade through the muck with their swamp boots on and enjoy it, they are the exception and not the rule.

Regardless of who's at fault--the publisher or the developer--any title that's been in development for more than five years should ship in a cleaner state than this. Origin and EA should be ashamed for releasing such an anticipated title in this condition. Their decision is irresponsible and unforgivable. Like Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," Ascension is epic in scope and its story riveting and touching. But like that tale of forbidden love, Ascension is a senseless tragedy that didn't have to be.

Maxi Sound Gamer Fortissimo 18:31 pm - Kan
We have two web reviews of the Maxi Sound Gamer Fortissimo from Guillemot. First it's from Tech-Review and the second review is from FiringSquad. Cheap and good, that's what this soundcard is all about.

Today, we will be taking a look at Guillemot's latest product in the venerable Maxi Sound line, the Maxi Sound Fortissimo powered by the Yamaha's second generation YMF744 chip. The Fortissimo is very similar to the Hoontech SoundTrack Digital XG, which means that you'll be getting the same Sensaura HRTF algorithms that you'll find in S3's Diamond Monster Sound MX400 but at a lower price point. Furthermore, the Guillemot Fortissimo offers TOSLINK digital outputs that'll allow you to connect to portable MiniDisc recorders, something the Sound Blaster Live! and MX400 cannot do out-of-the-box.

Wingman Gamepad Extreme Review 18:29 pm - Kan
ExtremeHardware released another review - the Wingman Gamepad Extreme from Logitech.

Let’s fast forward to the present and take a close look at the Logitech Wingman Gamepad Extreme. From a features point of view, it sounds a whole lot like the Freestyle Pro. The Gamepad Extreme has motion control functionality through the G-FORCE TILT™ sensor and also features 10 digital buttons, including 2 triggers. From this point of view, the Gamepad Extreme exactly matches the Freestyle Pro, and has 6 digital buttons, 2 triggers and a Start button, a sensor on/off, and macro (shift) button. The only Freestyle Pro function not included on the Gamepad Extreme is a throttle control knob.

LAN Tweak Guide 18:27 pm - Kan
Our buddies over at 3DSpotlight released an article on LAN Tweaking. Your default network settings can be optimized further to enhance the speed of your network. Check it out:

  • Under the Advanced tab, put a tick in the Set this protocol to be the default protocol box. Set Allow binding to ATM to No, unless it is required to do so, most should be able to leave this set to No.
  • Under the Bindings tab, tick only the required components.
  • Under the Gateway tab, enter in the gateway address if one is used, e.g. it may be needed to connect the LAN to the Internet.
  • Click Ok to make the changes. Then click Ok once again; you may need your Windows CD in the drive once the changes have been made, to install some things. Re-boot your PC for the changes to take affect.

Soldier of Fortune First Glimpse 18:25 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme took a look at Soldier of Fortune and spat out a first glimpse of the game. Pretty interesting, here's some of the juice from the article:

Of course, it wouldn't go down well if enemies reacted realistically to unrealistic weapons, so laser guns etc. are out and real life weapons are in. Levels will also be based around real life locations, such as Siberian wastelands, terrorist installations and even a moving train. Also, health will not be conveniently placed throughout levels, but will instead be very scarce indeed. Judging by recent screen shots, the locations all look convincing and beautiful. Raven has modified the Quake 2 engine almost beyond recognition for use in Soldier of Fortune. It now includes 32-bit colour, detail textures, fog regions and even a terrain engine for scrolling outdoor levels such as their train level.

PlayStation 2: It's A Physical World 13:01 pm - Wilfred
Pretty cool article about the MathEngine in PlayStation 2. Daily Radar has got a writeup on the engine to be found on Sony's next generation console, and they have a dozen of pre-rendered sequences (for download) that the PS2 is said to be able to render in RT when it comes.

Most of the games you play today use simple programming cheats to approximate physics. For instance, the fighters in your fighting games don't really use real world physics, they simply follow a predetermined pattern. So, if you connect with a low kick, your opponent will simply follow a programmed response routine.

In a recent Newsweek interview, MathEngine's founder, Alan Milosevic said that this type of programming is no longer good enough. "You cannot have correct behavior without physics," said Milosevic.. "Let's imagine we've got a boxing game. How many animation sequences do we need, so that no matter where I hit you, it will behave realistically? Is five enough? Fifty? Five hundred? Five thousand? There isn't a number. When I hit you, your body should behave like a human body does. You shouldn't have to go into animation sequence 37A."

Milosevic envisions a game environment in which all characters follow a strict set of physical rules, which will free developers to spend less time programming characters to look and act like their human equivelant. MathEngine is at the very heart of the future of PlayStation2 physics. Here is a few of the physical characteristics that this software will produce on the PlayStation2.

Corel Linux 1.0: A Guided Tour 12:55 pm - Wilfred
Missed this for 2 days, but hey AboutLinux threw up a guided tour ala review on Corel's attempt at creating a Linux distro. I like the idea that more and more people are seeing the relevance of Linux, but I'm just waiting for them to bring it to the level for general consumption.

I actually managed to crash KDE with some heavy use once, which surprised me; what surprised me even more is that it left a non-responsive KDM process behind. Most new users would not have known how to kill XFree, log in on the text console, kill the errant process, re-start KDM and XFree.

The "File Manager", "Control Center" and "Update" applications show great promise - while the control center does not allow you to configure as much of the system as Linuxconf does (at this time) it does provide a cleaner interface to the functions it does support. I hope that the other distributions adopt the best features of these packages (or the actual packages) - there is a positive feedback loop among the distributors due to the nature of open source software; due to the inevitable competition all distributions will improve over time.

DVD-Audio May Be Delayed Due To DVD Hack 12:37 pm - Wilfred
CNN has a report that DVD audio will possibly see more delay as developers scramble to create a stronger encryption system for protecting their copyrights, after the release of DVD rippers. Slashdot couldn't have describe it better:

They are still operating under a fundamentally flawed assumption: if we can decrypt it to watch it, someone will figure out a way to decrypt it to rip it. The delays hurt their profits as well as irritate their customers that want new products. It's quite frustrating.

Inside The Olympus C2020Z 12:30 pm - Wilfred
Pained my heart to see a good camera in halves. =) Noticed this link at Digital Photography Preview showing the complex circuitry, lens and all within the camera's body. Thanks for your concern, it's not mine, though the C2020Z looks uncannily similar to the C2000Z.

IBM To Unveil Breakthrough Chip Tech 12:26 pm - Wilfred
SF Gate has a story that IBM is set to introduce a series of advances in chip design and materials which promise to keep "Moore's Law" around for another decade. Whoa! You guys watched Terminator 2?!

-- One topic is a design approach called SOI, for ``silicon on insulator,'' which IBM first announced a year ago but is only now ready to introduce into production. By itself, Davari said, SOI improves performance by 30 to 35 percent compared to previous technology; when it's combined with another recent IBM advance, the use of copper instead of aluminum for the tiny wires inside the chip, the improvement increases to 50 percent, he said.

-- The second innovation IBM will describe is a new design for dynamic RAM that will make it possible to build large amounts of it directly into the processor chip, instead of on separate chips as current DRAM designs require.

Co-developed with German chipmaker Infineon, the new technique puts entire memory cells into trenches within the silicon layers of a chip, leaving a smooth surface for other kinds of transistors on other layers.

Because a processor can fetch data much faster from built-in memory than from separate chips, the new approach could double or triple overall performance, according to Davari.

The technique is likely to appear in a year or two, he said, in specialized chips used in hubs and routers and for high-speed graphics, but later it will make its way into the processors used in desktop PCs.

T-Buffer Investigated 12:19 pm - Wilfred
Expecting good stuff from Beyond3D as always, the boys wrote an informative article on 3dfx's T-Buffer technology that will debut in the next incarnations of their Voodoo cards.

What T-Buffer technology actually does is it takes several images rendered and combines them into one single frame. By doing this, the brain gets confused, and it suddenly sees a motion blurred image. The brain links this effect with speed and the feeling of realism is increased dramatically. So, it's very possible that an animation at 30fps using motion blur looks much more realistic than a perfect, still frame animation at 60fps simply due to the effect that the brain isn't fooled so easily to add motion blur at 60fps.

DVD-RAM: The Next Big Thing In Storage 12:12 pm - Wilfred
CNet posted a roundup on DVD-RAM drives like the Hitachi GF-1050, Panasonic LF-D103U, Pinnacle Micro Flex Cinema, and Toshiba SD-W1111. Whoa! Indeed, that will be the day when we all have one of these sitting in the drive bay.

The union between computers and optical storage has always been something of an uncomfortable marriage. Sure, your PC can play back audio CDs, and plenty of machines these days come equipped with DVD-ROM drives for the full audiovisual experience. But those formats were designed for streaming playback, and attempts to adapt them for data storage at the consumer level have been a mixed bag. CD-R and CD-RW have had some success, but those drives frequently require special recording software, and they won't win any speed contests.

Now, after two years of promises, DVD-RAM drives are beginning to appear, and despite fairly typical freshman jitters, the products look promising indeed. We tested four of the first DVD-RAM drives available (three internal and one external), and though the experience wasn't always as smooth as we would have liked, we were definitely impressed.

Nocturne Review 09:30 am - Kan
I will end off with a review on Nocturne over at IGamer.Net. Frankly speaking, after so many reviews on this game, I haven't even touched it yet.

Nocturne is one of the coolest games I've played in a long time.  You play the role of the Stranger; an unemotional, trench coat wearing operative of the unofficial government agency, Spookhouse. Spookehouse even has members that are renegade monsters.  There is an exiled demon named Moloch, a Dhampir (human/vampire hybrid) named Svetlana Lupescu.  The goal of Spookhouse is to protect the world from the supernatural (monsters in this game).  They include everything from vampires, werewolves, zombies and more.  The game is broken into four acts, each with its own levels, characters, partners (if any) and story. 

Iwill SIDE-DU280 PCI Ultra2 SCSI Controller 09:28 am - Kan
Active-Hardware penned down their thoughts on the Iwill SIDe-DU280 PCI Ultra2 SCSI Controller. How does this controller compare to bigger brothers like the Adaptec 2940U2W? Check it out over here:

Destined for a PCI slot, the SIDE-DU280 offers both a 68-pin Ultra-2 SCSI, and a 50-pin Ultra Wide SCSI channel; and is capable of chaining upto 15 SCSI peripherals. A 1MB Flash BIOS permits one to reset the information related to the latter, and to easily update the controller at need.

The SIDE-DU280 supports the Low Differential Voltage (LVD) standard, which allows for a reduction in noise at high speeds, and the ability to employ cables of up to 12m in length. The SIDE-DU280 comes with Ultra Narrow, Ultra Wide, and Ultra 2 SCSI cables, as well as with an Ultra 2 SCSI terminator, and an internal to external Ultra 2 SCSI connector. An installation manual, and disk containing all the necessary drivers are also supplied.

Transcend TS-AVD1 Slot1 Motherboard 09:27 am - Kan
Active-Hardware also posted a review on the Transcend TS-AVD1 Slot1 motherboard

Configuration of the TS-AVD1 clock frequency is accomplished via the "Chipset Features Setup" BIOS submenu. As concerns adjustment of the clock multiplier, this value can be set through an array of Dip switches (SW1) found on the motherboard. That said, it must be pointed out that Intel locked the clock multiplier of their processors (except for those pre-dating the PIII), so their is no point in wracking your brain by playing with Dips; the processor will ignore this information. Finally, on the motherboard, a series of jumpers referred as JP1 permit the choice of the frequency of the system front side bus. Available options include: automatic adjustment by the system, 66Mhz, 100Mhz, and 133Mhz. As always, the BIOS allows the user to set the operating frequency of the memory bus to that of the system bus, and to add or subtract 33Mhz from that figure.

Removal of a Pentium III Heatsink 09:25 am - Kan
Nick sent note on some instructions on how to remove the default cooler from the Pentium III. Anyway, the dude was also able to run his P3-450 at a staggering 649 Mhz. Woooze. 

The P3 is a static sensitive device ! before you start discharge any static electricity in you body by touching a suitable grounding point like a copper water pipe etc

3DMark 2000 Break Down 09:19 am - Kan
Over at 3DChipset, the guys broke down the various benchmark stages of 3DMark 2000 and threw in lots of screenshots. Totally awesome! 

GeForce and Savage2000 owners will be happy to hear that it now offers full T&L support - interestingly, you have the option to enable T&L support in both hardware and software, along with the choice of 3DNow and PIII SSI optimizations. Unlike the transition from 3DMark99 to 3DMark99MAX where a lot of the basic kit was simply updated, 3DMark2000 has been given a complete overhaul, with all new tests and an absolutely jaw-dropping demo.

Aureal SuperQuad 2500 vs SB Live! Player 09:14 am - Kan
Our hardware buds over at 3DHardware.net did a comparison roundup between the Aureal SuperQuad 2500 vs the Creative Sound Blaster Live! Player 1024. If you have always been wondering whether to get Aureal or EMU chipsets, here's a chance to find out:

Anyway, four point surround already having saturated the mid-end market, Aureal needed to find a new sales argument, especially as they were going to sell sound cards under their own company name, without the strong trademark the Monster Sound cards had had. Luckily enough, their chips already possessed an, if not unique, rare ability of 'tracing' sounds as they move through space, bounce off walls and get absorbed or blocked by objects. This technology, called WaveTracing, is something that Aureal's Vortex2 chip still does faster than any other mainstream chip out there, including Creative Labs' scaringly fast EMU10K. The answer to why is it's lack of programmability, but this has actually proven itself to be a rather light critique and a downside that's easy to bear with.

New G400 Drivers for Windows 2000 09:11 am - Kan
Philipp from NT Compatible dropped us a line on the new G400 drivers for Windows 2000, bringing it to 5.00.07 BETA. You can check out the drivers from here.

 

2 December 1999 - Thursday

Abit BP6 To Support FCPGA Chips Via...
23:46 pm - Wilfred
Just received information from a reliable source that the Abit BP6 will be able to support the coming PCPGA Pentium III chips via the following updates, I quote my source saying:

1) A BIOS upgrade
2) a socket to socket miniboard converter

The BIOS upgrade is to upgrade various sundry stuff... the socket to socket miniboard converter, is to upgrade the BP6 motherboard to support VRM 8.4 specification and to create a second reset pin. If you want more information about the differences between FCPGA and Socket 370, please refer to this hyperlink.

EliteGroup P6IWP-Fe/i810e 23:37 pm - Wilfred
Arrggh... that was a totally difficult heading to type! Check out this press release from EliteGroup Computer Systems regarding their latest i810 board. Here's a picture of it. Read the release here!

Nokia 445X Pro 19:29 pm - Kan
AGN Hardware wrote down their thoughts on the Nokia 445X Pro 21" monitor. Also, the guys reviewed BlackICE, a firewall program which can be used to block out unauthorized access. 

The viewable area of the monitor is 20"  with a maximum desktop area of 1800 x 1440 @ 80 Hz.  The dot pitch is .22mm horizontal and provides a nice clean picture. The monitor has dual inputs, a VGA D-Sub connector and a set of BNC inputs. The connector being used can de switched at the front of the monitor by a push of the button. The monitor comes with the D-Sub connector cable but you can call Nokia at the number listed on your warranty card and they will send you a BNC cable for free! A nice bonus as these cables sell for $20-$40 a set.  

An Overclocking Journey - Part 2 19:21 pm - Kan
TheTechZone finished Part 2 of An Overclocking Journey. Yup, read all the crazy stuffs needed to make a P3-500 Mhz run at 645 MHz over here:

The first thing I had to do was remove the retail heat sink and fan from my P3-500.  This can be a real pain to figure out if you don’t know where to look for directions.  All you have to do is take 4 case screws (or any screw about that size) lay them head-down on a flat surface and align them with the holes on the CPU back plate (you can also use something tacky [i.e. bubble gum, etc] to keep the screws in place).  Once they’re aligned with the holes, press down firmly on the metal part until the pins give (you will hear the pins as they start to give).  My biggest fear was the amount of pressure required to pop the retention pins off.

Matrox Marvel G400-TV 19:18 pm - Kan
The Matrox Marvel G400-TV is really a killer, especially if you dabble around with video capturing. ExtremeHardware sent note on their review on this card and from the looks of it, it's a pretty strong performer. Here's a taste:

Since the release of the Matrox G400, the first 3D Matrox chip to challenge the top 3D video players, many have speculated about the possibility of a G400 Marvel card, but, until recently, Matrox has been tight lipped on the issue. On September 24, Matrox announced the Marvel G400 and Marvel G400-TV. Combining the feature-rich, fast G400 core with a hardware CODEC (Compressor/Decoder) for video capture, and further adding the option of a TV tuner, Matrox has attempted to create the ultimate all-in-one gaming and video editing solution. Finally, users who have been looking for an affordable video capture card no longer have to compromise on 3D graphics performance.

AI Wars Interview 19:16 pm - Kan
Gamers' Crypt posted an interview they did with Nexus Information Systems, in which they discussed about Nexus upcoming AI Wars 3D action/strategy game.

The background story on AIWars:The Awakening is that in the 21st century the NET is the new worldwide computer network. It regroups everything from antique copper wire networks to high speed gigabit satellite networks. Every corporation in the world, every military organization, every university, every library, and even every home is now wired-in 24 hours a day. This almost infinite information world is inhabited by hordes of agents in the service of humanity. These agents are expert applications that collect and filter information as well as conduct electronic transactions for their masters. It is rumoured that certain high-level agents have escaped from military sites in the early phases of the NET and were never recovered. Beware! These agents may still be around and are evolving. They may even become sentient soon and claim the NET as their own.

Pioneer DVD + REALMagic Review 19:14 pm - Kan
[email protected] posted a review of the Pioneer 6X DVD kit along with the REALmagic Decoder card. Pretty neat stuff, but I still prefer watching DVDs on my TV.

The kit I bought was a Pioneer 6x including the Realmagic Hollywood+ Mpeg2 decoder. This is a little cheaper than the Creative Encore DX3 offering, but from what I'd seen on the web, the Pioneer DVD drive outperforms most other 6X drives. I'd also read over at overclockers.com.au that the Hollywood line of decoder cards are an excellent buy. So seeing that it was $100AUD less than Creative, and I actually had the money on me at the time, I purchased! *ChaaChing*!

LinuxWars 19:12 pm - Kan
Massive thrash out over at CPUReview where the dudes compared the various distributions of Linux like RedHat/Caldera/Suse/Mandrake and more:

There is excellent free support on the net for all of the distributions, these scores are for the claimed commercial support. As I did not need to use the technical support provided with the distributions, the score is assigned based on how valuable I feel such support would be for a new user.

Prognosis: Be In Six Months & A Year 15:43 pm - Kan
If you always like ArsTechnica articles, be sure to check out Prognosis: Be in Six Months & a Year where the Ars took a look at Be's future and upcoming OS developments. 

We see a number of competitors in the market to supply software platforms for Internet appliances. Of course, Microsoft has made clear its intentions to compete in this space. At the same time, QNX and Linux seem to be making progress as well. There are others, but these three platforms seem to be the major players at the moment.

When Microsoft chooses to compete in a space, they compete hard. They're certainly a threat to us, just as they are to QNX and to Linux. Our challenge is to deliver a product that can compete well with Microsoft's offering

Test Drive 6 Review 15:36 pm - Kan
3D-Unlimited finished their review on Test Drive 6. From what I heard, this game ain't so nice after all. I don't know, you go check it out yourself:

Test Drive 6 features quite a few great cities for your driving pleasure. Here are the 11 new exotic world locations: London, Paris, Egypt, Hong Kong, Maui, Rome, Ireland, Tahoe, England, and the Caribbean. Each location is rendered very close to the action visual effects and looks very realistic. For instance you can see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Also, from place to place in the world road sizes are very different. In Paris and London the roads are very large, but in the Caribbean and other smaller cities and locations the roads are much smaller, making it much more of a challenge. Also, not just actual city locations are available for driving. You have the option of racing on race tracks and practice courses. 

Maxtor DiamondMax 40 15:34 pm - Kan
Tech-Review dropped us a line on their new review on the Maxtor DiamondMax 40. This hard drive packs a powerful 41GB of storage space and is definitely enough for many years to come. Yum yum.

If you have been looking for one monstrous drive to provide you with more storage than the local "Mini-Storage" down the street, then Maxtor's Diamond Max 40 is for you. With 41 GB of storage, this drive is ideal for those who run home servers or yearn to digitally backup their entire music collection. It has only been a few months since the inception of 27.3 GB drives on the scene, and here we have 41. With technology moving faster and faster with each passing day, we hope to see some sort of computing breakthrough within the next ten years when we will be measuring our storage in terabytes instead of MB and GB.

CyberTerrorism 12:24 pm - Wilfred
Jane's Intelligence Review has got a nice reading piece on CyberTerrorism, to dispel any excessive exaggerations as well as to drill in the reality of dangers. Here's a snippet:

Critics maintain there is no such thing as cyberterrorism, and there is undoubtedly a lot of exaggeration in this field. If your system goes down, it is much more interesting to say it was the work of a foreign government rather than admit it was due to an American teenage 'script-kiddy' tinkering with a badly written CGI script. If the power goes out, people light a candle and wait for it to return, but do not feel terrified. If their mobile phones switch off, society does not instantly feel under attack. If someone cracks a web site and changes the content, terror does not stalk the streets. Some groups talk of taking down power grids; while that would help in conjunction with another type of attack, in itself it would be useless. Most grids suffer infrequent black-outs anyway that are not terrorist-related. In fact, terrorism campaigns using just computers are unlikely. The sheer size of programmes works against the attacker more than the defender. No one person can fully understand a programme comprising over a million lines of code, especially if he/she did not write it, and the defender has more people available. Critical programmes that run infrastructure functions, such as traffic lights, are usually custom-written, making them twice as difficult to attack.

Australia To Charge Per Mb Basis For Cable 12:16 pm - Wilfred
Big Pond Advance of Australia's TELSTRA will be charging cable users on per megabyte basis for services such as email, newsgroups and locally hosted websites etc. People are fuming.. check this.

Australia's only commercial provider of cable Internet services today sent out a circular to its about 5000 subscribers telling them content that was free, including e-mail, newsgroups and locally hosted websites, would now incur a per-megabyte charge. Users complain the decision was taken without warning or consultation and will effectively kill the service.

Miss Me? Wilfred Coughs 12:07 pm - Wilfred
Darn. I won't reveal much, but I gotta finish testing the mobos I have with me and my room looks like a warzone (happens every time with this kind of major surgical operation). Anyhows, this is me on my beloved notebook - yeah, thank goodness.

Voodoo3 3000 PCI 07:07 am - Kan
Gosh, how can I miss this? Our hard pals over at HardOCP penned down their thoughts on the Voodoo3 3000 PCI graphics card. Woohoos, check out the two babes at the page as well.

Here are a couple of IMPORTANT specs that we want to make sure you know.  The core and memory on this card are clocked at 166MHz by factory default.  If you are not a Voodoo-Head, then you might not know that the core and memory are "locked in sync" (insert your own stoopid band joke here).  Yes, you can still Overclock the card, it is just that you cannot OC the two independently.  You OC the mem to 180 and the core goes right along with it.  Did I mention this was a PCI card?  Ok, good.  You now know all the important stuff. 

PC Gunk Updated CPU/RAM Price Lists 07:00 am - Kan
*Grin* Wilfred's and my pal over at PC Gunk just sent note on their updated CPU/RAM price lists in UK. Yup, RAM are still terribly expensive.  :(

Logitech Wingman Formula Force 06:57 am - Kan
ReviewFinder finished their review on the Logitech Wingman Formula Force Wheel. Hey, can you do heel-to-toe with these things?

In desiging this wheel, Logitech made some smart moves. The pedals, as you can see in this pic, are high-impact plastic with plenty of reinforcement. The have a nice firm spring to them, and their movement feels quite natural. They feel as though they could take quite a pounding in the heat of a race. The base is of a good weight (meaning it's quite heavy), and doesn't move, whether on carpet or flooring.

Internet Explorer 5.5 Platform Preview 06:55 am - Kan
ActiveWindows dropped us a line on the availability of a preview on the upcoming Internet Explorer 5.5 for MSDN users.

Microsoft today launched a Platform Preview of Internet Explorer version 5.5 for MSDN users. The Platform Preview will only be available to MSDN Subscribers, although there is no news yet as to whether Microsoft will release the platform preview version to the public or not but it is unlikely. MSDN subscribers have to download the program as it will not be shipped out in any MSDN packs.

Soyo SY-6BA+IV Slot-1 Motherboard 06:49 am - Kan
Another motherboard review today over at Tech-Review on the Soyo SY-6BA+IV Slot-1 motherboard. 

Straight up, the +IV is based on Intel's Slot-1 82440BX two chip AGP chipset, with built in support for Pentium II/III and Celeron Slot-1 based processors. The board is designed around the ATX specification using a 4 layer PCB that measures in at 30.5cm x 19cm(12" x 7.5"). Expansion slots include five 32 bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (v2.1 compliant), two 16 bit ISA slots (One PCI/ISA Shared slot), and one 32 bit AGP slot (v1.0 compliant). The only exception to the spec is the placement of the motherboard power socket located on the left side of the Slot-1 CPU port. This requires that the power cable run over the CPU in order to plug into the motherboard, causing the computer layout to be a little more cluttered.

Tyan Trinity 400 06:30 am - Kan
Our pals over at HotHardware just posted a review on the Tyan Trinity 400 motherboard based on the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset. 

A VERY well rounded set of features come standard on the Trinity 400. This board has the best flexibility a VIA Apollo Pro133 chipset can offer in the market right now! It has both a socket 370 and a Slot 1 on board! This means you can run Intel Coppermines (with a Slotket adapter for the Slot1) all the way down to a Celeron in the Socket 370. There is also the option of on board sound. The board we tested did not have the Creative Labs chip. However, Tyan really hit the nail on the head with the addition of a PCI slot and the subtraction of an ISA slot. The 6PCI/1ISA combination is right about where the configurations today should be in my opinion. ISA is just about dead but occasionally you need to plug that old ISA Modem or NIC in, so it will need a home.

Liveware 3 Instructions for new NT Drivers 06:12 am - Kan
This is fast. Just after the recent launch of the new SBLive! NT drivers, NT Compatible sent note on the new Liveware 3 instructions to get your Windows 2000 kicking away on the new drivers. 

Freeway Designs FS-5VGF+ 06:10 am - Kan
9-Muses just posted their review on the Freeway Designs FW-5VGF+/Ultra Super 7 motherboard. This board doesn't come with any ISA slots but instead is packed with 6 PCI slots and 1 AGP slot.

Installation was a breeze with the 5VGF. As with most other MVP3-based boards, this board is configured through dip switches. For the 5VGF, three dip switch blocks configure FSB, multiplier, and voltage settings. There's even a block to configure VIO voltage, which is normally set at 3.3v. 2.1v-3.5v in 0.1v increments are available and can add stability in overclocking situations. Speaking of overclocking, the overclocked bus speeds of 112 (PCI 37MHz), 124 (PCI 41MHz), and 133 (PCI 44MHz) are accessible from the Chipset Features Setup in the BIOS.

Major Coppermine Processor Problem? 06:10 am - Kan
Eh-oh. Looks like there's some major problems with the Coppermine processors which Intel just released an erratum on it. Check out Tech-Report's full report here:

Chip giant Intel has confirmed that it found a bug (erratum) in its .18 micron Coppermine processor which has caused it to tighten up its quality control procedures.

And now Dell US has confirmed that it has put a temporary stop on shipping its GX10 PC range because of the problem.

Some Coppermine processors intermittently seize up between power-up and power-down cycles. The problem applies only to some Coppermine processors.

GamePC Full Tower Case Roundup 06:08 am - Kan
Lots of updates, so I will keep things short. GamePC just dropped us a line on their Full Tower Casing Roundup comparing casings like the Addtronics 6890A and 7890A, Elan  Vital T15, InWin Q500A etc. Check out the full roundup here:

Addtronics took the ever so popular 6890a and brought it one more step up. Using the features from the 6890a and adding to it, the 7890a is about 5 inches taller in height, supports three more 5½ drive bays (making the final total 7), adds better case cooling, and weighs just a little bit more. Like the 6890a, has the same exact opening mechanism with the two swing doors for easy access. The cooling is now even more powerful with two fans on the front of the case to draw air in, two fans on the back of the case blow air out, and two fans on the side of the case to cool 5½ drives by either drawing in or blowing air out. Also the case still has random sharp edges, which can cut your hands. But other than that every other design feature from the 6890a is found in the 7890a. One thing to note is that both the 6890a and 7890a are backwards compatible with AT style motherboards.

1 December 1999 - Wednesday

HW1: Creative GeForce PRO DDR
- Wilfred
Just received from Creative, a unit of their DDR GeForce PRO that would be officially released within the next day or so. Wy Mun has delivered the review with quite a number of benchmarks that should interest you. The piece we received overclocked readily, and from the 60 fps gotten from Quake III demo 1.09 in 32-bits (on a humble PIII-450 o/c to 558Mhz)... I gather the GeForce PRO will indeed prolong the lifespan of many PCs for quite a while.

When I first reviewed the SDRAM 3D Blaster GeForce, I was slightly disappointed with its less than optimal 32bit Hi-res settings, having been unable to reach the magic 60fps in Q3DemoTest at 1024x768/32bit (the resolution I believe most people who purchase this card would possibly play). However, having run the GeForce Pro through the various benchmarks, I can say that this has at last become a reality!! In one word, this card SCREAMS!!

Asus V6600 GeForce 23:59 pm - David
Our pals over at Overclockers Australia has whipped up a review on the ASUS GeForce card, take a look, btw have you read our review of it yet?:

It is interesting to note that the pre-release of the manual does not mention Dynamic Overclocking Technology, and in fact, ASUS have suppled a Tweak utility on the cd-rom. Hmmmm. Personally, I can't see much of a difference between the SmartCooling, the OverHeat Protection, and the Dynamic Overclocking Technology anyway - they all appear to operate in the same way. Essentially the idea is that when performance is required, SmartDoctor will throttle up the GPU and Memory, and will throttle back when either the performance is no longer required or one of the other monitoring technologies kicks in (such as the overheat protection). A good concept, so long as the system will allow the card to operate right on the edge of its performance envelope.

Theme Park 23:58 pm - David
Firingsquad has reviewed the game Theme Park, if you're interested, here's a whiff:

It's been over five years since Bullfrog released the first amusement park simulation game, Theme Park. Though it was quite a resource hog at the time (high resolution would even bring a mighty 486 DX2-66 to its knees), Theme Park was one of the most fun and innovative games of its time. It put you in control of your very own amusement park, leaving the player in charge of everything from ride placement, staff wages, concession stands, and even a bit of ride design. The game was a godsend for type-A personalities, a triumph of micromanagement. Theme Park allowed you to control even the most miniscule aspects, like the prices of your food and sideshows, the chance of winning sideshows, the amount of ice you put in your drinks, and the amount of salt in the fries. Rides would break down and require repairs, bathrooms had to be placed in the park for your patrons, and when it rained in your park, the costumed entertainers you hired would hand out umbrellas to all the park guests. What detail! Most of all, Theme Park was a showpiece for Bullfrog's signature personality, as evidenced by the humorous and creative rides, the fact that sickened guests would vomit at roller coaster exits, and the general "cuteness" of the art.

3Dlabs Oxygen GVX1 Review 19:35 pm - Yingzong
AnandTech has reviewed 3Dlabs' Oxygen GVX1. This is a professional graphics card for animators or designers who use programs such as 3DSMAX and Lightwave. Gamers need not apply here. Hmm.. I wonder how it performs on my renderings. I only had the means to own a FireGL1000 Pro when I used 3DSMAX 2.0 on my Pentium Pro-200 a couple of years ago.

The name 3Dlabs has always been associated with quality, and that tradition carries on with the Oxygen GVX1 product. With the recent introduction of the PCI version of the card the possibilities for multi-head operation make the GVX1 a very flexible solution that should have no problem earning back its $600 pricetag in no time. The high quality drivers, above average performance, and overall stability/reliability of the card will keep it proudly bearing the 3Dlabs name.

Unfortunately there is a threat to 3Dlabs and the GVX1, it is in the form of NVIDIA's GeForce. We have already made it clear that the GeForce obviously has some issues with wireframe AA rendering as well as dropping pixels in various rendering situations. A driver fix has yet to appear and we most likely won't see on for the GeForce, if one is even possible. NVIDIA doesn't want the GeForce competing on this level, instead they have another child to bring into the professional market, the Quadro.

WebOS 3.0 Preview 19:20 pm - Yingzong
The Kawai network has mailed us about their preview on WebOS, an OS that runs off your browser. Though they do not have much to say about it, there're lots of screenshots available. Here's a blurb :

Although WebOS is still at its beta stage, it still gives us a sneak preview of what an OS is going to be like 10 years from now, where the OS will be running off the Internet. You will no longer have to install any OS updates or bug fixes.

3DMark 2000 Feature At Extreme Hardware 19:10 pm - Yingzong
MadOnion.com has just sent out the beta version of 3DMark 2000 and Extreme Hardware has just whipped up a feature article discussing their upcoming 3D program. There is a comparison between 3DMark MAX and 3DMark 2000 (including settings and display pics), a run-down of the features, including the new game demo and performance tests, along with an absolute ton of screenshots.

3DMark 99 and 3DMark MAX have become two de facto methods of determining a video card’s 3D speed and capabilities. What makes these tests so attractive is their diversity. Instead of just testing a single game, 3DMark uses a multitude of tests when formulating the final 3DMark score. 3DMark has also been quicker at picking up new technologies and features than standard 3D games. 3DMark MAX featured 3DNow! and SSE support at a time when very few games could boast the same. This helps give us a better view on possible future 3D game performance than with any other benchmark program.

The gents at MadOnion.com have been busy developing a follow-up to their popular 3DMark MAX program, and let us have a look at a beta copy of their newest product: 3DMark 2000. The full retail version of 3DMark 2000 will be available the first week in December 1999.

Western Digital Vantage WD183F Review 19:00 pm - Yingzong
The Vantage line of hard disks is meant to provid a performance solution for entry-level servers and higher end PCs. StorageReview has done a review on the Western Digital Vantage WD183F. This hard disk spins at 10,000rpm and it's targeted at cost-conscious SCSI users who still consider themselves performance oriented. Check it out :

When it comes to heat and noise, the Vantage lives up to its billing. The drive operates with no detectable high-pitch whine. Seeks, as one should always expect for a SCSI drive, are audible but quite tolerable, yielding about the same noise as an Atlas IV. Most importantly, the drive operates well outside a drive cooler; after extended use, it was only warm to the touch.

A budget 10k rpm drive, the Vantage doesn't quite reach the lofty heights set by the Atlas 10k and WD's own Enterprise 10k. But the Vantage is faster than the fastest 7200rpm drive. Western Digital supplied us with an MSRP of $595 for the Vantage (which is quite likely much higher than what you'll see it going for street price- the $695 MSRP Enterprise 10k, for example, can be had for just over $600). We haven't been able to find the Vantage for sale anywhere at the time of this writing, however, and thus couldn't garner an estimated street price based on actual reseller pricing.

If the Vantage ends near the same cost as 7200rpm drives as WD insists, though, you'll get a drive that's a bit faster with the same noise and heat properties. It's a drive you definitely want to watch out for if you're shopping for a 7200rpm SCSI disk.

Alpha Madness At The Tech Zone 12:45 pm - Yingzong
When we talk about a tight fit, The Tech Zone has done it to the extreme this time. In this latest article, they took an Alpha P3125 and converted it so that it worked with the new AMD Athlon processor. The end result was one cool running K7 that just fitted into an Asus K7M motherboard. Here's a clip :

The main problem with Asus K7M is the ATX power connector is on the wrong side of the slot one rail. Big coolers like the Alpha P125 or Global Win FKK32 will completely block off the power connector. Since moving power connector is not an option (well, it is but I'm not going to try it), I came up with a new way to get the Alpha on the Athlon and clear that ATX connector.

The easiest way to get an Alpha to an Athlon would be to use an Alpha P125 because it snaps right in with no modifications required. This is because the Athlon uses the same mounting system as the Pentium II and the Alpha P125 is a PII cooler. However using a P125 on the Athlon and an Asus K7M is not an option because that ATX power connector is in the way.

The solution I came up with is to use an Alpha P3125 that was recently reviewed. The reason will become clear in a bit. Since the P3125 was designed for Pentium IIIs and not Athlon CPUs, I had to modify the heatsink so it would work with the AMD CPU. The end results is one cool running Athlon.

Is The Demise Of The PC At Hand Yet? 12:30 pm - Yingzong
Will PDAs replace our juggernaunt performing PCs in the near future? Not yet, I believe. osOpinion has given us an article refuting claims which point to the end of the desktop PC as we know it. Here's a brief low-down :

Probably...but that's the beauty of evolution: Something better comes along, and you usually never see it coming. Perhaps they'll make some bit of furniture with a PC box built in... or perhaps not. Perhaps the PC and television will merge into one, where you can have big-screen performance, SVGA monitor (or better) image precision, and perhaps enough space and flexibility to upgrade and improve the thing as you go.

However, none of this is on the horizon of the practical just yet. The PC will survive for quite a few years to come, until any of the above technologies become strong enough (or even popular enough) to overtake the flexibility, privacy, and power inherent in the old PC. That, or something else, will have to surface and outperform the desktop. Until then, they'll make nice accessories for the well-connected geek, but I wouldn't count on them to be PC-killers... after all, weren't laptops supposed to supercede PC's, so long ago?

Intel VC820 vs. CC820 Comparison 12:20 pm - Yingzong
Sharky Extreme had a look at the performance differences between Intel's top of the line i820 mainboard, the VC820, (which requires RDRAM) and the new interim board solution for system builders and consumers, the PC100 SDRAM-using CC820. With the recent disappointing developments in Intel's new incarnation, are we still all that excited about the Camino chipset?

The truth though is that, compared to PC100 SDRAM, RDRAM works, and works well. Any time technology evolves to new levels it's often painful for the manufacturer and the consumer alike, and the royalties that must be paid by RDRAM manufacturers to 'license' the rights to produce the new memory can't have helped this process.

But the fact is that when games and other apps debut that offer visually enhanced play modes that require AGP4X support, PC100 and PC133 SDRAM using PCs won't come within 25% of the frame rates that an RDRAM-powered PC will be able to generate.

The question then becomes one of when.

We mentioned Unreal Tournament already, but aside from that title, when will 10, 20, or even 30 games be offered to market that look vastly better graphically thanks to special selectable AGP4X modes?

TMC TI6NBFV+ Slot 1 Mainboard Review 12:05 pm - Yingzong
Active-Hardware has given us their review on the TMC TI6NBFV+ VIA Apollo Pro133 mainboard. The TI6NBFV+ supports PC133 memory and ATA66 drives. It also packs 6 PCI slots instead of the usual 5. Here's a brief take :

The TI6NBFV+'s weak points are these: disappointing performance, Overclocking ability hampered by few choices in clock frequency, and a sparse and unoriginal software pack. While other manufacturers have competed aggressively to provide increasing latitude to Overclocking fans, TMC doesn't seem to be taking the subject seriously, and thus neglects several important aspects of a great Overclocking system; such as the ability to adjust the VCore and VIO voltages of a processor, a larger set of choices in clock frequency, the ability to vary the operating frequencies of the AGP bus, memory bus, etc, etc...

The TI6NBFV+ function quite well, and comes across as a product put together with some care. On the other hand, it truly lacks in versatility relative to its competitors. In my opinion, the designers at TMC lack a bit of imagination or originality, but it seems they really haven't been earning their keep, as they could easily have done better. On the flip side, this all could be an intentional state of affairs. It would not be the first time a motherboard manufacturer chose to voluntarily reduce the performance of a board, in favor of increased stability. In short, the TI6NBFV+, while not out going in performance, is a solid product that is hard to find fault with if equipped with the right memory.

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