28 December 1999 - Tuesday

BA Media Theater & Apex Super Case
- 20:15 pm Wilfred
Fast-MHz just let us know that they've reviewed the Boston Acoustics Media Theater speakers system and the Apex Super Case. Both are short pieces and won't take you 10 minutes to know the verdicts.

Boston has proven to me why they are on the top of the list for home/car audio enthusiasts, and have made a believer out of me. If you are running a sound card which supports 4 speaker arrangements as myself, the Boston Acoustics Media Theater Surround Speaker may be a good option to go with this or any other Boston Acoustic multimedia speaker set.

Quake III Tweak Guide - 19:59 pm Wilfred
Q3Center posted a tweak guide for Quake III Arena, containing information on menu tweaks, console tweaks and net tweaks. If you have a past generation video accelerator or a slow net connection, you may want to heed some advices to maximize gaming pleasure.

Quake 3:Arena is one of the most intense, beautfiul, and detailed games ever made. Thereís only one problem; the hardware requirements. The minimum requirements are are quite high, even minus the OpenGL acceleration requirement. This limits the players of Quake 3 to certain video cards, the expensive ones. You may find a good deal on a card that supports OpenGL, but then you have the problem of speed.

UT Performance Problems - 19:33 pm Wilfred
There is a short blurb at The Tech Report about UT Performance problems. Dr Damage cited a few observations he made about the performance of Unreal Tournament even on the highest-end of hardware. Take a look:

Folks are talking about lackluster performance in Unreal Tournament even with very powerful PC hardware-high-end Celerons, Athlons, TNT2s, and GeForce cards. Folks point to low frame rates in timedemo benchmarks to prove their point; in fact, the issue was raised in our own review of the Athlon 800. When CPU speeds go up, timedemo scores only rise slightly; there's a killer bottleneck in there somewhere.

When PUSH Comes To SHOVE - 13:55 pm Wilfred
Remember PUSH MEDIA that was all the rage years back on the Internet? We haven't heard much of this techno-marketing talk for some time, so what has become of it? osOpinion helps you recollect some of those memories and offers some opinions of their own:

Shortly after the blitz of Push Media's potential had subsided, the general public had conveyed their concerns regarding privacy possibly being violated with such a technology. People were concerned that, if fallen into the wrong hands, some could get information about a person's whereabouts who may have wanted to remain inconspicuous.

Needless to say, the media spin-doctors have since stopped using the term "Push" to describe their future products Internet capabilities, but don't be fooled, It has never been their intentions to remove this sort of service despite the public's concerns. Instead, they hope to focus your attention on the benefits of the technology, and keep you out of the loop as to how it works, and what's going on in the background.

Babe Of The Century Announced - 13:48 pm Wilfred
IGN For Men announced their poll results of "The Babe Of The Century" and Estee Lauder's Liz Hurley bagged the honour over Audrey Hepburn. "Do I make you whor-nie?" ;)

In the final round, Modern vs. Classic, sultry Elizabeth Hurley stared down elegant Audrey Hepburn. The choice for voters was difficult. Both women are alluring in their own way, both are European, and both are drop-dead gorgeous. Even King Solomon could not have easily made this decision.

To all the babes in this contest, congratulations: you are all deserving of being called Babes. Thank you for making our lives that much better. And to you, Elizabeth Hurley, you can drop by the IGN For Men offices anytime to pick up your trophy.

Half-Life: Opposing Force - 12:37 pm Wilfred
The FiringSquad has a review on the latest expansion Half-Life: Opposing Force. I think this is the most popular game in LAN cafes and I still see swarms of people on it.

Of course, all your favorite boot camp cliches and movie references are all bundled up for your viewing pleasure in OpFor. The boot camp is hardly a vital aspect of Half-Life: Opposing Force, but it is just so much fun. The amount of effort put into it is astounding and it shows. You'll wake up to the sweet song of the morning trumpet call and get the first dose of your daily abuse from the drill sergeant. After addressing your squad for a bit, he'll single you out, mock your abilities a bit and send you off to basic training. Humbling.

Pentium III 500E & 550E FCPGA - 12:28 pm Wilfred
The Sharks just reviewed the FCPGA Pentium IIIs that Intel would want all of us to have. They detailed the architectural enhancements that are built into these Coppermines, such as the integrated on die 256Kb L2 cache and more. In case you're wondering why the odd name "flip chip"... 

The Pentium 3 500E and 550E Coppermine CPUs are designed using the "Flip Chip-Pin Grid Array" package, or FC-PGA for short. It's an interesting shift from previous Intel CPUs, in that the chip die is actually "flipped" upside down onto the S370 pin package so that the chip core faces upwards. This direct link to the pins eliminates any possible cavity inside the chip and also ensures there are no bond wires. The biggest plus to the FC-PGA format is its exceptional heat dissipation. With the Coppermine FC-PGA's silicon core exposed upwards, the CPU cooler can be attached directly to the back of the chip die. Moving to the FC-PGA format allows the CPU core to face away from the motherboard's CPU socket, further eliminating any potential heat buildup.

Just Cooler Fan Review - 07:40 am Kan
Dan's Data penned down their thoughts on 3 models of the Just Cooler fans like the monitor cooler, laptop cooler and the printer port cooler (not to cool your printer port in case you are wondering). 

Cooling is important. There are various components of the modern computer that get hot - the CPU, the processors on modern video cards, and high speed hard drives, for instance. They're made to run warm, but they're not made to run too warm. If your CPU overheats your computer will crash; if your hard drive overheats you can lose data. At temperatures below the immediate-malfunction level, components can suffer shortened life spans; this is especially true of things with moving parts, like drives.

Kan Yawns - 07:35 am Kan
I'm really yawning. With the Y2K bug just around the corner, 'IT professionals' like me (Kan, don't make me laugh!) are barred from going home to accompany our poor wives. Heck. Who cares if money starts spitting out from ATM machines or some poor bloke become a millionaire overnight (hey, I care if it's me). I will just take it as a late Christmas present. 

Opposing Force Review - 07:30 am Kan
CTNews poured down their thoughts on the game Opposing Force into a game review. My favorite weapon, a good-ole M16. :)

Let's assume you did play through Half-Life at least twice. Once on it's most difficult setting. That will prepare you for Opposing Force without the Training Camp". For the rest of us, go through the training stage again. It's not a tough as the real Basic raining for the Marines or Army Infantry, but you'll get an idea on how to use the weapons. You'll get training for Close Combat with knives, and the new .357 magnum pistols. In the game you'll get to throw a few grenades. Then use the first weapon you pick up, a"pipe wrench" to open boxes, smash through glass windows, and kill off head crabs. The knife and wrench deliver more damage than the tire iron in the first game. And the .357 has a laser sight for picking off meanies at long range.

ABIT BF6 Slot-1 ATX - 07:13 am Kan
AnandTech reviewed their nth motherbord reviews, the ABIT BF6 Slot-1 ATX. With up to 8.0x multipers and a whopping 200 Mhz FSB, the maximum processor speed this motherboard support is theoretically 1600 Mhz. Heh.

On the most basic level, think of the BF6 as the BH6 with an extra PCI slot and one less ISA slot. That means a 6/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration and 3 DIMM slots. As many motherboard manufacturers have learned, the 6th PCI slot can be added without the use of a PCI to PCI bridge, like that used on early 6 PCI motherboards. As a result, however, the 6th PCI slot is only a slave slot, meaning that no bus mastering devices will function in that slot, but something like a Voodoo2 will work fine. It should also be noted that, like most motherboards out there PCI slots 2 and 5 share an IRQ as do slots 3 and 6. PCI slot 4 shares an IRQ with the USB controller.

Prophet 3D DVI/DDR - 04:25 am Kan
Chick's Hardware UK sent note on their review of the Guillemot Prophet 3D DVI/DDR graphics card. Wow from the looks of it, it's even more overclockable than the CL GeForce DDR which we reviewed earlier.

Well, there you go. Guillemot are shipping their cards clocked at 125/300. Interesting. The RAM used on the Prophet is 6ns Infineon DDR SDRAM. Which should be able to be clocked up to 166Mhz [333Mhz!]. The PowerStrip GX program doesn't seem to like changing the Memory Clock speed, which is strange. So I got myself a copy of the full PowerStrip program, this managed to clock the card at 160Mhz Core Clock and 350 Memory Clock speed. However it doesn't seem to improve the performance very much. Only a 5 fps increase in Q3 at 1024x768 High Quality.

Midiland S4/7100 Speakers - 04:23 am Kan
GamePC just popped down a mail on their review on the Midiland S4/7100 Speakers review. With starting price tags from $600 onwards, they sure ain't cheap. 

As the S2 speakers aged, healthy competition from Cambridge Soundworks, Klipsch, and Altec Lansing have battled for the top speaker sets available, and suddenly Midiland was out of the picture. Now we're seeing the fruits of Midiland's labor over the last year, the S4 speakers. Originally announced at this year's Comdex, these 4 and 7 piece speaker sets take off where the S2 line left off, while trying to keep the same quality of sound that has made Midiland famous. Today we're looking at the top of the line S4 set, the Midiland S4/7100 seven piece speaker set.

Videologic Sirocco Crossfire 4 - 01:42 am Wilfred
Just when I was about to doze off, a new mail arrived. The boys at 3DHardware.net took the Videologic's top-of-the-line PC 4.1 speakers for review. It's a thumbs up!

Videologic have definitely done a great job. They created an excellent speaker system with the original Siroccos and have further pushed the limit of PC audio quality. There is a saying that you should not ruin a good thing by tweaking it a bit and selling it under a different name but in the case of the Sirocco line Videologic did the right thing. They took the original Sirocco speakers and turned them into a 4-point system named Crossfire. They are by far the best surround system I have heard up to date. The satellites are excellent in every way and the subwoofer is superb as well and it will be hard for competitors to come up with a better system.

Matrox Millennium G400 Max - 01:12 am Wilfred
Extreme Hardware's note just popped in and seems like they just checked out the G400 Max. With the GeForce cards around and a price that's still steep, where does this card fit in?

When the Matrox G400 was released, it pushed the envelope of gaming realism by introducing some remarkable features including: Environmental Bump Mapping for added texture detail; DualHead display for multi-monitor support on a single card, both in Windows and in games; and hardware assisted DVD decoding. The G400 MAX further improves on the G400 by adding a 10-20% speed increase and a razor-sharp 360Mhz RAMDAC for ultra-high resolutions and refresh rates. For hardcore gamers, who are primarily interested in raw speed, the G400 MAX is not the best choice, since with a street price of $199, it doesnít have the speed/price ratio found in both the TNT2 Ultra and GeForce 256. However, if speed is not your only concern, the G400 chip is an excellent choice, and it is one of the best all-around 3D video cards that Iíve seen.

Hubble Gets Intel 486 Upgrade - 01:05 am Wilfred
Cool. The Register reports that astronauts successful carried out a CPU upgrade for the Hubble telescope, replacing the old i386 with a Intel 486 microprocessor. Next time I upgraded my PC, I'd be sure to donate my Celeron to NASA. Bet they can overclock it beyond 600Mhz in the cold voids of space! ;)

Astronauts Steve Smith and John Grunsfeld successfully upgraded the 386 chip that was driving the telescope to a 486 processor over the last few days.

That means that Hubble now has the power of Intel Inside. The introduction of the 486 coincided with the introduction of the contentious Intel Inside campaign.

ATI Rage Fury Maxx - 00:59 am Wilfred
Gamers Depot has a review on ATI's flagship video product - the Rage Fury Maxx. It seems like the card does quite well in 32-bit gaming, edging out the SDR GeForce in that respect.

No big surprise here as the ATI, as usual, kicks the crap out of the GeForce under 32bit. 32Bit rendering is obviously an area that ATI has focused much efforts on as they have typically beat out other cards all the time in this mode. This is great news for gamers because more games, especially ones built on the Quake 3 engine, will be using true color textures.

27 December 1999 - Monday

HW1 - Microsoft DualStrike Controller
- Wilfred
Looks like we should contribute to the stir and wake the vacationists up! Yingzong has done a detailed review of the Microsoft DualStrike controller after many weeks of toying with it in Unreal Tournament. Wymun too added his opinions on it fraggin' online in Quake III Arena. So what's the verdict on the FPS gaming device?

Quantum Leap - 15:56 pm Wilfred
Whoa! Saw this link to an article at The Village Voice from the good guys at ArsTechnica. A Dr Randell Mills claims to have discovered new understanding to the theories of physics that has found both ridicule and support from top scientists and corporations all over. It is not my level to speculate, lest validate his claims, but this is one cool article to digest if you've got 20 minutes. If ever true, many of this man's works would have profound impact on life and society. READ!

Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained medical doctor who also studied biotechnology and electric engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says he's found the Holy Grail of physics: a unified theory of everything. A central part of Mills's theory explains the basis of the traditional, and paradoxical, "duality" concept of the electron as both a particle and a wave with a model where electrons are charges that travel as two-dimensional disks and wrap around nuclei like fluctuating soap bubbles. He calls them "orbitspheres."

Mills says that with this new understanding he's produced clean and limitless energy and an entirely new class of materials and plasma that will reshape every industry in the coming decade. Mills also claims breakthroughs inartificial intelligence, cosmology, medicine, and perhaps even a form of gravitational jujitsu.

"I've made the electron real," the 42-year-old Mills says. "It's a revolution very fitting to the 21st century, in a chain of revolutions man has had with fire, steel, fossil fuels, and Maxwell's description of electromagnetism. This is grandiose stuff, and when I say it, it delivers a beating from critics. But on the other hand it's fun."

Moore's Challenge - 15:00 pm Wilfred
This is a delightful read for those of you inclined towards the ever shrinking world of integrated circuits, present problems, design hopefuls and future limitations. Lots of good stuff, gotta read this at osOpinion.

Micromem, the current frontrunner, has been found some success with a device invented by Richard Lineau. Dubbed "MagRAM" by its patent holders, Lineau's invention exploits a well known principle called the Hall effect as it's method of reading, and encoding data. In the beginning of the 20th century, Edwin Hall discovered that a magnetic field could be applied to deflect a current moving through a thin film to one side. Through this effect, a sensor within a MagRAM cell is able to "sense" the polarity of its nearby magnetic bit, and treat it as if it were a 1 or 0. To change the value of the magnetic bit itself, a current is applied that flips its polarity.

The most important aspect of this principle is the fact that the information encoded in MagRAM will only be altered by a purposefully applied voltage, without the need to be periodically refreshed. Indeed, because the information is represented only by the polarity of the tiny array of "permanent" magnets, it will remain intact, even if the power is cut. MagRAM is also fast, with a demonstrated capability to perform write operations in 8ns, with room for further speed-ups. That speed puts basic MagRAM in the same league with the emerging standard of PC133 SDRAM. It's clear that if Micromem can find backing from major chip manufacturers, it could well be on its way to storming the market for fast memory; particularly for portable devices - which must be energy efficient, and in embedded applications - such as the memory inside your VCR - that often need to be reset after each power-out.

Monsoon MM 700 Flat Panel Speakers - 14:35 pm Wilfred
A note just popped down from AnandTech that they've got a review on the Monsoon MM 700 Flat Panel speakers. If you still think flat panels are but only aesthetically pleasing, behold the sounds from these jewels:

The overall quality of the sound was excellent, with crisp highs and full mid range thanks to the planar focus satellites. As noted previously, planar focus technology is very directional. Half the sound seems to disappear if you turn the satellites 90 degrees. Just make sure the satellites are pointed at your ears - a feat that can sometimes be tricky with the non-adjustable stands.

However, this directionality helps considerably with A3D positional audio. In fact, directional effects in A3D have never sounded better from a single pair of speakers (excluding the MM-1000's). The directionality of the speakers minimize reflections and eliminate crosstalk, enhancing the positional effects of A3D.

BUSLink USB Hard Drive - 14:27 pm Wilfred
Who'd ever thought that a USB harddisk drive would hit the streets? Well, BUSLink has got a nifty new expansion opportunity for those of you desperate for a storage and lacking space within your casing. This is also a huge portable storage you can move from place to place. Take a look at CoolComputing's review:

Overall, The BUSlink USB drive is a terrific value.  With it, you get 12 times the capacity of an Iomega 250 MB USB Zip drive at about the same price. In fact, since a single 4-pack of 250MB Zip Disks costs $70, it will cost well over $400 for an Iomega 250 MB USB Zip drive and enough cartridges to match the capacity of the BUSlink product.  The USB Hard Drive is highly recommended for notebook users and people who don't have a spare IDE channel looking to add more storage. 

SuSE 6.3 Review - 05:55 am Kan
Yup, those Linux geeks over at Linux.com.sg posted their thoughts on SuSE 6.3. With SuSE 7.0 beta already hitting the net, Linux definitely came a long way:

  1. This would give other readers who are more experienced in SuSE to track down any error in earlier stages that caused reported problem in later stages if any. This way, those readers who would like to help me need not e-mail me for what I input at a particular stage thus result in faster solution provided.
  2. The second reason is to let pure newbies have rough idea what the installation is like, what are the questions they may be asked and what they have to know before hand. Knowing what is required beforehand and having the required information would save a whole lot of trouble. At the very least, it saves them the trouble to abort a installation process due to lack of certain information and repeat at a later time which can be very discouraging.

3Com Internet Gaming Modem - 05:51 am Kan
Tweak3D posted a review on the 3Com Internet Gaming Modem. Offering up to 43% less ping latency, the modem improves data integrity during data transmission which is the key factor in any online gaming session. Does the modem lives to its hype? Check it out:

The first thing i did was hit a few of my regularly-visited sites, just to see how it performed as a standard modem (after all, what good is any modem if you end up browsing the 'net slower than Mac on a 9600 baud-rate modem?). In this respect, the modem seems just as fast as my trusty 3Com U.S. Robitics 56k ISA modem: Pages loaded just fine and there were no disconnections.

I then decided to see what it would do "under pressure." Right away I fired up GameSpy and did a refresh for Quake 3 Test (1.08) servers. Immediately I was suprised by the ping-times GameSpy reported. Where I was used to seeing 190-250ms pings, GameSpy was showing a range of 130-200! A smile so wide crossed my face it almost hurt. Double-clicking on that server reporting 130ms, I awaited connection with new-found hope.

Soyo 6BA+IV Mobo Review - 00:46 am Wilfred
Okok, the Internet is waking up! The Hardware Pros sent word of a new review on the Soyo 6BA+IV BX motherboard. Wow, it got a deserving editors' choice from them. See it for yourself!

Soyo has given us power users a board that has left us with nothing more to desire.  Performance is top notch and the i820 chipset isn't really much of a scare. Stability when overclocked is far above most other boards. Not only does it perform, but its feature packed, it even supports UltraDMA/66 which is a privilege of only a very small minority of BX motherboards thus far.  If you're upgrading your system, I can't think of a better board to buy.  With this board, you'll be able to run the new Pentium III Coppermine CPU's (Slot-1 and FC-PGA) as well as older Pentium II's and III's and Celerons, and best of all you can overclock them all!

Indiana Jones & The Infernal Machine - 00:40 am Wilfred
Looks like Sharky Extreme has resumed operations to bring us a review on this LucasArts game. You enjoy solving puzzles without the Monkey Island humour? Perhaps Indiana Jones will be your cup of tea! Check this!

Offsetting the dated graphics, the sound in the game is quite good. Pistols pop, wolves howl in the distance, water splooshes and splashes, and Indy's whip, when you absolutely must use it to do something, makes a convincing crack. The music, although sorely missed in much of the game, does a lot to add to the intended mood.. When the inspiring soundtrack steps in, you know something important is going to happen and it almost makes pushing all those blocks around for twenty minutes worthwhile. The voice acting is well done, and while Doug Lee's Indiana Jones won't be mistaken for Harrison Ford's, he sounds believably heroic.

 

26 December 1999 - Sunday

Oh Night... Night Divine
- 23:51 pm Wilfred
Went out for a game of badminton to move those old bones in the body and here I am. Kan must have been sitting around his PC all day, he posted the only news drip that arrived today. =P Well, lemme see... we should bring a new surprise before the bright and glorious morn (hintz...).

50 Year Old Quantum Physics Qns Solved - 23:33 pm Wilfred
Well, scouring the web for news is quite difficult and Kan is right that the industry is on vacation, with the exception of the /. fellas. Thanks to them, I was pointed to this story at EurekAlert! that a half century old fundamental quantum physics question is solved at last. Here's a short blurb, but check out the full story. Interesting.

For over half a century, theorists have tried and failed to provide a complete solution to scattering in a quantum system of three charged particles, one of the most fundamental phenomena in atomic physics. Such interactions are everywhere; ionization by electron impact, for example, is responsible for the glow of fluorescent lights and for the ion beams that engrave silicon chips.

Environmental Bump Mapping - 22:19 pm Kan
Woohoos. Over at Guru3D, the guys wrote an article on the standardization on new graphics technology and they touched on the Environmental Bump Mapping technique in this issue. Here's some info:

The current situation is this: Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 will offer excellent speed with multiple chip configurations that will basically let you decide how much rendering power you want for your dollar. Ravisent's Cinemaster
software will allow GeForce cards to be used as HDTV decoders, and S3 has a nice budget card with ultra-cool texture compression. It's a big split in market focus. When each card is so different, how will developers decide which features to implement?"

VideoLogic Sirocco Crossfire - 15:18 pm Kan
Yup, another review from Tech-Junkie on the VideoLogic Sirocco Crossfire speakers. The Sirocco Crossfire is a 4-satelite, single sub speaker system with an external amplifier. Hmm, and according to them, the speakers sound pretty good!

All speakers are magnetically shielded. The rated power of each satellite is rated at 10Watts RMS (mid + tweeter), and the sub supplies 40Watts RMS. According to the specifications the Crossfire can pump out up to 80 Watts RMS with 1% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), and up to 100Watts with 10% THD.

All in all, what this means for people who usually spend more time with CPUs and 3D graphics card, is that the Crossfire is damn loud. Unless your PC room is the size of a typical gymnasium the volume that this system pump out will enough - at last for someone who is sane

VideoLogic SonicVortex2 - 16:45 pm Kan
Gosh, news today is crawling as the internet industry takes a break. Anyway, our buds over at Tech-Junkie managed to spice up the day with a review of the VideoLogic SonicVortex 2 soundcard. Check it out:

The 'must have' software in this package is the Yamaha Softsynth XG. The default Vortex 2 MIDI patches sound very 'tinny' with lack of warmth and reality in the sound. That all changes with the Yamaha Softsynth, that does a very good job of playing back MIDI files and games. With the latest SonicVortex2 Drivers, it is possible to change the default MIDI patches by simply changing the MIDI sound library in the driver properties. Either way, if you listen to a lot of MIDI files, the default MIDI patches are horrible and should be replaced with something sounding more realistic.

Kan Yawns - 10:21 am Kan
Huh? It's Christmas? Gee, I think I slept past it and Santa didn't pop by my house. Darn, how could he miss the appointment with me? Nevertheless guys, have fun, and drive safely.

DHN-910 10Mbps Phoneline Kit - 10:17 am Kan
Can't wait to get our paws on this phoneline kit. Anyway, Glide Underground posted their fair bit on this network kit which uses your existing phonelines to network your computers together.

I've been planning on installing Windows 2000 on my Pentium 200 machine, so I figured what better time than now to copy the files over? The total Windows 2000 installation directory consists of 5,051 files totaling 226MB. I used stop watch to time the copy process, so I may be off by a few tenths of a second. The entire process, from the time I hit CTRL+V to the time the Copy File dialog disappeared was 7 minutes and 23 seconds. After taking the DHN's out later, I did the same file copy with the 530TX+ cards, which are 100 BaseT's, and it took 2 minutes and 3 seconds. But being 10 times faster, of course the 530TX's will be faster. 

nVidia GeForce 256 DDR - 10:15 am Kan
AnandTech posted their thoughts on the nVidia GeForce 256 DDR. Yes, it's the fastest card out there and Quake simply rocks with this babe:

Why is the memory bandwidth of the GeForce a limitation? When its memory is running at its default clock of 166MHz, the GeForce has an available 2.7GB/s of memory bandwidth. While this is a large amount of available bandwidth, as the resolution and color depth of any particular application or game increase, so does the amount of memory required to render that particular scene. As you begin to saturate the GeForce's memory bus, you will notice a large drop in frame rate. The best way to illustrate this is by comparing the performance of a GeForce running at default clock in Quake III Arena at 16-bit and 32-bit color depths at 1024 x 768.

Actiontec USB Call Waiting Modem - 10:13 am Kan
Exxtreme3D posted their review on the Actiontec USB Call Waiting Modem. You might not know, but USB modems suck a lot of CPU power. Not ideal when you are a serious Quaker, every CPU cycle counts!

In order to use this modem, it's required you have at least a 486 processor (a what!?! What is a 486? It must be a middle ages thing) with 16MB RAM. Of course, we ALL have these, right? The most important thing you need to use this modem, though, is the Call Waiting service from your phone company. Without this, the call-waiting modem would be like an ordinary modem. If you want an ordinary modem, then why would you get this in the first place?

Wilfred Clears His Throat - 01:46 am Wilfred
Hiya! For those of you here in Singapore, Christmas day just passed. Hope you had a really joyful time with family and friends this special occasion. It's a quiet Christmas for me and but church, family and a close circle of friends are more than I could ask for this season. The news trickle is really expected and I would expect most of you to be out there and doing something non-computer related yah?

 

25 December 1999 - Saturday

HW1: Everglide Q3A Large Attack Pad
- Wilfred
What do we have for you this Christmas? Well, those of you who's met Yingzong on some UT servers may attribute some of his kills to this pad he's been using for the past month. Heh! Indeed, does the mousing surface matter? Check this review out!

UK Govt Says Linux Secure, Windows Not - 13:33 pm Wilfred
Slashdot pointed to this article at ZDNet UK about the British government security agency's endorsement of the Linux OS and the open-source model. Here's a blurb:

Stuart Troughton, a consultant and civil servant at CESG offers expert advice to government agencies and departments on computer security and says that he believes in Linux 100 percent. "Linux is as secure as you can make a computer," he says. "First of all, Unix [on which Linux is based] is the paradigm that the computer is the network, so Linux is secure from the ground up. Secondly, it is open so if I'm not happy with something I can check it myself or hire someone to check it. This is very, very important considering that data is the most valuable thing on the planet, bar none."

Troughton also explains why he would never recommend a competing commercial product with hidden source code. He says, "Windows was built for a single computer and then the network was added on as an afterthought. Also it's closed source, and I would never ever trust someone else completely with security."

Tis' The Season To Be Jolly - 13:24 pm Wilfred
Wows! Today, I refrain from coughing. Got loads of emails from contest hopefuls for the AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millennium Ed Giveaway. And don't you worry, we ain't selling or giving away your information to some spam companies for extra bucks! =) Join at once if you haven't, there's no catch.

Blitz Engine DirectX 7 beta - 12:50 pm Wymun
Those guys at ACID Reign have ported over their Blitz Engine to include DirectX 7 support.  So if you're bored at home this Christmas, download the demo and have a go at it...

I am releasing this beta version of the Direct X Blitz Engine to test for compatibility. The feature list is exactly the same as the OpenGL Version of the Blitz Engine (ie, Dynamic Shadowing, Curved Surfaces, Volumetric Fogging). Presently the demo will use the first hardware accelerator it finds in your system and will not use multitexturing or mip-mapping. I am hoping for as much feedback as possible as to any bugs present. Please report any bugs you discover on the message forum on my homepage or directly to myself ([email protected]). The next release will fix the above issues and also hopefully include bump mapping and many other new features.

Entech Powerstrip 2.55.0A - 12:30 pm Wymun
Hmm...Just saw that Entech has updated their nifty Powerstrip to a new revision.  This includes better support for GeForce and Savage2K users.  So if ya have any of these killer-3D cards, grab this at Entech or from our Files section... 

The latest Powerstrip beta, now at 2.55.0A, includes full support for the Savage2K-based Diamond Viper II. Additionally, desktop and overlay gamma correction for Intel chips is now available under NT4 and W2K as well as Win9x, Windows 2000 compatibility is improved all-around, and custom resolutions can be created with the Matrox G200/G400 and TNT/TNT2/GeForce (under Win9x only and provided you are using the latest drivers). This is, in fact, the only PowerStrip build that should be used with a Savage2K or GeForce. In addition to other things, vsync under Win9x can now also be enabled or disabled on the command-line: e.g., "pstrip.exe /agp:2x /clk 166 140 /v- x" tells the PowerStrip to enable AGP 2x transfers, set the memory clock to 166MHz, set the core clock to 140MHz, turn vsync off, and exit. With a little creative use of ordinary Windows shortcuts, the possibilities are, well, you get the idea...  

GlobalWin YCC 802 Case - 10:33 am Kan
Let us not forget the review of the GlobalWin YCC 802 Case review from Speedy3D. This one is a mid-tower casing (not my cup of tea, I like gigantic casings) and is pretty good for your LAN parties.

Global Win's Mid-Tower YCC 802 case measures in at 20 inches (D) by 8 inches (W) by 19 inches (H). This case features 3 5.25' bays, and 7 3.5' bays, which makes for a grand total of 10 bays. That should be plenty of bays for your current configuration and enough to house all future upgrades. It also supports many different motherboard standards that are, Full and Baby AT and ATX. The motherboard is easy to install and screw down, and you can use cool little thumbscrews if you wish.

ABIT BF6 Review - 10:31 am Kan
SysOpt posted a review on the ABIT BF6 motherboard. This one comes with 6 PCI slots and 1 ISA slots and is the direct replacement for the BH6. Talk about the BF6, where's our own review on it? Hmm... 

The BF6 includes Abit's usual stack of stuff - dual IDE cable, dual floppy cable, driver/utility CD, manual, and a thermal sensor cable. It should be noted from the start that this is a pre-production motherboard and some things were not the same as the final production form. For instance, the only manual included was a printout of the first couple of chapters. Also, the CD only included manuals for the BH6, BM6 BX6, and BX6 II, but not the BF6.

Diamond Viper II - 10:26 am Kan
Ah, caught this off TomsHardware where the gurus reviewed the Diamond Viper II based on the new Savage 2000 chipset. Performance wise, the GeForce DDR still smokes this card away at higher resolution.

Looking at what the Viper II hardware is capable in theory, I would assume that in single textured 3D benchmarks the Viper II will probably not do so hot. I also think that in low-resolution modes that the card will probably lag behind the competition a bit as the drivers aren't very mature. When we first did a preview of the Viper II, the software engineer I was working with mentioned that S3 was very careful on how their drivers were geared to preserve memory bandwidth. If this is the case, we should see the Viper II do well under 32-bit testing. 

ColorCase Yuri/Venus ATX Mid Tower - 10:14 am Kan
Yup, another note from AnandTech on the ColorCase Yuri/Venus ATX Mid Tower casing review they posted up. It looks like your usual iMac design type of transparent blue/orange casing. Here's an excerpt:

Opening the Yuri is extremely easy - just pinch two tabs to release the side panel, which slides back, then up to complete its removal. Reattaching the panel is equally easy - simply perform the same steps in reverse. The left side panel provides complete access to the case and is the only one that ever needs to be removed under normal circumstances. The inside of this panel is covered with with a thin sheet of metal for EMI shielding purposes.

Creative Webcam Go - 10:11 am Kan
AnandTech reviewed the Creative Webcam Go which incidentally I just saw it a couple of days ago. It can doubled as a poor quality digital camera and supports still image capture of up to a maximum resolution of 640x480x16 million colors.

This is the unique part of this camera. After taking shots in different quality settings, the fact that this is not a digital camera was even more evident. You should not mistake this camera for a real digital camera. The image quality of the stills is poor. Personally, I think the image quality could have been better. I know it's not a digital camera, but if you are going to market it as a portable camera, shouldn't the images, at the very least, be clear? To offer some comparison, I took some shots using the Webcam go and my Olympus D-340R to show you the image quality difference. Not that the pictures should necessarily look as good as from a digital camera, it should perform better than it does in my opinion.

Elsa Erazor X GeForce Review - 10:08 am Kan
SharkyExtreme took a look at the Elsa Erazor X GeForce graphics card today. The Elsa Erazor is probably the only unique non-reference design GeForce card in the market with features like screen control and chip monitoring software. Yum yum.

Similar to ASUS's SmartDoctor utility, ChipGuard is a combination of a temperature sensor mounted on the GeForce chip, a fan sensor monitoring the GeForce's fan, and software that lets you know if your chip is overheating. Designed for overclockers who like to push the limits of their hardware, ChipGuard senses when your Erazor X is close to overheating or in the midst of overheating as well as if you're having fan trouble. In some cases, it can cut the clock speed of the Erazor X to prevent crashes or damage, and in worst case scenarios, it can freeze your computer to prevent damage to the card. So if you've always thought about overclocking your video card but have been worried about damaging it, Elsa's ChipGuard technology should make you feel safe about wringing that last little bit of performance out of your Erazor X.

 

24 December 1999 - Friday

AOpen AX6BC Pro II Millennium Edition
- Wilfred
Rightos. Kai Ping just took the looker for a spin and came back with his verdict. Well months back, you've surely heard the exemplary quality of the original retail product. Though there's nothing new to boot, this is a collector's item of a great board in cool black furnish. Check it out!

In addition, in line with the millennium celebrations, we are going to give away this single piece of gem. *This giveaway is limited to only residents of Singapore and details on how to participate can be found right here*

Gift Ideas for your Technie - 23:30 pm David
System Logic has prepared a new article entitled 10 Gift Ideas For Your Technie. Sounds like a great idea for choosing a gift for your neighborhood technie, yourself? 

As a side note, Christmas is just a few minutes away, I take the opportunity to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas, have fun! :)

You fret over it year after year, it requires constant and nerve-racking thought, and it eventually drives you to buying gift certificates.... what can I get for my techie friend? As the years pass and technology becomes better and cheaper, the question seems to become easier to answer. Everything that you can think of has already been invented and is on store shelves or are in development. This is good news for all you people who are worried on what you can get your techie to make him or her happy. From portable mp3 players to the almighty Athlon power systems, there is something to fit your budget. Go to your nearest CompUSA or Best Buy and you will see aisles and aisles of gadgets that will bring oohs and aahs but the big questions is which one you should get that will make people happy, In this guide, I will tell you which toys would probably make that special person in your life happy while fitting your budget. All the products in this roundup can be found in online retailers as well as the neighborhood computer shop. Itís worth mentioning that online shopping has grown tremendously over the past 5 years by huge numbers. This guide is arranged by price because that is what most people base their buying decisions on.

CDI Cool Case Review 18:29 pm - Kan
Alright, Extreme Hardware just popped a mail in on their review on the CDI Cool Casing. Looking roomy and big (yup, those are the type that I like), it comes in a weird bright blue color. 

In CDIís "cool-case", two exhaust fans are placed at the top of the case, behind the drive bays; three intake fans are located above the motherboard; one intake fan is in the front of the case; and another is behind the CPU. Finally, a dual-fan hard drive cooler is mounted in a 5 ľ drive bay. This cooling design creates a strong airflow moving through the case. Cool air is sucked in the bottom of the case, and then it blows across system components and out the top of the case. Also, remember that hot air rises, so the two exhaust fans at the top of the case are right where they should be. For review, CDI sent out their favorite customized case, an Alaska full tower ATX. It features six 5 ľ drive bays, 2 3 Ĺ bays, and a 300W power supply.

ASUS V6600 17:01 pm - Kan
Right on, TheTechZone published their review on the ASUS V6000 graphics card. The interesting part is, the ASUS V6600 they received comes with 5ns SGRAM.

Powered by the nVidia GeForce 256 chipset and 32 megs of SGRAM, the Asus V6600 is one of the fastest video cards you can buy. Even though this is the PURE version, Asus still pack one fantastic software bundle. You get full versions of Drakan and Rollcage plus 12 other game demos.  In addition to the games, there is also an AsusDVD software player and a copy of Ulead Video Studio. It's the same software package you get with the V6600 Deluxe.

A Look at Hard Drive Performance 15:39 pm - Kan
Those hot bods over at VoodooExtreme written an article called A Look at Hard Drive Performance. So, what exactly determines how fast a hard drive performs? Throughput? External data transfer rate? 

It is only in external transfer rate, transfers from the buffer of the drive to the rest of the system, where the interface, EIDE, UDMA/33, UDMA/66, comes into play. The EIDE interface allows for 16.6MB/sec peak external transfers. UDMA/33 allows for 33.3MB/sec peak transfers, and UDMA/66 (ATA/66) allows for transfers of up to 66.6MB/sec. Say a certain drive has a sustained internal transfer rate of 10.0MB/sec. The improvements of a Ultra DMA over EIDE (33.3MB/sec over 16.6MB/sec external (or host) transfer rate) will not help much, since the drive cannot really reach these speeds.

Wicked GL 3Dfx Driver 15:34 pm - Kan
Even though it's the Christmas season period, FiringSquad pressed on and released an article on the performance of the new Wicked GL 3Dfx drivers and it looks like the new drivers is a few frames faster. 

The WickedGL driver works with 3dfx Voodoo2, Voodoo3, and Voodoo Banshee video cards in Windows 95/98 and has support for Quake, Quake 2, Quake 3, Hexen 2, Sin, Half-Life, Heretic 2, Daikatana, Unreal, Starsiege and Tribes. There are actually two different versions of the driver: regular and high resolution.

Everglide Large Attack Pad 10:19 am - Kan
Exxtreme3D just popped a mail in on their review on the Everglide Large Attack Pad aka the Super Chopping Board <tm>. :)

If you are an avid Quake/UT player like myself, chances are you already own a 3M Precise Mousing surface or even one of the older Everglide pads. The 3M Pad is an excellent pad but it has a few problems. First off it wears off pretty quickly (mine lasted 6 months). Second it's adhesive bottom wears off quite rapidly. Finally the third problem lies in its surface. It's just too damn scratchable and once it's bentÖ well let me put it this way: hope you like mousing on the hills.

UMax UGate-3000 10:15 am - Kan
HardwareCentral reviewed the UMax UGate-3000, an elegant Internet sharing solution and it comes with all the goodies like hub, server and firewall support all built-into-one unit.

Your high-speed provider probably does offer a way to share a single connection among multiple computers, but it will cost you. By this I mean the cost of purchasing multiple IP addresses from the ISP and assigning a unique number to each computer through a hub. While this solution certainly will work, these public IP addresses are not free and, more importantly, are in short supply. That static IP address or even the random one assigned by an ISPís DHCP server is unique, and the only instance of it in the world. That might not sound so important now, but consider how many millions of people come on-line in just a span of a few months and see the looming problem: we are running out of IP addresses. Just like a home address, a computer has a unique address that identifies it on the Internet.

Pine D'Music MP3 Player 10:12 am - Kan
HardwarePros reviewed the Pine D'Music MP3 Player. It comes with 32MB of defualt memory as well as support for FM/AM radio in the SM-320F model.

Portable MP3 are just starting to become popular because you can take songs that reside on your computer (that you own of course), and upload them to the MP3 player so you can take it on the road with you.  The first player on the market was Diamond's Rio PMP300 which boasted quite a good feature set and quickly became popular.  Later down the line, a few more companies released MP3 players such as the Creative Labs with their Nomad player.

Top 10 Software Picks for Y2K 10:10 am - Kan
Now it's the time to clear all those backlog of games you always wanted to play, but don't have the time to do so. BuyBuddy published a Top 10 Software Picks for Y2K and included some popular titles like Age of Empires 2 and NHL 2000.

Well, the end of the year is near, and we've seen lots of software come and go. Maybe you've managed to keep a good eye on all the software that's come out this year, but in case you haven't, we've got a list of software that perhaps you should think about picking up soon. Most of these pieces are later releases, but some older software has snuck it's way in as simply too much fun or too valuable to pass up. The editorial staff each made their own top ten picks, some of which overlapped (but hey, some things are just to good to pass up!)

Wow Thing! 10:05 am - Kan
That's a interesting name. 3AG posted a review on the Wow Thing! which is basically a niffy little unit which can help to improve your PC audio quality. 

Their solution is a little unit called the WOW Thing! Box. It is a simple translucent blue box that connects in between your speaks and your system. Its job is to make your speakers act like better, more expensive ones. Its exact function is very difficult to describe. It has two major functions. Dials on the unit itself control them both. The first is simply called WOW. You pump up the WOW and the sound becomes much more vivid and vivacious. The effect of this is, again, very hard to describe.

5 GeForce Cards Roundup 03:15 am - Wilfred
Heh, there's still time for last minute shopping for that X'mas gift you wanted for me. If you're still torn on which card to get (I told you I'm not picky), check out GamePC's review and gimme the swellest!

The most overclockable of all the boards we tested was definitely Asus's V6600 card, perhaps because it's using the 5 NS SGRAM, and a non-reference design. Many people have been reporting that some of the V6600's shipped out actually have metal plates under the heatsinks on top of the GeForce chip, which greatly helps heat transfer between the chip and the heatsink/fan. Not only did the card we tested have this metal plate, but Asus also put a dab of thermal paste between it, making for even better heat transfer. Creative's and VisionTek's cards didn't overclock as good, even considering the Creative has 5 NS SDRAM modules. Our 3D Prophet overclocked decently as well, but not as good as the Asus.

Amazingly enough, the 3D Prophet DDR cards overclock quite well, but yielded some interesting results. While the card is originally clocked at 125/300, we were able to clock it up to 165/350 using Entech's Powerstrip. While the card retained complete stability at this level, our benchmarks only showed a 2-4 FPS boost in performance, a little disappointing. We wouldn't suggest overclocking the DDR-DVI card, if it gives no noticeable performance difference and it might jeopardize the stability of the card, why bother?

Wilfred Coughs 01:47 am - Wilfred
It's Christmas eve right here in Singapore. Lest we go MIA tomorrow during the real day, on behalf of the team at Hardware-One, we wish every reader here a very blessed Christmas. Have lotsa fun and yeah, don't forget the true meaning of the special day. =)

Brazil Bans Quake And Other Violent Games 01:33 am - Wilfred
I remember posting something similar, but I don't recall Quake as one of the titles. Oh gosh... no, Wy Mun doesn't want to be no Brazillian. =) Check out this story at The Register:

A Brazilian reader has written to The Register and says that his government has banned Quake and five other games it rules as too violent.

According to the reader, the the objective of the Procuradoria da Repķblica is to prohibit all excessive violent games and to include new titles as just as soon as their effects can be evaluated.

RAM RoundUp 01:22 am - Wilfred
At Overclockin.com, they've got a roundup of several DRAMs that underwent some cruel overclocking stress test in their labs. As most of you would have known, the memory plays a big role that determines if your overclocking stint will be a successful one.

As you can see, all of the memory tested hit at least 126MHz FSB.  I really expect to find at least one or two modules that wouldn't do much over 112MHz or so.  Just to give you an idea about what that means in real world numbers, let's take a look at the PIII 450 SL35D that I did the testing with.  Since it runs at a 4.5x multiplier, any of the memory tested would allow you to run that processor at a minimum of 567MHz!  And the best memory of the bunch (the AZZO PC133 and Crucial PC133) will run it up to an amazing 675MHz!  (Keep in mind that there are no guarantees that your processor could do these speeds though....)  

Swiftech MC370 Socket 370 Peltier Cooler 01:05 am - Wilfred
Peltiers. You read that. They're damn cool (literally), but are you bold enough to pop on of these? AnandTech has a review on Swiftech's MC370 cooler. Take a look here!

Another potential use for the MC370 would be with the new FC-PGA Pentium III CPUs since they adhere to the Socket-370 form factor as well, not to mention any future Socket-370 CPUs. We managed to try the MC370 on a few FC-PGA processors and unfortunately they didn't seem to help us overclock the already incredible overclockers to much higher levels. The main reason behind this is probably because heat isn't the major issue with overclocking these CPUs right now, Intel is still perfecting their yield on the new Coppermine core, and plus, you can't really complain if you're hitting 733MHz on an air-cooled 550MHz CPU either ;)

 

23 December 1999 - Thursday

Zoom USB Channel 2 Modem
20:55 pm - David
System Logic has written a review on the Zoom USB Channel 2 modem. If you're on dialup access, you might want to check it out:

As the number of 56K modems available on the market continues itís gradual climb and the price declines, the innovations on the modems itself range from new features to the relative size of the device. USB modems are gaining popularity since they donít require opening of the case or an IRQ. Also, USB modems tend to be small and sleek with translucent cases or outrageous designs. Another new technology introduced to modems was by Actiontec with their Call Waiting Modem. As you can probably guess by the name, it lets you receive phone calls while you are online, solving the problem of missed calls and dropped connections while connected. Today, SystemLogic takes a look at the Zoom 2-Channel USB modem (model 2985). This modem is neither pretty nor translucent but it gets the job done, incorporating both USB compatibility and call waiting features.

HW1: Plextor PlexWriter 8/4/32A CDRW 15:05 pm - Wilfred
Today, we have a review on Plextor's 8X Write/ 4X Re-Write/ 32X Read CDRW drive. Wy Mun took it for a detailed test of archiving lotsa digital photographs he's taken, as well as audio CDs and such. Check it out to see how the PlexWriter fare.

Microsoft And Innovation 14:58 pm - Wilfred
There's a couple of new editorials at osOpinion deserving of your reading. Here's a farnie one I read regarding "Microsoft And Innovation". Here's a blurb:

As anyone who visits www.microsoft.com knows, Microsoft is asking people to support its right to innovate. I support Microsoft's right to innovate. As I support IBM's right to innovate, as well as Netscape's, Red Hat's, VA Linux's rights to innovate, Trumpet Co's right to innovate or even Digital Research's right to innovate.

Soyo 6BA+IV Motherboard 14:52 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad just finished a review on the Soyo 6BA+IV, the highest-end BX based board from Soyo - in fact their 4th revision. Say a good stable board, now with more FSB options than the BE6-II and BF6?! Check out how this dude performs and I would be ecstatic if this manufacturer is brought into Singapore soon.

The 6BA+IV is an excellent motherboard, with features that should please many hardcore overclockers. Soyo's BIOS implementation makes adjusting CPU settings a breeze, and immediately informs you of the results of the new settings you've chosen.

Other cool features include the power LED indicator and the 5/2/1 PCI/ISA/AGP combination. The only major feature lacking is bus speeds. While the 28 offered on the 6BA+IV is a lot, it isn't as many as those offered on the BE6-II and BF6. However, at the street price the 6BA+IV is going for, we rank the 6BA+IV as a good product at an attractive price.

Microsoft GamePad Pro Review 14:45 pm - Wilfred
Extreme Hardware just sent note of their review on this silverish gamepad. The boomerang-shaped tool looks cool and features some new tech incorporated into the controller. So how does it perform?

The D-Pad on the MS Gamepad Pro is the unitís greatest departure from the MS Gamepad. The original Gamepad featured purely digital control through its D-Pad, but Microsoft has one-upped that with dual proportional/ digital control through a single D-Pad. The MS Gamepad Proís unique dual-control D-Pad is designed by Interlink Electronics Inc., and features Force Sensing Resistor technology. FSR is actually a technology designed for professional applications and devices, such as pen input pads, cordless mice and touchpads. In this case, FSR has been incorporated into the MS Gamepad Pro to allow both proportional and digital control using only one D-Pad. The overall goal of this symbiosis is to own one gamepad that works perfectly with any game you can throw at it.

Can Windows 2000 Deliver For Games? 11:53 am - Wilfred
Ahh... I find myself asking this question too. The end-user OS for me must do everything Windows 98 is good for and but fix its tendency to go down on me. So well, other than the basic suite of apps, Internet access and support for all my peripherals, I WANT TO PLAY GAMES! GameSpot has an appropriate article that answers this question. Check it out!

First up was Q3Test 1.08. I can attest that id has done a superb job of creating a portable game. Q3test booted up and ran fine, and soon I was connected to several servers on the Net and getting myself thoroughly humiliated. So far, so good.

Next up was Half-Life. Half-Life uses a heavily modified version of the Quake engine, so it's the next step up along the ladder. Unlike Windows NT4.0, Windows 2000 has autoplay (Figure 5). After installing and patching Half-Life, I was once again up and running. By this time, I was really jazzed. And, as usual, pride goes before the fall.

I swiftly installed several Direct3D titles: Jane's WW2 Fighters, Dungeon Keeper 2, and Drakan. All refused to run properly. Jane's would run for about two minutes, then it would lock up. Dungeon Keeper 2 kept returning to the autoplay menu. Drakan would boot to the main menu, then refuse to actually run the game. It was either a graphics or audio problem, but I wasn't quite sure which. So I popped in the Tiberian Sun CD, a straightforward 2D game, and installed it only to have the game lock up with repeating audio. So audio was certainly part of the problem. However, I also suspected that either the TNT2 drivers or Windows 2000 didn't work well with Direct3D as of beta 3.

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5400 40.9Gb 11:53 am - Wilfred
Wows! 40.9Gb... I want. Power Gamerz has a short review on this piece of this monster. According to their testing, the 5400 rpm drive outperformed a 7200 rpm Western Digital 27.2Gb.

These tests were most disconcerting. It would appear that the 5400 RPM DiamondMax out performed our 7200 ROM Western Digital. I am not sure why, but since I ran each of these tests 3 times, I know they are not flukes. I guess we just have to tip our hats to the quality and speed that Maxtor has shoved into this massive hard drive.

On several other reviews and articles about drives over 40 gig, there have been problems reported of even the newest motherboards being unable to detect such large hard drives into standard BIOS detection. I expereinced none of these problems with my Abit BE6-II motherboard, but I thought that the information needed to be brought up to those who might not be as confident in their motherboard.

Mandrake 7.0 Beta Ready For Download 11:42 am - Wilfred
Saw over at Slashdot a note that Mandrake 7.0 Beta is ready for download and those of you who care to experiment with the latest can try this out. It sports a good list of new features.

  • New perl/gtk based graphical installer Drakx, including many languages support and DiskDrake partitioner (lets one change the size of Ext2, FAT... disk partitions).
  • Use of supermount (integrated in kernel 2.2.14) in order to suppress the need of mount and umount for most removable medias (cdrom, floppy, zip): Mandrake easier to use than ever!
  • Several security levels that let you use your Linux box like a jail (extremely high security, restricted use), or like a very common proprietary OSes (very poor security, no constraint in use). Default is medium security level like in most standard Linux distributions.
  • Improved desktop integration with new tools like DrakConf and rpmdrake that let the user manage its Linux-Mandrake box like a charm.
  • New hardware configuration tools like lothar and XFdrake.

Viewsonic PS790 19" 10:40 am - David
Pals over at Game PC wrote a review on the Viewsonic PS 790 19" monitor. Yikes, I want a Sony G400 19" for christmas!

Just like every other Viewsonic out there, it's emblazed with the three colorful Viewsonic birds at the top. This monitor's biggest (and most marketed) feature is the fact that this monitor is a short-depth CRT. While the semi-trick photography of Viewsonic makes this monitor look very short, it's still pretty bulky in real life. Viewsonic lists that this monitor has a 16.3 inch depth, comparing that to the other 19" monitor we've looked at so far, Mitsubishi's 900u, which has an 18.0 inch depth, that is a nice difference. The PS790 is noticeably shorter than other 19 inch screens you'll see at your local store, and is pretty light at a mild 45 pounds.

Unreal Tournament Guide 10:00 am - Sniper
Gamespot got this guide for all boys and girls out there having problems playing Unreal. BTW, have you voted in our fraggin survey?

Epic Games' Unreal Tournament combines a unique collection of weapons and power-ups, beautifully designed maps, devious single-player bots, smooth Internet gameplay, and more gameplay styles than you can shake your flak cannon at. Succeeding in both the single-player ladder tournament and the fierce online
competition takes knowledge and lots of practice - this game guide provides the knowledge you need.

Hercules Prophet DDR-DVI 09:50 am - Sniper
I guess I miss out this review of my dream card. Read on the review of the Hercules Prophet DDR-DVI by GameSpot.  

So how does the Guillemot board perform? The answer is arousing damned well indeed. It outpaced the Annihilator Pro in the majority of the tests and is our current performance leader. In addition, the board has TV-out and DVI interface. The TV-out is pretty typical - limited to 800x600 and doesn't work in parallel with a computer display. To test the DVI output, I connected the card to Viewsonic's spiffy new VP181 digital flat-panel display, and the results were quite stunning. Still I prefer a good aperture grill tube for gaming. The good news is that standard monitors with DVI interfaces will be arriving on
the scene next year.

Interview 03:30 am - Kan
Planet GeForce dropped us a mail on their interview with Michael Hara, Vice Prsident of Coporate Marketing from nVidia. Here's a quote:

First, ask yourself the question why scalability is needed and what problem you are solving. NVIDIA's single-chip processors are as fast or faster than multi-processor solutions. If you can achieve the speed of a multiple-chip solution in a single chip, then you are significantly ahead on economics. NVIDIA first and foremost is the premier supplier of performance 3D processors to the mainstream market. PC OEMs do not ship multi-board configurations, and certainly not ones with power supplies attached to them. We have proven that it possible to marry the requirements of being a volume supplier with being the technology leader as well. For extreme markets, scalability may make sense.

Christmas Wishlist 02:00 am - Kan
Digital-Clips posted their shopping list for this Christmas season as well. Hmm, let me see, I want....errr....(Kan can't think of anything to get). Gosh, don't tell me I already got the "Ultimate System" already? :)

Sonyís flagship digital camera is a true work of art. It employs Carl Zeiss lens supporting up to 10x digital zoom producing photo-quality images of resolutions up to 1600 by 1200. The F505 comes in two segments Ė the movable lens section and the LCD display segment, allowing you to take great shots from all angles. Images are stored on Sonyís proprietary Memory Sticks which can be used with Digital Photo Frames, allowing you to cycle through your work of arts as if they were real photos. Perfect tool to record your Xímas holidays.

Sharky's Private Eye: Volume 6 01:37 am - Kan
Yup, here's another exciting episode of Sharky's Private Eye: Volume 6 from SharkyExtreme where Dr. Evil went on to dominate the world.....Beep. Wrong channel? Oops. Anyway, in this issue the gurus recommended the Annihilator Pro or the Guillemot Prophet 3D DDR-DVI among other goodies. Here's a taste:

No hard core PC gaming system would be complete without the fastest 3D accelerator on the block. Likely to be top of many a gamer's wish list is a GeForce 256 DDR 3D accelerator, which indeed holds the current title of the "fastest 3D card money can buy". Creative's 3D Annihilator Pro is priced at $319 and unlike the regular Annihilator, which comes with SDRAM, the 'Pro' comes with DDR (double data rate) SGRAM set to 300MHz for even more bandwidth.

MSI 6167 01:34 am - Kan
Oops, I guessed we missed this out. But nevertheless, our pals over at BxBoards took a look at the MSI 6167 Athlon motherboard. 

Now lets take a look at the MSI 6167, not straying to far from the reference Fester Design (Love the Adams Family names for the AMD reference boards) going pure AMD unlike the SD-11 and K7M which use the VIA Southbridge controller, the MSI 6167 runs off of the 750 chip logic. Which is the AMD 751"Irongate" Northbridge (which handles the EV6 200mhz DDR bus and 100mhz Sdram operations also AGP functions too, and then we have the 756 "Viper" Southbridge, Which from Andy's GA-7IX review we know this chip handles the Ultra DMA/66 duties and to add to that it also handles the USB functions and Power Management.

Transcend Launches TS-AVE3 Motherboard 01:27 am - Kan
DimensionX posted a press release of the new Transcend TS-AVE3 motherboard which is using the new VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset. This one supports 5 PCI slots, PC133 memory and AGP4X. Sounds good.

The combination of a built-in AC97 sound chip and AMR expansion gives end-users a cost-effective 3D multimedia facility. Advanced Hardware Monitoring keeps track of the PCís temperature, voltage and fan speed, while Over Voltage Protection and Over Current Protection guard the CPU while overclocking. The board also supports the 2 channels Ultra DMA/66 specification HDD. An advanced jumper-less board configuration means easy installation, and incorporates automatic detection of CPU type. Overclockers will be happy the TS-AVE3ís BIOS enables simple configuration of the boardís FSB and DRAM speeds, and will also appreciate that it allows adjustment of the CPU core voltage by up to 10% in 0.05V step increments.

Diamond Viper 2 01:22 am - Kan
AGN Hardware posted a video review of the Diamond Viper 2 (yep, based on the Savage2000 chipset). At higher resolutions, performance of this card ain't so bad. Here's a quote from the review:

Diamond has been well known in the video card industry thanks to great performing cards and more. They have worked with NVIDIA, 3Dfx and other companies to deliver a wide range of cards with different features and performance. All of that has changed though with Diamond now a part of S3. This means that the only cards we will be seeing will have S3 chips onboard, with the Savage 2000 chip being the most recent chip. The card based upon the Savage 2000 is the Diamond Viper 2, a great card for the money that manages to fall short in certain areas while excelling in others. You can watch our video review of the Viper 2 for a better idea of what to expect from the newest card from Diamond.

X-10 FireCracker Home Control Starter Kit 01:11 am - Kan
3DHardware.net also did a review of the X-10 FireCracker Home Control Starter Kit. The good thing is, the guys are giving out 140,000 units of this kit FREE! (oh well, you gotta pay for the postage). It's a million-dollar giveaway!

So, with these few components, what can you do? You could turn your coffee pot on from bed in the morning. Eliminate fumbling with a light switch in the dark - in fact, kept in the car, the remote can be used to turn on lights when you get home at night. With only one more lamp module, you could dim the lights and turn on some music - perhaps to "set the mood." With just a few more goodies from X10 you can give your house that "lived-in" look when you're out of town. And X10 has plenty more goodies - different modules, smaller remotes, and even some nice package upgrades. The possibilities are limitless, and it's all so easy to do! If you've ever plugged a lamp or appliance into the wall, you've got the skills and experience to completely automate your home!

22 December 1999 - Wednesday

Soltek SL-56G2 Board 
23:59 pm - David

I doubt anyone will be purchasing Super 7 boards now, anyway, Active Hardware has written a review on the Soltek SL-56G2 Super 7 board, check it out:

The SL-56G2 expendability comes grace of its 4/2/1 design. Thus, 4 PCI slots, 2 ISA slots, and 1 AGP port. As well, an increasingly popular AMR slot is included on-board. Finally, 3 168-pin DIMM sockets are available to accommodate up to 768MB of memory. Another note on memory, the Soltek SL-56G2 comes with 2MB of L2 cache already installed...As concerns configuring the SL-56G2, things are a bit different from the normal slot 1 procedure, as we are in the presence of a Super 7 motherboard, no less. So, before to do anything else, we must set the clock frequency by flipping a series of DIP switches (labeled SW1) that are made up of no fewer than 6 interrupts. Interrupts 1 to 3 serve to determine the front-side bus frequency, while 4 to 6 are used to set the clock multiplier that will help determine the operating frequency of the CPU. Available bus frequencies include: 66, 75, 83, 96, 100, 112, 124, and 133Mhz. Clock multipliers are available from 2X to 5.5X, in steps of 0.5X.

All About Sounds 22:06 pm - David
Dansdata has put together a step by step guide to all about computer sounds, here's a whiff:  

Pretty much every PC these days has high quality 16 bit audio output. So why is computer sound, generally, lousy?

There are three basic factors that determine the quality of what you can hear from your home hi-fi or PC - source quality, amplification noise and distortion and speaker quality.

What you DO hear at the end of all this is limited by the quality of your hearing, which in youngsters covers a frequency range of roughly 20 Hertz (Hz, or cycles per second) to 16 kilohertz (kHz), with high frequency response dropping off steadily as you age. Each musical octave represents a doubling of frequency.

Hauppauge WinTV Win2000 Software 22:05 pm - David
Our friends over at NT Compatible told us that the new beta Win2000TV software for the Hauppauge WinTV card will be available here. This one fixes some problems with certain VGA cards which cannot support busmastering across the PCI bus. 

Overclocking the FC-PGA Coppermine - Part 1 18:24 pm - Kan
AnandTech is quick enough to provide us with an insight on how overclockable the new PC-PGA Coppermines are. From the looks of it, these processors are great! 

The same situation is present with the FC-PGA Pentium III 500E and 550E. Both chips feature low enough clock multipliers that forcing the 133MHz FSB operation on either of those chips would result in a healthy overclock without stretching the limits of the CPU. Keep in mind that the FC-PGA Pentium III is nothing more than the Slot-1 Pentium III, which is already available in clock speeds in excess of 733MHz and thus overclocking either of these two to around the 733MHz mark should not be difficult to attain.

Ground Control 18:21 pm - Kan
Exxtreme3D had a go at interviewing Massive Entertainment, the company behind the game Ground Control. Ground Control is a virtual game played on virtual battlefields and require players to be quick and witful (something I lack). Here's an excerpt:

The story starts in the year 2419 and the game takes place on a distant planet called Krig-7B, where the Order of the New Dawn has, since a few years back, a small colony. At the start of the first campaign, the player is sent to Krig-7B as Commander Sarah Parker, a veteran military commander in the Crayven Corporation forces. All she knows is that her orders are to aid Crayven in a hostile takeover of the colony. As the campaign continues Sarah learns the there is something very strange going on and that Krig-7B isn't just another backwater planet.

Nascar Charger Racing Wheel 18:01 pm - Kan
ComputingPros is back with a review on the Nascar Charger Racing Wheel from ThurstMaster. Momo type of steering wheel with the buttons located conveniently beneath the thumbs, it sure does look fun to play with!

I proceeded to assemble the wheel/base with it's clamp. The process involves merely placing the wheel on top of your desk and then you line up the bottom edge of it so that it hangs over your desk or table. Then from underneath you place the clamping system up against the base of the wheel unit and use a very long screw to screw the clamp in. There's a 2nd screw to secure the extended arm of the clamp. At first I was afraid this setup wouldn't work right with where I was mounting it. As you can see from the pictures the wheel was placed on a table and it had this verticle lip near the edge of it that forced me to place the clamp around it to accomodate it. I was skeptical of the plastic and the whole simplicity of the unit. But the whole unit held together EXTREMELY well during gameplay. It never slipped once.

AOpen PA50 Video Card 17:56 pm - Kan
Dan's Data reviewed what they called 'the worst video cards they have seen this year', the AOpen PA50. Oh well, this thing is powered by the SiS 6326 chipset anyway. Go figure.

And it works for DVD. Unlike many cards with a TV out, the PA50 can display an image on the computer monitor and on whatever you've connected to its TV out at the same time. The trade-off is that in order to use the TV out, you have to be in 800 by 600 or 640 by 480 mode. The PA50 mystically detects when there's something connected to its TV out, and then locks the permissible refresh rate for that resolution to 50 or 60Hz (depending on whether you've selected the PAL or NTSC video mode, with a jumper on the board; Australia is PAL, the USA is NTSC). Other modes still work normally - with no image on the TV - but the two lower resolutions are in flickervision, for TV compatibility.

Okay, since we are there, check out their review on the InClose Design's BayCooler 2 as well. This product is actually a hard disk cooling device.

InClose Design's BayCooler 2 is a classy implementation of this basic idea. Instead of the separate mounting rail and plastic faceplate design of most such coolers, it's all one piece, with the mounting chassis made of sturdy steel plate. This makes it easier to install and move - it's all of a piece with the drive, when assembled - and also may provide somewhat better cooling, thanks to the larger heat sink and contact area of the steel frame.

Afterburner Athlon Overclocking Card 17:51 pm - Kan
This is hot! Our buds over at HotHardware took a look at the Afterburner Athlon Overclocking Card which claims that it is able to well, overclock your Athlon!

 

There are a few things that are obvious with respect to what these components do.  The rotary switches adjust CPU core voltage and clock multiplier.  With an Athlon processor you don't change the core frequency or front side bus speed to overclock.  You have to change the multiplier.  The quick little manual that comes with the Afterburner gives you a table on exactly what combination of settings you need to get the results you are shooting for. 

ACT-Labs Gun System 17:50 pm - Kan
3DSpotlight poured down their thoughts on the ACT-Labs Gun System. Hey, if you haven't read our review on this baby, you can check it out over here.

The concept of a Gun System reminds me of all the fun I had playing Duck Hunt in the old Nintendo with the light gun that came bundled with the first shipments of the console, since then, light guns have been in constant evolution with every good console that has arrived to the market.

However we never saw any serious attempt from a company to introduce a Gun System or something similar for the PC, wellÖ one of the biggest reasons was that compatibility was a huge problem with any non-standard hardware peripheral in either DOS or older builds of DirectX and we would have needed an add-on card for using them.  

X-10 FireCracker Kit 17:47 pm - Kan
Waddaya know? Tech-Report reviewed the X-10 FireCracker Kit which basically allows you to control all your home appliances. It works by transmitting thru radio waves to control wall-jack-based transmitter unit.

The company behind these ads, X-10, makes a range of wireless and remote control-driven home automation and multimedia products. X-10 offered us the chance to review their FireCracker home automation starter kit, which includes four simple pieces: a wireless remote control unit, a wall-jack-based tranmitter unit, a wall-jack lamp control unit, and a computer remote control unit that plugs into a serial port.

Coppermine 500E 17:42 pm - Kan
Stick it in Slowly is what our pals over at HardOCP will say to their review on the Coppermine 500E processor. The 500E is similar to the Socket370 Celeron, except that it runs at 100 MHz and comes with 256K of full-speed cache. Extremely juicy, here's some of it:

Yes this bigger on-die L2 cache is what us hardcore OCers have been waiting for.  Why you say Willis?  Well it is like this.  Unlike the Slot 1 PIII CPU, that has 512K L2 cache on the PCB/Card that runs 1/2 the CPU speed; the Cumine has 256K on-die that runs 1X the CPU speed.  Hmmm, half the ram twice as fast eh?  Sounds like a freakin deal to me, and what some people don't consider is the distance the data has to travel between the OFF-DIE L2 and the CPU.   With the L2 actually sitting on the CPU itself, that means access to the data is awesome.

New Win2000 Drivers  11:20 am - David
NT Compatible has dropped us a note that the following drivers are available for download at these locations:

1) Teles has released Windows 2000 drivers for their ISDN adapters. 
They can be found at http://194.97.94.58/index.htx 

2) 3DWin2000 - http://www.3dwin2000.de (a new german Windows 2000 site) has posted 3 new Windows 2000 drivers for 

Aureal Vortex 88X0 (SMP compatible)
ftp://ftp.3dwin2000.de/Treiber/Sound/Aureal/aureal_smp.zip

Sound Blaster PCI 64
ftp://ftp.3dwin2000.de/Treiber/Sound/Creative/sbpci64.zip

Sound Blaster Live!
ftp://ftp.3dwin2000.de/Treiber/Sound/Creative/sblive_rc2.zip

Colour Palm Devices To Come?  09:09 am - Wilfred
Indeed, if CNet is right about this, we can expect Palm Computing to release some cool Palm Pilots that spot colour displays! Perhaps it might be opening a can of worms (like the article suggested), but it is high time they did something to silence the superficial critics of the Palm eh?!

Palm Computing will release the new handheld, dubbed the Palm IIIc, in February, sources said, marking a major milestone for the company and the latest salvo in its ongoing battle with Microsoft for the minds and wallets of gadget lovers. Arguably the most anticipated product release from Palm, the introduction of the IIIc will coincide with its initial public offering, also expected in February. 

Kenwood 72X CDROM Drive Review  08:57 am - Wilfred
Wow! If you like big impressive numbers, a 72X CDROM might turn you on! Gamers Depot wrote a review on Kenwoods' highest performing CDROM drive. In actuality, I'll opt for a DVD-ROM kit coupled with a CDRW drive for the moment.

With speeds approaching, and in some cases even surpassing, the speeds of hard drives, the Kenwood 72X really is a world-class performance leader that appears to be in a league all it's own. Time will tell if Kenwood might need to restructure their pricing so that it becomes more affordable to the mainstream market.

Interview: Why ABIT Has No Athlon Board? 08:57 am - Wilfred
3DWars has an interview that should interest some of you. Ok, you've found yourself asking "Why ABIT doesn't have an Athlon board?!" I'm not sure if they are pushing blame here, but perhaps this article will provide some insights:

AMD provides these basic designs to mainboard companies and gives them assistance in coming up with the final product. When we approached AMD in Taiwan, they decided to work with other manufacturers first, and we were unable to get the assistance that we required to come out with a timely Athlon board.

Since we are at 3DWars, they have also done a review on D-Link's DHN-910 10Mbps phone networking kit. Here's a blurb:

For starters, we have file transfers, which is very common in local area networks. When transferring a 57 MB file from a PC in one room to another via the phone line network kit, an average transfer speed of roughly 7 mbps was achieved and it took nearly 40 seconds. Obviously this time would be blown away with a 100Base-T NIC and switch combo, but for a phone line this is not bad at all. Next up, we played some games. The main factor in determining the functionality of a network during game play is lag. However, lag cannot only be attributed to network speeds, but factors such as the CPU, free memory, etc. Overall, playing games on this network was quite enjoyable.

Interview With MadOnion 08:35 am - Wilfred
Planet GeForce did an interview with the Chief Technical Officer at MadOnion about the latest 3DMark 2000 benchmarks that's set to become one of the de factor benchmarking standard against which video accelerator cards will be tested.

PG: From what you can tell from the numbers you guys are gathering, how is the GeForce 256 fairing out amongst the competition?

MM: It's pretty good, but personally I'd go for the GeForce DDR :-) [editor's note: Hmm... should be more specific with my questions =P]

At the moment out-performing NVIDIA seems to be the challenge, with Hardware T&L or without it.

PG: It seems that despite the fact that a rather large number of game developers (list at NVIDIA's site) are gearing up to produce T & L (Transformation and Lighting) ready games, a few <cough> people are downplaying the importance of this technology. As a developer what are your thoughts on the significance of T & L?

MM: First and foremost, the most important thing to consider is how many of these games just use HW T&L, but donít really take full advantage of it - adding some level of DirectX 7 HW T&L support is not difficult, but making a game that fully scales from low end to high end (and takes advantage of the level of content a GeForce can handle) is probably something most game developers are not ready to do just yet.

We've also seen with 3DMark2000, that if the effort is put into developing a software T&L implementation, CPUs can be almost as fast as HW T&L.

Chaintech 6WEX2 Mainboard Review 00:35 am - David
Pals over at iXBT Hardware have written a review on the Chaintech 6WEX2 motherboard, here's some juice:

Until recently we haven't paid a lot of attention to the mainboards on chipsets with integrated video. Their application seemed far too narrow considering problems with their upgrade, rather low quality and performance of the integrated graphics core. Nevertheless, Intel came up with its solution to the problem - i810 and later - i810E. i752 graphics accelerator showing above all rather acceptable 3D-performance is integrated into these two chipsets. Thus i810 and i810E-boards proved to be an acceptable solution for cheap computers, which don't require supercool 3D.

And the major Intel's contender in the field - SiS - is forced now to have a closer look at the integrated graphics core performance, which is expected to result soon in brand new SiS-chipset mainboards with integrated SiS300 graphics accelerator. The latter shows fairly high performance as well. As far as the third chipset-builder VIA is concerned, it is about to start moving towards the integrated chipsets market, which has suddenly become pretty popular, and to come up with the chipsets with integrated S3 Savage4 graphics core.

 


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'... 

 

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