14 December 1999 - Tuesday

BIOS L2 Cache Latency Guide
21:15 pm - Wilfred
Over at Adrian's Rojak Pot, he's got a 'definitive guide' on the L2 cache latency settings in your system BIOS. Didn't you want to try those arcane settings to further your overclocking venture? Be sure to check this!

As far as latency is concerned, the lower the value, the less delay occurs and the higher the performance. However, don't immediately set the value of 1 for Level 2 Cache Latency. According to ABIT, if you set a value that's too low, the L2 cache will cease to work though the processor and L1 cache will still continue to work. That means the system will continue to run, only with a lower performance.

However, as far as my experience goes, if the L2 cache latency is set too low, the L2 cache will fail and the system will crash. It won't allow the processor and L1 cache to continue working. Anyway, either way, this means you will have to test how low a latency your processor's L2 cache can really support. That means working down the L2 cache latency values one by one and stressing the processor (which stress the L2 cache also) each time to ensure it will work with such a latency.

Razor Boomslang 21:10 pm - Wilfred
Voodoo Extreme posted a review on the Razor Boomslang gaming mouse. I think the boys at VE love it so, with the only complain being the pricing. Check this blurb:

Second, there is a small learning curve. At first try the Boomslang is almost impossible to play games with. Itís sensitivity and design is a drastic change from any other mouse on the market, but with a little bit of orientation and playing around, you easily get the hang of the mouse and its features. And, as an added bonus, the Razer Customizer allows you to adjust the sensitivity level on nineteen different settings, which is extremely helpful for all new comers to this awesome mouse.

In conclusion, I was utterly impressed with the mouse and its performance. The design is comfortable, innovative and symmetrical, it is fully customizable, great for righties and lefties, the performance kicks ass, and has unprecedented sensitivity. The bottom line: if youíve got the money to spend, this is the gaming mouse to own!

Carmack Calls For OpenGL WatchDog 21:07 pm - Wilfred
So the man, with the recent rollout of the most awaited game under his name, shared his concerns about the quality of OpenGL drivers developed. The Register has a story on it and we consumers should be supporting this call.

More to the point, driver development tends to focus on getting the maximum performance on key features rather than properly supporting the wider OpenGL feature set. "I would rather improve quality and coverage instead of kicking a few more fps out of Quake III," he notes.

What's needed, he writes in his latest .plan file, is a "vendor-neutral OpenGL watchdog, or even a small group, especially in the Linux space" who can "really exercise different implementations through all corners of the OpenGL specification".

"Some of the windows IHVs have good testing procedures and high quality drivers," he adds, "but even there, it would be nice to have someone hounding them about things beyond how well Quake-related games run.

The History Of Y2K - The Funnies 21:01 pm - Wilfred
Was made aware of this hilarious article at Salon People by a link from Ars-Technica's front page. The author, Eugene Finerman, offers a novel solution to the Y2k problems we'd grown to ignore and forget. Heh, it prolly won't work but it's worth a read.

Next year will not really be A.D. 2000. According to the most charitable calculation, it will be A.D. 2004. Your mistake dates back to the early sixth century. Until then, even the church was using the pagan calendar. That chronology was based on the legendary founding of Rome; as a cross-reference, it also cited the reign of the prevailing tyrant. For example, if you check the Vatican archives, the notarized date for the Nicene Creed would read "in the 1,078th year of Rome and in the 19th year of Constantine." You obviously needed a shorter and less pagan date.

In the 1278th year of Rome (alias A.D. 525), the church finally converted its calendar. The new chronology, based upon the birth of Jesus, was calculated by a mathematical monk named Dionysius Exiguus. Dionysius is not the most trustworthy name for a mathematician or a monk. In fairness, however, the poor guy was doing division with Roman numerals. It is amazing that his chronology was wrong by only four years. The church apparently caught the error, because you never made Dionysius a saint. Yet, you did not correct that mistake. Given your ecumenical attitude about arithmetic, next year might as well be 1999A.

Asus V6600 Deluxe GeForce 256 20:42 pm - Wilfred
RivaExtreme posted a review on the Asus V6600 Deluxe, the only GeForce card with all the bells-and-whistles.

While slightly outmatched across the board by the quicker DDR RAM of the reference board, you can see how necessary the GeForce is/will be in next generation applications. The V6600 Deluxe smokes it's little brother, the V3800 Deluxe, by a HUGE margin in every single test. While the tests in 3DMark2000 didn't turn out quite as well as I thought they would, the V6600 puts up some very hard to match marks and crunches some serious polygons. I was overall very impressed how well the board held up with the faster DDR board - obviously, this shows great driver work and excellent construction. The board doesn't look like an NVIDIA reference at all IMHO, and that may partially be why the V6600 Deluxe smokes quite as well as it does.

Mac OS X Developers Preview 2 20:35 pm - Wilfred
Ars Technica has put together a huge preview or should I say overview of Mac OS X, the client version. Mac aficionados will soon have an industrial strength OS that works and looks great.

The OpenStep APIs are cross platform. Mach is cross-platform. WebObjets is cross-platform. x86 builds of Rhapsody, Mac OS X Server, and Mac OS X inside Apple have been all but confirmed. Rumor has it that Apple routinely synchronizes all changes to Mac OS X across both PowerPC and x86 builds of the OS. Clearly, Apple's choice of where to deploy its new operating system is not limited by the technology. If they decided to try releasing a version Mac OS X for x86 processors, it would be technologically within their means.

Singapore Now Has 2 Free ISPs, The 3rd? 11:45 am - Wilfred
Rightos. Like Yingzong said, I won't want to be a boss of the local ISPs coz they must be facing a really stressed up time responding to the competition. Within a short span of 9 days, the race heated up so much we have from 3 charging ISPs to 2 free ones, and the third with preliminary strategies of "paying us" to surf. We all love competiton, don't we? Hey, what about my ADSL access? Gonna do something about it as well? Check CNet Singapore's news story on PI's initial response:

Under a customer rewards program called Atoms, users will get points for joining ClubFusion and for taking part in various online activities such as surveys, games and for recommending friends. Each point is equivalent to one Singapore cent. The scheme will start from January next year.

Web Links A Target  Of Copyright Ruling 11:32 am - Wilfred
Huh?! Ars Technica pointed to a story at CNN regarding a ruling this week by a federal court in Utah. The case revolves around providing hyperlinks to other sites and this ruling could have broad reaching impact on the use of the Web. Hey, a good half of websites could probably shut down on the Internet, if operators have to worry about such liabilities. I, for one, will be shaken if they passed the ruling. Dah!

In particular, the ruling could make operators of Web sites more cautious about what information and links they provide, one intellectual property expert said.

"This could have some far-reaching, chilling effects if people are worried about liability," said Robert Gorman, an associate with the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, in New York.

Gorman said the ruling seems reasonable on its face, but could have much broader impact because of the nature of the Web.

"On the surface it's not totally out of line, in the sense that the judge has the legal background to say that people who are encouraging unauthorized reproduction of copyright materials are liable to charges of contributory infringement," he said.

Nevertheless, the Web is a unique medium where traditional copyright law is difficult to apply, he added. Providing a link that takes a user to a Web site that may contain copyrighted material isn't the same thing as reproducing a copyrighted work, Gorman noted.

D-Link USB FM Radio 11:15 am - Wilfred
What?! Yes, I typed USB Radio and D-Link is making them? Yes again. You should check out Planet GeForce's (and a GeForce site is reviewing it?! Yes!) review on this little guy.

Immediately after installing the hardware and software I proceeded to check out some of the FM stations here in Edmonton, particularly Power 92 and 100.3 The Bear (neither of which I tend to listen to, but nonetheless good tests of the radio). What I heard was nothing short of amazing.

The clarity of the audio was incredible, certainly even more so when comparing it to the various radios found around this house. Reception of any station the DSB-R100 was as close to perfect as it gets, thanks to the 2 1/2 foot extendable antenna.

Matrox G400 Max 11:06 am - Wilfred
3D Chipset told us of their review on the G400 Max DualHead and they ran through some of the most prominent features found on it. Here's a nice ending to the review with an apt advice.

What does all this mean? Is it fast...yes. Does it have good Image Quality.. dear god yes. Is it worth the mad $250... maybe $200. Some of the most underated features of the g400 can't be shown on reviews. Im talking about the geometry of the desktop that comes up on your monitors. The colors are bright and sharp. Ultra Crisp with 360Mhz RamDac right behind to push that baby. More importantly the color output is completly amazing.

Your choice of either going with dual head or single head is yours. and your choice of going g400 or max is also yours.

Just remember the quote from the g400 single head review. "Don't buy something you "think" will use in the future." I couldn't say that better myself, and can't emphisize it enough.

ABIT BE6-II 06:12 am - Kan
Here's another motherboard review for today, the ABIT BE6-II from Active-Hardware

The BE6-IIs clock frequency can be set from between 66Mhz, and 200Mhz. It's here that we see the first major differences, as the BE6-II is graced by "Soft Menu III", Award BIOS version 6.0, and a choice in clock frequencies from 66Mhz to 200Mhz that increments in steps of 1Mhz. Thus we have 134 frequency choices available with the BE6-II.

Clock multipliers are available between 2X, and 8X in steps of .5X. As well, the processor's core voltage can be varied from 1.3vdc to 2.3vdc in steps of .05vdc. In an added feature, it is also now possible to set the processor's I/O voltage from between 3,20v, and 3,9v.

AOpen AX6C 04:32 am - Kan
GamePC took a look at the AOpen AX6C Camino motherboard. Yup, you won't be seeing your good-old ISA slot anymore. :) 

Of course, the biggest attention grabber for this board is the inclusion of three Rambus RIMM slots, which is outside the guidelines set by Intel for producing I820/RDRAM motherboards. Using three Rambus modules of different sizes and from different companies causes instability when all three RIMM slots are filled, and the memory bandwidth is hitting the maximum limit. So, of course Intel decided that all I820 boards should only have 2 RIMM slots to combat the problem. But by the time Intel had given the "No 3 RIMM motherboards" decree, many companies had already produced 3 RIMM boards, and didn't want to destroy them and lose money. So that's how this board got to market, AOpen had already made quite a few of these boards, and weren't about to lose a dollar by not putting them on the market.

FanCheck Review 04:30 am - Kan
De dudes over at 3AG reviewed the FanCheck monitor cooler from 3DFXCool. What it does is to monitor all those fans inside your casing and it will emit a beep if a certain threshold temperature is reach.

Now it comes time to test the effectiveness of this unit. I hooked up three fans to it, enabled them all, then pulled one of the fan power connectors off. This causes two things to happen. One, the loud alarm goes off. Two, an LED on the back of the unit (LED on the card slot opening) turns on. There are four labeled LEDs representing each fan. This way, I can check the LED to see which fan it is, shutdown, then open the case to remedy it. That way I know exactly which fan it is while having minimal power-on time with the dead or disconnected fan. All things worked successfully.

Cicero DVD Kit 04:23 am - Kan
CPUReview went ahead and bought a cheap 2X Cicero DVD-ROM. 2X?! Oh well, at least it's cheap. :)

There is no jumper for region coding; and while I could play a music DVD (Sarah McLachlan Video Collection) without any problems, however once I inserted the "Wing Commander (movie)" DVD I had to set the region code to US/Canada to play it.

Once I reduced the resolution to 800x600 and enabled DMA for the DVD player the playback smoothed out. I am not saying that there was not the occasional tiny hesitation, but it was pretty good for a software player!

ABIT VA6 Motherboard Review 02:35 am - Wilfred
Jeremy of AGN sent word (indeed, he doesn't do this very often) that they too, got down to reviewing this affordable alternative motherboard offered by ABIT. This board sports the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset that is both stable and offers several more features over the BX. It is a 'video review', so watch it in your leisure.

The Promise Of XML 02:24 am - Wilfred
There has been much talk about the coming of XML to become the markup language of choice for the Internet. Target PC has a guide on the language, covering the basics and beyond. There are also examples of source codes for those interested.

XML is the newest markup language, with the final specification released by the W3C in February of 1998. XML is short for Extensible Markup Language, and extensible implies that the language can be used for many different types of format applications without breaking the specification. Another advantage of XML is the addition of Unicode, an encoding standard for international characters. With this new support, XML will be able to proliferate into environments where western characters are not used.

Since the primary application of XML is the Internet, it is quickly being adopted. With Internet documents constantly being updated and upgraded, changing to XML data is just another upgrade. Areas like e-commerce and news have benefited the most so far, with other sectors making plans to move to XML.

Hercules Ships 3D Prophet DDR-DVI  02:20 am - Wilfred
Received a note from Tali Fischer of Guillemot that Hercules has shipped the 3D Prophet DDR-DVI in North America. Here's the news announcement:

Hercules (a division of Guillemot Corporation) is proud to announce that, as of today, the 3D Prophet DDR-DVI is the first GeForce 256(tm) DDR based board to hit the retail shelves in North America. Once again, the Guillemot Group reaffirms its aggressive position in the North American market, leading the way with new technology. As of this week, 3D Prophet DDR-DVI(tm) can be found, in limited quantities, at Electronics Boutique, CompUSA, and Babbages Etc. for $299.99 (after a $20 mail-in rebate).

HW1: The Card Cooler Review - Wilfred
Many of you are concerned about your smoking graphics accelerators and what not, but have you found a decent solution to the problem? Other than paranoids (like Wy Mun and myself) who already have multitudes of fan decked all over the casing's interior, The Card Cooler offers a tidy workaround.

Gigabyte GA-7IX Athlon Mobo 00:01 am - Wilfred
BXBoards stole a review of Gigabyte's GA7IX Athlon motherboard. A good board in all respects, but I think we could wait for boards that'll sport the polished Irongate chip and the KX133.

This is a nice stable product from Gigabyte. Early adopters of first generation can often fall victim to unpolished, or worse, unfinished products, but I'm pleased to report that the Gigabyte GA-7IX makes a stable and reliable base on which to build an Athlon system. The lack of bus speeds means that it won't appeal to the overclocker, who will choose the Asus K7M, but this board is superior to our reference FIC SD-11, and luckily does not exhibit the later boards spontaneous rebooting antics, with certain AGP cards.

With an improved AMD Irongate chip in the pipeline, and the VIA KX133 chipset (with AGP 4x) on the horizon, more fully featured boards will be soon hitting the market. For now however, with the mainboard choice for Athlon users countable on one hand, the Gigabyte GA-7IX is near the top of the heap. Recommended.

13 December 1999 - Monday

Wilfred Coughs
21:16 pm - Wilfred
I hope we didn't cause you undue distress with the lack of updates today (till moments back!) for guess what? I was out shopping with your darling reviewer Yingzong and he's just procured his X'Mas present (for himself!) - the Canon PowerShot S10. We should see some action from the sleek metallic beauty pretty soon. Here's a front shot of it!

MSI 6167 Motherboard 21:09 pm - Wilfred
This email just rolled in. FiringSquad has a review on MSI's 6167 motherboard for the Athlon. What do they think of it? I believe the following para is a fair recommendation:

We expected early Athlon motherboards to be problematic and unstable. Fortunately, with MSI's MS-6167 this proved not to be the case. We didn't encounter any unusual crashes or lockups; it ran like a champ with everything we threw at it.

That doesn't mean it's without its faults however. We wished it offered the same tweaking options present is the ASUS K7M.

With motherboards based on the KX133 chipset looming over the horizon we don't feel the 6167 (or any current Athlon motherboard for that matter) would be a wise investment for most consumers, as the AMD 750 chipset just doesn't offer the features present in the KX133.

Poll #36: The Temperature In Your Casing 21:05 pm - Wilfred
Remember to take part in the new poll, but meanwhile the results of the last poll is out! Some 1% live in the Antartica while 7% stay in worrisome climates of over 50 deg Celsius. I can never emphasize enough on the importance of proper system cooling!

Ars Takes On Unreal Tournament 20:59 pm - Wilfred
Yingzong will probably be tamed a little after reading this as he'll continually preach on the virtues of UT over Q3A (I forsee him flaming me all night after reading this! =P). No, Gonzo didn't slam UT... in fact he likes both games! So yes, fanatics.. please cool!

The different game types are where Unreal Tournament truly shines. With excellent new entries like Domination (where your goal is to capture and hold "Control Points" in order to score) and Assault (where you either defend or attack a well-fortified position) as well as the old standby Capture The Flag, you can't lose.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if in 6 months there are still oodles of people playing Assault and Domination ala Team Fortress. I couldn't help but notice that there are more people playing Half Life every day than anything else, and I'm pretty certain that it isn't because of the DM. As people tire of straight DM, they are turning toward squad based combat, like Team Fortress and CounterStrike.  The kids at Epic saw that and were clever enough to incorporate not one, but two teamplay into with the shipping version of their game.

FreeSpace 2 Review 20:48 pm - Wilfred
We're seeing loads of game reviews today. 3D Spotlight has their beam shone on Volition's FreeSpace 2. Space Sim fans, I can only assume you bought this game long ago... the rest of you might just want to join in and discover the fun for yourselves.

The ships in FreeSpace 2 are even bigger this time. The Juggernauts span over six kilometers and are virtually indestructible by your tiny ship that you pilot. The only way to bring down a ship that size is to combat it with a ship the same size.

Seeing two huge ships battle each other with their massive beam guns is truly an amazing site. You just have to watch out when two massive ships have their beam systems aimed at each other, because if you get caught in the beam, youíre as good as dead. The new beams that FreeSpace 2 has can rip through the hull of other ships and bring them down in no time at all. If you are brave enough, you can try to take down one of the massive ships yourself.

Holiday Gift Guide 20:42 pm - Wilfred
Over at ExtremeHardware, they put together a gift guide lest you're not certain what to send your favourite Hardware-One editors. I'm not picky really... a nice and fast CDRW, a DDR GeForce or even a 27Gb HDD would satisfy me.

The prices of CDRW (CD-Re-Writable) are so low right now, that we canít resist recommending one as a perfect upgrade gift. These drives are something that everyone would love to own, but is a difficult purchase to justifyÖ. in other words, the perfect gift. Be prepared to a huge fluctuation in prices between the no-name brands youíll find at the local chain store, to the name brand models with ultra-fast copying rates. The way I look at it, any CDRW drive is certainly better than going without, so buy as your budget allows.

Half-Life Opposing Force Review 20:39 pm - Wilfred
3D Rage sent word of their review on the Opposing Force add-on for Half-Life. There is something VERY RIGHT about this game when u walk into LAN shops and see swarms of kiddies teaming up in war.

The gameplay of Opposing Force is both fun and challenging that is definitly worthy of being associated with Half-Life. This time around you get to climb and even swing from rope to rope just like the marines did in the original game. If you enjoyed Half-life at all you will definitely love the gameplay of Opposing Force. Unlike the original marines of Half-life, you shouldn't kill scientist immediately after spotting them, as they will almost always offer to give you a nice boost in health that could be the difference in your succession of a level or having to reload a quick saved game. The game has also incorporated a variety of puzzles that are both enjoyable and satisfying. Once you catch a glimpse of one of the major puzzles you'll immediately begin to reminisce on the days when you were sneaking around, turning on valves and switches trying to incinerate the huge beast in the middle of the blast pit.

SBLive! X-Gamer 20:33 pm - Wilfred
A mail popped in from Sharky Extreme this afternoon on the X-Gamer SBLive! card review done there. The de facto standard for PC audio only gets better with each LiveWare release.

It was hard to beat Creative Labs in the early days of ISA sound cards, and the same holds true today. With a DSP that is continuously upgraded and a developing system of positional audio, Creative is attempting to take the gaming community by storm and the X-Gamer is a good step in that direction. With an impressive list of features, excellent API support, and top-notch sound quality, the Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer is truly an excellent product.

Pine D'Music MP3 Player 20:25 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic let me know that there's a review of this MP3 player ready. It's got funky looks and excellent sound quality, it could appeal to some of you. Here's the accompanying snippet:

Combine that with the amazing sound quality, good design, good amount of memory, standard features that werenít omitted like the HOLD slider, Repeat, A-B repeat, and equalizers with voice recording, this is an amazing device. Although it is great at what it does and beyond, the errors in the software, the slow transfer of songs, the lack of a belt clip and the lack of a pass-through cable makes it less than what it can be.

Why Palm Is Soooo Hot 20:19 pm - Wilfred
Jesse Bersts' AnchorDesk has a story about the success of the Palm and why it should continue to see this success bloom for at least the next two years. Judging from the recent developments, the Microsoft onslaught gave it even more momentum and the company sold over 3 million units in 1999 alone, bringing the total Palm users to a critical mass of 5 million. Did I tell you I got myself a Palm V recently? =)

For a long time, I believed the Palm platform would be crushed by Microsoft's WinCE. That Microsoft's marketing muscle would overcome Palm's first-mover advantage, the way Word overtook WordPerfect and Excel passed 1-2-3. Now it's clear the Palm platform will dominate the handheld space for the next two years at least.

WristWatch PDA 12:54 pm - Wilfred
Want supremacy in geekdom? You must have one of this! A wristwatch! Cool eh? But I don't think I'm ready to be seen with one yet! To do list, calendar, address books and games... full-featured.

The onHand PC provides all the popular features of palm-type devices at a fraction of the size. With onHand PC you can view your to-do list, add appointments to the calendar, look up an address, balance your checkbook, or simply relax and play games.

Sega Dreamcast Console Review 12:47 pm - Wilfred
3D Alpha has a short review on Sega's last attempt at console making, the Dreamcast. The system is the best console money can buy, so check this out:

Now, since there are many games to try for the Dreamcast, and I bought only SoulCalibur with my own Dreamcast, I find actually reviewing it a little tough. Though I ran through the demo disc that came with the system, and tried out the various games it had to offer. I will say this much: The Dreamcast is certainly as good as it's been cracked up to be, and in fact, even better. Games like The House of The Dead II show realistic polygonal damage, so that when you shoot at a zombie, parts of the zombie will actually chip off. Other games like Sonic Adventure display good graphics and an all around fun game at the same time, while others like SoulCalibur offer fast-paced action fighting that doesn't spare any realism (Aside from breaking someone's neck and watching them get on their feet again.). All the games I had a chance to play were mainly on the demo disc, but the demo disc was promising, and it seems as though Sega's lining up more titles for their system. One such awaited title is the Dreamcast version of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. Generally, the Dreamcast runs games fast and smooth. Although, whether or not the game runs smooth is really the developer's job, but all games under the demo disc performed very well. Better than expected.

Custom Athlon Overclocking Rig 12:44 pm - Wilfred
Real hot stuff they got there, HotHardware just put up some pics on 'Afterburner' - a custom Athlon overclocking rig by Outside Loop Computers. The thingy allows you to tweak CPU voltage, FSB and multiplier settings and they will be putting it into tests soon. Watch!

Coolness Evolves 06:50 am - Kan
Our diehard pals over at HardOCP posted an editorial named Coolness Evolves (more like a preview on the AOpen AX6BC Pro Gold motherboard). Here's some of the interesting stuff:

So this brings about the question, in my mind at least, why the hell is everything so boring in the Hardware Mfg. Community?  How bout we make a mainboard and we will make it hmmmm....lets say...green or gold?  Before you start mailing me feverishly with pictures of boards, YES I have seen the exceptions to the rule.  So please hang onto those pics eh. 

Wouldn't you like to see a more trademark images in the craftsmanship and PCB layouts.  I know much of this stuff is covered by spec and not up for freak changes by some artists whim.  But there has to be more room for playing around a little.  Let's face it, people like us love that stuff.  Many of us are always looking to one up the ante with some that is "More" than what our buddy has. 

Erazor X Review 06:40 am - Kan
Those wacky guys over at VoodooExtreme published their results of what they felt about Elsa Erazor X GeForce graphics card. Hmm, the Elsa even comes with 'Chipguard'.

Another interesting feature included with the Erazor X is Chipguard. Chipguard is a small application which monitors the fan and the temperature of the Erazor X, issuing a warning when there is risk of board damage. Chipguard installs a small circular LED icon (like a power light in a computer case) in the bottom right portion of the windows GUI. The LED is green when everything is normal and changes when there is a problem. The Chipguard is an useful addition but it will not make the Erazor X overclock better, nor will it predict operation at an overclocked speed. When overclocking the board significantly, say, 15+mhz, chances are the Erazor X will experience visual anomalies or crash during game operation before Chipguard can detect it.

Quake 3 Benchmarks Updated 06:35 am - Kan
nV News dropped us a line on their updated GeForce SDR benchmarks on the final demo version of Quake III Arena. Drop the benchmarks, this card is the one to get for Christmas. :)

Playing Quake 3 using high quality settings, which includes 32-bit color, is an extremely demanding game even on today's fastest PC's.  Take a look at the following benchmark results using high quality settings at three overclocked core and memory clock speeds

ABIT BF6 06:33 am - Kan
The reviewers over at FiringSquad released another motherboard review - ABIT BF6. The BF6 comes with 6 PCI slots, however it doesn't support any ATA-66 channels. Hmm, suppose to be a replacement for the BH6 anyway. This board is super overclockable, so check it out:

The BE6-II and BF6 will be Abit's last motherboards based on the 440BX chipset, marking the end of an overclocking era that began with the BX6. Just think of the great motherboards Abit has released based on the BX chipset: the BX6, BH6, BX6 2.0, BM6, and dual Celeron users (James among them) will always love the joy their BP6 has given them. All of these boards were (and still are) in use among millions of users even to this day, over a year after some of them were originally released! You gotta' love Abit for making such great products and look forward to what they have in store for consumers with their recently announced 820 motherboards, the CH6 and CX6.

Belkin USB Keyboard Review 06:32 am - Kan
Speedy3D reviewed the Belkin USB Keyboard. Nothing special about it as it looks like your normal 104-keyboard, except that it comes with USB interface.

I found the wrist rest a little too floppy for me, and sometimes it became disconnected accidentally. It left me wishing that that it had snapped in somehow to make a firmer connection. I also enjoyed its nice standard layout, and noticed that it was a wider than average keyboard. Another advantage was that it included the standard number pad and arrow keys. It also features 3 standard windows shortcut keys that are designed to make it easier to launch programs.

Athlon 750 Review 06:31 am - Kan
To start off a brand new day, that's a review of the Athlon 750 MHz processor over at LostCircuits. This is the fastest kid on the streets, and it comes with a hefty price tag as well.

The easiest workaround in a situation like this is to reduce the speed at which the L2 cache has to operate. In the original plans for the Athlon (then still the K7), the L2 was foreshadowed as running at 200 MHz on a 600 MHz core clock, thus requiring a 1/3 divider. However, after the release of the original Athlon, the technical world was stunned to realize that AMD had gone the extra mile and incorporated faster cache modules on the CPU PCB, making it possible to maintain Ĺ clockspeed even at 600 MHz as we were the first to report in our initial Athlon review. Even more interesting turned out that the same divider could be carried over to versions runing at 700 MHz or slightly above that. However, about 700 MHz appears to be the limit at which the L2 cache can be run reliably and stable. With stability having become almost the middle name for Athlon systems, this feature is certainly nothing that AMD would be willing to jeopardize in favor of some fraction of a performance point. The cache divider on the Athlon is programmable and thus, it is no big deal to change it if the correct parameters are known.

 

12 December 1999 - Sunday

ABIT VA6 VIA Apollo Pro 133 Review
- Wilfred
Why yes, we cranked out a review on this hush hush board from Abit. It's selling locally at a low price, so it must interest a lot of curious buyers. I had the chance to pit it against my venerable BX6-II board in several tests. How does it rate?

Features such as support for 1/2 AGP multiplier and the ability to run the memory asynchronously with the FSB (either run at FSB speed, or at a fixed 66Mhz) are unique to the Apollo Pro 133 chipset.

The 1/2 AGP multiplier is a crucial determinant for overclocking success when we try to use FSB speeds of 133Mhz and above. The BX allows for only 1/1 and 2/3 multipliers, and it gives us a very high 89Mhz AGP buss speed even when using 2/3. This puts tremendous stress on the component and therefore, it is usually a rarity that to achieve a stable system at such high FSB speeds. But now, with the Apollo Pro 133 and the advent of PC133 SDRAM, we should hear of more success stories.

Video Card Cooling Kit 19:07 pm - Kan
TheTechZone just posted their review on the Mellenger's Video Card Cooling Kit. Expect our own review on some cooling stuffs as well later in the day. :) Here's an excerpt from TheTechZone's review:

The thing that makes this kit unique is the use of little heatsinks to cool the video card RAM. Most video card overclocking kits (like the TenMax coolers) only keep the video card chip cool. They do nothing for the RAM. The eight pieces of RAM heatsink was enough to cool all 32 megs of video RAM on the GeForce 256.

You will lose a PCI slot with this kit so make sure you still have enough slots left for all your devices before ordering. You should really have the 2 PCI slots below the AGP slot free to give the fan on the heatsink some breathing room. The fan is your standard 12 volts unit with a pass though power connector. No CFM rating was provided.

Quake 3 Arena Review 19:04 pm - Kan
You have played the demo for so long that I'm sure you will be able to write an article on the game as well. :) Anyway, the guys over at 3D-Unlimited just posted their thoughts on the game:

The eyes of the alien Xaero are narrowing. Impassively watching and waiting as the arena transforms high-ranking warriors into spineless mush. But the seedy stench of death isn't enough to cloud your judgment. Abandoning every ounce of common sense and any trace of doubt.  You lunge onto a stage of harrowing landscapes and veiled abysses. Your new environment rejects you with lava pits and atmospheric hazards as legions of foes surround you. Your purpose is unknown. Your only company, a mantra: fight or be finished.

D-Link DSB-100 USB FM Radio 17:09 pm - Kan
Interesting piece of hardware review on the D-Link DSB-100 USB FM Radio by Overclockin.com. Basically it's a radio receiver which plugs into your USB port and enables you to listen to the radio.

The DSB-100 consists of two parts:  the base unit and the antenna.  The base is about the same diameter as a soda can and is made of a clear plastic which allows you to see all the internal parts.   A cord that is approx. 5 feet in length is attached to the base unit.  At the other end of the cord are two connectors.  One is a standard USB plug and the other is a stereo headphone plug.  The stereo plug is with an input on your soundcard to allow the radio broadcasts to be played through your computers speaker system.  The antenna is approx. 6 inches when collapsed and extends to approx. two feet when fully extended. 

Foldable Keyboard 16:59 pm - Kan
This is wacky! CNEWZ dropped us a line on the new foldable keyboards spotted in Japan. Wowz!


Want A Soviet Submarine? Own It! 13:46 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! Here's your chance, a NATO designated "Juliett" class Soviet submarine is on sale - CHEAP. It's the largest diesel powered submarine designed for carrying out nuclear strikes on the east coast of US cities. How is this IT related? Hmm.. wait, I go think about it.

Razor Boomslang 13:34 pm - Wilfred
If the name doesn't yet ring a bell, it's the killer mouse said to be on all fraggers' X'mas wishlist. Does it live up to its hype at all? So it is the tool and not the carpenter? Come on! I'll still get my ass railed by the likes of Yingzong and Wy Mun! nV News has a short review on it!

I switched back to my Intellimouse only to find that the original scroll mouse is terribly slow and clumsy.  Even though I haven't dedicated myself to the Boomslang fully, I find that each time I revert to the standard mouse, I like the Boomslang even more.

Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500 SECC2 Cooler 13:31 pm - Wilfred
Got a SECC2-based processor such as the latest Coppermine or an older Pentium II? Net-N-Dude has a cooler designed for them and the boys at Sharky Extreme just took it for a spin here:

In terms of peak heat production however, say when an overclocked CPU is getting 98 - 100% utilization continuously by an app (looping Quake2 demos, Prime95 number crunching) the Glacier kept temperatures up to 15% lower than the stock cooling units could, which indicates a strong ability to continuously dissipate heat

Canon Powershot S10 Digital Camera 00:10 am - Wilfred
What's smaller than the S10 and takes better digital stills? Nothing! Hurry over to The Imaging Resource for their latest take on this silver babe. Now do you know what to ask for Christmas?

Overall, we were extremely impressed with the quality of the images produced by the S10. In truth, we rather expected to find that the lens had limitations or excessive distortion, given the tiny body it's crammed into: Surely there would be compromises made in this respect. (We really had no basis for this belief, as we haven't seen any evidence of such compromises in other tiny cameras we've tested, whether from Canon or others. Still, the thought was there.) We were amazed then, to find that the S10 produced photos that are easily in the top tier of current 2 megapixel camera offerings. (November, 1999) Resolution and detail were tack-sharp, and color was excellent as well.

Aureal Vortex SQ2500 & PC Slot Coolers 00:02 am - Wilfred
Overclockers Australia sent note on some new stuff they got reviewed downunder. Covered this round are a couple of slot coolers and the Vortex SQ2500.

In general use, the Vortex2's sound was crisper that my old SB16, or the SBLive! I tested, this is probably due to the fact that the Vortex2 does not amplify its own sound, eliminating distortion. Due to the lack of amplification, you need powered speakers or headphones to get any sound at all, but I found that putting it through a stereo (an old Sony FH-114) worked just as well. It has 576 voices included with the onboard wavetable, which is far beyond what any casual user/ gamer will ever need. You can also add effects to your midi files, such as hall echo or reverb, I found these to be little more than a novelty, as serious midi users will probably want more control.

11 December 1999 - Saturday

Wilfred Coughs
21:28 pm - Wilfred
So we take turns to go AWOL you say? Heheh! Well yes, kinda. It is weekend dudes! Will try to get something up either tonight or early tomorrow. Don't hold your breath, I try. =)

3Com Internet Gaming Modem 21:25 pm - Wilfred
Hehe! Most of you know that software modems are no go for online gaming, 3Com seem to realised the importance of catering to this niche group of users and their particular needs and so released their latest series of U.S. Robotics Internet Gaming Modem (it's hardware based). Thresh's FiringSquad pushed out a review on it and let's see if it delivers on its hype of 43% faster weighted average ping times than the competition. Here tells you how the modem was tweaked:

As it turns out, V.90 generally has been implemented under the context that higher Connect Speed & CPS (Characters Per Second) were the only and true measurements. In order to achieve faster CPS, we (modem manufacture's) tend to need to push the envelope on connect speed. However, a trade off introduced with higher speed & higher CPS, is often a higher BLer (Block error rate) as well as more retrains and speed shifts. However, for most common applications (i.e. downloading files or large Web pages), this does not affect overall performance as long as the overall CPS average is higher.

    Internet Gaming is an entirely different, though. In this application, little data is being sent. However, these packets are more time sensitive. Thus, any Blers, speed shifts or retrains cause the modem to either resend the data or stop sending data. This obviously creates a huge problem when the person playing the game is trying to send an action or move (turn in a racing game, gun fire in an action game, etc.) or receive new coordinates/updates from the server.

    This brings us to the first and most critical tweak we made to the Internet Gaming Modem - we negotiate a V.90 speed which limits, and in most cases eradicates, Bler's, rate shifts or retrains. Thus in Gaming mode, we offer a highly stable connection for consistent gaming performance (i.e. - Ping times).

    In addition to stability we have made some modifications to the modems firmware (code) to remove some inner delays, in buffers, and took advantage of the high speed capabilities of the PCI controller product by putting the equivalent of a 230k driver on this modem to increase the DTE speed.

Notched Poly Process Takes Intel Past 0.8Ghz 21:14 pm - Wilfred
EETimes has an article about a recent breakthrough in Intel's process technology that allowed them to take the PIII past 800Mhz. For the 'Intel Inside' sticker to stay on my PC, I guess they better have something real cool, real quick and real cheaply... you've all heard the newer Athlons coming (as if the present crop didn't give enuf beating to the competition).

Intel's 0.18-micron process technology normally produces transistors with a 0.13-micron gate length, but in his presentation Ghani said a method had been devised that allowed a notch to be introduced at the bottom of each transistor's polysilicon gate, thereby narrowing the gate length to 100 nm.

Another advantage of the notched-poly process is that it allows the continued use of 248-nm lithography, Ghani said.

The shorter gate length, together with other refinements described in the paper, reduces the gate capacitance and allows circuits to be built with higher-speed performance at a reduced operating voltage (1.2 to 1.5 V) and with higher current drive and low leakage current.

Looking At RAMBUS (Again) 20:59 pm - Wilfred
The heading goes "RAMBUS - The Next Generation". Oh well, for its price and technology, I expect gargantuan leaps in performance. But somehow we haven't heard much good news yet.

Since the benchmarks used do not seem to demonstrate a significant, clear advantage that can be attributed to Rambus memory the choice of those benchmarks to demonstrate the "superiority" of Rambus memory is suspect; and leads to two hypotheses:

  1. There is no significant performance advantage to Rambus
  2. Rambus made an extremely poor choice of benchmarks

ATI Rage Fury Pro 20:54 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! The chaps at DemoNews are also dabbling with hardware reviews these days. He has written a tidy piece on ATI's Rage Fury Pro graphics card, so go ahead and check it out!

With DXTC that Microsoft now has implemented in their Direct3D API and got to be a standard is a really great step forward for ATI. I didn't mention that DXTC offers a 6:1 texture compression ratio which not only allows developers to save memory and disk space, but also allows chuncks of texture data to be more effiently and faster taken care of. As again, DXTC allows big textures in 3D scenes never before possible (without a fattish silicon graphics computer maybe) and the whole scene get a lot more lifeful and detailed. Actually right now, as you read, DXTC and other texture compression methods are already actively in use by over 50 developers. So, expect games to come, to have support for huge textures that gives the games another feeling.

If you get your hands on the VIVO model of the Rage Fury Pro, then you're the owner of card that is sure the best overall performer. You'll get fantastic gaming, a featurerish card with such features as DVD/MPEG2 in hardware, TV-out and Video Capure. It's an endless list that gives your computer a new meaning.

Netgear RT328 ISDN Router 14:14 pm - Kan
AGN Hardware posted part 2 of their ISDN roundup with a review on the Netgear RT328 ISDN router.

Realizing that most have never played with any sort of Network Operating System, we decided to break-off the section on installation and provide you with a general How-To on configuring a home router.  We used the ZyXel Prestige 202 as our test router, but this How-To will also apply to the Netgear RT 328 router as well.  Check out the review for the answers you're looking for on getting the router set-up at home, with this video it should only take you about 8 minutes to get everything going.

There's also a review of the ZyXEL Prestige ISDN over here:

Realizing that most have never played with any sort of Network Operating System, we decided to break-off the section on installation and provide you with a general How-To on configuring a home router.  We used the ZyXel Prestige 202 as our test router, but this How-To will also apply to the Netgear RT 328 router as well.  Check out the review for the answers you're looking for on getting the router set-up at home, with this video it should only take you about 8 minutes to get everything going.

Viewmate 17" Translucent Monitor 14:12 pm - Kan
From the makers who brought you the review of the ISDN routers, the boys also released their thoughts on the Viewmate 17" Translucent Monitor (iMac pattern).

You are bored with your plain looking white 15" monitor and you have decided it is time for a change. The new 17" Viewmate Translucent monitor has just what you could be in need of, taking away the normal boring look of the monitor and offering a translucent blue color instead. With a retail price of $299 you are going to have to plan on spending top dollar for a 17" monitor, but you do get impressive features to make up for the extra price. With a maximum resolution of 1600x1200x75Hz .25dp you will be able to play your games with no problems, while at the same time being able to lower the resolution for a great looking desktop as well. Watch our video review of the monitor for a closer first hand look at what Viewmate has to offer with this pretty piece of glass.

Hoontech SoundTrack YMF744 Digital XG 14:11 pm - Kan
Our long time pals over at 3DAI posted their views on the Hoontech SoundTrack YMF744 Digital XG soundcard.

Hoontech already has a good reputation in the US with their previous cards, and the Digital XG is no exception. The SoundTrack Digital XG is based on Yamahaís YMF744 chip, which is a DirectSound/3D/EAX accelerator and relies on the Sensaura algorithm for 3D audio. As of the time of this review, the card only supports two 3D streams, but in a driver upgrade, will be sporting a respectable 16 streams. The card that I received was the version with the Digital Bracket (more on that later).

PC-PGA Coppermines on BP6 14:00 pm - Kan
Yep, over at BP6.com, the BP6 lovers received words from ABIT that the PGA Coppermines will not be supported on the BP6. 

I just wanted to update you so you could let people on the site know that the BP6 will NOT be able to support coppermines. That will not happen, there are also rumors of an adapter card. We have no such card in the plans. Originally it was thought that maybe we could get it to work with a BIOS update, but that has proven to be not true. The reason is because of 2 areas, both controled by Intel. One is the VRM spec, which controls voltage regulation, the other is the pin-outs between the Celerons and CUmines, both different. So even a single processor Cumin capability will not be availble for the BP6 much less dual capability."

Iomega Jaz Drive 13:58 pm - Kan
The Kawai Network dropped us a line on their review on the Iomega Jaz Drive (1GB and 2GB). If you are looking for a storage space larger than a CD-R (650MB), then the Jaz may be ideal for you.

Over two times as fast and holds two times the data as compared to the normal GB Jaz Drive. I, myself have a both a 2GB Jaz Drive and a 1GB Jaz Drive. Overall, I prefer the 2GB. Itís been one of my best investments. You can very quickly and easily store / backup files and folders from your hard drive, floppy, or CD-ROM right to a Jaz Disk. Also, The 2GB Jaz drive is backward compatible with the 1GB Jaz disks.

Philips 6 MegaPixel CCD to Rival 35mm Quality 06:35 am - Kan
For those who's interested in digital photography, our pals over at Digital Photography Review posted a news blurb on the possibility of digital still cameras rivaling the quality of 35mm film in the next few years.

Although the prototype sensor is monochrome, and the use of red, green and blue filters would reduce resolution to 2 million tricolor pixels, Peek said the small size of individual light sensing elements, 3-micron x 3-micron, would allow such a sensor to rival small format film photography.

"We are approaching the grain size of film, which is about 2 microns diameter, but image quality is also determined by the quality of the lens. The same thing effects CCD."

Images produced using the sensor and displayed by Peek, albeit through an overhead projector system, were indistinguishable from images obtained from film. Individual hairs could been seen on the heads of head-and-shoulder portraits, which prompted congratulations from the audience.

Review on RAMBUS 06:31 am - Kan
Over at GamePC, the boys scored a first hand looks at the RAMBUS PC-800 RDRAM. RDRAM? We are looking for a piece to use on the motherboards we need to test. If you know where we can find a piece, kindly give us a call

The RDRAM Rambus In-Line Memory Module (middle) looks very similar to today's current SDRAM DIMM's (bottom) , but the internals are very, very different. While the RIMM is the same size as the DIMM, it's not compatible with current motherboards. The RIMM draws less voltage (2.5V compared to SDRAM's 3.3V), but at the same time produces more heat than today's memory.

AcceleraPCI 06:24 am - Kan
5Games took a look at the AceleraPCI which allows you to upgrade your old Pentium 75 Mhz or higher processor to a spanking new 433 Mhz Celeron along with 64MB of RAM.

As the manual states I need to move all of my PCI cards to fit their card in correctly. After they were moved I had to start up Windows98 and reinstall all of their device drivers. Then it was back to installing the card, after a quick boot-up with their Installation Software I was told that everything was green to go. I was happy that I got everything to work in a simple 30 minutes, I guess that still counts as ďminutes.Ē

Evolva Preview 06:22 am - Kan
nV News smashed a preview of the upcoming game Evolva from Computer Artworks. Yup, best played with a GeForce.

The player takes on the role of Evolva, and is to fight against an alien parasite which has infected the planet.  The bad news is that the parasite produces eggs that when matured are called upon to infect the next set of planets and ultimately destroy the world.  For protection, the parasite can produce armies of guardians.

Gigabyte GA-MG400 06:18 am - Kan
This must be a surprise. Guru3D managed to grab hold a copy of the Gigabyte GA-MG400 which is basically a Matrox G400 16MB card without the video BIOS onboard. Well, how can you use the card without a BIOS? Basically, this card only supports Gigabyte boards where the motherboard BIOS will take over what the video BIOS  normally does.

And now, Gigabyte may distribute it's own 'hybrid' of the G400, the GA-MG400. But wait, there are a few catches though. Of course Matrox would not allow Gigabyte to be a relatively strong competitor against Mtrox, it would of course compromise their own sales. Matrox demanded that the GA-MG400 can only work with Gigabyte Motherboards. This card will not work on any other motherboard. So if you have a SOYO, ASUS, ABit or whatever motherboard, this card will not work for you my friend. (you should have bought a mainboard from Gigabyte anyway since they do a truly excellent job in manufacturing HQ mainboards).

 

10 December 1999 - Friday

Quake III Benchmarks On Quadro/AMD 1 GHz
21:25 pm - Kan
This is crazy stuff! SharkyExtreme smacked some benchmarks of Quake III Arena running on a 1Ghz SuperG System with the new nVidia Quadro graphics card!

Once again, make note that at the higher resolutions (800x600 and above), the differences in performance between a 32MB DDR-SGRAM GeForce 256 and a 64MB NVIDIA Quadro are in full swing. At the moment we're just running the review system as 'received' and any 'Quadro vs. GeForce 256' comparisons should not made. One final note, the benchmarks were run using the FULL version of Quake III: Arena. That's all folks. It's back to work for us...

AVB Sonix S-2000 Flat-Panel Speakers 21:22 pm - Kan
TheTechZone whipped up a review of the AVB Sonix S-2000 Flat-Panel Speakers. If you always like those wafer-thin speakers, check out this model:

The SONIX S-2000 are "flat panel" speakers. For the most part, flat panel speakers are diffuse direct radiators. That is, they produce sound by vibration of a panel. This vibration generates a complex random ripple of wave forms on the panel surface which in an ideal model radiate sound in a circular pattern from the panel.

This is different from a standard cone speaker that if we consider as a piston produces a beam of sound which in a stereo field creates the so called "sweet spot". The circular wave form of the AVB panels means that the product has a very wide sound stage. That is, the sound levels are equal across a large listening area. That's how it's suppose to work anyway. In real life, it's not even close.

Elsa Erazor X GeForce 21:19 pm - Kan
Our pals over at FiringSquad posted the new Elsa Erazor X GeForce graphics card. From the physical looks of it, it definitely looks very different from your usual reference boards.

The normal SDR GeForce boards perform just as well as the DDR versions at lower resolutions, but memory bandwidth becomes an issue at higher resolutions. DDR cards have double the memory bandwidth of the normal SDRAM cards and offer faster frame rates at high resolutions. ELSA also has a DDR board, the Erazor X≤.

Computers In Movies 17:54 pm - Wilfred
Heh! This is not about the latest super-workstation-cluster rendering your sequel to The Matrix, but rather an editorial at osOpinion shooting off the comical and often frustrating portrayals of computers in movies. Farnie stuff.

#1. When computers are portrayed in movies, must they make subtle beeping noises as each bit of text is thrown up on the screen? I may be too young to ever have really known computers at a time when this sound effect was an actual product of a user's interaction with it, but it just seems so ever done. I really must ask, Is this sound a Hollywood generated effect, or did computers ever really beep when displaying text? I must know.

#2. I constantly see examples of video conferencing being displayed from a laptop. Normally I wouldn't think anything of this, as I allow film writers a certain level of creative license when depicting computers and technology, but sometimes they take the realm of fantasy too far. Live video is fine, but when they go out of their way to show that the video is being fed from a laptop's 28.8 dialup connection with no less than a full screen and clearer than mountain spring water, I've got to laugh. GET REAL!

Elsa Erazor X2 17:43 pm - Wilfred
iXBT did a review on Elsa's GeForce DDR Erazor X2. So if you have a pair of their Revelator glasses, this will be the fastest card to pair it up with! Protect your investment! Read this, there are loads of benchmarks!

We have every reason to state that ELSA ERAZOR X2 graphics card is one of the coolest gaming accelerators today. As we have supposed before, high performance memory type used - DDR SGRAM - very positively tells on the general performance of the graphics card based on NVIDIA GeForce 256 chip.

However, from time to time we come across the situations when the GeForce 256 chip appears the only obstacle preventing the graphics subsystem from performing even better.

Besides, we would like to point out that if your CPU is relatively weak, it doesn't make much sense to buy very powerful and expensive graphics cards with DDR SGRAM while there is just a handful of games supporting hardware T&L in the market. The thing is that the system CPU turns out a real bottleneck restricting the system performance almost at all resolutions and especially in 16-bit color regimes, because it appears unable to fully utilize the graphics accelerator.

ELSA ERAZOR X2 proved a very promising high quality product, which will find its way in gaming PCs. If we take into account that these graphics cards will be supplied together with very high quality software and a game supporting hardware T&L, its brilliant future will hardly seem doubtful.

Asus V6600 GeForce 256 Deluxe 17:38 pm - Wilfred
SharkyExtreme sent note about their V6600 Deluxe review. What's with the 'deluxe' set you ask? Aside from the wealth of software utilities showing off the SmartDoctor technologies, you'll get additional S-Video and RCA outputs, S-Video input and connector for the Asus VR glasses. Call this THE most full featured video card!

At this point we've looked at several GeForce cards, and know the ups and downs of each. Analogous in performance, GeForce boards have to be judged based on either price/performance or features. While one user may want a gaming card without extra features, another may look for a more complete package. The ASUS V660 Deluxe caters especially to such a user. Offering VR glasses, video editing, TV-Out, SGRAM, hardware monitoring, and a tweaking utility, the V6600 is one of the most full featured video solutions to date.

AOpen Millennium Edition Mainboard 17:35 pm - Wilfred
Our bud at HardOCP penned down his thoughts about the aesthetically pleasing board from AOpen to commemorate the millennium. It worked great already, so it probably doesn't hurt to make it look good as well?

Wouldn't you like to see a more trademark images in the craftsmanship and PCB layouts.  I know much of this stuff is covered by spec and not up for freak changes by some artists whim.  But there has to be more room for playing around a little.  Let's face it, people like us love that stuff.  Many of us are always looking to one up the ante with some that is "More" than what our buddy has. 

Price watch 15:23 pm - David
Pals over at Chip Testers has updated their Weekly Hardware Prices, check it out! 

Golden Fingers! 15:22 pm - David
The Tech Report has reviewed the Athlon overclocking card called the Golden Fingers card by Trinity Micro, It plugs to the connector on the top of your Athlon to let you change the multiplier settings. Cool! I'm sure most of our readers with an Athlon will love this.

So how's it work? Pretty much as advertised. Simply set the DIP switches according to a legend that comes with the card, plug it into the CPU, and boot up. (Although there are 20 DIP switches, only 16 of them are used.) One installation caveat: because the Athlon ships with a plastic cover that obscures the diagnostic connector, the cover will need to be removed before you can use the Golden Fingers card. You can check out instructions for removing the cover here and here.

I managed to get the cover most of the way off of my Athlon with a putty knife (I had to use a screwdriver to break loose the last bond between the processor and the casing), and I think this method resulted in less mangling of the plastic casing than some of the tools others have used. I had already cut a hole in the top of the casing to make room for the Golden Fingers card connector, but it turns out that the circuit board interferes as well, so I'll have to cut some more. I'm going to go to the trouble because I'm a little leery of leaving the Athlon as it is, naked in the slot with no retention mechanism.

3D Mark 2000 Pro 15:21 pm - David
Boom Games has reviewed the 3D Mark 2000 Pro, here's a a whiff:

Graphics benchmarking software is something the big guys use and the little guys read about, right? With MadOnion.com's 3DMark2000 Pro, I see this trend of target changing. No longer is 3DMark a thing limited to reviews.

Now, you can gauge your own system specifications and get reccomended hardware upgrades while comparing your system results with others.

Now that we've established there is a reason for a standard consumer to have nice benchmarking software, let's see if 3DMark2000 Pro is up to the test.

Fastest Processors in 2000 15:20 pm - David
Ace's Hardware has written an article on the fastest processors in 2000, Part 2, check it out:

The giant has awakened to smell the coffee, however, as the P7 (Willamette), will be introduced during the fourth quarter. Intel seems to be convinced that the Willamette will be significantly faster than the Athlon. AMD isn't sitting on its laurels either: a revised K7 core, called Mustang, should keep the performance crown in AMD's ranks.

In this part, we will discuss what we can expect from Intel's Willamette and the AMD Athlon Mustang. Our information is not very detailed as what we have said in the first part, but we will give it a try. Keep in mind that plans may change.

Elsa Gloria II - nVidia Quadro First Looks 11:51 am - Wilfred
Fast Graphics threw out a preview of the first card to be released with the nVidia Quadro chip. The high-end OpenGL card from Elsa runs at 135Mhz and has 64Mb memory.

The first thing I need to say it that if you're a gamer, you really won't be interested in the Quadro. In games it's about as fast as the GeForce DDR, but a Quadro card will cost more than $ 1000 US whereas you can pick up a GeForce DDR for around $ 300. The only benchmarks that showed a big advantage for the Quadro chip over GeForce are benchmarks using wireframe models with anti aliased lines. The GeForce performs quite bad in those benchmarks, while the Quadro performs excellent with it's hardware acceleration of anti aliased wireframe models.

So why does a Quadro card cost $ 1000 US? It can't be the support of anti aliased lines, or the extra 32 MB that you get... Nope you pay the price of quality. Elsa provides excellent drivers which offer good image quality and apart from that, Elsa has tested the card for compatibility and optimal performance in many high end programs like 3D Studio MAX/VIZ, ALLPLAN, AnySIM, AutoCADģ R14/2000, Autodeskģ Architectural Desktop, Autodeskģ Mechanical Desktop, AVS/Express, CADdy++, Cinema 4D, Extreme 3D, Helix, HiCAD, I-DEAS Master Series, Lightscape, LightWave 3D, Logocad/Triga, Maya NT, MicroStation, Open Inventor based Applikations, Pro/Desktop, Pro/ENGINEER, Pro/MECHANICA, SoftImage, Solid Edge, SolidWorks, Superscape, Unicenter TNG, Unigraphics, visplan, WorldToolKit. Elsa also provides special drivers which offer additional performance in AutoCAD 2000 and 3D Studio MAX.

New Coppermine Bug Discovered 11:47 am - Wilfred
Dope! And I was all excited about the highly overclockable PIII 500E... The Register reports that another errata is found on Coppermine processors in which they'll do the wrong sums. How does all this add up?

Implication: If this erratum occurs, the result of an x87 floating point instruction which should be positive will instead be negative." It is apparently possible for a BIOS mod to provide a workaround for the bug, but at the moment, any Coppermine could be doing its sums wrong.

This is terribly embarrassing for Chipzilla, which still uses the original Pentium FDIV (floating point divide) fault to put a scare into new recruits and to remind employees of the inherent fallibility of man.

It's not entirely clear whether this bug applies to Katmai as well as Coppermine cores. The original Pentiums were made into expensive keyrings after Intel refunded millions of dollars to users, so if you're lucky enough to have a Coppermine, maybe those nice folks at Intel are about to refund you the purchase price.

Sharp Internet ViewCam 11:40 am - Wilfred
HotHardware delivered a review on the sleek Sharp Internet Viewcam capable of capturing extremely small file sizes using MPEG4 compression.

This slick new piece of video technology reminds me of the type of gadget you would see in one of those high end mall stores for people who have it all. It is really quite a high tech piece of gear. The Sharp IVC is said to retail for $699, so it comes with a slightly high end price tag too. Still, for some folks, this mini digital video camera will be an essential tools for giving themselves the edge in getting real time footage posted or sent over the Internet.

The quality of the camera's recording and ease of use is excellent. However, if you want top shelf recording, the file size will grow a little. Never the less, with MPEG4 compression as its native format, you'll get the smallest footprint available today especially in a digital video camera.

Computers Are Better Than Chips And Sex 02:24 am - Wilfred
Ok, before I knock off to bed. Just came across this brow raising news piece at The Register about a conducted survey. Woe be to mankind! Geeks rule!!

According to research by Microsoft, a quarter of Britons would rather be using their computer than having sex. And one in five rated silicon chips above the potato variety -- that's 'french fries' to our US readers.

AOpen MX64 VIA Apollo Pro133A 02:17 am - Wilfred
Active-Hardware has a review on AOpen's MX64 board. The chipset supports PC133 SDRAM, ATA/66 and AGP4X. Gotta find out how it fares huh?

With the MX64 motherboard, AOpen has once again produced a board of excellent quality. Not only is the MX64 is quite versatile, but it is also an excellent performer, and quite stable; truly a board for Overclocking wizards. Our only regret is the scarcity of expansion slots, and the inability to adjust the processor's core voltage, but, nothing in this world is perfect... It's unfortunate that the MX64 didn't score a bit higher in the evaluation table, as it showed excellent performance. Still, the absence of a few features does not take away from the shining example of this board's performance.

Pentium III Coppermine 500E - Next C300A? 02:14 am - Wilfred
Whoa! Overclockers, heads up! Just received word from Overclockers.com regarding their latest review (hot!) on a retail PIII Coppermine 500e. The thing is, they'd like to call it the Celeron 300A of Pentium IIIs. They had the baby at 750Mhz with a 150Mhz FSB stable simply with a standard strength cooler attached!

I don't know what alignment of planets made these speeds possible with this setup, but I can only tell you what I found and with what. This is a sample of one - as others buy the 500E and try it out, we'll see if this is just a freak or not; I suspect it is not because the core is spec'd to hit 733 MHz, and I believe with the right board (whenever the 810s get bug free) and cooling I don't doubt that 800 is achievable, and with super-cooling I'll bet someone will break 1,000.

Unreal Tournament  02:05 am - Wilfred
The big boys at The FiringSquad just posted their take on Unreal Tournament. From the sound of it, I think the boys favour Quake III Arena over Epic Megagames' release. You decide!

Unreal Tournament is a great game. It was a long time in coming, but its plethora of gaming options and innovations make UT a truly unique gaming experience. With its highly polished teamplay options, it's easy to see why UT has become so popular so quickly. With this game, Epic has stepped up to the plate as a big time contender in the multiplayer first person shooter realm. We'd like to make it clear however, that UT is not the "perfect game" that so many publications are calling it. Like it or not, UT isn't the second coming of Christ. It's not going to cure cancer either, nor will it solve world hunger, and frankly, we're a bit baffled as to why the mainstream gaming publications are treating it that way.

Make no mistake: We think Unreal Tournament is a really fun and fast paced game, and there are a lot of reasons to tout it for what it is - a solid multiplayer first person shooter. But without better DM map design, more polished graphics and artwork and maybe more panache in the weapons design department, we don't feel that Unreal Tournament is quite ready to earn our seal of approval as the uber-shooter to carry gaming into the next millennium.

Guillemot Fortissimo Review 02:01 am - Wilfred
Guillemot is going back to what it did best? Well kinda, as Hardware Central puts it. But this time, the Fortissimo delivers the bang for the buck! Here's a snippet:

Bluntly put, this card is exceptional value for the price. It also includes a light version of the popular Acid DJ software that increases its value noticeably. For 49$ you get 4 speaker surround sound, digital output, A3D and EAX support and very decent sound quality. Put it all together and you have a exceptionally good value.

VIA KX133 For The Athlon 01:57 am - Wilfred
CPU Review has consolidated some information about the soon coming Athlon boards based on the VIA KX133 chipset. The chipset is exciting enough the rouse the support of numerous mobo makers:

I am looking forward to reviewing motherboards based on the KX133 chipset; by supporting PC133 it will increase the memory bandwidth from 800Mb/sec to 1Gb/sec.

Future revision of the chipset will support DDR SDRAM; which would allow 1.6Gb/sec with PC200 and 2.1Gb/sec with PC266 SDRAM - equaling and surpassing 800Mhz RDRAM's 1.6Gb/sec bandwidth.

Early next year will be even more interesting; AMD is reportedly working on an SMP chipset, and while the VIA FAQ states that the KX133 is not SMP capable, the feature list makes a point of mentioning that an IO/APIC is included. I would not be at all surprised if it turns out that a future KX133 revision will support SMP.

 

9 December 1999 - Thursday

Inside Track - Abit News
19:45 pm - Wilfred
Again, our sources confirmed that Abit will be releasing video cards based on almost the entire family of nVidia chips, namely GeForce SDR, GeForce DDR and TNT2s. Supposedly, they will be highly overclockable too (We hold our verdict till we see them!).

A Better Mouse - Razor Boomslang 19:43 pm - Wilfred
Gamers Depot posted a review on the Razor Boomslang gaming mouse. I know avid Quakers and FPS gamers will want to know if this is worth the dollars, check out how many 'droolz' it won!

In a market crammed with so many crappy wanna-be gadgets for gaming, it's always cool to see a company make and deliver what us gamers want, a better mouse.  I have a hard time understanding why so many companies *cough* Thrustmaster *cough* spend so much time and money wasted in "inventing" the next greatest thing to get you off your mouse and keyboard just to make a buck, when they could invest that time and money into building something we can actually use like Karna did.

Big Ass GeForce RoundUp 19:40 pm - Wilfred
FastGraphics did a review on every GeForce card there is on the market. Check it out man! I'm sure you all are keen to find out who's the best! Who deserves your money!

It may be clear that when the majority of GeForce cards have exactly the same layout you aren't going to see stunning performance differences. At the default speed of 120/166 all SDR cards perform within one percent of each other. The only SDR card that stands out when it comes to performance in the ASUS V6600 Deluxe which comes clocked at 140/190. Other than that it's really the bundle that should make the difference. Guillemot has put a TV output on it's SDR card, and you can probably pick it up around the price of the other normal SDR cards, so that might be one to look for. Personally I think you can't go wrong with either one the the SDR GeForce cards, but I advise Athlon users to stay away from the Erazor X from Elsa as it shows problems running at AGP 2X.

I only reviewed two GeForce DDR cards for this roundup (more to come soon) and both use the same board layout. Hercules / Guillemot has choosen to use a higher core clock setting than Creative, so that's what makes the difference. If you clock the Annihilator DDR at 130/150 you will get results similar to those of the 3D Prophet DDR-DVI. Looking at equipment the 3DPropher DDR-DVI beats the Annihilator since it has a S-Video output and a DVI connector for digital monitors. Downside of this card is the higher price compared to the Annihilator DDR.

Save the best for last some say, and so I did. The ASUS V6600 Deluxe has been called the Rolce Royce of the GeForce cards, but it's also a darn fast Ferrari. Clocked at high speed with the watchfull eye of the Smart Doctor this card beats every single GeForce SDR card with ease and sometimes it even surpasses DDR cards. The many extra's make this card mory than worthy of the Fast Graphics Recommended award.

Wilfred Coughs 19:27 pm - Wilfred
Went for a geek walk at SLS with Wy Mun today, as well as grabbed an analog 56K modem to use my latest StarHub account! =P Hmm.. so what did we see or hear? Supposedly Quake III Arena will arrive this evening or tomorrow if there's no further delay. 

For The Athlon Wannabes 18:10 pm - Wymun
If you're dying the get hold of a motherboard with VIA's Apollo KX133 for that under-utilized Athlon, then check out CPU Review's preview of the chip for the whole enchilada on its capabilities...

As an educated guess, memory bandwidth limited applications could be 10% faster; and graphics applications able to take advantage of the AGP 4x mode should see some further gains relative to the AMD 750.

Once future revisions of the KX133 support DDR SDRAM watch out! We could see a further 50 - 100% increase in the speed of memory bandwidth bound applications with PC266 memory.

Interview with Creative Labs 18:04 pm - Wymun
Our fellow mates at nV News have struck up a thorough review with Steve Mosher (Vice President of the Graphics Business) at Creative Labs.  Here Steve reveals a bit on competing products, Transform n Lighting, and even throws in his Christmas wish-list for 1999.  Here's a little blurb from the interview....

I think T&L ignites the developers imagination.  Anyone who has ever created a 3D model with a polygon budget (you have 300 polygons to draw this character) immediately gets the benefit of T&L.  It ignites your imagination and changes the way you think about game design.  If you have ever built a Quake or Unreal level, you get the benefit immediately and the potential of hardware changes your perception of what is possible.

Quake III Arena Review 12:04 pm - Wilfred
Our good buds at Tech-Junkies (now relocated to Adelaide, Australia) just poured out their thoughts on the hottest game in town. The guys are cool, the game is way cool too, so what's stopping you from checking this at once?

This game was created for one reason - awesome Deathmatch. Very effective in that regard, and true to its style no other extravagant gaming styles are available besides CTF. The maps contained in Quake 3 are of high quality and despite it not having as many maps as Unreal Tournament, it shouldn't matter for multiplayer LAN/Internet as the best maps in Quake 3 would have an almost unlimited replay value.

Kodak DC215 Digital Camera 12:00 pm - Wilfred
There is a review of this slick metallic camera from Kodak at The Imaging Resource. With resolutions of 1152x864, 2X optical zoom and the Kodak quality brand name behind it... you can't really go wrong!

With its simplified controls and focus-free lens, the Kodak DC215 camera is clearly intended to meet the needs of the point & shoot user, and succeeds well in that goal. First-time users will appreciate its simplicity and ease of use. At just exactly a megapixel, the DC215's resolution is adequate for ~4x6 prints, but will look noticeably soft if enlarged much beyond that size. Like all the Kodak digicams though, the DC215's output is characterized by rich, vivid "Kodak" color. Overall, the DC215 would be a good choice for someone who enjoys most of their pictures at 4x6 inch size, wants straightforward, simple operation, and excellent color.

Pioneer 10X DVD ROM Drive 11:49 am - Wilfred
The PC Extremists reviewed the Pioneer 10X DVD-ROM drive. Looks like this is one hell of a fast performer, and the slot loading mechanism looks cool too.

The real-world benchmarks blew us away. We expected the 6x SCSI drive to do well, but we didn't expect the slaughter that ensued. We've poured over all the benchmarks and specs and have concluded the only difference to be the superiority of SCSI-based technology. We can't wait for the SCSI version of the 10x drive to confirm our suspicions! (For you PCEXTREMISTS, we even compared the 2K read speeds thinking the 6x SCSI drive read smaller files faster, but no, the 10x drives were faster there too.)

BCM QS750 Athlon Motherboard 11:35 am - Wilfred
Over at Tom's Hardware, they reviewed a new addition to the Athlon motherboard family from BCM - the QS750. Indeed, I share the sentiment that it's good to see more manufacturers making Slot-A boards. Check this review out!

Although the BCM board doesn't provide any fancy or innovated features, there is definitely a place for it. As far as performance goes, QS750 is among the best under Windows 98. Although the board isn't the worst performing board under NT it, like most of the others it could use some more BIOS tweaking. The one unique feature this board offers is its 3 ISA slots. In the batch of boards tested so far in our lab this one is the only product to have more than two ISA slots. The only issue with the BCM QS750 right now is it's current BIOS. Currently the BCM board doesn't function with AMD's 700 or 750MHz product. I feel that BCM should at least mention this major issue on their web page. At minimum a statement saying they have resolved the issue and a new BIOS should be put online soon.

Alpha/Athlon Chipset 07:50 am - Sniper
While I was going thru this article, I noticed this interesting piece of news at the end of it. Hmm... 

An EV6 single-processor chip set called Caspian will
sample in March and enter production in the third quarter, while a higher performance four- to eight-way
server chip set called Tasman will be launched in 2001.
Chin said API has also designed motherboards using the upcoming Caspian chip set. The chip sets and motherboards will be manufactured by Samsung in
South Korea. 

In addition to serving the Alpha market, the devices will
let Samsung engage the chip set market spurred by
Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon CPU, which uses the
same EV6 bus line as the Alpha, according to Chin. 

Intellimouse with IntelliEye 06:58 am - Kan
Let's not forget our buds over at WickedPC who just posted their thoughts on the Microsoft Intellimouse with IntelliEye. The naughty boy without the balls, that's what it is.

Inside the mouse looks pretty normal compared to a regular mouse, except for the lack of the ball and a lot of mechanical parts. The optical sensor has a miniaturized digital camera inside that works with the digital signal processor and an infrared light. The infrared light makes an intense amount of light under the mouse near the lens area so the camera can see a really clear and close picture of a very small portion of your desk. With all that said, here's a mini explanation of how the mouse works. The camera takes 1500 pictures per second of where your desktop.

Psst, just for your convenience sake (in case you never wander beyond this front page), we also have a review on the naughty boy here.

New Media Technology USB 56K Surfer 06:54 am - Kan
Ah yes, a 56K modem, that's what I'm going to get soon. Anyway, USB Workshop reviewed the New Media Technology USB 56K Surfer modem. Argh, USB? I have problems getting all sorts of peripherals (Kan, you are plain stupid) running on Linux, including USB devices as well as *cough* the GeForce DDR. 

The light weight pocket-sized NetSurfer comes with features like auto-detecting V.90 and K56flex protocols, high-speed connection, and fax capability.  But NetSufer neither comes with with voice capability nor a pass-through jack for analog phone.

New Media 56k NetSurfer, a HSP-based modem, relies on CPU to perform the modulation/demodulation and other functions.  During a multi-player game session, it competes with the game in processor usage.  For this reason, NetSurfer should remain outside of a gamer machine.

iiYama VisionMaster Pro 510 06:48 am - Kan
I've always heard great things about iiYama monitors when I was a little kid. Though I never had the chance to touch one of 'em, the gurus over at AnandTech just gave their comments on this 22" beauty:

It seems just a short while ago, owning a monitor larger than 19" was unheard of, unless you had won the lottery. Yet, 19" is still the main focus right now because of its price. But the price of this 22" model is not too far off the 19" monitors. It can be purchased for as low as $999 USD. This monitor has the quality to suit just about anyone's needs (i.e. Graphic Artist, Programmer, Gamer). The price point on this monitor is fantastic, while similar models of the same specifications from other companies range from $200-$300 more. For example: ViewSonic P817 at an average price of $1250.

Christmas Giftbook 06:43 am - Kan
De dues over at The Chip Testers posted a Christmas Holiday Giftbook in which there are some recommendations on what to give to your pals during the festive season. Let me see, what do I want??

Everglide Quake 3 Attack Pad
Even I'm going to get this baby for Christmas! There isn't much to say about it, but can't you just imagine how nice it would be to use this pad for fragging or any other game purposes? There have been too many good reviews of the Attack pad to ignore it.

ABIT BE6-II 06:40 am - Kan
GamePC reviewed the wonder motherboard BE6-II from ABIT. This one features the new SoftMenu III which allows you to adjust your FSB all the way up to 200 Mhz, Mhz-by-Mhz!

Comparing the new BE6-II to the old BE6, we notice that both boards are very similar yet differ in areas, which is more than likely why the BE6-II didnít get a different name. The BE6-II uses SOFT-MENU III, which is a newer BIOS that is derived from SOFT-MENU II found on the original BE6 mainboard. The differences in the two BIOSís are significant enough to take note of for all the controlling features offered to the user. One example is the tremendous amount of FSB settings this board allows, 66, 75, 83, and 84 Ė 200 (thatís right 84 MHz to 200 MHz in increments of 1 MHz). A real shocker to me with this board was that the BE6-II board had DIP switches (same thing found on ASUSís P3B-F) build on the board that could also control CPU settings.

Inside a Hard Disk 06:39 am - Kan
Ever wanted to know what's Inside a Hard Disk? Scott's Hardware sent note on some instructions on how to take your hard disk apart. But please, don't try it on your new hard disk!

Also note all of the "Warranty Void if Seal is Broken" tags, these too need to be removed to gain further access. Here would also be a good place to mention "Do not try this at home, especially with a working drive you want to keep". You can rest assured once any of these tags or seals are damaged in anyway your warranty will indeed be void.

Celeron Petition Update 06:33 am - Kan
Still remember the Celeron SMP Petition over at CPU Review? Well, Bill just sent the 16,304 e-signatures he collected over the past few months to Intel.

We, the undersigned consumers hereby respectfully request that Intel does not disable the SMP capabilities of the Celeron processors. We believe that business users will use Pentium II, III and Xeon processors for production servers due to their large L2 cache sizes. Disabling SMP on Celerons will only hurt technical enthusiasts.

 

8 December 1999 - Wednesday


All
Voodoos Are Not Created Equal 22:34 pm - Wymun
Firingsquad is at it again with an article on the inherent differences between Voodoo 4/5 technology and existing Voodoo 3 products.  So check this out, as it clarifies various issues on the VSA-100 technology from 3Dfx.

One of the biggest changes in VSA-100 is support for a true 2-pixel-per-clock raster engine. Voodoo3 on the other hand supported 1 pixel per clock cycle, and 2 textures per cycle, equating to a 183 Mpixel/sec fillrate, and 366Mtexel/sec texture fillrate. This means that for single-texture applications and scenes, we should see up to 2x the performance of Voodoo3. Scott was quick to point out that the vast majority of games today are not multitexture, and even well-known multitexture games
such as Q3A use a number of single-texture effects (the parallax sky are actually comprised of 3 single texture passes).

Hard Cooler Face Off 16:34 pm - Kan
TargetPC written an roundup article on cooling your hard disk efficiently. I've 5 hard disks in my system right now and it's a nightmare trying to cool'em effectively enough!

Cooling became an issue a few years ago, somewhere around the start of the overclocking craze. But that's not the main reason why many of todayís PCís run with several fans to keep them cool. In todayís techie world, everything is getting smaller and smaller, which is good. But did you also know that everything is also getting hotter and hotter? For example, letís compare how many Watts were used in a CPU in 1988. It started playing around 1Ė4 and itís now shot up to over 60 (Athlon 65Watts). Thatís around 20 times more, and itís still going up. As more and more transistors are crammed into smaller and smaller areas, and cycled on and off at higher speeds, more heat is produced.

Play Quake 3 - Be a Star? 16:31 pm - Kan
Tech-Review written a rather interesting article in which they took a look at Quake3 from different perspectives. Be a star? Well, provided you are better than Thresh or Wymun. :)

Then word that Quake 3 was coming out. This time though, they said there won't be a single player option. id Software figured that they were spending way too much time on creating a story line (if you call running around looking for keys a story line), way too much time on nasty monsters, and that's why the net coding suffered for Quake 2. This time, they were going to make a game which will solely focus on net play. Sure there are bots to fight, so even if you don't have a connection, you could play the bots, but if you're going to buy Quake 3, you're going to want to go head to head with some of the top players in the world.

Project Ultimate I-Storm 16:29 pm - Kan
Definitely sounds like one of those projects I did when I was a little kid last time. TheTechZone dropped us a line on their latest review called Project Ultimate I-Storm which is seriously the coolest (literally) hard drive cooler I'ver ever seen.

The first part of this project is pretty simple. Installing the Ultimate Hard Drive Cooler is a 5 minute operation. Like I stated in the first page, my hard drive is mounted at the top of the In Win Q500 case. The floppy drive is also mounted there, to the front. To make this install really overkill, I put heatsink compound between the heatsink and the hard drive.

Half-Life: Opposing Force Review 16:28 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme bite under new game review today on Half-Life: Opposing Force. Christmas is coming, won't it be nice to organize a LAN party? :)

This time round, Gearbox decided to place you in control of Corporal Adrian Sheppard, one of the army grunts sent to silence Gordon Freeman and the other Black Mesa scientists. This new take on the Black Mesa tale provides many new and very enjoyable experiences. You finally get to climb and swing on the ropes that soldiers often used to appear out of nowhere and rake Freeman with MP5 fire. Unlike Freeman, Sheppard knows how to use military radios that serve to progress the story a bit and give you updates on the state of affairs in other parts of the Black Mesa complex. Of course, since Sheppard is in the army, you also get a few nice new guns to slaughter aliens with.

3DMark 2000 Impressions 16:25 pm - Kan
Our buds over at Tech-Junkie posted their thoughts on the new 3DMark 2000. This demo just blow your mind away with its fantastic graphics!

Sometime during October this year, Futuremark sent me a parcel with a pair of Futuremark socks. The message was - "We're gonna blow your socks off, so here's a replacement pair". Needless to say, I was expecting something really big from Futuremark. For goodness sake, they sent me a replacement pair of socks! The first surprise was that Futuremark suddenly became known as MadOnion (of all names). Then the screenshots for 3DMark2000 wet the floor of the Tech-Junkie office with salivation. Finally, 3DMark2000 came out. The first DirectX 7 benchmarking tool on the market.

T-Buffer Investigated - Part III 13:23 pm - Wilfred
I hope you have been following the parts. Beyond3D has done some extraordinary work to bring you these good stuffs. In this third issue, you will learn more about the 3dfx's VSA than you ever will.

VSA-100 is a traditional rendering system, which means that it processes a scene (frame) triangle per triangle. With other words, a triangle is taken and then drawn (=rendered), once its finished the next triangle is taken and rendered and so on. Now, with pure SLI you were sure that each chip would have something to do since in general a triangle spans multiple scan-lines. But, now, with the VSA-100 architecture we have bands of up to 128 lines. There is no guarantee that a single triangle will span 128 scan-lines. So what happens? Triangle one is rendered, it's only in the band of chip 1. Do the 3 other chips remain idle? If this is the case we have the risk that the VSA architecture is rather inefficient when rendering small triangles. Naturally, the VSA-100 architecture can use a FIFO buffer that contains some triangles, so if a certain triangle is only in the band of one chip the other chips can take the next, and the next, and the next (so on and so on) triangle from the buffer. This buffer should, hopefully, contain a triangle that is inside the band of some other chips. But the risk stays: small triangles close together might all end up in one band, the band of one chip and in that case the other chips might end up running dry...

3dfx might try to do some band sorting on the driver level to make sure that each chip has something to do, but this extra pre-processing would cost extra CPU time (although not very much). Nevertheless, solid load balancing and avoiding that some of the chips run idle is a big problem.

Olympus C-2500L 13:19 pm - Wilfred
Our bud at Digital Photography Preview has done a in-depth review on Olympus flagship product for photography enthusiasts. Does it deliver? From my interpretation, the camera is mostly good - in fact, very good. You read it!

The C-2500L produces excellent images which are very well metered (exposed), brightly yet accurately coloured, sharp and detailed. Class leading resolution leads to an ability to capture details beyond other digital cameras. Images taken with the C-2500L have a depth and a true 3D quality to them and you'll find yourself ooh-ing and ahh-ing when you finally view them on a decent monitor / LCD.

Intel Ships Itanium-Base Prototype Systems 13:13 pm - Wilfred
According to this news story at TechWeb, Intel has begun delivery an early version of its 64-bit Itanium processors to development partners.

Intel's Itanium systems feature clock speeds "comparable to today's production servers and workstations," the company said. Observers said they believe the chip will be further tweaked to increase overall performance, if not the clock speed, to a level suitable for testing in the second quarter of 2000.

Guillemot 3D Prophet 13:05 pm - Wilfred
3DGPU threw out a review on the 3D Prophet SDR from Guillemot against a DDR reference board they have.

So, is the 3D Prophet for you? I guess that depends on what type of gamer you are. If you tend to play games using 16bit textures or at resolutions below 1024x768, or are looking for excellent visual quality and don't mind sacrificing a little speed in the process, then the 3D Prophet is perfect. However, if you are wanting to be able to play games at high resolutions while still maxing out the image quality, you may want to wait and take a look at the DDR versions of the GeForce coming down the road. Just be prepared to shell out another $80-$100 for that ability.

The Empire Strikes Back 12:59 pm - Wilfred
osOpinion has several new editorials and this one extols the virtues of the Open Source movement, mainly on the advantage when it comes to security issues. Have a read:

As far as security concerns in particular, I can tell you with confidence that while Linux does have security holes (Just like NT's operating systems have holes), Open Source is among the premier reasons that patches and fixes are had in a relatively short time. Why? Because anyone who finds a hole can report it and have a fix available almost within the same day...all a distributor need do is confirm the exploit, the fix, then post a patch, usually less than 24 hours after a report.

On the other hand, a proprietary source prevents any sort of exploit fix until that exploit gets reported and confirmed...usually after someone's website gets defaced (or worse...) Then, maybe, if the exploit is deemed an actual problem by The-Powers-That-Be, perhaps MS will make and post a hot-fix...otherwise the whole thing is kept relatively quiet until the next service pack gets issued.

Wilfred Coughs 02:34 am - Wilfred
Some of you must think that I'm running the midnight shift here. No. Not really. I just happen to be home and up late at this point. 

Design Flaws In GSM Crypto Penetrated 02:29 am - Wilfred
Over at Wired, it is reported that some Israeli researchers discovered design flaws in the GSM cell phone crypto that will EASILY allow the descrambling of supposedly private conversations.

Israeli researchers have discovered design flaws that allow the descrambling of supposedly private conversations carried by hundreds of millions of wireless phones. 

Alex Biryukov and Adi Shamir describe in a paper to be published this week how a PC with 128 MB RAM and large hard drives can penetrate the security of a phone call or data transmission in less than one second.

APC Back-UPS Pro 650 02:24 am - Wilfred
The Ars boys got a review on the above UPS from APC. Prolly not targeted users like ourselves, but I guess if I could have one as companion to my PC!

As I said before, this product fits somewhere in the middle of the APC PC/Workstation category of UPSes. It is also exactly in the middle of the 120V BackUPS Pro line, flanked by the 280 and 420 on one end and the 1000 and 1400 on the other. Unfortunately, the implementation of this middle of the road means that, odds are, this product is either going to be more or less than what you need. Allow me to explain:

PCI Card Does Crypto Acceleration  02:20 am - Wilfred
Came across this little blurb at Slashdot's which pointed to this product from Rainbow Technologies that will accelerate the generation of public key on your secure web server.

Using patent-pending technology, CryptoSwift contains a public-key math processor that off-loads and speeds up the operations of a secure web server's main processor. Running up to 200 transactions per second and processing a transaction in 5 milliseconds, CryptoSwift improves server response time by up to 90% and frees your server to perform other tasks. The CryptoSwift board easily plugs into the PCI slot of your server and seamlessly installs into your secure web server software including Netscape and Microsoft.

Gigabyte GA-6WXM-e 02:07 am - Wilfred
This, too, is a mainboard review. Check out this piece from BXBoards written about this i810 board by Gigabyte. As always, with Gigabyte, goodies like Dual BIOS, onboard audio based on Yamaha's chip and onboard video based on Intel's i752 could be found on the smallish looking PCB. Here's the snippet:

This product can't be compared to BX based boards - the speed just isn't there - and the VIA Apollo Pro 133 edges ahead as well. With the Gigabyte GA-6WXM-e what you see is what you get. Its an ideal board to build a non-gaming system around, and will be more than enough for 99% of the population as a whole. We at BXBoards demand a little more from our systems, but you can't help admire the elegant simplicity of this product. If priced accordingly, the GA-6WXM-e will find a lot of friends in the market place. Right now the GA-6WXM-e is sitting in a box in the office running our SCSI burner and a proxy server. Hell we won't be playing Quake3 on it, but it works! Recommended for anyone for whom price and convience is more of a priority than raw speeed.

Soltek SL67KV Mainboard 01:59 am - Wilfred
What's that? I thought I said it, it's a mainboard. ActiveHardware popped a note to say they have a new review up on this VIA Apollo Pro 133 board. Apparently, the board performs quite well:

The SL-67KV's strong points are these: impressive performance, excellent stability, support for PC133 memory, ATA66 drives, and AGP 4X, the inclusion of hardware monitoring as a standard feature, and a great simplicity of installation and use. Also to its credit, an 80-pin ATA66 IDE cable, and a 40-pin IDE connector, are included with the SL-67KV - as is a thermal sensor. Finally, the inclusion of an onboard AC"97 soundcard is a sound move, which made moot any criticism I might have had about there being only 7 expansion slots, rather than the normal 8. With the sound card integrated into the board itself, the user economizes the use of a slot that would have otherwise have been filled with a similar card.

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