21 December 1999 - Tuesday

K7 Secrets 22:
51 pm - David
Wow, saw this over at Ace's, seems that AMD engineers have placed a small emblem on the 6th layer metal mask of each .18 µ Athlon: A Gun and the state of texas:

Soldier Of Fortune 22:51 pm - David
3D Unlimited has interviewed the programmer of the game, Soldier of Fortune, here's a sip:

[3DU]. How long have you been with Raven Software? 

[JS]. Well, I joined in March 98, so just over 18 months now.

[3DU]. What projects have you worked on at Raven Software? 

[JS]. I worked primarily on Heretic II - helping programming lead Pat Lipo in an assistant lead capacity. I was pretty much responsible for the EP myself. After that, I took some time to learn OpenGL properly, then worked on Voyager for a bit, working with James Monroe (the programming lead there) doing some research on new technologies and also helping out with some management duties. Right now, I'm doing stuff for Rick Johnson on SOF. That's the way Raven works, if your a free resource, you help out where ever you are needed. When the next project rolls around and I'm in the thick of it and need help, then James and Rick will be there for me - it's very family oriented.

[3DU]. Have you worked for any other companies? 

[JS]. Yes, I worked for Midway for 6 years before this, in the Arcade machine department. Very different from PC programming it is too.

Diamond Viper II 22:50 pm - David
Dedicated to our reader Bowwow and dq, GXS reviewed the Diamond Viper II Z200, featuring the Savage 2000 chip. check it out:

The Viper II is Diamond's latest offering. It has the S3 Savage2000 chip which has two rendering pipelines. This makes it different from previous Savages which have one rendering pipeline. The fillrate and bandwidth were/are real bottlenecks for the "old" Savages but with this extra pipeline and its 128 bits memory interface (was 64 bits) these bottlenecks are much less important.
The Viper II has a 125 MHz core clock, the memory is clocked at 155 MHz, which should result theoretically in 250 MTexels/second for non-multi-textures games and 500 MTex/s for multi-textured games. As all other Savages it has S3 Texture Compression in both OpenGL and Direct3D. Some of the newer graphic cards can use DXTC (Microsoft does not use the name S3TC) under Direct3D and not under OpenGL. The Savage2000 chip is designed to have a Transformation and Lighting engine, but it is not functional at this moment
The Viper II has a TV Out and offers Motion Compensation for playback of DVD, which should result in much less CPU usage. More details are available at Diamond's site

Intel's Accelerated Roadmap 22:08 pm - Wilfred
HardOCP sent us a note that they posted an exciting roadmap of Intel for the next year. All it tells me is the new focus on the Flip Chip's dominance and accelerated releases to keep up with the competition.

MSI 6163 BXMaster 21:58 pm - Kan
LostCircuits posted a review on the MSI 6163 BXMaster. Though this is not as overclockable as the BE6-II, this one comes with 4 DIMM slots as well as an integrated Promise ATA-66 controller.

It is almost proverbial that MSI has one of the best manuals in the field and the Rev. 3.0 is no exception from this rule. Ninety-six pages of easy to read and precise information cover about everything that one might possibly want to read up on regarding the hardware, before installation, during troubleshooting or fine tuning of the system. The manual is supplemented by a LED diagnostic chart sticker for quick reference covering all possible combinations of the four red - green LEDs and the kind of diagnostics the codes refer to.

Kan Coughs 18:54 pm - Kan
Darn, one of the things I hate most is to reinstall the OS. Somehow, something conked out with Uncle Bill's operating system  (as usual) and I had to do some temporary measures to rectify the problems. Tsk tsk.

Athlon on Scientific Code 18:50 pm - Kan
CPU Review posted some of their analysis on those Athlons chewing on some pretty tough scientific code. Yup, the Athlons managed to bite thru the benchmarks easily:

Editor: the "g98" result is extremely impressive; the Athlon 600 was 2.38x faster than the P3 500. The other tests did not show as conclusive an improvement, Mol/min provided a 1.26x advantage for the K7, and Mol/dyn only showed a 1.14x advantage. We should note that the K7 had a 20% clock speed advantage over the P3; and while a P3 600 would not provide a 20% faster time (10% is more likely) only the "g98" test shows an overwhelming speed advantage.]

Wilfred Coughs 18:25 pm - Wilfred
Heheh! No, I'm not about to make these coughs a daily thing yet. But well, just a rant or two... was putting in the ABIT HotRod card in anticipation of new IDE devices coming and somehow the latest 1.20 drivers downloaded from ABIT's didn't like to work at all. Using the more dated 1.07 worked fine however. I must continue with more experiments and hopefully I'll have 2 more IDE channels to play with very soon.

Mean time, I think Kan is having some problems with his system too and may be undertaking a major reinstallation as well. Sigh, a grey sky and all. Surely it's a sign that I must play some Quake III to cheer myself up! =)

AMD Athlon 800Mhz At Sharky's 18:15 pm - Wilfred
Just a day late, SharkyExtreme too posted a review on the fastest Athlon to date. The CPU wars are getting really really heated, so hopefully this scuffle will let us enjoy even better prices and performance this millennium! But of coz don't be misled by the Mhz ratings but instead check out benchmark specifics before deciding!

If you want our advice, and you can tell us to shove it should you feel the need to, look at the benchmarks, then think about what's coming in a couple of months (price cuts to 800MHz, 750MHz and 700MHz Athlons for one) and save your hard earned money to live and fight another day. On the flip side, AMD stalwarts should be pleased with a new speed champ in the form of the Athlon 800MHz. Even though it'll not outpace a Pentium III equivalent with RDRAM, it'll be considerably cheaper with its cheaper 100MHz SDRAM and still within touching distance.

Windows 2000 Review 13:56 pm - Wilfred
CNet reviews the upcoming OS from Microsoft that will surely be of great interest to not only the corporate managers but end-users who are keen to find out if they can adapt it for home use. Read on to find out more! If there's any part of the article I liked, it's this!

As we noted before, the Windows 2000 installation routine works like a charm. And we didn't run into any system crashes the first time we booted Windows 2000, as we did with Release Candidate 2. All of our software ran smoothly from the start. In fact, everything ran better with Windows 2000 than with Windows 98. Under Windows 98, one of our test systems consistently crashed when we browsed the Web with Internet Explorer 5.0. Under Windows 2000, the crashes stopped. Even more amazing, after more than a month of daily use, we were never forced to reboot our Windows 2000 test systems. That's a degree of stability that few Windows 98 users, and not that many Windows NT 4.0 users, will ever experience.

Annihilator Pro 13:47 pm - Wilfred
Got Apex? reviewed the DDR powered GeForce 256 card from Creative too. Apparently, this card is still not easily available in the U.S. yet. Anyway if you haven't read our review on it, be sure to!

Hail, Hail the king has come! 1024x768x32 @ 60.3fps! WOW! This card rocks. I had previously tried out an sdr version of the Annihilator and frankly it was little better then my Hercules TNT2 Ultra. Such is not the case with the Pro version. This high a frame rate is scary especially since the texture slider is all the way to the right.

S3 Acquires #9 13:42 pm - Wilfred
S3 is on an acquisition spree I see. So right after Diamond Multimedia, they moved to take in Number Nine as reported in this Yahoo News article.

In a move to strengthen the competitive position of its Multimedia Division, S3® Incorporated (Nasdaq:SIII - news) announced today that it has begun the process to acquire substantially all of the assets of Number Nine Visual Technology Corporation.

The acquisition of Number Nine, a contract supplier of S3-based products to IBM, will allow S3 to consolidate its graphics business with IBM into a single source distribution model, while also adding highly skilled hardware and software engineering resources to S3's existing teams.

"Over the past year, we have been working with IBM to build a long-term business relationship based on a supplier agreement with Number Nine,'' said Ken Potashner, chief executive officer for S3 Incorporated. "We expect that our acquisition of Number Nine's assets will enable us to streamline this business model and further strengthen our direct relationship with IBM.''

Quake 3 Arena 13:35 pm - Wilfred
3D Rage went on a rampage in Quake 3 Arena to bring you a read on what must be the most saleable game this season (even with the amount of violence?!). You all know that this is the king of deathmatching shooters, so instead I'll have a snip about the eye-candy here:

The graphics in Quake 3: Arena are better than any other first person shooter, or any game we have seen to date. The primary reasons that the Quake 3 engine is superior to the rest would have to be the curved surfaces, brilliant implementation of 32bit color and textures, and the excellent character models that make the Quake 3 engine the most splendid on the shelves. No wonder so many upcoming games are incorporating this engine into their play. The most predominant detail that will catch your eye is the excellent use of textures and vivid colors. Never before have I seen such incredible detail in the walls or floor, and the details such as the animated lava, portals, and power-ups will just compliment the already fantastic engine. It's just hard to get over how great the textures appear in Quake 3, as they just blow away every other game on the market. You'll also notice that lots of textures in the game aren't standing still in space, but gracefully moving throughout the atmosphere whether it be a power-up or weapon spinning in place or flowing lava that will catch your eye the second before you plummet to your death. Quake 3: Arena definitely makes the best use of 16 and 32bit color and textures than any other game on the market.

AOpen AX6BC Pro Millennium Edition 13:31 pm - Wilfred
Dan's Data took the shiny black 'mobo of this millennium' for a ride and while it is a great representation of pride and quality from the chaps at AOpen, think of the board as a madeover version of the acclaimed AX6BC Pro. Expect no more and no less.

This is a very nice bit of gear, but it and the less ludicrous green-board AX6BC Pro II are not for everyone. They don't have the extraordinary flexibility of Abit's recent boards, which means they're not much better for Celeron overclocking than any current board with manual FSB setting.

Hacking Windows 13:19 pm - Wilfred
There is this editorial at osOpinion on the topic of Windows' memory management system. The author compares it to other OSes in the market and concluded that there must be better ways to do it, for a more reliable system (Ah, you knew that already!).

To illustrate such comparisons, Tom Nadeau's site http://wwwos2hq.com states that Windows is inherently less stable than OS/2, both because of the weak 16-bit DOS base of Windows, as well as the poorly managed internal structure of any version of Windows. These flaws include the Registry, the lack of version management for .DLL files, and the memory leaks characteristic of most Windows development tools. With Windows based on the 16-bit DOS, the DOS system is too weak to carry the load of GUIs, 32-bit applications, and advanced graphical programs including Web browsers. While OS/2 is fully multithreaded, multithreading under Windows systems either does not work at all, or else makes the system very unstable beyond just a few threads. Unlike the OS/2 GUI, the Windows interfaces are not object-oriented in the strict sense, because they fail to adequately track the files to which they are pointing, as well as other inconsistencies. I have quoted from the referenced source to illustrate that this type of comparison suggests certain specific areas of design, where improvements appear desirable, to say the least.

ASUS V6600 GeForce 09:57 am - Kan
I noticed over at AGN Hardware the guys posted a review on the ASUS V6600 GeForce. It's a video review, so again you can sit back and enjoy the review.

So you want to buy a GeForce?  Not sure which one to get?  Most aren't, which means it's up to us to lay out all the differences for you to help you make the best decision.  The Asus V6600 Deluxe is certainly different from the pack.  With features like TV-out, Video-In, VR Glasses, and overclocking utilities it almost seems like a no brainer. But how does the board perform?  Watch the video to find out!

ACT-Labs Launches Single Gun PC 09:46 am - Kan
Woohoos! Don't miss out this press-release from ACT-Labs on their new lightgun. Basically it's the same in terms of functionality as the ACT Labs Gun System we reviewed earlier on, except that it does not come with the second gun or handheld controller. Great for people who don't need the second controller anyway. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACT LABS debuts the ACT LABS SGA with Die Hard Trilogy 2 PC demo from Fox Interactive

Richmond, BC. December 17, 1999 - ACT LABS, developers of cutting-edge gaming peripherals, have announced the ACT LABS SGA PC LightgunTM, the
second product in their line that will utilize their patent pending PC gun technology. The new technology offers extreme accuracy in a variety of resolutions (including all 3D modes) at a comfortable range of up to 6 feet. The ACT LABS SGA PC LightgunTM will be available in mid January 2000.

The ACT LABS SGA PC LightgunTM is the single gun equivalent of the GS offering the same exact functionality of its predecessor without the second
gun or handheld controller. The SGA is geared towards arcade or "rail" type shooters offering all the excitement of your favorite arcade games for use on your personal PC. With superior 3D graphics from today's games, the SGA makes it possible to have an experience that rivals that of which you would find in an arcade.

The ACT LABS SGA PC LightgunTM will be bundled with Fox Interactive's Die Hard Trilogy 2TM PC Demo, a great new game that blasts into non-stop action as feature film and game hero John McClane, who once again finds the chips stacked against him as he faces a new legion of hi-tech terrorists in a race against time all taking place in the backdrop of Las Vegas. "The SGA was a perfect fit with DHT2 on the PC. The accuracy of the gun was amazing and it greatly enhanced the gameplay experience when using the SGA", commented Scott Marcus, Vice President of Worldwide Promotions for Fox
Interactive.

The ACT LABS SGA PC LightgunTM will come with a single gun, Die Hard Trilogy 2TM PC Demo (SRP: $69.99 USD) and is expected to be available January 2000. 

About Fox Interactive Recognized as an innovative industry leader, Fox Interactive, an operating
unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a News Corporation company, is committed to developing a full range of bold and engaging interactive entertainment. The company creates computer and video game software based on Fox
franchises as well as new and original properties.  Fox Interactive games currently released include the new 3D platform game CROC 2, the top selling PC hit Aliens versus Predator, The X-Files, Die Hard Trilogy, The Simpsons Virtual Springfield, and the FOX Sports brand of video games.  Check out Fox Interactive online at www.foxinteractive.com.

Athlon 800 Mhz 07:23 am - Kan
See, all those boys get to play with the new Athlons. :) The processor gurus over at Ace's Hardware also took a look at the Athlon 800 Mhz processor and here's what they have to say:

As you know, the new Athlons are produced with a finer fabrication process (.18µ) than their older brothers (.25µ). The new batch of 750/800 MH Athlons are 102 mm˛ big, while the older 500 to 700 MHz Athlons WERE 184 mm˛ big. WERE!

Yes, that is correct: almost all newer Athlons (500-800 MHz) are produced on the new .18 µ process (more info here). AMD representatives told us that there are still (small?) stocks of .25 µ CPU's, but that all .25 µ lines have been converted to .18 µ lines.

I don't have to tell you that almost every 550-650 MHz .18 µ CPU is an overclocking wonder. We have yet to test it ourselves, but one good friend of Ace's told me that it is possible to get .18 550-600 MHz Athlons to 800 MHz and more!!

PlexWriter 8x4x32 04:35 am - Kan
GamePC reviewed the PlexWriter 8x4x32 CD-RW drive. This one is an EIDE drive (are you surprise?). Frankly speaking, we are testing out the PlexWriter, so watch for the review. Here's an excerpt from GamePC's review:

The biggest difference between the SCSI and EIDE Plexwriters is CPU utilization, which you can see below in the graphs. Since the SCSI drives obviously rely on the SCSI controller cards to handle all the processing, there is very little utilization when recording from a SCSI drive. You could even go so far as to load up a game of Quake3 while you're burning a disc and not worry about your CD-R slowing down your system. EIDE burners on the other hand, usually take 50% - 80% CPU while burning a CD, making your system pretty much unusable besides basic web browsing and writing emails. Of course, since the drive is 8X, the entire time to burn a CD is right around 10 minutes, so it's not that big of a hassle.

Benwin BW2000 Flat Panel Speakers 04:32 am - Kan
Exxtreme3D dropped us a mail on their latest review of the Benwin BW2000 Flat Panel Speakers. Wafer thin speakers with a futuristic look is what this speakers is about:

Installing the speakers was easier than installing a video card. Only unwrapping the package and plugging the thing together is so easy that a 4 year old could do it. Along with the package came some stands and some surface mount brackets w/ double stick tape (to stick to the side of your computer monitor, unless that's flat too). I found no use for the brackets; I didn't want them permanently hanging on the side of my monitor. The stands were just fine, but another set of flat panel speakers and those brackets can be handy for a 4-speaker system, if you dare try.

Small Computer System Interface 01:26 am - Wilfred
Some of you are asking, so what's that above?!? The acronym is  SCSI... and what better people to learn from then the Ars-Technicians =P . Be sure not to miss this!

SCSI is an ever evolving technology. Recent additions to the SCSI world have included Fibre Channel SCSI and IEEE 1394 (Firewire). There are even specs out now for SCSI 4 (with a 320MB/s throughput) and SCSI 5 (weighing in at 640MB/s!!). SCSI, with the advent of SCSI 3, has gone from a monolithic standard that took a long time to "upgrade" to more of a topology map with different pieces making up the whole. 

Taxes Hazardous To Your Internet? 00:55 am - David
Jesse Berst's AnchorDesk has written a commentary on an interesting topic, hop over.

At AnchorDesk, we usually agree on all the important things: That we should be nice to our mothers. That we should help the less fortunate. And that I'm the smartest, most handsome pundit in cyberspace.

But we don't see eye to eye on Internet taxes. I walked into the office one day last week and Liz was shouting at Neil. Chris was ready to duke it out with Nicci. An ugly scene. But calm, reasonable people come to blows over the issue of taxing Internet purchases. Last week’s flare-up started with a panel that's supposed to tell Congress what to do about Net taxes. Click for more. Then pro-tax sentiment from the European Commission fanned the flames. Click for more.

New Soyo Boards  00:51 am - David
Looks like Soyo's going to introduce a new wave of motherboards.

FREMONT, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 20, 1999-- Soyo, Inc. rings in the new year with 10 new motherboards and a new IEEE-1394 Firewire adapter to jump start year 2000 sales to system integrators and endusers building Camino, Athlon, consumer PCs as well as Internet appliances. All new Soyo motherboards support next generation CPUs, chipsets, and peripherals with features such as 100/133 system bus support, 4X AGP support, PCI expansion slots, Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, and UltraDMA/33 support and integrated multimedia, and integrated networking and home PNA controllers on some models. Most models also include AMR slots for installing low-cost Audio/Modem Riser cards.

Soyo will offer two new Camino motherboards for Pentium II/III systems, which feature the new Intel 820 chipset. The SY-6ICA ($139 U.S.) and the SY-7ICAD ($139 U.S.) both include Intel's Camino chipset, Pentium II/III CPU support, 100/133 MHz FSB, 4X AGP graphics, and AC 97 Codec Software Audio Solution with an ATA 66/Audio Modem Riser Slot in an ATX form factor. Both boards are expandable to 512MBs RAM. The Soyo SY-6ICA has two RamBus RIMMs slots, while the SY-7ICAD features two DIMMs.

AMD Athlon 800  00:50 am - David
Boy wonder, Anand, has written a review on the AMD Athlon 800. Makes my CPU looks real slow in contrast. Here's a snippet:

AMD is currently in a very interesting situation -- they have the ability to push the clock speed of the Athlon to even higher levels; the air-cooled 1GHz mark isn't too far away. If you recall, just four months ago, the only way to get an 800MHz Athlon was through Kryotech's Cool Athlon 800 that ran the CPU at -36 C and, now, we are able to achieve the same results via air cooling alone. So what is AMD's problem?

As we mentioned in our review of the Athlon 750, the problem AMD is running into is getting fast enough L2 cache chips to keep up with the increasing clock speed of the processors because they are dependent on third party manufacturers to produce the L2 cache chips for the processors. The only true solution for this problem is to move the L2 cache off of the Slot-A processor card and onto the die of the Athlon; unfortunately, this move is not scheduled to happen until sometime in the first half of 2000. While that isn't very far away, AMD can't remain idle and let Intel win the clock speed battle; clock speed sells more processors than technology.

 

20 December 1999 - Monday

ABIT WB6 Motherboard 
23:58 pm - Wilfred
Cool. If I cannot call this CPU day, it will be ABIT day. This is the third review of an ABIT board I posted about today. This i810 based motherboard is targeted at budget buyers and it comes with onboard graphics accelerator and audio, as well as a host of other features. HardwareCentral has the meat.

Arguably the best trait of the WB6, and integrated boards in general, is its plug-and-go nature. Simply plug in a processor, some RAM and a hard disk, and you have a fully-functional system for a great price. However, consider that using the sound and AMR capabilities are both fairly CPU-intensive tasks with this system, so you may wish to invest in a more powerful processor than the Celery 300 used here (consider at least 400+MHz), to prevent slowdowns from becoming an issue.

Homeworld  23:53 pm - Wilfred
Issit your favourite RTS yet? I'm still resisting forgoing the little spare time I have for life (after HW1, Quake III and other forms of wanton living) for Homeworld. CRUS has a review on this awesome RTS game.

While it’s not perfect, it is the best RTS, the only one I’ve played more then this was Total Annihilation, but that was thanks to the action packed game play and the new downloadable units. If you get this and Age of Empires 2, you won’t need another RTS game, until the sequels come out probably. Shame about the Sierra bit though, lets hope Relic get to keep on making games without fear of being dropped, this game should be proof enough of their talent.

FIC SD-11 Athlon Motherboard  23:46 pm - Wilfred
Overclockers Australia posted some information about what could be done to the SD-11 if you're experiencing spontaneous reboots. Note, they're not asking you to try soldering anything but bring it back to your dealer who MIGHT be able to fix it for you. And if you're here in Singapore, my advice is to try the distributors instead. =P

Slave Zero Review  23:41 pm - Wilfred
Received a mailer that FiringSquad just took a shot at Slave Zero and judging from their verdict, it's a big OOOPS. No go! Bummer!

Slave Zero is a definite disappointment. What we saw over the course of the last few months was a game that had some promise, but the end product turned out to be a game that had "R - U - S - H - E - D" written all over it. We don't think this is the game the developers had in mind when they started on it. Multiplayer didn't make it into the retail version, the single player campaign was numbingly repetitive and too short, EAX froze our systems, and we weren't able to beat the final boss because of a careless oversight. We also experienced some serious texture corruption from time to time but we didn't mention it earlier - we'll give Slave Zero the benefit of the doubt and chalk that up as a driver issue. Even then, there are a lot of reasons to stay away from Slave Zero. A good multiplayer patch might be able to salvage Slave Zero into a decent action game, but until that happens, we'd have to say that this is a game worthy of Nat's patented "microwave award." Stand clear unless you're a classic console shooter fan, in which case you'll probably still want to wait until Slave Zero hits the bargain bin.

Wilfred Coughs  17:51 pm - Wilfred
So wow! When I got online, what greeted me was the huge torrent of web news that poured into my mailbox. Then to my greater surprise, they were almost all about CPUs, CPUs and CPUs... 

Intel PIII 750 & 800Mhz Coppermine  17:48 pm - Wilfred
Hottest CPUs seem to be floating all over, and you wouldn't expect AnandTech to be left out of the action. This huge review is perhaps a kick-start to their short period of quiet.

The Athlon 700 was the last Athlon to feature the 1/2 speed L2 cache and it will most likely be a fairly expensive part to pick up even after the 750 and 800MHz parts make their way into the retail channels. The Athlon 800 is just another step in the Athlon line, for AMD, it's purpose is to offer a clock speed competitor to Intel's Pentium III 800, but it's main purpose for most of you will be to drive the prices of the other Athlon processors down which is never a bad thing.

ABIT BE6-II Review 17:43 pm - Wilfred
All of today's posts look like duplicates huh? The TechZone let us know that a review of the BE6-II is available there. If you haven't read Kai Ping's views on it, please do.

Athlon 800Mhz Report 17:38 pm - Wilfred
Heheh, today is CPU day. The Tech Report has checked out AMD's flagship processor and posted a review about it. Well, they spoke of diminishing returns as we draw closer to 1Ghz.

If there's a theme to these test results, it'd have to be "diminishing returns." We suspect that, as systems approach the magic 1GHz mark at a rather feverish pace (with Intel and AMD going great guns for the MHz title), upgraders will want to keep in mind that the rest of the components in their systems will have to get faster to feed their processors properly.

Hopefully, our attempts at overclocking the 800 will bear fruit later this week, as I'm anxious to see how the curve for the .4 divider chips extends as the speeds get higher. Overall, I'd have to say that the 800 looks to be a much stronger chip than the 750, since the increase in clock speed helps to offset the slower cache that made the difference between the 700 and 750 very small.

ABIT BF6 Motherboard 17:29 pm - Wilfred
3D Spotlight posted their take on the BF6 board. Featuring 6 PCI slots and SoftMenu III, this is one board to go with if you don't need ATA/66 support today.

When I turned on my system, I checked the BIOS first as was amazed by the amount of FSB settings there was for this board. The BF6 is an amazing motherboard considering all of the FSB settings it has. It has the standard 66, 75 and 83MHz FSB settings, but from 84 to 200 it can be increased in one MHz increments.  

This is because of the newly implemented SoftMenu III that Abit has for the BF6 and the BE6r2. There is no way, right now, that a CPU can run on an FSB from 160MHz to 200MHz, but it’s nice to know that it is there. Perhaps some say a CPU will be able to take advantage of those FSB settings, but I’m willing to bet that even if it could, it probably won’t be on the BX chipset.

AMD Athlon 750Mhz 17:23 pm - Wilfred
Gamers Depot whipped up a review on the 750Mhz part from AMD and compared its value against that of the 700Mhz Athlon. So what did they think of it?

With an average street price of between $800-$850.00 it is almost $200.00 more than the 700, with barely any performance increase at all. You'd expect this chip to be head and shoulders above it's younger sibling. however, because of it's sub-standard L2 you had better wait for the 800Mhz part to roll out early next year.

Alpha P3125 Cooler 17:10 pm - Wilfred
Overclockin.com posted a review on this brick-size cooler for the Pentium III. Got a heated stove within that casing? It's time you found something to douse the fire.

Once again, Alpha proves that they produce some of the best heatsinks on the market. The innovative copper insert in the heatsink and their already impressive design add up to make this a very nice heatsink. There are a couple of things that keep the Alpha from being perfect.  The size of the heatsink may be a problem on some motherboards. Obviously, part of the reason the heatsink performs so well is its size, so just keep it in mind if you are thinking about buying one. The only other thing is it's cost. The average cost of this heatsink (including the fans) is in the $45-50 range. This is pretty expensive for a heatsink. You can get a decent heatsink for $20-25. However, a decent heatsink may not allow you to get the most out of your processor and it certainly won't keep the processor as cool as the Alpha will. This Alpha P3125 heatsink allowed me to run my PIII 450 SL35D processor a full 28MHz faster than the other heatsinks I tested it with and kept it cooler in the process.

Pentium III 750, 800 And 800B 16:56 pm - Wilfred
SharkyExtreme just sent note on their latest look at Intel's greatest guns. I read that with four fabrication plants throttling at full-steam, Intel will be able to meet the volume demands for 0.18 micron parts. Well, yes these new parts are finally looking good against AMD's present arsenal.

It's clear that the RDRAM-powered i820 PCs, using 800MHz CPUs dominate the Athlon-based rigs, which we believe is due to the low throughput potential of PC100 SDRAM. When the second generation Athlon core logic sets arrive on mainboards in January, complete with their AGP4X and PC133 SDRAM support, we expect the gap to narrow.

Until that point, and even perhaps until DDR-SDRAM supporting Athlon mainboards arrive, nothing can touch an RDRAM powered PC when it comes to moving data across the system bus.

osOpinion 11:08 am - David
osOpinion came up with 4 tasty articles for your consumption, here's some juice:

The Monster In Your Closet:

Many geeks regard Ziff-Davis Many geeks regard Ziff-Davis as Microsoft's Ministry of Truth (1984, Orwell). That impression will be strengthened by an article which appears on p. 280 of the December 1999 issue of Computer Shopper. Rather than trying an exegesis of the entire article, I will excerpt the most egregious errors. The journalist, Oliver Rist, says a few, faintly positive things about Linux so he cannot be accused of being one-sided. That is a classic FUD tactic.

Bashing When Prompted:

Every frustrated OS group wonders why the world hasn't switched, and forms the typical answers: the Mac is great, but PC users probably don't want to get stuck with Apple's hardware; Linux is too difficult to install and use; BeOS is a tiny minority player, with so little guarantee of working on your hardware; etc etc.

A Free Supercomputer:

All we need is the 'Killer App' then we could gain ground on the corporate desktop." We have been hearing that line for quite some time now. I'd like to state for the record that I disagree. Well, I disagree with the thought that what we are looking for is a single application that lets Betty type letters and faxes in the front office. In case you have been living in a cave, these applications exist, check the likes of Star Office."

Third Down, 99 Yards To Go:

And the stockholders cheer. It will be a couple of months before before we know whether or not the ball clears the goal posts. Microsoft (MS) has released Windows 2000 (W2K) for manufacturing, i.e. copying W2K to little plastic disks that are then slipped into cardboard boxes with graphics designed by 1st year art students from the planet Zoona, that will then be shipped to retailers where they will sit in storage until February 17, 2000. This is not a "release" in the sense of the word that a person could walk into a store and buy it. Nooooo. That would be a "release to release" or a "release to consumer"

RDJD K701 SECC1 Cooler 09:14 am - Kan
TargetPC reviewed the RDJD K701 SECC1 Cooler (what a name, sounds more like some part number) for Athlon processors. Here's an excerpt:

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 today’s PC’s run with several fans to keep them cool. In today’s 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, let’s compare how many Watts were used in a CPU in 1988. It started playing around 1–4 and it’s now shot up to over 60 (Athlon 65Watts). That’s around 20 times more, and it’s 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.

Elsa Erazor III Review 09:07 am - Kan
Not forgetting VoodooExtreme just posted their thoughts on the Elsa Erazor III graphics card based on the TNT2 chipset.

The Erazor III board is average length but somewhat tall. The AGP connector features the notch which indicates AGP 4x support. Four 8MB SEC Korea memory chips make up the 32MB of memory on the Erazor III PCB. The chipset is cooled by a large heatsink; no active cooling. The board did not feature any TV-in/out options.

19 December 1999 - Sunday

Abit BE6-II
22:55 pm - David
Firing Squad has done a review on Abit's flagship mobo, the ABIT BE6-II. I think this is one of the boards specially tailored for overclockers! Check it out:

Enter the BE6-II. Abit's flagship BX-motherboard, the BE6-II adds the additional bus speeds we were hoping to see and maintains ATA-66 compatibility. To be honest, we've been using the BE6-II for some time now, in fact, it's the current testbed we use to test all our components.

Sharky Reviews Quake III Arena 18:24 pm - Wilfred
Yes, the note just popped in that they've got a huge review of this ultimate deathmatch FPS game. I'm convinced this is the best looking shooter there is and the intense gameplay will keep you coming back for more - that is if you can take the maniacal pace.

Quake III Arena is offered as the ultimate death match experience. It's about mowing down your enemies without getting turned into greasy bits of kielbasa. While there certainly is strategy to the game, something we will get into a bit later, play mainly revolves around who is the quickest and most accurate shooter. Quake III Arena is about adrenaline, razor sharp reflexes and precise control. When you understand what its goals are, you'll realize that Quake III Arena succeeds perfectly. There is no purer, more intense death match game anywhere and there may never be. The flashy graphics only add to the hectic pace of the game. The well-positioned sounds only bring your ears into the game as well, drawing you in further. But what really makes it work, what separates Quake III Arena from the common rabble of first-person shooters, is the finely tuned weapon balance and superbly crafted levels.

Soldier of Fortune Preview 16:57 pm - Kan
3D-Unlimited managed to score a preview of Soldier of Fortune. Nice stuffs, here's some of the juice:

We had the chance to play an early version of Raven Software's upcoming spectacular shooter, Soldier of Fortune. This new game is based on a highly modified Quake II engine beefed up on new technologies. Raven Software is developing one of the best looking games I have seen in a long time. With Quake III: Arena and Unreal Tournament on store shelves now, Soldier of Fortune has some huge competition to compete with, but in my opinion the game will sell just as well as the other two.

Anyway, the guys have updated their contest prizes with lots of juicy stuff. So if you wish to take part in the holiday contest, head over here for more information.

HotHardware Revamped 16:55 pm - Kan
Alright, hop over to our pals over at HotHardware who just revamped their website!

Talk about revamping, we will be whipping our asses to bring you some hot stuffs in the weeks to come. So stay tune!

Linux + Hype = Bad News 12:13 pm - Wilfred
A day back, osOpinion sent us some new links to these editorials posted. I thought this to be of interest and while media attention is unavoidable for a potential alternative to the Windows OS, the attention should be focused on nurturing it and make it a REAL competition in all areas - be it usability or reliability. Read this!

Ever since the Microsoft ANTI-Trust suit, Linux has steamrolled across the Internet as THE "Alternative Operating System." Some people "Oooh" and "Ahhh" over this, and sure it's a GREAT thing, however too much attention is not necessary a good thing.

I've heard some people whining and complaining about the lack of applications, support for their hardware, a lack of "user-friendliness" it is, about the amount of documentation they have to read to install and maintain it, among other complaints in various help channels I frequent on IRC. Dealing with the last point first, people moving to Linux from Windows have never had to do very much in-depth reading (excluding the few who actually read Microsoft's EULA =), they expect everything to be setup for them, and have it setup 5 minutes ago. People just don't realize this doesn't happen. Another thing people don't seem to realize is free software comes with a price. The lack of applications is picking up yes, due to the media hype Linux has been receiving as of late, and more applications are being written every day, might I also say that a lot of wheels are being re-invented which need not be.

Tomb Raider 4 12:09 pm - Wilfred
GibWorld has a short review of the game many hot blooded youth play. I'm very certain that fans of Lara Croft wouldn't want TR4 to be the last revelation. Here's a snippet:

Quite a lot of work has gone on improving the overall realism of the game, and it certainly looks a LOT better than its predecessors. If you are fortunate to own a TNT 1/2/GeForce, you will be pleased to know that 32 bit color and volumetric lighting are supported and will work without fiddling with the configuration. This means that torches and sunlight create rich and colorful environments, easily differentiating outdoor areas from deep dark crypts. Quite a lot of work has gone on Lara herself, giving her hair and body a highly realistic edge - even her ponytail moves with the wind! All other aspects of the game, however, are much the same as in other Tomb Raider games.

Space Sex 12:00 pm - Wilfred
Before you just rush to read this article at Scientific American, the overview is like this: The NASA didn't like to talk about this aspect of human behaviour in space missions before, but with the reality of the International Space Station, it seems inevitable for them to confront the issue. Here's a blurb from the interesting article:

Astronauts and cosmonauts have lived in space for prolonged periods in the past, but the numbers on any one stint have been few. When the station is completed, crews of seven will serve tours of duty of up to 180 days. And proposed missions to Mars could take two and a half years to complete. Naturally, sexual behavior might occur on such long missions. It is a topic, however, that makes NASA publicists uneasy--as if the issue could somehow make astronauts seem to have less of "the right stuff." (Rumors of unofficial orbital couplings abound, but no one is talking.) Yet sexual tensions could affect crew performance and thus mission success. "It's just one more problem that can potentially cause the whole thing to come apart," says retired astronaut Norman E. Thagard.

Stylus Photo 870 In Hong Kong 11:47 am - Wilfred
Over at Digital Darkroom, KL alerted me that the equivalent of the Japanese release, Epson PM-800C Super Colorio, is out in Hong Kong. The new successor to the Stylus Photo 750 is to be known as Stylus Photo 870, and it features a 4 picolitres drop size and more.

"I believe the new Stylus 870 just released in HK is the PM-800C Super Colorio by the look.  It costs HK$2,488 and comes with a roll type photo paper feeder. The ad also claims a colour longevity of 10 years with intellidge ink and Epson premium glossy photo paper." The longevity claims on longevity are certainly very welcome news! 

The Home Network - An Engineering Feat 10:45 am - Kan
Ah, check out TomsHardware on their latest article called The Home Network - An Engineering Feat. Broadband is the way to go in the future. Psst, know the difference between broadband and baseband?

Unfortunately, most home networking products that you find on the market today are geared primarily to multiple PC households. I say, unfortunately because, I think the biggest stumbling block for home networking is that fact that everyone is using the term "networking". Can't think of anything more frightening and labor intensive than networking. Nevertheless, I have two home networking systems that I am looking over, Diamond's HomeFree wireless set-up, and 3Com's HomeConnect which uses Broadcom's chipsets.

Kensington Orbit Trackball 10:41 am - Kan
TargetPC reviewed another mice today - the Kensington Orbit Trackball. I'm not sure, but I definitely cannot Quake using a trackball. Can you? :)

The Orbit is slightly larger than the average mouse. As it is stationary and does not move around this is not a problem. It features an input ball, which is roughly the size of a golfball, that is located at the top of the device. The ball is flanked on either side by the buttons. Included is software that allows for fine-tuning of the device’s movements and assignments to the buttons. The user can easily assign the buttons so that it can be used by a lefty. The device is compatible with both USB and PS2 mouseport use and retails for approximately $39.95 though it can be had for nearly half that price.

D-Link USB Radio 10:30 am - Kan
Glide Underground reviewed the increasing popular D-Link USB Radio kit which allows you to listen to the radio channels thru your USB port.

The main program window shows you the station your on, volume controls, pre-set stations, and your recorder controls. As for the amount of channels you can store in the pre-set menu, you sure won't be left short, as you can store up to 200 channels in a total of 20 pages, which are rotated through with the click of a tiny button. Below the pre-sets are the normal Tune and Scan buttons to scroll through the frequencies with ease. Perhaps one of the nicest features of the DSB-R100 is the ability to record from the radio into a .wav file. From the .wav, you can then use the included MP3 compressor to make your own MP3's straight from the radio. Just for an example, I recorded 1 minute of audio off the radio and compressed it to MP3 for you to hear incase your concerned about the quality.

Gear of the Year 1999 10:26 am - Kan
Speedy3D wrote an article on Gear of the Year 1999. We have so many new products this year that in retrospect, it's difficult to really choose the best gig out of'em.

Never have I seen as much innovation and originality in a motherboard. Breaking all the rules, Abit's BP6 allows you to run 2 simultaneous Celerons in SMP mode without any special modifications. With support for up to 5 PCI devices, along with built in ATA/66 support Abit's BP6 is truly a masterpiece.

New ASUS Drivers 10:25 am - Kan
Planet GeForce sent note on the new ASUS drivers for the V6600 and V6800 DDR GeForce cards.

Boomslang 2000 Mouse 10:23 am - Kan
Dan's Data did a comparison between the new Boomslang 2000 mouse and the Microsoft Optical Intellimouse. Super sensitive is what this mouse is all about. But at 100 bucks each, they sure ain't cheap!

The Boomslang comes in what is best described as a sexy biscuit tin. Said tin is packaged in a cardboard box, presumably for stacking reasons or something, but the tin'll make an excellent, sturdy carry-case for people who've seen The Sting a couple too many times and want to make like a pool shark when they show up at a LAN party.

 

18 December 1999 - Saturday

More GeForce 21:30 pm - David
FiringSquad has whipped out a review on the Asus AGP V6800 GeForce 256 DDR, here's a snip:

People will want different cards depending on what they need. First Person Shooter (FPS) gamers who like to dabble in video editing will want the AGP-V6600 Deluxe, but gamers who only care about their framerates and don't give a damn about converting Britney Spears videos to MPEG will find the ASUS AGP-V6800 Pure more appealing. For those who want both, we suggest waiting for the AGP-V6800 Deluxe, ASUS' Deluxe GeForce DDR board. 

Adaptec Raid Card (AAA-131U2) Review 16:47 pm - Wymun
Woah.... Now if you can ever afford a Raid setup at home, check out 3D Alpha's groovy review on the Adaptec Raid Controller (AAA-131U2).  Guess my Ultra-ATA66 HotRod card is lookin' a teeny bit aged now... 

One thing I noted on the AAA-131U2 card is that it has a slot for a RAM DIMM, so the memory on the card is upgradeable. Memory does come with this card, but it's only two megabytes of DIMM memory to work with, although it can support up to a 64 megabyte DIMM. (DIMM Compatibility List for Adaptec RAID cards.) The AAA-131U2 card fits in a half-length 32-bit PCI slot, and it has three channels of SCSI output: One channel is an Ultra2 Wide 68-pin SCSI connector, a standard Ultra SCSI 50-pin connector, and the last one is an external Ultra2 Wide 68-pin connector. You can also daisy-chain several external Ultra2 devices, so long as you terminate the last one. You can even use the external connector to connect an entire array enclosure to the RAID card.

Intel I840 Chipset News 16:40 pm - Wymun
CPUReview has posted some hot news on Intel's latest I840 chipset.  Hmmm...Even before the single Rambus channel on the I820 gets fully utilised, another chipset evolves with 2 Rambus channels... ;P

Intel has another Rambus chipset; one that it hopes will spread market acceptance of Rambus as a leading memory technology.

Unlike the i820, the i840 has TWO Rambus channels; allowing for a theoretical maximum bandwidth of almost 3.2Gb/sec; which is significantly higher than what a conventional motherboard using PC100 or PC133 memory can expect (approx. 0.8Gb/sec and 1Gb/sec respectively).

Elsa 3D Revelator 12:25 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme published their review on the Elsa 3D Revelator glasses. If you are not a Quake veteran, wearing this pair of glasses will bring you into a wild ride to the toilet. 

With the Revelator, there is one layer of permanently polarized film and separate layers for each eye that polarizes at a right angle to the first film only when current is applied. The glasses send current to, and thereby polarize the second layer of film in front of the first eye that is not supposed to see the screen, and thereby block its vision entirely while allowing the second eye to see the screen. Then the current is sent to the second film in front of the second eye, blocking the second eye's vision and letting the first see as the onscreen image as it is changed to the first eye's perspective.

DirectX 7a Released 12:24 pm - Kan
Thanks to our pals over at ActiveWin, DirectX 7a is available for download from here.

As we announced yesterday - Microsoft has released DirectX 7a to the public this evening. This new version fixes various DirectInput problems with game controllers and USB devices. Note that DirectInput drivers are the ONLY files updated in this version and they will change to build 0716 when this download is installed.

IWill Slocket II Review 08:45 am - Kan
Darn, this is interesting. Super 7 Hardware Guide posted a review of the IWill Slocket II converter which supports the new PC-PGA Coppermine processors as well as the Cyrix Joshua processors. Woohoos!

Iwill's newest socket 370-to Slot1 converter, the Slocket II, builds on those capabilities by widening the Vcore range (from 1.30v to 2.05v in 0.05v increments and 2.10v to 3.5v in 0.10v increments) and adding support for Intel PIII FC-PGA (Coppermine) and Cyrix Joshua processors giving users more choices than ever for choosing an upgrade CPU for their Slot-1 mainboard.  

Fastest Recorder 08:42 am - Kan
This is a correction to the fastest CD-R I posted yesterday. Though Plextor announced the 12x4x32 drive, it's not out in the market yet. Thanks to Cdr-Info, the fastest drive out in the market already is those drives based on the Sanyo 12x4x32 mechanism. 

For those looking for a quality 12x drive, there is no need to wait for Plextor, which is expected to be available in a few months. LaCie offer their 12x4x32 SCSI-2 drive for $450 (in an quality external durable case which is stackable), and it is based upon a Sanyo mechanism, which 99% offers the burn proof feature.
The Sanyo mechanisms are known to offer excellent Dynamic OPC and generally are highly rated, while LaCie is known for their quality products (the LaCie version of Jaz drive was the first to offer drivers which reduced data transfer rate in order to enhance reliability and data integrity).

Anyway, we should be getting our own (someone's going to be happy) Yamaha 8x4x24 soon and this drive is solid from my cursory inspection. Also, expect our review on the new Plextor 8/4/32 soon within this weekend.

GeForce PRO DDR 08:40 am - Kan
It's not often we read of a review on the GeForce PRO. I saw over at AnandTech that t-Break reviewed the Creative GeForce PRO, and yup, it's damn fast (how does 15 FPS faster than the SDR sound to you?).

The DDR memory is the latest in graphics subsystems memory. By utilizing both the front and back edges of the memory clock, DDR memory achieves approximately double the bandwidth of conventional technologies. This dramatic increase in memory bandwidth eliminates one of the major bottlenecks for high performance graphics. 

If you haven't read our reviews on the Creative GeForce SDR or GeForce PRO DDR, be sure to read'em now. :)

D-Link DHN-910 10MB Phoneline Network Kit 08:36 am - Kan
Hardware Masters posted a review of the new D-Link DHN-910 10MB Phoneline Kit. If you live in a huge house where your mum objects you to laying network cables, then the Phoneline Kit may be your solution to hooking up your PCs together.

The kit works like a charm. The first thing you will notice is a longer boot-up. It is longer than after I installed the DFE-910 kit. Once you are into Windows and start moving files back and forth or play some games, you will quickly realize that this kit is fast. At 10Mb (megabit) it won't rival fast 100Mb networks, but for home use it is fantastic. Actual transfer speeds are just shy of 1MB (megabyte) per second which means you can send a 4mb MP3 file to another computer in under 5 seconds. Pretty quick, huh? If gaming is your thing, this kit won't disappoint. I loaded Rouge Spear up and it was lag-free with a nice green connection. Viper Racing was the same; fast and no lag with pings around 20ms.

Shootout at 700Mhz: Athlon vs Pentium III 08:15 am - Kan
GamePC performed a shootout between the Athlon and Pentium III 700 Mhz processors. Yep, the Athlon managed to edge their way to victory in the benchmarks. 

Since most of you want to get the most out of your money, we always take a quick look at overclocking. Without the help of an overclocking card or soldering the CPU, the Athlon 700 was able to reach 750 MHz with standard cooling on the Asus K7M motherboard. We even tried sticking the 700 in a KryoTech Renegade case to no avail. Since the L2 cache is basically at it's limit, it looks doubtful that even with soldering and tuning down the cache speeds, the chip can go much further. The Coppermine Pentium III shows basically the same story, since the CPU multiplier is so high (7.0 x 100), overclocking is pretty tough. We were able to get the 700 at 788 MHz, although on our I820 testbed, the next MHz jump was kicking it up to 840 MHz, which of course didn't go through. We're running stability tests on our BX platform now to see how far a BE6-II can take the 700E, we'll publish those results here, but don't expect a miracle.

Quake3 Arena Tune-Up Guide 07:13 am - Kan
nV News pieced together a Quake3 Arena Tune-Up Guide. Plenty of benchmarks to go around with as the guys show you the impact in performance when you toggle between various graphics settings.

You immediately head for the graphics options and choose the high quality settings.  You proceed to play a few heavy duty matches against 6 bots with the frame rate counter enabled and begin to wonder why performance seems a bit sluggish.  After all, you have a GeForce now and think "Hmm...I should be able to play at high resolutions in 32-bit color with all the options cranked to the max."

Itanium / Merced Slow? 03:05 am - Wilfred
Oh no... it seems like the prototype Itanium chips that Intel sent to developers didn't impress. Reportedly, the 64-bit chip achieved something like 400Mhz and drew a lot of power. Well, perhaps Megahertz is not a good measurement, but this number is way below the expected speed. Check The Register for more details!

Intel's problem with the clock speed of the Merced is aggravated by competition from both Compaq with its Alpha processor and AMD with its Athlon processor. AMD, for example, is easily reaching 1GHz already with the Athlon, and is now in the happy position of being able to pick and choose when to introduce microprocessors at that speed. The AMD part is a 32-bit chip.

Olympus C2020Z 02:51 am - Wilfred
Wy Mun just brought to my attention Steves Digicams' review on the C2020Z. How shall I put it? Compared to the C2000Z, it's the same great camera with several more features, minus the quirks. Whoa! They call it a 'winner'... 

 

17 December 1999 - Friday

Super Dual Socket370 Cooler
22:39 pm - Kan
Overclockers Australia reviewed a rather interesting piece of cooler which I've ever seen - Super Dual Socket370 Cooler. Basically it looks like a hybrid between a normal Socket370 cooler and a Slot-1 cooler. From the looks of it, it sure is juicy!

In the bottom photo you can probably see the square hole in the middle of the sink. This is to allow you to slide the mounting clip across the unit and mount it at 90 degrees to the way I've shown it. Obviously you don't want to do that if you're putting it on a slocket - it would stop you inserting the slocket into the motherboard - but if you're mounting the unit on a Socket370 motherboard this gives you another option to avoid fouling cables or connectors.

More On ABIT's FCPGA To PPGA Converter 19:27 pm - Wilfred
It seems like now there might be problems getting the BP6 to work with a dual Coppermine setup, and so we leave it in question. Meanwhile, we have news that ABIT has a converter in place, perhaps for its other boards. We've also gotten hold of the converter's part number... check this:

All these motherboards can use Coppermine Slot one without need for BIOS upgrade:

  • BE6-2
  • BF6
  • BE6

This need BIOS upgrade:

  • BX6-2

This need BIOS upgrade and cannot go above 100MHz

  • BH6 1.1

A new FCPGA to Socket 370 converter will be available in January. The part number is RA3702.

Silver 18:50 pm - Kan
FiringSquad reviewed Silver, a rather interesting RPG game from Infogrames. You can check out some of the excerpt here:

I hate to do more comparisons, but like FF7, Silver makes great use of various perspectives and camera angles. Some scenes you'll be looking at from up above, others from straight across or any other angle. It's very rare that I ever had a graphic obscure my vision and prevent my character from doing something. As this is especially important in combat (which occurs a fair bit, to say that least), I applaud the designers for getting the scenes to work so well.

Bose Lifestyle 30 Series II 18:33 pm - Kan
Throw away your DTT2500 and grab the Bose Lifestyle 30 Series II (if you can fork out US$3000) speakers reviewed by Glide Underground. Ahh...I will never be able to afford it. :(

In science, wood is the best conductor for deep, rich bass. Therefore what did Bose decide to make their Bass Module out of? That's right, they made it out of wood! In fact, the Bass Module is so good that it can product base even in the water! It isn't too hard to realize that, even at half volume, the bass is loud enough to shake walls, and knock down a few items. Quality equals Bose, and it is apparent in this subwoofer. They took the time to make it quality, and high regards are given to them.

X10 DVD 18:27 pm - Kan
This is one of the interesting kits I've seen around. 3AG reviewed the X10 DVD Kit which basically allows you to play DVD discs on your TV using your computer (Mum! No wires needed!).

The installation consists of a few simple steps. You take the transmitter unit (there is actually a difference between the sender and the receiver unit) and plug it into your PC. Now, this required the purchase of a couple parts. The first was a Headphone -> Audio RCA adapter and the second was a double-female RCA coupler. The Headphone -> Audio RCA unit goes into the output of your soundcard, and simply converts your signal to the proper RCA needed by the DVD Anywhere! unit. The coupler was to properly hook up the visual. The output of my Dxr2 unit happened to me a male adapter, and so was the RCA extension cable I was using. These two parts together can be found at Radio Shack and will probably cost you a combined $7.     

Maxtor DiamondMax 40 18:25 pm - Kan
Well, just gotta post this. VoodooExtreme just reviewed the Maxtor DiamondMax 40 41 GB hard drive. It's big. Very big.

The DiamondMax plus 40 is boasts an impressive feature list. The size is unmatched and the spin speed, 7200rpm, is top of the line. The drive is UDMA/66 compatible, as are most drives nowadays. The performance benefits remain to be seen, especially since most drives have a hard time reaching 33MB/sec peak, let alone 66MB. Unfortunately, support is limited to newer motherboards; the board in the test system did not support the feature so I can't say much more about the advantages of UDMA/66 without resorting to speculation methods. The seek time is average for a 7200RPM, but be wary, seek times don't tell the whole story. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the drive is it's monstrous capacity. The drive uses 10.2GB platters, probably the largest used by EIDE drives, to keep the physical size of the drive down. Surprisingly, the drive is relatively quiet, even though it is a 7200RPM drive. Realize; however, that sound depends on your system case as well as the drive.

AMD Demonstrates 900 Mhz Athlon 18:23 pm - Kan
CNEWZ posted a blurb on the new 900 Mhz Athlon processor. Hmm, pretty interesting as AMD demonstrates two types of Athlons running at 900Mhz. The first type uses aluminum interconnects (the standard type) while the other uses the new copper interconnects.

The news comes just days after reports that rival Intel Corp. has pushed up the release schedule for its 750 MHz and 800 MHz Pentium III chips. AMD's fastest chip currently available is the 750 MHz Athlon, and while Intel seems to have regained the lead in the megahertz race, industry observers have noted that the fastest Pentium III devices are in very short supply.

"In the past, Intel has not released a product until it was available in volume," an AMD spokesman said. "But now it seems like they are feeling the effect of competition."

AMD plans to release an 800 MHz part next quarter and expects to crack the 1 GHz barrier in mid-2000.

Inwin Q500 vs Q500N 18:21 pm - Kan
ArsTechnica written an enjoyable article in which they compared the Inwin Q500 vs the new Inwin Q500N casing. If you are those type of people like me who is constantly worrying about the system temperature, then a full tower casing is the only way to go.

On the "new" Q500N, the "wings" that I bent the crap out of on my case are gone, and are replaced by a much better design.  The Q500N's sides slide on by themselves using a lip that sits over the inside of the case.  The front still attaches via the same spring-type metal rail, and the top of the case sits above the sides holding itself on.  Removing the top and sides is a very intricate process on these new cases, but the overall design is much higher quality and it's harder to bend or tweak something out of place.  I've tweaked my old case to the point where I can barely get it apart anymore.  This new case should never have the same problem that I had with my old Q500.

Athlon 500 Mhz at 750 Mhz! 18:18 pm - Kan
TheTechZone sent note on their overclocking madness by cranking a Athlon 500 Mhz to 750 Mhz. I must say the heatsink shown in the picture is so big that it practically covers half of your motherboard!

If you check the specs out on the Athlon it's going to be dumping about 50W at 700Mhz. Wow! So I figure if I'm going to be jacking the voltage up and adding another 50MHz to that I'm looking at dumping some serious heat here. Hence a couple of TECs. But there's a bright side to all this current going to drive the TECs, the Athlon sucks juice like it's going out of fashion and then there's the supposed FIC SD-11 mother board's additional finicky nature (the one I'll be using), there's almost nothing like too much power supply current on the 5V and 3.3V rails. Well the TECs become current shunts if run between the 12V and 5V rails for a potential difference of 7V, my preferred way of running the TECs anyway, pumping another 4 to 6 amps or so into the 5V rail, should be gravy. If the TECs need it I can always crack open the power supply and buss out the 3.3V rail which gives 8.7V on the TECs and boosts the current available on the 3.3V rail directly.

Another Razor Boomslang Review - 2000 DPI 17:17 pm - Wilfred
This is too tempting! I've been thinking of getting a specialised mouse for fragging purposes, but heh, I keep telling myself, "It's the carpenter and not his tool!" Here's BoomGames' take on the rodent!

What is the point of having 2000 DPI without a controller chip with 6 mips? There's an old saying that still holds true: "Your computer is only as fast as the slowest piece of hardware." The same goes for the Razer mouse. If the Razer mouse had a standard 1.5 mip chip, then 2000 DPI would not be a valuable thing since the chip would not be fast enough to pick up the signals. One thing to note is that the IntelliMice fire at 18 mips. However, most of this speed is used to run the optical calculations.

A-Top AT900 Casing 17:11 pm - Wilfred
ReviewFinder posted a writeup on this neat box for your peripherals. Nothing much to say here, and I'm not aware of it selling anywhere locally in Singapore. Hmm.. take a look!

Would I buy this case myself? Yes. I'm a power-user and an early adopter. I take the cover off my computer once a week just to see the heat-waves rising off the video card. I change hardware regularly, and for someone like me, the ability to easily take it all apart without removing a thousand screws is a godsend.

Unreal Tournament Review 17:05 pm - Wilfred
The chaps at Sharky Extreme are very hard at work lately after the acquisition by Internet.com, prolly the bosses pushing them hard eh? =) So today, they covered Yingzong's favourite FPS game and you might want to find out why he has that craving... here's something about the Assault gameplay:

Finally, the teamplay mode that has been impressing gamers most is assault. In assault, objectives differ depending on the setting. In one level you have to destroy chains keeping a castle door closed then escape through the door, in another you have to gain access to and destroy an experimental Plasma Tank, in yet another you have to assault a beachhead while avoiding enemy sniper fire and then destroy a huge gun located deep within the base. The myriad Assault levels are all very original and great to play through with a few mates or bots. Things become even more interesting when, once you've completed the objective, you have to then defend it. If you hold out for as long as it took you to complete the objective then you win. If not, the opposing team does, and this of course leads to some nail biting firefights to defend the objective for as long as it took you to take it.

Elsa Erazor X & Revelator 3D Glasses 16:58 pm - Wilfred
HotHardware let us know of their new review on the above. Pretty cool packaging, I think you are aware of the hotrod GeForce chip powering the card, so check this out if it's worth your $$:

The Erazor X is an excellent work of electrical engineering on behalf of Elsa. The card is well designed and is comprised of very high quality components which lend to its overall performance and end user experience. It was a stable and competent "overclocker" as well. We feel it is more than worthy of your hard earned dollar should you be in the market for a new graphics accelerator.

GeForce Tweak Guide 07:06 am - Kan
If you are the few fortunate ones to own a GeForce graphics card, check out 3DGPU's GeForce Tweak Guide. Good stuffs.

If your desktop is set to 32-bit color, when you run the game, sometimes they'll run in 32-bit. This requires more memory usage and is more CPU intensive than regular 16-bit. While the GeForce has excellent 32-bit handling, some games (like Freespace 2) can make your GeForce crawl in 32-bit glory. It all depends on your system; on a DDR GeForce 256, 32bit color gives less of a performance hit, so it is a matter of preference. To see if you're at 16-bit, right click anywhere on your desktop and click Properties. Click the Settings tab at the top and where it says Colors, be sure ti reads 16-bit.

ASUS K7M Athlon Motherboard 07:03 am - Kan
AGN Hardware published another motherboard review today on the ASUS K7M. It's a video review again, so you can sit back and enjoy. Anyway, check out our own review of the ASUS K7M as well.

ASUS's new K7M Slot A Motherboard for the Athlon processors is truly the best Athlon motherboard on the market at this time. With a feature list long enough to leave a lasting impression in your mind, there is almost nothing more you could possibly need. Best of all you finally have an option to get a little more performance out of your CPU, by setting the FSB to higher speeds. You can watch our video review of the K7M for a closer look at this truly market leading motherboard.

Gizmos For Geeks 07:00 am - Kan
BuyBuddy dropped us a mail on their new article Gizmos for Geeks. Christmas is coming! Remember to get one of those new digital cameras and send'em to me. :)

Touted as the smallest MP3 player on the market, the Sony Music Clip is only 4.69 (W) x .91 (H) x .88 (D) inches in dimension and 1.68 ounces in weight. Incorporating 64MB of built-in Flash Memory, this player allows up to two hours of audio playback, with support for ATRACT3, MP3, and future codecs. Connectivity for music transfer occurs through the Universal Serial Bus (USB), which allows fast transfer of music. Powered by only one AA alkaline battery, the Music Clip can play 5 hours of continuous music. Additional features for this audio player includes a Backlit LCD, a Preset Equalizer, SDMI Compliancy, and Expandable Codec for future formats.

Free PC? 06:55 am - Kan
Hardware Abyss written an article which revealed the truth on those 'Free PCs' ads you see flying around from companies like BestBuy and CompUSA. Are they really 'free'

This was taken straight from the online ad. Check out the specs. Pretty nice for a free PC isn't it? Now if you were too lazy to read the fine print, allow me to summarize. There are two rebates involved in this offer. The first one is a $75 insentive mail-in rebate directly from eMachines. The second is the $400 MSN Instant Credit rebate. In order to get a $400 mail in rebate, you have to sign up with MSN Internet Access, for three years, at a rate of $21.95 per month. Just because I'm not exactly a math-wiz, I shall round the monthly fee. Hell, I'll even round down just to show you how much you'll end up paying for that free PC of yours.

36 (months) x 21 (rounded monthly fee) = $756.

Now you might be saying to yourself, $756 isn't all that bad for a new computer. It seems like a pretty decent computer. But what good will it be in a year? Not to mention three years. It'll be way past obsolete by then.

Swapfile Optimization Guide Rev 2.0 06:52 am - Kan
Over at Adrian's Rojak Pot, the dudes updated their Swapfile Optimization Guide, bumping it up to Rev 2.0. Here's a whiff of it:

Using a swapfile may now sound like a really cheap way to run memory intensive programs without the expense of buying more RAM. However, even the fastest hard disk is at least an order of magnitude slower than the slowest RAM. And if you compare even the 10,000 rpm SCSI hard disk's bandwidth with today's PC100 SDRAM bandwidth, we will be talking like at least 20X slower. So, swapfile is only a stopgap solution for the lack of sufficient RAM. The ideal solution for insufficient RAM is always more RAM. But since we can't afford all the memory we want, a swapfile is necessary to allow us to run today's memory guzzling programs.

PlexWriter 12/4/32 06:48 am - Kan
I knew it! Just after we got the 8/4/32, here comes the fastest drive in town: Plextor 12/4/32 CD-RW. Check out Cdr-Info on this drive:

Plextor is expanding its range with the PlexWriter 12/4/32, which writes CD's at 12-speed, rewrites at 4-speed and reads at 32-speed. The PlexWriter 12/4/32 comes in both internal and external version with a Tray load mechanism. The internal version will be available in Retail and Bulk version.

The internal Retail version contains: PlexWriter 12/4/32, 1 blank CD-R disk, 1 blank CD-R/W disk, 12 language manual, audio cable, Recording Software (WinOnCD + Packet CD + BackMeUp), Plextor Utility software. The external Retail version contains: contents of the internal retail version (without audio cable) + power cable. The Bulk version contains: PlexWriter 12/4/32, 12 language manual, Plextor Utility software (no recording software in the Bulk version).

Atlas 10K II 06:45 am - Kan
This is one hell of a drive out there. RivaExtreme dropped us a line on the new Atlas 10K II hard drive from Quantum. 4.7ms?! Here's the press release:

MILPITAS, Calif., December 15, 1999 – Quantum Corporation’s Hard Disk Drive Group (NYSE:HDD) today announced its Atlas™ 10K II – the industry’s highest density 10,000 RPM disk drive. At 4.7ms seek time and 73.4GB capacity, the Atlas 10K II family nearly doubles the available capacity and improves performance by 10-15 percent over Quantum’s previous 10,000 RPM generation. The Atlas 10K II drive is the optimum choice for Windows NT or UNIX enterprise and departmental servers, as well as high-performance workstations running 2-D graphics, 3-D video, and other high I/O applications. “The Atlas 10K II is an industry leader in areal density – this allows for fewer heads and platters contributing to the overall improved reliability and performance, which in turn results in savings for the end user,” said Brendan Collins, program marketing manager for the Atlas 10K II product.

Samurai DDR Chipset 06:34 am - Kan
Frankly speaking I only knew of the Samurai Burger from MacDonald's. :) Anyway, Tom's Hardware had a first looks at the Micron Samurai DDR chipset. The new chipset is definitely exciting as it will enable us to get RDRAM at a more realistic prices (currently RDRAM are selling at 5 times of a SDRAM) with lower latencies.

Micron is known for both their memory manufacturing and x86 computer platforms. They have been shipping their Samurai (non-DDR) chipset for some time now in their high-end workstation product line. Micron has made some improvements to this chipset, which is code named 'Samurai DDR'. This DDR supported chipset supports DDR SDRAM, 4x AGP, 133 FSB (front-side bus), and also a 66MHz 64-bit wide PCI bus (also found on Intel's higher-end i840 based platforms). Besides 4x AGP the coolest new feature of this chipset is its support of DDR SDRAM memory. Many of you that have been following our graphics board reviews have heard mention of DDR memory on NVIDIA's GeForce product. It makes a lot of sense to support this same memory technology in a motherboard chipset

Weekly CPU Prices 06:32 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme updated their Weekly CPU Prices page, updating with some info on the upcoming Pentium III 800 Mhz processor.

On the high-end Intel Coppermine front it's also worth taking note that all four CPUs had a significant price drop. The Pentium III 700MHz/100MHz FSB fell $50 down to a more reasonable $727. This is obviously due in part for the preparation of Intel's Pentium III 800MHz which the company is scheduled to announce on Monday of next week according to reports.

 

16 December 1999 - Thursday

ASUS V6600 Deluxe
21:08 pm - Kan
TheTechZone posted their review on the ASUS V6600 Deluxe graphics card. This one comes with all the usual good stuffs like TV out, S-Video in/out as well as 3D-VR glasses support. 

Asus decided to use SGRAM on their GeForce 256 card instead of SDRAM like most other GeForce vendors. The use of faster SGRAM gives the V6600 a performance head ups on the competition. The RAM is rated at 5ns, which is good enough to run at 200Mhz. However it comes set from the factory at 166Mhz.

The GeForce 256 chip itself runs at 120Mhz and is cooled by a small heatsink fan which is held in place by a spring clip. The cooler is easy enough to remove if you want to do some serious overclocking with the card.

Quake III Arena Review 19:56 pm - Wilfred
id Software's latest game came under the scrutiny of the boys at Thresh's FiringSquad. Afterall, it paved their way to fame, so what did they think of the latest release? A clue is the "Editor's Choice" seal prominently displayed on the first page of the review. Not that I didn't play the demo all these while, but it never failed to amaze me with the level of detail in the textures. In fact, the models in the final retail was simply fantastic - walking eyeballs, skeletons and more! Ok, what's the answer to the million dollar question (Thresh and CalBear calls it the question of the millennium): "Q3 or UT?!"

Astute readers may have noticed that we distinctly avoided mention of Q3 in the UT review and vice versa. The reason for this was simple - we wanted to weigh each game on its own merits. Now that both have been evaluated, people are going to ask: "which game is for me?" Though we rated Q3 higher, there really isn't a clear cut answer. Both games are flat-out fantastic, and there's a lot to like in both titles. The answer to "which game is for me" lies primarily in what aspects are most important to you. If you want a shooter that has a lot of different game types right out of the box, a cleaner interface (making it easier to learn), a better single player mode, maps that are non-conventional, and a wider variety of weapons, then Unreal Tournament is probably for you. If you're looking for a game that has the most solid feel, the best graphics, more straight forward weaponry, DM maps with better flow, and overall better DM play, then Quake 3 is probably going to be more up your alley. System performance might be an issue as well - Quake 3's newer graphics engine demands a lot more than Unreal Tournament's.

Soyo SY-6VBA 133 19:52 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic's note just popped up in my mailbox. They've got a review on Soyo's VIA Apollo Pro 133 board. Famous for their highly reliable boards, I wouldn't expect this to be anything less than stellar. Have a read!

Choosing The Right PC & Speakers 19:48 pm - Wilfred
The heading is slightly misleading. Well, TargetPC has two new articles for your reading. The first is a little guide if you're planning on getting a new PC for your desk, the second is a review on Altec Lansing's ACS-48 3 way speakers. I'll quote from the former:

Obviously, since AMD chips are non-Intel, there won’t be any Intel compatible motherboards or chipsets anytime soon. So, for the non-Intel crowd, look for boards with VIA or SiS stamped on their silicon. ASUS, particularly the K7M comes too mind for the Athlon, formerly known as K7. This board can use plain Jane PC100, no PC800 RIMM slots are anywhere to be found.

Coppermine processors are still waiting for truly great motherboards to ship, like the Abit CH6 and others. But, if you have a hole in your pocket, most 440BX based boards have support for the "E" class of Coppermines. The E is for the100Mhz bus speed and 0.18 micron manufacturing process. Stay clear of the "B" or "EB" designations as they mandate a 133 FSB and that speed wreaks havoc with your AGP card. Also make sure your choice of MB fully supports the 1.65V core voltage and 256K L2 cache.

HW1: ABIT BE6-II Motherboard Review 13:21 pm - Wilfred
Some unforseen circumstances delayed this review quite a bit, but nevertheless, it's here. The latest BX board from Abit spotting Ultra DMA/66 and SoftMenu III support... still one of the most popular boards in town.

For the hard-core overclockers, Soft Menu III is what I consider the ultimate overclocking solution. It allows the front-side bus to be set at 66MHz, 75 MHz, 83 MHz and anything between 84 MHz to 200 MHz in 1MHz increments! The PCI divider can be set at 2,3 or 4. The only weak link in the whole arrangement is the lack of an AGP ˝ divider (which is something dictated by the BX-chipset itself).

Send Data Through Electricity Wires? 12:52 pm - Wilfred
So reports CNet that a new startup won a U.S. patent on a process that can send data over electric wires many times faster than present day Internet tech. Woah... potential! Read this!

Dallas-based start-up Media Fusion has won a U.S. patent on a process it says can send data, video and voice over electric wires at speeds thousands of times faster than current high-speed Internet access technologies.

Employing this system, a user could plug a computer or TV directly into an electrical grid through certain hardware technology to connect to the Internet at super-high speeds, the company claims.

Digital Camera Fiesta 12:47 pm - Wilfred
I'm late at this. There are two reviews on the net on some of the best digital cameras released. Check out Imaging Resource's review on the Sony DSC-F505 and Digital Photography Review's take on the Nikon CoolPix 800. Next, a piece of rumour of Canon's S20:

  • Canon S20 (name may change)
  • Same form factor as S10
  • 3.3 Megapixels, 2x zoom
  • USB
  • CF I & II, shipped with 16MB CF card.

Windows 98 Tweak Guide 12:35 pm - Wilfred
Since Windows 2000 has gone gold, and for some, Win98 is at the end of its shelf life, but 3DSpotlight posted a guide for you to tweak it back to life and keep it oiled for a couple of months more!

800Mhz Athlon Reviewed 12:31 pm - Wilfred
The dudes at Maximum PC took a 800Mhz Athlon chip for a short drive and have its performance to report. Check this out!

The previous record on a single processor machine running Windows 9X was 299. And that was a 750MHz Athlon with 256MB of system memory. The fastest an Intel box has hit is 280 with VC133 and a GeForce card. For our run of the 800MHz Athlon, we used 128MB of RAM. Maximum PC's tests show a 256MB configuration in SysMark is worth another 5 or 10 point bump.

Battery Scandal 12:31 pm - Wilfred
According to Dvorak and a reader at Slashdot, they suggest a conspiracy theory about battery makers fearing their ingenious inventions of rechargeable NiMH batts kill off their business models. If you are a user of digital audio and video products, you will know how much more asses the NiMH kick. Here's a blurb, but check out ZDNet's full story:

Battery makers have a problem: Their cash cows — disposable batteries — are being threatened by their own excellent invention: rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) cells. There's no question that the big battery companies are freaked out by the monster they've created.

Thrustmaster Nascar Charger Racing Wheel 06:55 am - Kan
FPS3D penned down their thoughts on the Thrustmaster Nascar Charger Racing Wheel. Hmm, apparently my desk never have room (with two monitors sitting on a desk) for such toys. :)

One might expect that installing a new racing wheel would be a pain, but I found it to be quite easy with the Nascar Charger. The box included the wheel itself, a mounting clamp, the pedals, all necessary connectors, and the installation disk. The first part of the installation is to mount the wheel to a confortable spot on your desk. To do this, you simply attach the mounting clamp to the wheel and tighten it down on the desk. The wheel doesn't budge an inch! The mounting system is easily one of the nicest and easiest I have seen on a racing wheel. It gets the job done and saves the racer time in the installation process.

MidiLand S2 4100 06:53 am - Kan
Something new popped out from FiringSquad as the guys brought to us a review of the MidiLand S2 4100 speakers.

Just to give a little background, the S2 4100's were released nearly two years ago, and still remain within the vocabulary of enthusiast multimedia audio. During these two years, MidiLand hasn't just been sitting on the praise of the S2 4100's, and was busy at work on their next generation S4 series of speakers which are due to accept the baton from the MidiLand S2 series very soon.

Though officially discontinued, the S2 4100's can still be found at retailers and we were fortunate enough to obtain a pair of S2 4100's for comparison. First, let's recall how MidiLand became such a recognizable name.

D-Link USB Radio Review 06:49 am - Kan
3DWars posted a review of the D-Link USB Radio Kit. Basically with this kit, you just attach the receiver into your USB port and viola, you are off to listen to your favorite radio stations.

This new setup from D-Link is known as the DSB-R100 USB FM Radio. It's a nifty little device that plugs into your computer's USB port and acts as a fully functional USB radio, tuning into all of your local radio stations and outputting the music through your PC's speakers. It comes in two parts. The first is a base stand that connects to the USB port and holds the second part, which is the dipole FM antenna. The base unit is made up of clear plastic, so it gives that Mac type look…but then again, it is USB

Windows 2000 RTM 06:41 am - Kan
This must be the best news for today. Thanks to Philipp from NT Compatible as well as David from Kawai Network, Windows 2000 is officially Released to Manufacturing (RTM).

The RTM build is 5.00.2195

Here is a snip.

Microsoft is pleased to make the final, released-to-manufacturing (RTM)
version of Microsoft® Windows® 2000 (Build 2195) Professional, Server and Advanced Server available to technical beta sites for immediate download. We have also posted the symbols and support files.  We will be posting the SDK and DDK sometime in the next few days. Microsoft officially signed off on this version earlier this morning and released the master media to our product manufacturing vendors worldwide

By the way, if you are an authorized beta-testers, you can download Build 2195 from ntbeta.microsoft.com. Please note that there is a 120 days limit from the ftp site.

Build That Christmas Computer 06:37 am - Kan
Just a quick one, Fast-MHZ posted an article on how to build a computer for under $300. Wooz! That's cheap!

So do you want to build a Christmas computer for a gift well we have one of the most inexpensive PCs to build. Mind you, your not going to get those FPS with Quake II or Quake III Arena but this system will definitely satisfy most users who are not gamers

Mitsubishi 900u 19" Monitor 06:35 am - Kan
I always rank Mitsubishi monitors highly in my opinion. GamePC did a review on the Mitsubishi 900u 19" Monitor which comes with a host of features like USB ports and a comprehensive menu setup for the monitor settings.

The 900U is the spitting image of the 2020U, only three inches smaller. Being the proud owner of the 2020u, I noticed the same level of quality that I've grown to expect from Mitsubishi. The 900u has the same exterior design as the 2020u, which is attractive as ever. This 19" monitor has 18" viewable of screen space, and a naturally flat surface (DiamondTron NF), which allows for a 100% flat screen surface without any warping at the corners of the picture like some flat CRT monitors do.

Promise ATA-66 RAID Controller 06:33 am - Kan
I'm sure you always fancy a RAID controller in your system. SystemLogic took the opportunity to review the Promise ATA-66 RAID Controller which supports RAID 0/RAID 1.

With all this discussion of RAID, you might not know exactly what it is. What is RAID? Well, it stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Basically there are a few levels of RAID out there. The common point in all of them is that they allow you to combine more than one hard drive into a single drive letter. So you can have one large 50 GB partition if you have 2 25 GB drives. I'm not going to get too detailed on the subject here since there is a lot of information involved. The FastTrak66 supports these types: 

DFI PA61 06:28 am - Kan
Active-Hardware smacked a full review on the DFI PA61 based on the Apollo Pro 133 motherboard. Too bad there are only 4 PCI slots (a bit insufficient nowadays).

The PA61 expansion possibilities are supported via its 4/3/1 slot design. Thus 4 PCI slots, 3 ISA slots, and 1 AGP port. As with most slot 1 motherboards, the PA61 sports 3 168-pin DIMM sockets for memory expansion purposes. Just between you and me, in this era of the decline of ISA devices, I really have to ask why the team at DFI chose to integrate 3 of them into their board. In my opinion, DFI must have somehow ended up with a huge surplus of ISA connectors in their warehouse. Whatever the reason, they did finally decide to install no fewer than 3 of the things on each board. If nothing else, one must give them credit for a distinct advantage over their competitors in the ISA department. It certainly seems, though, that DFI chose to employ several ISA slots, at the expense of PCI expansion. At this point, many manufacturers are in fact cutting ISA out of their production boards all together, or else installing a single such slot.

 

15 December 1999 - Wednesday

Shinco 8320 DVD/VCD/SVCD/MP3 Player
20:26 pm - Kan
This gotta be the most comprehensive player I've ever seen. The Shinco 8320 is capble of playing DVD/VCD/SVCD/CD/MP3 discs! Check out Cdr-info review on this product:

Shinco DVD's MPEG decoding chip VS2811 developed by Supreming AV lab, is a forth generation DVD decoder. It is highly integrated to the audiovisual subsystems, resulting to a single chip MPEG system. Key part of it is a programmable 32-bit RISC microprocessor which can decode for many different compression algorithm by means of adjusting its microcode from outside. It supports CD, VCD, DVD, SuperVCD, and of course, MP3. Loader and C.P.U are interconneted through an ATAPI interface. Shinco's DVD software runs within the CPU(2811+SONY's16-bit CXP91200), ensuring a fluent transmission of data.

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus40 20:14 pm - Kan
The hard drives gurus over at Storagereview sent note on their new review on the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus40 hard drive. How's 40GB as your Christmas present sound to you?

The Plus 40 is best compared to its predecessor, the DiamondMax Plus 6800. Though our pick of its class, the Plus 6800's claim as the fastest ATA drive around was subjected to quite a bit of scrutiny in our Discussion Forum. The 40, however, has rectified the 6800's weaknesses and then some. WinBench 99 scores under Windows 9x place the 40 ahead by 8% in the Business Disk WinMark and by a hefty 23% in the High-End WinMark. WinBench tests under NT, an area where the 6800 was already king, also show improvement. The 40 again bests the 6800 in the Business WinMark by 8%, with the High-End tests showing an 18% gain. Finally, ThreadMark results in both Windows 9x and Windows NT indicate performance gains of about 30%.

Rune Preview 20:10 pm - Kan
Yikes, cable ain't exactly what I called 'stable' tonight. Anyway, just got back to the net with the fat ADSL pipe and caught off the preview of Rune from 3D-Unlimited. Here's some juice:

RUNE transports gamers into the Dark Ages, when the Vikings were the conquerors of a cold, dismal world, and paganism ruled all of the northern lands. Taking on the role of Ragnar, a rugged young Viking warrior, players are challenged to fight off Nordic creatures and uncover an evil perpetrator who is annihilating the Viking population. RUNE combines melee combat and exploration, with a colossal story line and an active environment, to recreate a period in history characterized by savagery and the sword.

SharkyExtreme Software Buyer's Guide 19:32 pm - Kan
The Sharks are hard at work again, bringing us an updated version of the Software Buyer's Guide for this Christmas. 

The ultimate hardcore deathmatch game for purists has arrived, and it will blow your mind. Beautiful graphics, intense and balanced play, fine-tuned maps and killer bots with personality make Quake 3 Arena the ultimate expression of deathmatch play. Its intense action will hone your mouse reflexes to Neo like levels. You won't dodge the bullets, they'll dodge you! It's everything we expected it to be and we expected a lot. There are already several games based upon its engine in the works, and with an engine like that, they'll have no excuse not to be great. It may be too straightforward for some, too violent for others, and there may not be enough multi-player modes to please everyone, but Quake III Arena is pure adrenaline pumping multi-player fun and we love it.

Hitachi SuperScan 769 19" Monitor 19:30 pm - Kan
Nope, not a review on this monitor. But CNEWZ just dropped us a line on the new Hitachi SuperScan 769 19" Monitor. Yup, it's flat!

Hitachi NSA is pleased to announce the extension of its award-winning line of 19`` (18'' viewable) SuperScan monitors with the introduction of the new SuperScan 769. Based upon Hitachi's current line of award-winning 19`` monitors, the new 769 provides even higher performance, with a new yoke design that provides precise convergence. Suitable for the most demanding professionals, the SuperScan 769 provides a rock solid, flicker-free refresh rate of 85 Hz at its maximum resolution of 1600 x1280, yielding flicker-free images that reduce eyestrain and viewer fatigue. With an auto synchronization range of 31-115 kHz, the 769 enables consumers to take advantage of the increased performance benefits of high quality 115 kHz video cards that are now included in many PCs.

Creative Responds To 3dfx 11:13 am - Wilfred
This is worth a reading. nV News has the comments of Creative's Steve Mosher with regards to 3dfx's interview with gamers. I think he has some good points, aside from pointing out the lack of T&L support in 3dfx (who feels that the GeForce doesn't have a fill-rate to carry it), he questioned the need for T-buffer.

The other thing you see here is division of the t-buffer effects.  In short, there is AA and the other stuff.  Let me address motion blur and depth of field first.  If you read 3dfx's white papers, you will see that both of these effects are described as CAMERA ARTIFACTS.  That's right, these are artifacts.

A camera produces motion blur when it's not fast enough to resolve the image in a single frame.  So why would you want to introduce artifacts (image degradation) into a game?  Would it help you aim better, see the textures on the wall better, or identify an enemy aircraft better?  No.  It will do little to enhance the illusion of reality.  It's a cinematic effect.  A cinematic artifact that is used to convey the illusion of speed (makes me think of the six million dollar man).

If I want cinematic effects, I will rent a DVD.  In a game, the experience is not passive, it's active, and when you are actively involved in a reality you don't sense or perceive motion blur.  In fact, the presence of motion blur will clue in the brain that this "reality" in front of me is not so real after all.  As far as check boxes go, I think the motion blur off check box will get a lot of hits.

Intel Stops Notebook RDRAM Chipset Project 11:07 am - Wilfred
EETimes reports that Intel has put on hold the project to support RDRAM on mobile computers. I think you know the reason?

The Rambus DRAMs are moving into the marketplace at a slower pace than expected by some analysts, largely due to a stiff price premium. Intel also was unable to meet its own schedule for the 820 chip set, now in production, which supports a 133-MHz frontside bus and Rambus DRAMs.

Motorola To License Palm OS 11:01 am - Wilfred
Another win for the Palm Computing platform? Oh yes! CNet has a news article about Motorola's plans to build appliances around the diminutive but powerful OS.

Motorola said today it would license the operating system used in 3Com's popular Palm Pilot handheld computers for use in Motorola products, enhancing its lineup of wireless Web devices.

Razor Boomslang 2000 07:00 am - Kan
A mouse touted to be more precise and sensitive than any other mice in the world. A mouse with balls. PlanetHardware proudly presents the Razor Boomslang 2000! Okay, enough of my crap, but this Boomslang 2000 does indeed look awesome. Here's an excerpt from the review:

The key to the improved precision and sensitivity of the Boomslang is using a focused light beam to count the rotations on the encoder wheel, which results in increased DPI (dots per inch). The Boomslang 2000 has 2000 DPI, the Boomslang 1000 has 1000 DPI, and your average desktop critter has around 400 DPI. Without knowing much else, it's obvious that the Boomslang 2000 should be one smooth mama.

If you used to have a PS/2 mouse like I did, the switch to USB will provide another benefit as the mouse provides updates on its position 125 times a second. If you don't have a USB port, PS/2flex is included in the driver software which allows you to up the polling rate for your mouse to 200 (PS/2 ports normally poll around 35 times a second). So why wouldn't you want to crank it up to 200 and use PS/2 even if you have a USB port? The answer to this is quite simple: jacking up the PS/2 polling rate sucks CPU power. But if you can't use USB, increasing the poll rate to 80 or 100 will increase the smoothness of the mouse without killing your framerate =)

Absolute Media 06:56 am - Kan
Looks like another company is jumping into the GeForce bandwagon and starting to produce SDR/DDR GeForce graphics cards. Thanks to RivaExtreme and PlanetGeForce for the tips:

Absolute Multimedia is a Multi-national based company with its Headquarters based in Sweden, a logistic, distribution and sales centre in the UK and product R+D in the USA. The founders of Absolute Multimedia are also multi-national and are no strangers to the market they include Jack Kister, earlier VP of Engineering at Diamond Multimedia. Nick Harwood, earlier European Director for Orchid Micronics and owners from the distribution channel.

Absolute Multimedia´s first line of products are based on Nvidia’s TNT-2, Geforce and Aureal ’s Vortex chipsets that aim toward the gaming and home-entertainment markets. Included it the products are award winning unique features such as Software Choice (See below), MP3 and DVD software and more.

ATI Rage Fury MAXX 06:54 am - Kan
Guessed I missed this out. But over at AnandTech, Anand posted his thoughts on the ATI Rage Fury MAXX graphics card. 

The Rage Fury MAXX was ATI's only chance at competing with what 3dfx, NVIDIA and S3 hoped to have released by the end of the 1999 holiday shopping season. ATI had no new chip that would allow them to compete with the big boys, all they had was the Rage 128 Pro that delivered performance somewhere between that of a TNT2 and a TNT2 Ultra for about the price of the latter. The Rage 128 Pro itself is a 0.25-micron chip clocked at 125MHz, resulting in a 250 Mpixel/s fill rate; put two of these together and you have a setup capable of beating NVIDIA's recently launched GeForce 256 (500 Mpixel/s versus 480 Mpixel/s). The Rage 128 Pro was featured on ATI's recently released ATI Rage Fury Pro, and the combination of two of these chips using ATI's AFR technology is a product known as the Rage Fury MAXX.

SharkyExtreme Buyer's Guide 06:50 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme updated their Buyer's Guide for this Christmas season, so be sure to buy all your stuffs early and send'em to me! :)

The InWin IW-S500 Mid-Tower case is a new entry into our monthly buyer's guide, its competitive size and solid construction have won us over.

The S500 is competitively priced at $75 through mail-order outlets, and its detachable side and front access panels along with its premounted chassis, which make it easy to install a new mainboard, are strong features for any user seeking easy access.

A 300W power supply is a must-have in our minds, as it provides more go-go juice than the industry standard 250W models.

AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millennium Edition 06:47 am - Kan
Overclockers.com reviewed the classic AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millennium Edition motherboard (yup, the one with the designers names imprinted on it). Probably you can auction it at a high price to someone else in year 2020?

It seems likely to me that, bearing the future of the BX chipset in mind, this board is probably going to be the final member of a very prestigious family of motherboards. The last major revision of this line, the AX6BC, was a rock-solid jumperless board. The Pro model added the one thing that stopped it being the perfect overclocker's board of the time, in-bios core voltage adjustment. The Pro-II changed the capacitors near the slot-1 for larger units for greater stability. This family of motherboards has meant a lot to many overclockers, and in a tribute to that, AOpen have made a classic, a collectible, a peice of art to put in your PC. Furthermore, AOpen have announced their AX6C series now, a family of i820-based boards, so I think it's unlikely they'll make another major revision of this BX line.

Internet.com Acquires SharkyExtreme 06:44 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme sent note that they had been acquired by Internet.com, a leading provider of global real-time news and information resources for the Internet industry. Here's the full press release:

"With a massive readership composed mainly of technology-centered professionals, SharkyExtreme.com is a perfect match for internet.com," said internet.com chairman and CEO Alan M. Meckler. "This acquisition enriches our market leading position in the Internet and technology content space and provides our users with another outstanding source for high-quality news and information." The site will be incorporated into internet.com's Internet Technology Channel, one of nine that supports the network's vertical business-to-business model.

Best of luck to Alex and the team behind SharkyExtreme!

November Monthly Hardware News 06:42 am - Kan
It's the time of the year again when our buds ove at iXBT-Hardware posted the November issue of the Monthly Hardware News. This month, the guys covered the i820 motherboards, RDRAM, i840 chipset and many more!

When the largest memory manufacturers, such as Hyundai and Samsung, perform so brilliantly, the successful work of smaller Japanese companies fades away pretty quickly. Following the example set by Hyundai and LG Semicon, NEC and Hitachi announced in June their close cooperation in DRAM development. And now after half a year has already passed this alliance appears much clearer: on 1 April they are planning to give birth to a new company called NEC&Hitachi Memory. The founders decided to provide one factory each and the required amount of stuff members to operate the manufacturing process. Besides, a new Japanese memory manufacturer already owns a 300mm factory, which is expected to be put into service in the beginning of 2002. This merging should undoubtedly help the company to join the big three of the world's largest DRAM manufacturers.

ABIT BE6-II 06:36 am - Kan
We have another review of the infamous ABIT BE6-II motherboard today by HardwareCentral. All right, I know we haven't published our results on the BE6-II (lazy bums!) yet.... 

Layout of the minor details is absolutely astonishing--Abit has paid an incredible amount of attention to making sure you won’t run into small annoyances due to poorly positioned connectors, etc. Every jumper and connector has been strategically placed such that all PCI slots, as well as the AGP slot, are capable of accepting full-length cards. The BF6 boasts 3 fan headers, two side-by-side at the top of the board for use with a dual-fan CPU cooler, and one at the bottom of the board. The board also supports Wake On LAN and Wake On Ring features, as well as an IR-header, 2 SMB connectors, an SB-Link header and a connector for a separate thermistor, as previously mentioned.

3Dfx Voodoo3 3500 TV-Out 06:35 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DHardware.net just informed us on their new review on the 3Dfx Voodoo3 3500 TV-Out graphics card. The TV-tuner and other video functions sure are good, but too bad there is no support for video hardware encoding.

The Voodoo3 3500-TV box follows the same design as the other Voodoo3 boxes and looks quite spiffy actually. We all know a fancy box leads to better sales - that's a matter of fact (at least in the west). In the box we find the card itself, the cool connector box, an audio cable, a quick installation guide and a few CDs. The Voodoo3 3500-TV features 16MB of onboard memory in the configuration of eight 2mb modules of the Hyundai 5.5ns type. 6 modules are located on the top side of the board and 2 are found on the back side. The large TV-tuner module is also located onboard thus reducing the size of the external connector box.

More Bang for Your Holiday Buck 06:34 am - Kan
Wanna know how good your computer will be with $1000? BuyBuddy published a new article on how to get the Most Bang Out of Your Holiday Buck with $1000.

Not an easy choice. Keeping both stability and functionality (and we even sneaked a little overclocking in there) in mind for our PIII, we set out to choose from amongst the many available motherboards on the market. But the Acer AX6BC ATX motherboard rose above the rest because of its stability and available slots. 1 AGP, 5 PCI and 2 ISA slots on the board give lots of room for expansion, and the well integrated Intel 440BX chipset keeps pace with the best of motherboards in terms of stability. It also provides a variety of bus speeds and voltage settings for overclocking. (keep in mind you don't need to overclock this computer to get good performance out of it.) It also keeps a pretty normal motherboard price of $110.

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