31 January 1999 - Sunday

ABIT BX6 Revision 2.0 Slot-1 BX 16:42 am - Kan
Anand had also posted a review on the ABIT BX6 Revision 2.0 motherboard. I will say this motherboard is the next overclockers' dream!

All 5 PCI slots accept full length cards, and in improving on the flaw in the BH6’s design ABIT allows IRQ’s to be assigned to individual PCI slots as to avoid the compatibility problems some users were reporting.   An option in the BIOS allows for the IRQ of any specific PCI slot to be statically assigned, not only eliminating many problems with unfriendly PCI devices that simply refuse to work in certain configurations, but also making transferring hard drives from one system to another quite a bit easier as you can assign the IRQ's for all devices to specifically reflect a previous configuration.  The static IRQ assignment of the BX6 Revision 2 was a feature highly demanded by many owners of the BH6 and the original BX6 and is a feature that is quickly appearing in the BIOS setup utilities of most other motherboards.   The BIOS also now allows for CPU temperature monitoring.

Upcoming Savage 4 10:40 am - Kan
AGN Hardware posted a exclusive Savage 4 preview. This is HOT !

The Savage4 GT will serve an an entry level part and will probably be targeted toward OEM business.  The card will carry 16MB of video ram and run at a core clock of 125MHz.  The Pro version of the chip / card should premier with up to 32MB of video ram and the core should clip along nicely at 143MHz. In blocks of 10,000 the Pro part will only cost 3 dollars more per chip, making it very appealing to OEMs.  This can only mean an overall cheaper solution for the end user.

You can also expect the Savage4 to be the first 4x AGP product on the market.  S3 was one of the first to sign on with Intel to validate the 4x AGP standard.  It seems that S3 has a knack for being first with technology.  They did it with .25 micron, they did it again with S3TC, and now yet again with 4X AGP.   Even 3D Giants 3Dfx have acknowledged that 4X AGP will provide faster transfers than anything previously available.

AVB Top Shot Force Feedback Wheel 10:16 am - Kan
Purified3D sent note that they had a new review up on the AVB Top Shot Force Feedback Wheel.

You may not have heard of them before, but they sure aren't new kids in the 'hood. AVB has been around since 1973 (!) manufacturing potentiometers, which are widely used in joysticks. Naturally, they've expanded their field to actually building joysticks in whole, and have recently launched a new line of PC controllers, boldly named Top Shot. The hottest trend being force feedback racing wheels, we took a look at their new Top Shot Force Feedback Wheel.

30 January 1999 - Saturday

GameCenter Awards for 1998 22:27 pm - Wilfred
Yeah, GameCenter has put up their Awards for 1998 to the games of all genres and platforms. Won't be surprising if you found your favourite game top the charts!

Choosing the best games of 1998 was both simple and difficult; at first we went hog-wild, nominating up to ten games in each category. Turns out gathering the nominees was the easy part. Then came the tough part when we had to trim each genre's nominees down to four titles. During some of those meetings we were sure there would be blood, what with Gamecenter's Thief contingent ready to drop some fifth-ward-Bs on the Half-Life group.

Microsoft Revs Handheld OS Again 22:13 pm - Wilfred
According to this snip from CoolInfo, CNet reports that on Monday, Microsoft will announce a new version of its CE OS for Palm-sized PCs. It will, for the first time,include support for colour displays.

Microsoft will announce the new OS on Monday as its hardware manufacturers unveil new bells and whistles designed to undercut the dominance of the PalmPilot. Since their debut last year, palm-size PCs have struggled to gain market share despite a revision of the hardware and two new versions of the operating system. Users complain that prices are prohibitively high for the devices and that the Windows CE operating system depends too much on a desktop Windows paradigm that does not adapt well to handhelds.

Still, supporters believe that with the latest tweaks, the palm-size PCs may finally present a credible threat to PalmPilot, with its installed base of more than two million users. Palm is rumored to be developing its own color device for release later this year. The new version of Windows CE focuses mainly on enabling new hardware functionality. In addition to the new color displays, the devices will also offer lithium-ion batteries, which offer up to 10 hours of battery life.

After hearing complaints from users of CE devices that the OS is a memory hog and the devices are battery suckers, I continue to have doubts and unless you can gimme both colour and battery longevity... I'll stick with my memory efficient, widely-supported, greyscale Palm III. Anytime!

Apache Havoc Sneek Peek 22:08 pm - Wilfred
If you are a heli-sim fan, then be sure to read GameCenter's sneak peek of Empire Interactive's Apache Havoc. This upcoming sim will let you pilot either the AH-64D Apache or Mi-28N Havoc attack chopper.

From the moment you first lift off, it's evident that Razorworks spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to create a rich environment, replete with fully functioning vehicles, dazzling weather effects, and eye-popping terrain. For starters, more than 50 fully rendered aircraft, ground vehicles, and ships are modeled in the game, from individual tanks and trucks to enormous amphibious assault ships laden with marine assault copters, as well as maritime variants of both the Apache and Havoc choppers. All aircraft and ground vehicles are fully articulated, and, in addition to rotating radar domes and fully rendered crewmen, sport working headlights as day recedes into night.

The 3Dfx Story 21:46 pm - Wilfred
GameSpot has this article that tells the complete story of 3Dfx Interactive. How they started, hurdles they faced, how they hit big time and their coming strategies... read it!

There was no question that the Voodoo chip was the technology leader. Everyone knew that; they'd seen the demos. But it wasn't affordable…or so everyone thought. But a crucial externality came into play in late 1996: The price of computer memory plunged. And that made the memory needed to manufacture a Voodoo-based board much cheaper. "No one at 3Dfx expected this, nor was their business plan predicated upon this happening," says id's Brian Hook.

But they weren't complaining, either. A hundred dollars had been shaved off the price of their card almost overnight. And that changed everything. As Jim Peterson at Rendition puts it, "Memory prices have gone down by a factor of ten in the last three years. 3Dfx's tradeoffs turned out to be OK because the memory prices plummeted."

All of the sudden 3Dfx had incredible technology, and now it was reasonably affordable. That was music to the ears of a coterie of developers who were eager to support 3Dfx, but who previously hadn't been able to justify the cost of supporting Voodoo cards. Diamond Multimedia also changed their stance, going from rejecting free chips to producing a Voodoo-based board called the Diamond Monster 3D.

Another Soyo - 6BE+ Review 21:33 pm - Wilfred
Oh another... Soyo is getting lots of coverage lately. Davo of HotHardware sent word of his review on the Soyo 6BE+ BX mobo. This board has 4 PCI, 3 ISA and 1 AGP slot. It also features a jumperless setup for your CPU.

Ahhhh! Finally, a motherboard with the ability to assign each PCI Slot a specific IRQ! This will take the headache out of those stubborn "plug and pray" cards that like to conflict with about anything else in the system. Another sweet feature is the "Keyboard Power On" and 124 Mhz. Front Side Bus Setting. All of these feature including the CPU set up are configured in the BIOS. Soyo's "Combo Setup" works alot like Abit's "Soft Menu". Like I said, more features than you can shake a stick at!

Oh well, I've had that ability to assign specific IRQs for my PCI Slots for a long time on my Asus P2B. However, the downside of the Soyo as well as my P2b is the inability to adjust the CPU's core voltage.

The Supercharged Beast Once More 21:15 pm - Wilfred
Coincidence or not, I do not know. Kenn of the FiringSquad mailed that they too reviewed the Hercules Terminator Beast Supercharged. So take a look here at what the boys have to say!

The Hercules Terminator Beast Supercharged offers excellent Direct3D performance, and a multitude of features, all at a compelling price. Although I would not recommend this card for OpenGL games (this includes much of the hardcore market), its price, performance, and ease of use make it an excellent card for most everything else.

In addition to its surprising performance, S3's introduction of texture compression technology is simply incredible. Competing video card manufactures will certainly downplay its significance, but believe me, they're already jumping on the bandwagon - anyone who doesn't is going to be left out when the next generation arrives.

Well, it really looks like Hercules has got the best implementation of the S3D chip. It coupled supercharged 120Mhz SGRAM with good drivers and utilities!

Beast Supercharged Blurbings 21:11 pm - Wilfred
An avid reader mailed me telling me that I'd left out an interesting snip on my posting of AGNHardware's Beast Supercharged review. So here I'll quote for interest sake =)

The Savage3D chipset has the ability to be faster than every other single board solution on the market.  Yes, faster than TNT, faster than Voodoo Banshee, faster than G200 and Rage FURY.  It's even got the potential to best the mighty 12MB Voodoo 2, which is what everyone in the video card business was trying to do.

You dont believe me?  It shouldn't be such a shock.  The Savage 3D chipset was the only "Next Gen" chipset that delivered on .25 micron technology.   With the Savage 3D, S3 invented the texture compression scheme in Direct X 6.0.  

Tom's Hardware On 3Dfx 21:03 pm - Wilfred
Don't ask what took us so long to post this ok? Anyway, if you haven't checked out Tom's exclusive on 3Dfx's V3 strategy, read it! There's a small mention on the plans after the acquisition of STB.

Voodoo3 will be able to offer digital output for flat panels. It will need a special 3Dfx-chip for that, called ‘LCDfx" (I may be wrong with that name, sorry). Normal Voodoo3-cards will not include this chip, so you will require special boards that offer digital out.

Voodoo3 will support AGP, but it will not support AGP-texturing. This is an important thing to consider! AGP-support as we know it from ATI, Matrox, NVIDIA or Intel does always support AGP-texturing as well. For many of us, AGP-texturing is what we all used to talk about when talking about AGP in general. Voodoo3 will still not be able to texture directly from system memory, thus large textures will only be displayable as long as they fit into the 16 MB onboard memory of the Voodoo3. However, don’t forget that Voodoo3 will be using 3Dfx’s own texture compression, which should make sure that pretty large textures will be supported by this chip.

Asus TNT V3400 13:31 pm - Kan
LostCircuits had a review of the Asus TNT V3400 running on the Super Socket7 ALi chipset.

In the past, one of the major headaches with the SS7 platform has been the issue of compatibility between the latest AGP cards and the non-Intel advanced graphics port. Probably the best known example for this problem is getting the Matrox G200 to perform properly on VIA MVP3 chipset-based boards. However, because of the engagement of a few tweakers like Compucheaps headgeek Russ there have been work-arounds and installation guides available for quite some time. Anyway, as the saying goes, every problem, when solved generates a whole bunch of new ones. In this case, the next batch came with the ALi Aladdin chipset that caused major compatibility problems with nVidia TNT- based AGP graphics adapters.

DFI P5BV3+ 13:23 pm - Kan
UpgradeCenter also put up a motherboard review, the DFI P5BV3+ Socket 7 motherboard.

For those users in the know, DFI has a great reputation for very fast, stable and reliable motherboards.  Their flagship Super 7 offering, the P5BV3+, has a Baby AT form factor, 1MB of L2 cache and is based on the Via MVP3 chipset.  The combination of 4 PCI/3 ISA and 1 AGP slot is one of more generous layouts on the market.  There are three DIMM slots and all the predictable other accessories like USB, UltraDMA-33 controller, etc.

Soyo SY-6BA+ 13:20 pm - Kan
We have a number of motherboard reviews lately. High Performance PC Guide posted a Soyo SY-6BA+ BX motherboard review

This is where the fun begins. Because the SY-6BA+ is 100% Jumperless, it means that all the jumpers have been replaced by a soft menu included in the BIOS setup control panel as we said before. This feature called "Soyo Combo Setup" is allowing to manually set the front bus frequency and the multiplier of the processor. The front Bus frequency can be selected from a frequency choice spanning from 66Mhz to 133Mhz including: 66Mhz, 75Mhz, 83Mhz, 100Mhz, 103, 112Mhz, 124Mhz and 133Mhz.. The multiplier values available are ranging from 2x to 5.5x in .5 steps but not beyond this value so it is not possible to use a 8X multiplier.

Tyan Thunder X Dual Xeon 13:15 pm - Kan
Anand had another new motherboard review. This time is the Tyan Thunder X Dual Xeon 440GX motherboard. This board just make me drool!

If that still is not enough to meet your needs, there is an Adaptec AIC-7896 on board that provides dual channel Ultra 2 LVD SCSI for all your SCSI needs. There is one 68-pin Ultra 2 connector on each channel and one 50-pin connector on channel B. The 68-pin connectors can be used for SE or LVD devices, while the 50-pin connector is solely for SE narrow devices. However, be warned that if you have any SE devices on a particular channel, all devices on that channel will operate in SE mode, cutting the bandwidth of LVD devices in half (from 80MB/s to 40MB/s).

UltraHLE N64 Emulator for PC 12:45 pm - Wilfred
Wow! Wy Mun sent me word of the ultimate emulator of Nintendo 64 games for the PC! Using this nifty piece of software, the reviewers were able to play Super Mario 64 at over 30 fps 800x600 res on a PII-450 64Mb RAM and a Voodoo2 board!

Nintendo 64 emulators aren't new. Programmers have been trying to emulate Nintendo 64 titles for PC since the console's inception two years ago. The difference between UltraHLE and the rest, of course, is that it works. Whereas past emulators have delivered shoddily-executed attempts at Nintendo 64 software running at unplayable framerates and ruined by glitches, UltraHLE not only manages perfect emulation, but actually improves upon some Nintendo 64 games in some cases.

Developed by two people (in three months) using the Internet handles Epsilon and RealityMan, UltraHLE (or Ultra High Level Emulation), takes an alternative, and in this case more effective, approach to the world of emulation. Rather than trying to emulate the hardware as closely as possible while supporting low level operations, UltraHLE instead actually emulates as little as possible. It attempts to detect high level operations early and emulate them using optimized C-code.

UltraHLE uses and requires 3DFX hardware and Glide to work. Because of this, many Nintendo 64 games appear cleaner and seemingly more detailed than if they were running on Nintendo 64 hardware. Nearly all of Nintendo 64's graphic features are put to full use including anti-aliasing, transparencies and more.

Cool huh? It doesn't emulate ALL the games yet, but those that work, rocks! Check out their list.

Then.. How to Overclock?!? 12:38 pm - Wilfred
After the lesson from Andrew, Sean Cleveland has this simple and systematic guide to overclocking success, take a look!

Heat is the number-one reason CPUs have problems running at higher speeds. As electrons flow along the pathways in the CPU, some of the energy is transformed into heat by way of resistance. The increased resistance slows the CPU's internal pathways and causes unreliable data returns and lock-ups. Adding a heatsink to pull heat away from the CPU and a fan to dissipate excess heat increases your chances of overclocking successfully.

You can also minimize heat through software. Believe it or not, the "Suspend on HLT" feature that most modern CPUs contain is not supported in Windows 95/98. OSes that support this feature allow the CPU to be suspended, thereby reducing heat generated when the CPU is sitting idle. Some small shareware companies have written apps to do this, including Waterfall Pro and CPUIdle.

Fine Art of Overclocking 12:31 pm - Wilfred
This article should come in very helpful to anyone who wants to understand the art of overclocking. MaximumPC's Andrew Sanchez takes you on his little lesson tour.

An overclocked CPU is a joy forever. Even though there are many dangers involved in overclocking, and your warranty is almost always void by the time you're done with it, taking your hardware to the limit has payoffs that are both tangible and sublime. Once you've reached stability at the clock speed of your dreams, you'll enjoy your handiwork for years to come.

Chaintech 6BTM Review 12:23 pm - Wilfred
Adrian of the Rojak Pot has done a nice review on the Chaintech 6BTM board. It's an affordable and stable solution for anyone who's not too bothered with overclocking.

Without the need for an external DRAM buffer, the Chaintech 6BTM should be faster than similar motherboards with external DRAM buffers. It should also allow Chaintech to price the 6BTM below that of other motherboards with the DRAM buffer. Stability-wise, the 6BTM is rock solid, as far as I can tell. Its excellent design shows in the fact that it requires no external DRAM buffers and so few capacitors.

The average PC user may not find the 6BTM's overclocking features really useful but its stability and ease of setup should be sufficient reasons to buy the 6BTM. It's also a good buy for those who intend to use an ISA card or two; or more than 384MB of RAM. With the ability to support up to 512MB of RAM and Chaintech's stress on stability, this motherboard will serve well as a server's motherboard. In fact, a power failure recovery function was also included in the motherboard, enabling the server to turn back on automatically after a power failure.

Check out our very own review on the Chaintech 6BTM motherboard!

Strange Solution To Teething Problem!?! 12:18 pm - Wilfred
PCPowerhouse popped me a mail to let me know of this "study" they conducted on video lockups and system crashes on an o/c Celeron 450Mhz system. While I can't vouch for the solution, but if it works... then... damn! GO TRY IT MAN!

PCPowerhouse has been doing some research on possible problems overclocking your Celeron to 450+MHz and Video related lock-ups. Well it turns out the solution is very simple (if not strange). Check out our News page for all the details, and solutions.

I didn't rip the portion for you, so you'd better go over and see for yourself! If it works, you are going to thank (me?) them!

Soyo 5EMA+ Super7 Mainboard 12:10 pm - Wilfred
Freak! has churned out a new review on the Soyo 5EMA+ Super7 Mainboard which is based on the MVP3 'CE' chipset. The board spots a large number of FSB settings, 5 PCI slots and a whopping 1MB of L2 cache.

Looking at what this board has, it is easily one of the best Super7 boards out there. Five PCI slots, 1MB of L2 cache, a variety of bus speeds, and a full complement of voltage settings all make this a top tier product. Hosting the foundation of this board, the ever-popular and very compatible MVP3 'CE' chipset.

29 January 1999 - Friday

Hercules Terminator Beast SUPERCHARGED 23:56 pm - Wilfred
AGN Hardware has got a review on the Hercules Termintor Beast Supercharged. Well, this is most of what a herculean effort could do to salvage the ailing S3D chip.

Taken holistically, I think the SuperCharged BEAST is THE choice for the gamer on a budget, offering great performance and TV-Out on a budget that almost anyone can afford (even little Nick with his weekly allowance =).  I'm not going to pretend that the card is best on the market.   The Voodoo 2 in SLI still runs circles around it, but it is definite progress in the right direction. 

Baldur's Gate Game Guide 23:42 pm - Wilfred
Yap! It has been a game guide bonanza recently. Today you can go read u; the strategies for Baldur's Gate in PC Games latest guide.

You say the folks up near Baldur's Gate aren't friendly? They either try to steal your services or cause you grievous bodily harm? Well, take heart, friend: herein follows a fertilizer cartload of hints and tips that'll help rust out The Iron Throne in no time. Tried and tested, our strategies will see you through your rites of passage in this Forgotten Realms RPG.

Celeron 300A or 366? 23:42 pm - Wilfred
Our buddy Kyle of HardOCP (formerly Overclocker's Comparision Page) has pointed me to a review/comparison which he performed on the Celeron 300A and Celeron 366.

Logitech WingMan Force 23:39 pm - Wilfred
Oh dear, another exquisite toy befalls the hands of who? Vince! Yes, check out the review he's posted at Hardgame right away.

The Wingman Force is a very impressive controller that has really given force feedback a much-needed shot in the arm. Its cable-drive system gives some of the most consistent, precise and powerful effects that you'll find anywhere. With a great game bundle covering a wide variety of interests, the Wingman Force looks to have covered all the bases. If only the Logitech designers had seen fit to incorporate some sort of rudder control, we'd be looking at an Editor's Choice caliber controller with more awards than available box space.

The Upgrading Primer 23:33 pm - Wilfred
The first mail I saw was this to inform me that the FiringSquad has thrown up a Upgrading Primer covering many many essential components from your keyboards and mice to your mainboard and graphics cards.

Computer parts nowadays are getting better and cheaper by the minute. It's no wonder more and more people are considering taking the plunge and upgrading their systems, with little to no prior knowledge of how to do so. Thankfully, the Internet is abound with websites dealing with hardware, and one doesn't need to travel far to find what he's looking for.

By the same token, you'll find yourself neck-deep in reviews before you know it, on the latest 3D video cards, 64-bit PCI sound cards, and fancy new CPUs. While that's great in terms of knowing what hardware is currently the best on the market, it may not be helpful in your quest to upgrade your system. In fact, it may be somewhat detrimental to most "newbies," as they assume (incorrectly) that a system is mainly comprised of a video card, sound card, and a CPU. So how does it all fit together

Home at Last 23:25 pm - Wilfred
Home at last, yes.. after a smoky and sweaty farewell BBQ at Costa Sands Chalet. Whew!

Tyan Tiger 100 ATX s1832DL 09:12 am - Kan
That's a review of the Tyan Tiger 100 Dual Pentium II motherboard over at SysOpt.

The Tiger 100 looks like a bigger cousin of the Tsunami. This is an interesting board to review as it supports dual CPUs. Windows 95 and 98 do not support dual CPU's so I dragged out NT 4.0 with service pack 3. The board is large, taking up more room than the Tsunami to support the second CPU and 4th DIMM slots. I had to sigh as I saw the jumpers of the clock multiplier on the board and not in a BIOS setting. Thankfully, the power connector was placed in a much better position behind the second CPU slot.

Dreamcast Review 09:08 am - Kan
AGN Hardware also did a Sega Dreamcast review. Anyway, have you read our exclusive review on the Dreamcast?

On November 27th, 1998 Sega dropped it's latest console system onto the market and consumers flocked to get it. The Japan Times newspaper had a color picture on the front cover of a happy customer hoisting his bright orange Dreamcast bag high in the air. He had slept outside the night before to get it! Personally, I thought I'd never touch another console system now that computers with chipsets like the TNT and Voodoo2 are able to deliver graphics that are superior to anything seen at home before. So what made me, a fairly jaded computer guy, go out and buy a Dreamcast? Read on.

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