14 October 1999 - Thursday

Coppermine - Hands On Preview!
19:07 pm - Wilfred
Damn! Just when I thought I could call it a day and watch my favourite TV serial, a mail from FiringSquad arrived. What am I supposed to do? The thought of depriving you a read of this exciting preview on Intel's soon-to-be-released 0.18 Coppermine processors crossed my mind... but okay, I relent... here's the FCPGA PIII-600Mhz up close & personal, and even stacked up against the Athlon! =)

The 0.18 600MHz Coppermine performs almost the same as the 0.25 Katmai P3-600 processor in most of the benchmarks with the exception of Winbench CPUmark which tests the speed of the entire CPU-memory subsystem. We have to admit that we were expecting the Coppermine to perform slightly better because of the faster L2 cache, but only one of the benchmarks we chose to run had the Coppermine outscore the Katmai by a wide margin. We can't really judge how the Coppermine actually performs just by looking at these synthetic benchmarks.

We have to remember that Intel developed the 0.18 Coppermine in order to be able to manufacture Pentium III processors at 600MHz and higher speeds, not to make the P3 equal the Athlon. Anyone that expects Coppermine to bring the Pentium III up to the Athlon level on a MHz for MHz basis might be disappointed.

SL-35D: A PIII-600 In PIII-450 Guise? 18:45 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! Is this another long-awaited gift from our Santa Intel? Is it true that we have here a bargain 600Mhz CPU for less than US$200? Find out in HardwareCentral's "Test Drivin' The SL-35D" article.

Thus out of eight CPUs we have four that do 600MHz @ 2.0volts--something that we were unable to accomplish with our Malaysian SL3CC’s; they would crap out at anything over 558 MHz @ 2.2volts.

Next step was to try 600 MHz, 133 x 4.5 @ 2.2volts, and now we had seven out of eight CPUs that kept running without a single glitch. Considering the fact that we are using a 250 MHz L2-cache here that’s running 20% overclocked, we felt that this was quite an accomplishment for a CPU rated at 450 MHz.

Furthermore the five SL35Ds we had left kept on running at 621 MHz, 138 x 4.5 @ 2.2volts, and that’s more than you can ask for out of a CPU rated at 450 MHz.

GeForce 256 DDR Guide 18:40 pm - Wilfred
A guide? Yes! Well, you could benefit from learning more about the next video card you might consider purchasing isn't it? Have a look at SharkyExtreme's latest writeup (of coz, it's complete with benchmarks and all! Huge!). No surprises but a really good read!

The GeForce DDR did very well on low end CPUs like the Celeron [email protected] ... I blatantly ripped this image for ya!

Swiftech MC1000 Peltier Cooler 18:33 pm - Wilfred
Caesar at ArsTechnica reviewed the peltier cooler from Swiftech. Care to take your system's cooling solution to the next level? How well does thermoelectric coolers, such as the MC1000, work? Well, they have a 616Mhz PPGA Celeron 366 operating at 5 deg C!!! Whatever the case, it is not for the faint-hearted.

So, with the MC1000 fueled and pimpin', we gained 66 MHz, lost 33ºC on the CPU temp, and gained 1 measly degree Celsius inside the case.  Not bad, not bad at all.  With conventional cooling, this system would not run stable above 550MHz, period.  With the MC1000, 616MHz was just as stable as 550MHz, although it simply wasn't going any higher than that. 

No Windows 2000 Before It's Time 18:15 pm - Wilfred
TechWeb has a news article where Microsoft's president ,Steve Ballmer, spoke about Windows 2000 and its launch. Here's some reassurance he gave about the quality of the product. Hmm...

"Windows 2000 will ship some time in the next several months," said Ballmer, speaking in a town hall-style format at GartnerGroup's Symposium/ITxpo. "No sense in this stage rushing in any sense.

"The quality of feedback we're getting in our own tests isquite good," Ballmer said. "The feedback we're getting from customers is quite good. We're going to take our time and make sure the thing is absolutely, positively right."

Effect Of Transfer Rate On Performance 18:01 pm - Wilfred
What affects HDD performance? Lots! But specifically, the qualified people at StorageReview examined the effects of sequential transfer rate on a harddrive's performance. Check out if ATA-66 really makes a difference at all!

In conclusion, while it's true that STR remains vital in many specialized applications, its impact on everyday business use is surprisingly small. These results suggest that all the concerns about interface transfer limits, especially in the ATA landscape, are a bit overblown. The ATA-33 interface found in today's venerable BX chipset motherboards will be able to deliver substantial performance increases with not only the latest of today's hard disks, but also many of the drives of tomorrow. Beyond that, ATA-66 and future iterations will simply carry users that much further.

Soyo SY6BA+IV 17:52 pm - Wilfred
Think of this board as a direct competitor to Abit's BE6. If there's one of these in your neighbourhood, you can check out HotHardware's second review of the day to see if it's worth a consideration.

The Soyo SY-6BA+IV is a nice blend of mature Intel BX chipset technology with the latest and greatest drive controller technology form HighPoint. DMA66 gives the drive subsystem a nice boost. In addition, the stability of this board is second to known. We experienced no incompatibilities or system crashes of any kind during the tests. If you are shopping around for a new motherboard, you really can't go wrong with the SY-6BA+IV. Nicely done, Soyo...

Gigabyte GA-660 Plus 12:34 pm - Sniper
Our good pals at iXBT has a review of the TNT2/Pro from Gigabyte.  Looks like we need to get our hands on one for review too.

NVIDIA Riva TNT2-A is manufactured with 0.22 micron technology and looks just the same as NVIDIA Riva TNT2. With the only exception: our piece works at higher frequencies (143MHz against those 125MHz of an ordinary). In this case it sounds quite logical to ask: how does it differ from Riva TNT2 Ultra with the working frequency of 150MHz, which also supports higher frequencies though with 0.25 micron technology. First of all, the main difference is the price. NVIDIA Riva TNT2-A costs about the same as NVIDIA Riva TNT2 and can be positioned to replace NVIDIA Riva TNT2 in the existing models of the graphics card. In other words, we get a faster graphics card for the same money. :-) 

Gas Powered Computers 12:29 pm - Sniper
I have some difficulty visualizing gas pipes running in my CPU after I read this interesting article.

"Molecular circuits could be just a fraction of a nanometer (one thousand-millionth of a meter) wide. Researchers have already created molecular wires, logic gates (a building block of computers) and switches, which may some day be hooked up to make a working computer a fraction of the size of existing machines,'' the
magazine said.

Act Labs Gun System 06:57 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DHardware.net just posted their review on the Act Labs Gun System. Futuristic looking pair of guns, I wonder if you can use it to rob the bank? :) (please don't try it)

As always with stuff from Act labs, the box is awesome. Screaming of quality, it showcases the beautiful Gun System hardware along with some Photoshop goodness. Opening the box unveils the Gun System base console, the two guns and a rather unexpected bonus, in form of a little one-hand joystick/mouse. To begin with, all four of these would get the design prize if we had such a thing here at 3Dhardware. Not only are they shaped cool enough to be used as peripherals in some sci-fi movie (high-budget sci-fi movie I might add), but they’re made out of the same hard, sturdy plastic that we’ve become used to with Act Labs’ products. And they’re silver-painted.

Age Of Empires II 06:55 am - Kan
Exxtreme3D reviewed the newly released Age of Empires II. For those who like strategy games, don't miss out this game in your favorite LAN shop.

Age of Empires 2 gameplay is addictive and fun.  Most games last over 3 hours. AOE2 has many units and buildings. Playing the game is just not build this, make that, send millions of the same unit to kill a player. In Starcraft, sure that works, but in AoE2, if you send a 100 or so ground troop into a enemy base, all of them will die, and you will not do very much damage to their base. The trick is to make many different kinds of units and men. They work together to destroy your opponent.  Towers are very strong in hit points, no way are your wimpy ground troops going to be able to take out a tower. 

IBM 34GXP 06:48 am - Kan
360 Degrees also sent note on their review on the IBM 34GXP hard drive. This baby comes with all the goodies like 2MB buffer, 7200 rpm and ATA66 support. Here's an excerpt:

There is a clear performance edge given to the new 34 GXP. This is probably due to the huge buffer that rivals the size of SCSI buffer and the enhanced (GMR) head design and No-ID sectors that IBM boast for the DMA/66 drives. These optimizations clearly make the drive perform better.  Although, I must mention that sometimes the 14GXP would report a sustained transfer rate of 18.8MB per sec. I did not include those in my average because each event was random and could not be repeated.

Sony G200 06:46 am - Kan
360 Degrees just posted a review on the Sony G200 17" monitor with the new Sony FD Flat Screen technology. Darn, the new flat screen stuffs really tickles my heart to grab one for myself.  

Sony’s new FD Trinitron technology is great. It is far superior to the monitors 2 years ago. The G200 has plenty of overhead in contrast and brightness that over time it won’t affect the monitors ability to put out crisp bright images. The flat screen capable of high refresh rates and a slew of adjustment can only be good for your ergonomics. If you are a picky designer or Webmaster then the quality if this monitor will suite you perfectly. The screen coating real helps cut washout and glare from the sun to G&E soft whites. If you love that perfect 17” size and want to use the up coming chipsets at max resolutions and acceptable refresh rates then this monitor is for you. 

Athlon 650 Mhz with MSI 6167 05:49 am - Kan
DemoNews sent note on their latest review on the Athlon 650 Mhz with the MSI 6167 Athlon motherboard. Check it out:

Today, there are no mainboards available to buy on the market. The board I have is specially sent to me from AMD. This mainboard is just a prototype to get the new Athlon CPU's to run and benchmark able. Soon, FIC, MSI, ASUS and probably a bunch more of companies will start produce their own K7 mainboards with their own specifications who probably will be better than the prototype versions releases by AMD.

ActionTec Home Networking Kit 05:47 am - Kan
Our network affiliates over at HotHardware took a look at the ActionTec Home Networking Kit. Basically it's one of those kits which makes use of your existing phone lines to network your computers together.

What amazed us was the sparse number of components that exist on these boards. Basically, the cards are made up of an AMD "PCNet-Home" chip, the controller that handles Ethernet connections via the phone line, and a few passive components. That's it! There are two jacks on the header of each card which allow you to connect them to your wall phone outlet and then pass the connection through to either a modem or phone line. Here are the rest of the specifics.

War In Europe Mod 05:42 am - Kan
Our pals over at Speedy3D wrote a review on the Half-life mod War in Europe. For those Half-life fans, this Mod should be pretty fun to frag with.

It doesn't take a Womble to work out that the words 'War' and 'Europe' put together in the same name spells 'fun'. Ok no it actually spells 'War Europe' but that's beside the point. Since Action Quake (AQ) first blew many of us away with its use of realistic locations and weaponry as well as damage, there has been a hunger for increasingly realistic gaming experiences. War In Europe (WIE) is the Third game after CS and AHL/AQ2 to re-model realism and give you the experience many have been craving to play for years.

13 October 1999 - Wednesday


Hardware-One: Unreal Tournament Demo - Wilfred
Today we have Jarod's contribution of a review on Unreal Tournament Demo. A sweet game I must say! So if you haven't downloaded the demo, you should, right after you've read this! =)

In every FPS, futuristic weapons that deliver pure mayhem is an added incentive to the gameplay. Remember the prototype Gattling gun in The Jackal starring Bruce Willis? It is back with a more menacing look. It's a fact that nobody would like to have a “plain” Uzi firing the same old ball rounds. Something extra is needed to spice up a futuristic game such as UT. 

UT’s weapons are pretty impressive to say the least. First of all, we have the Impact Hammer which to some, is like the Flak Cannon from the original Unreal. Basically, what it “fires” is a “punch” and the strength of it will increase the longer you hold the trigger. It can actually decapitate a foe with a full charge but you need to be next to your target. In a way, it’s the weapon of last resort. Think of it as something like the Gauntlet in Q3T.

VR Joy 3D glasses 18:40 pm - David
System Logic has reviewed the VR Joy 3D glasses Hmm, anyone interested? Hmm, 3D glasses give me a headache after prolonged usage.

As for the glasses, they are just big, bulky, and ugly.  Let me just state this, they DO look better than the 3D Revelator Glasses, not from the outside, but when you are actually wearing them, it looks a lot better.  The day a company comes out with some good looking 3D glasses....  Three main things about these glasses, one, a wireless version would be nice, because we all know how much we hate wires all over the place.  Two, it has an adjustable nose piece, which can actually come out if it irritates you during gameplay, which I did notice some heaviness after a little bit of testing.  Three, they are thick and cover the side of your eyes.  I liked this feature a lot because everything is focused on the game, instead of seeing light from the side, and other various sources, you are covered up completely.

Hard Drive Format Guide 18:05 pm - David
Tech Review has whipped up a guide on how to format your hard drive. As a last resort. Gee, I hate formatting my drive, the thought of reinstalling everything is enough to me drive me mad =)

There comes a point in every computer's life where things just aren't going that well. Repeated blue screens of death and file corruption invade the inner workings of the hard drive. If you're somewhat of an experienced computer user, you will testify that there comes a time in almost every computer's life, where the hard drive just needs a good formatting. To be completely wiped clean of all the garbage and waste that builds up over time. Sometimes you feel like having a fresh start, a chance to build a new relationship with your computer. This time taking better care of what you put in, and how you take out. The chance to better organize your file system, placing each program folder in the appropriate sub directory. Others have just purchased a brand new piece of equipment that just won't work, so they feel the need for a good clean format. While our reasons may vary, we all want one common goal. To have this heap of technology they call a computer actually work properly once and for all!

Maximizing G400 Performance 16:47 pm - Kan
If you have a G400, then the article written by HardwareCentral on Maximizing G400 Performance  may tickles your heart.

Fortunately Matrox didn’t sit idle, as they continued work on their next product, the G400. The G400 was to be much like its predecessor, but with many more features and improved performance, as well as a die shrunk down to 0.25 micron. When the G400 was released to the general public, it became apparent that Matrox had once again raised the bar for the competition, as the G400 boasted a fill-rate and a broad range of 3D features the others hadn’t even started implementing.

Hoontech Soundtrack Digital XG 16:45 pm - Kan
This is an interesting review for all those sound buffs. FiringSquad reviewed the Hoontech Soundtrack Digital XG which comes with Toslink digital optical as well as ABS/EBU digital connectors!

Today, we have a new challenger to the SB Live! and Aureal Vortex2, the Hoontech SoundTrack Digital XG. Hoontech is a Korean company famous for its high-end professional audio, and this marks their recent entry into the consumer market. Powered by Yamaha's second generation YMF744 chip, the Hoontech Digital XG offers the same famous Sensaura HRTF algorithms of the Canyon3D, but includes support for multiple audio streams and frequency/bitrate mixing. Sound good? It gets even better. Hoontech is famous for digital recording in particular, and so Hoontech's non-reference board design also offers a Digital I/O back plate with more ports than even the TerraTec DMX or Sound Blaster Live! Platinum: try AES/EBU inputs and outputs for size. But that's not the best thing about this card, it's the absurdly low price: $40 for the board only, and $60 including the digital I/O card.

Cooling Guide Part 3 16:40 pm - Kan
3DRage slapped out Part 3 of the Cooling Guide article they had been writing. In this issue, they took a look at several cooling units available for the Pentium III, Pentium II, and Celeron.

Before we proceed, we should discuss some aspects of your processor that you should become familiar with before discussing particular heatsink and fan combos. Since Athlon cooling has not become wide spread as of yet, I will stick with Intel's lineup of the Celeron, Pentium II, and Pentium III. The first generation of Pentium II's were housed in the SECC-1 format, or Single Edge Contact Cartridge. The problem with this form of housing was the small metal plate that was on both sides of the Pentium II, thus covering the CPU and cache, and hindering the performance of the heatsink and fan combo that was supposed to transfer the heat.

Coppermine Preview 16:37 pm - Kan
Our buds over at HardOCP sure did it with a Coppermine preview! Smacked inside the review is full of benchmarks with the smokin' 700 Mhz Coppermine processor.

Tired of seeing GeForce benchmarks already?   Want something new and improved?  What about a full series of benchmarks on an OVERCLOCKED Coppermine 700MHz CPU from Intel.  Are you worried that I will have to kill you after I show them to you? Well you are damn right about that.  Please sign the HardNDA form before proceeding, otherwise I will send a Kuwaiti Deathsquad to crush your ass like a bug.....

nVidia TNT2 Pro 12:01 pm - Kan
AnandTech did a review of the nVidia TNT2 Pro graphics card. The TNT2 Pro is actually build on a .22 micron die (more overclocking madness) and ships with a default clock speed of 143/166.

Since the core of the TNT2 Pro is identical to the old TNT2’s core, the specs are the same as far as features go. This, of course, is not a bad thing by any means as the TNT2 had the most complete feature set at the time of its release. Even today, the only new features we’ve seen appear on the market are Environment Mapped Bump Mapping (EMBM), texture compression, and hardware transform and lighting. Only the Matrox G400 supports EMBM and thus, EMBM has garnered little support. The same goes for S3’s S3TC texture compression, although this is slowly gaining support in the industry. Hardware transform and lighting is just now becoming available with the GeForce from NVIDIA and soon with the Savage 2000 from S3.

Entrega 4-Port USB Hub 11:59 am - Kan
Again, AGN Hardware released another review on the Entrega 4-Port USB hub. Hmm, this hub is stackable up to 127 devices. Pretty neat huh?

First be sure that you have an operating system that supports USB. For PC users this means Windows 98, Windows 95B (better known as OSR2), or Windows 2000 (beta testers only). The next requirement is a USB port on your motherboard as this is how the Entrega hub will connect to your PC. The Entrega hub is designed to sit on your desktop. Hookup is dead simple. Connect one end of the included USB cable to one of the USB ports on your computer and connect the other end to the Entrega hub. Then plug in the power brick (yep it’s a 2-space hogger on most powerbars) and connect the power cable to the hub. Done.

Hard Drive Coolers Mini-Roundup 11:57 am - Kan
Over at AGN Hardware, the gurus whipped up a Hard Drive Coolers Mini-roundup comparing 4 coolers from different manufacturers.

For those of you that refuse to come over to the dark side and see the light (several people are rereading that last sentence again) and are sticking with IDE you may not need a hard drive cooler.  If you are using a 7200 rpm hard drive (IBM) then you should probably buy a hard drive cooler. If you are running a 5400 rpm hard drive and it's the only one in your case, save your money. You are going to want to get a cooler when you buy your new drive.

Fireball Plus KA 11:54 am - Kan
There's a pretty long review (9 pages) of the Fireball Plus KA ATA-66 hard disk over at our pals FPS3D. If you are thinking of getting a ATA-66 hard drive and lost in deciding which one to get, catch their review to get a clearer idea.

First thing's first -- Data Protection System, a.k.a. DPS, is quite simply a diagnostics-suite that tells you where the problem with your system is coming from (i.e. possibly from another PC component, not the hard drive). Although the software can be run on systems up to 2.5 years old, Quantum has integrated this software into the firmware of the Plus KA, a fairly large step forward in the race for perfect reliability among hard drive manufacturers. Still, there's no way to tell if this really works without frying or damaging something in my PC, which I'm not about to do.

Eye 3D Stereovision 10:39 am - Kan
If you wanna go for a virtual ride with those stereovision glasses, take a look at Speedy3D review on the Eye 3D Stereovision.

Art3D's Eye3D glasses are one of the more recent attempts of many to try and come up with the ultimate solution for stereovision in the home. The problem with most glasses is that they either use specific drivers or are so old that they no longer work with most games. Like a Rabbit on a spring morning sighting all the lovely grass, I-Art saw the opportunity to do something better than the rest with the technology. They created a universally compatible pair of glasses that will work with just about any of their competitor's drivers and that is what makes them future proof.

3D Exercizer Benchmark Results 10:36 am - Kan
nv News just posted some 3D Exercizer benchmark results between the GeForce 256 and TNT2.

While I am trying to confirm that 3D Exercizer supports the GeForce's T&L acceleration (I'm sure it does after reading the documentation), I wanted to share the results of the light stress test with you.  The Y-axis indicates the number of light sources (up to 8) and the X-axis measures frames per second.

Turtle Beach Montego II Quadzilla 10:33 am - Kan
VoodooExtreme sent note on their latest review on the Turtle Beach Montego II Quadzilla soundcard. Pretty interesting with a 'breakout' card which provides the S/PDIF output.

Rather than use Aureal’s reference dual-output design, Turtle Beach has opted to use their existing in-house design, used on the Montego II. The difference between the Montego II and the Quadzilla is the addition of a "breakout card." A breakout card is a card that is attached, via cable, to the main card, and while it doesn’t use an expansion slot (PCI, ISA, etc.) it does take up a bracket, thereby preventing a slot from being used. The Quadzilla’s bracket adds the second (rear) stereo output and a digital (S/PDIF) output to the mix already offered by the Montego II. So, rather than being an entirely new card, the Quadzilla is just an extension of an existing product.

Intel Squashed Camino's Bugs! Whew! 08:22 am - Wilfred
According to this report at Forbes Digital, Intel finally solved the memory related problems plaguing their i820 Camino chipset.

... the word is that Intel has fixed these problems and may announce the production schedule as early as this Friday. Intel and Rambus have not publicly disclosed what the problems are, but industry newsletter The Microprocessor Report says that there are memory-reliability issues on systems that have three memory slots.

Microsoft DualStrike 08:10 am - Wilfred
CRUS scored a review on Microsoft's grooviest gamepad, the DualStrike! Now FPS gamers, aren't you excited to see if it helps you frag more effectively?

Well as you have probably understood I did really like this gamepad. I don’t think that I will change it for the keyboard/mouse combination in FPS games as I have played like that for a couple of years. But if you haven’t played with the keyboard/mouse combination that long you should try this gamepad to see if it’s better for you. Another user that should test this gamepad is the one that don’t like the keyboard/mouse combination as this gamepad will probably help you get those wanted frags.

12 October 1999 - Tuesday


Tom's Hardware: GeForce  18:50 pm - Wilfred
I still take my hats off the man, whether you agree with his views (controversial at times?) or not - the Chinese proverb says "A Big Tree Gathers Wind...". I like his thoroughness and attention to detail, and his latest outing doesn't disappoint with either. He's using the 3.47 beta drivers and the results seem just like the new crop of benchmarks to have hit the scenes - better.

Let's have a look at the good sides first. Geforce256 performs well and is ahead of the competition in the vast majority of the benchmarks, especially at high resolutions. Those benchmarks look as if they are from the last century, if you realize GeForce's new features and its ability to display highly detailed scenes with huge amounts of polygons. Buyers of GeForce will indeed get the fastest and most advanced 3D-chip out there and the pleasure to run games on GeForce may grow as new and demanding games show up on the scene.

However, first of all I expected GeForce to be further ahead of the competition even in today's benchmarks. I am definitely disappointed with the memory interface, which deeply depends on the availability of double data rate memory. This means that the cards with single data rate SDRAM, which are shipping right now, are not as fast as they could be, simply due to the memory issue. I also expected to see some kind of advantage of the transfer and lighting engine in current applications.

WingMan Formula Force 18:29 pm - Wilfred
The WooHoos gang at Ars-Technica whipped up a review on Logitech's WingMan Formula Force wheel. Who says the guys are all work and no play? Don't forget to read Flashman's review of the same here.

The Wingman Formula Force's FF effects are unparalleled. The competitors products either feel unnatural, misplaced, awkward, or just plain wrong in many situations. The Logitech wheel's effects fit into the flow of the game, and actually add to gameplay rather than detract from it. In the perfect force feedback experience, the player shouldn't even notice that the wheel is reacting to them, they should take it for granted.  Force feedback should be used to provide the player with more information that will help them play more effectively, and master the game more, rather than being an "Oh, neato!" feature that just distracts the player, and detracts from gameplay.

Poll #29 Results 18:08 pm - Wilfred
Here's a poll on every MAN's <ahem> favourite conversation piece - his handphone (formerly a definitive symbol of tech-savviness or status). I won't bother to interpret the results for you, most of the votes came from North America, which accounts for the majority of 1900 users.

50" Flat Screen From Pioneer 18:01 pm - Wilfred
PC Magazine has an article about this fantabulously cool 50" flat screen from Pioneer. I'll leave out the price for you to check out, but here's a snip of the new tech involved.

The wide-XGA display (1,280 by 768 pixels) arranges subpixels in vertical stripes--long U-shaped channels--as do other plasma designs. The key difference is that the Pioneer panel has horizontal dividers between each subpixel. Instead of a surface of long grooves, the panel is more like a huge waffle with rectangular depressions.

This breakthrough leads to a range of advantages. Each subpixel has a bottom and four sides, instead of just two. This provides more surface area for phosphor coating: More phosphor means more light from a given plasma discharge, so the charges can be reduced without affecting image brightness.

The lower charge results in lower power consumption--and less heat, so the cooling fans can be quieter. And the four walls of each subpixel contain the charge, so it doesn't leak into subpixels above and below in the column. This means that the erase pulse is eliminated, which further reduces power consumption and adds display time to each display cycle. The panel includes other innovations and improvements, including a new blue phosphor, image scaling, a black-line contrast filter, and a pixel timing approach that reduces some types of artifacts.

Even without knowing the technology behind the PDP-502MX, even a casual observer can see that this is a different kind of display. All plasma panels glow a bit even when showing black, but the black level on the PDP-502MX is darker and smoother than others. Colors are vivid, image brightness is uniform, and the display has a good tonal range for all but the darkest of gray shades.

FreeSpace 2 Review 18:01 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad has put up a review on FreeSpace 2 and 'Warspite' must love it so much to award it an 'Editor's Choice'. You know what? I'm certainly going to get this game!

FreeSpace 2 is an amazing experience. Combining excellent single- and multiplayer gameplay with great graphics and excellent sound effects, it seems like the culmination of years of space combat sim evolution. If you've never owned a game in the genre before but are interested in it, this is a great start. If, on the other hand, you are an experienced and hardcore space sim buff, with your own ideas of what makes a game good or bad, be prepared to have it meet your expectations and then some.

I have encountered very few bugs and even fewer disappointments in this game. Considering the expectations I let myself get after reviewing the demo, I'm amazed I was not let down. Volition did a superb job in creating FreeSpace 2 by adding or fixing FreeSpace 1's omissions and faults, while at the same time introducing totally new and revolutionary features for the genre which take gameplay a major step forward. Your first encounter with a beam weapon will be memorable, to say the least.

Tweak Your Windows Registry 17:56 pm - Wilfred
3DSpotlight has another guide teaching you how to go about tweaking your Windows Registry. He covered lots of ground, so if you're keen on unraveling more of Windows' inner workings, check it!

A Different GeForce Review 17:47 pm - Wilfred
Believe or not, the guys at Ace's Hardware claims to have something different for you. In fact, they went a step further and show you how future games will perform on this 'revolutionary' card. 

The 3D Prophet (Geforce 256) is revolutionary product: it has the potential to make richly detailed games and applications with high polygon counts run up to three times faster! So should we all run to the store and get a Geforce 256 based video card? Well, it depends. It is always a bit risky to buy a product for its potential performance. Future games will have to use OpenGL and its support for T&L acceleration, and use enough polygons to make a difference. Right now, 10%-20% more performance in Quake 3 is not a really a good reason for slapping down $300, but the power is there, waiting to be exploited.

Swiftech MC² Celeron Sandwich 16:21 pm - Kan
Darn, I just love these sandwiches. TheTechZone took a bite at one of the Swiftech MC² Celeron Sandwich cooler and here's what they felt:

The SwifTech MC² comes with 2  heatsinks   and 2 fans. The unit is held together by Alan bolts and nuts. One heatsink cools the front of the Celeron and the other cools the back. The heatsink that cools the back of the Celeron comes with a plastic/protective sheet to go in-between the heatsink and Celeron to prevent shorting out your CPU. The heatsinks are fin units. The fans are made by AVC. These ball bearing fans move about 10 cubic feet per minute of air.

Monthly Hardware News Overview 16:19 pm - Kan
Our buds over at iXBT-Hardware released their Monthly Hardware News Overview. Wanna know what's going on in the IT world in a condensed format, check their article out.

In fact, PowerPC showed rather good results in September. The other designer of this architecture - IBM, has announced the today's fastest processor for integrated usage, a 550MHz PowerPC 440, capable of the same one billion operations per second, which is Apple's greatest pride in its PowerPC G4. The core size equals only 4mm - indeed it is ideal for use in powerful routers and commutators and other equipment hungry for computing capacity. Actually another RISC-core - MicroSparc IIep, revealed to the general public by Sun in September is meant for the same goal. It is already the second design produced in the framework of the free processor design licensing - the first was PicoJava in May, the next should be UltraSparc launched by the end of the year.

SMP FAQ 16:12 pm - Kan
2CPU dropped us a line on their SMP FAQ. Good read to increase your general knowledge. :)

Yes.  There is Asymmetric Multiprocessing.  Asymmetric systems dedicate individual processors to specific tasks.  These systems don't have the flexibility to assign processes to the least-loaded CPU, unlike an SMP system.  No mainstream OS supports Asymmetric Multiprocessing.

Erazor II Review 16:10 pm - Kan
Eh-oh. Better late than never. Anyway, 3D-Unlimited slapped up a review of the Elsa Erazor II TNT card. If you are looking for a cheap one to satisfy your younger brother, take a look.

One of the downsides of the Erazor II is the fact that there are not any full version games included however there are a whole heap of demos for you to tinker with and a benchmarking program to see how your PC stacks up against your friends. The Erazor comes with two manuals; one for installing the card and one for tweaking it to suit your system. I found that the manuals were pretty informative and used diction that would be fairly easy to understand for someone new to computers.

New Article at osOpinion 14:00 pm - Yingzong
Just read a brief but refreshing article down at osOpinion. This one's about the advantages of having an open source OS like Linux over a proprietary OS like Windows. The article's titled, "Negotiation vs. Standardization in the OS Wars". Here's what the author has to say :

Choosing to use Windows is tantamount to throwing away your freedom of choice. Most people are not aware of this but an operating system is composed of several components, each of which can be totally independent of each other, without sacrificing usability, performance, compatibility or stability. With most operating systems, all these components are created by a single company and the end user only gets one of each. Because all these components are designed to work with each other and not with anything else, it is near impossible to swap parts the way many people do with automobiles, home entertainment systems, computer hardware or even computer software. In fact, even if a computer vendor did manage to create a custom component for a proprietary operating system, it would probably be illegal to sell computer systems with the custom component used in place of the one supplied by the operating system manufacturer.

NVidia GeForce 256 Review by Anandtech 13:35 pm - Yingzong
More reviews on the NVidia GeForce 256, this time, by the house of Anand. This is only the first half of the review and the second half will be forthcoming. The GeForce looks sweeet, but I don't think I'll dump my V3 3000 just yet. Here's a quick take :

The final scenario is, as always, if you can wait, then waiting won't hurt you. The S3 Savage 2000 is on the way, and next year we'll finally see what 3dfx has in store for the market. Also, prices do drop over time which is never a bad thing for the consumer.

Even if you don't currently have an AGP 4X compliant motherboard, the performance of the GeForce 256 on an AGP 2X BX based system is very respectable in comparison to everything else that is available today. Although NVIDIA is claiming that in order to get the full polygon throughput of the chip, AGP 4X with Fast Writes is required, we have yet to see an application that truly takes advantage of AGP 4X and the polygon throughput the GeForce is capable of.

What can we expect from the future of the GeForce? The transition to 0.18-micron will bring to the GeForce what the TNT2 brought to the TNT. A higher clock speed and a cooler running chip will most likely be features of NVIDIA's next product, which is due out for release in 6 months. A few optimizations of the rendering pipelines and more memory (possibly DDR SDRAM/SGRAM) will probably make it into this forthcoming product and then the cycle will continue again. A 0.18-micron GeForce in 6 months will bring a clock speed anywhere from 150MHz - 200MHz and by that time, DDR SDRAM/SGRAM will hopefully become a more viable option for use on a graphics card. Sound familiar? It should, it is exactly what happened with the 0.35-micron TNT and the 0.25-micron TNT2 that was released 6 months later. Don't be too surprised to see history repeat itself here.

New Virus Could Threaten Windows NT 11:58 am - Sniper
Seems to me that NT is getting more vulnerable day by day as CNET reports of a new breed of virus that for the first time control the system level in NT.

"It probably is a bit tricky to remove," said Roger Thompson, technical director of malicious code research at ICSA, a trade group for computer security software makers. "[Infis] is able to work on the device driver, which is why Kaspersky Lab has become so excited about it." 

Researcher Predicts Higher Microsoft Prices 11:50 am - Sniper
Here's more ammunition for those in the free software camp.  The article from TechWeb indicates higher prices to come from Micro$oft.

"By 2004, nonperpetual licenses will cost 20 percent more than equivalent perpetual licenses," the study stated. It added, "We believe Microsoft will increasingly use changes to terms and conditions related to use as a means of increasing revenue." 

DRAM Sold Out 11:41 am - Sniper
This is definitely the worst news I've heard in recent times, catch the full report here.

For the first time in recent memory, DRAM from most major vendors has been placed on allocation, a clear sign to customers that the four-year era of ample supply and swooning prices has for now drawn to a close. 

Soyo SY-6VBA 07:03 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme reviewed the smoking Soyo SY-6VBA motherboard running on the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset and supports AGP4X. 

Sporting the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset, Soyo's latest - the SY-6VBA 133 - offers all but one of the features inherent to the i820 chipset -RDRAM support. Utilizing only SDRAM DIMMs at this time, the SY-6VBA 133 is meant to tide over those power hungry users out there while they wait for the i820/RDRAM situation to sort itself out. But it does such a convincing job, and at such a low price, that we think this board may offer just a little bit more that you'd think at first glance

PineUSA Portable MP3 Player 07:00 am - Kan
We have another review of the PineUSA D'Music Portable MP3 Player review from 3aG

Now, on to the player itself. The first thing I noticed about the little guy was how light weight he was. The unit is seemingly made of a light plastic, so it only weights about 70g. To put it in perspective, it weights about the same as a CD still in it's jewel case. Pretty light. In all it's glossy silver on matte silver glory, it looks pretty cool.

Age of Empires II 06:55 am - Kan
Our buds over at ActiveWin also reviewed the recently released Age of Empires II.

Graphically Age Of Empires 2 is much improved over the original, with much better detail and animation. I run the game in 1024x768 and the game runs smoothly with little or no slowdown when there is a massive battle on screen. Soundwise most of AOE 2 is great, but one of the main downers are the voices over for the Scottish, French etc, they are really, really bad, why oh why they couldn't have brought in people from the specific countries to do the voices I'll never know.

A New War is Brewin' 05:15 am - Kan
Yup, CPU Review written a new article called A New War is Brewin' and went on to analysis the effects of the Coppermine processors when it's out in the market. Here's an excerpt:

The Socket 370 Coppermine's; essentially a "Celeron+" (Celeron + SIMD + 256k L1); I would not be at all surprised if Intel named them Celeron2 or something like that.

I think these chips will be Intel's new gold mine; although preliminary information seems to indicate that they will be available only in speed grades lower than the Slot 1 versions (at least according to The Register). This makes perfect sense from Intel's marketing point of view; I mean they do have to distinguish between these devices somehow... I still want my 700Mhz+ Socket 370 Coppermine.

Age of Empires II 05:12 am - Kan
SystemLogic reviewed Age of Empires II. For those who like strategy games, be sure to grab a copy of the game!

But just how good was this technique for teaching you how to play?  It was done perfectly, within just a couple lessons I had the game down cold.  The lessons consist of a few missions where you represent Scotland, and you are trying to defeat the evil England.  Each mission includes various techniques you will need to know throughout playing this game, and by the time you get to the last couple missions, you are pretty much on your own, where you will need to gather up a huge army as well as build up your civilization to defeat England.  Once you have won this, you are totally ready for playing on your own.

Apollo Pro 133 Chipset 03:25 am - Kan
Who else but our pals over at HardOCP with their thoughts on the Apollo Pro 133 Chipset on a AOpen motherboard. Here's some of what they feel:

All in all the mainboard delivers a couple of features that we so much expected out of Camino.  First off this VIA chipset supports the newer PIII CPUs that are now out on the market.  What is really so bizarre here to me is that VIA is really helping out Intel.  They are actually kinda prospering off one another.  Without VIA chipsets, Intel has no support for new CPUs and without Intel VIA does not have anything to run on it's newer chipset.   Funny stuff. 

3Dfx Voodoo3 3500 TV 03:23 am - Kan
Speedy3D released their review on the currently fastest 3Dfx Voodoo3 3500 graphics card in the market. Here's some juice:

The V3 3500 was originally supposed to have digital LCD support. But since LCD displays are still way over priced, and not a logical type of monitor for the gamer to have, 3dfx decided to drop that feature in favor of more practical TV capture abilities. While a good idea, TV capture has been around for a very long time especially in the ATI All in Wonder line of products. Most gamers, would rather play their games on a high resolution computer monitor then on a lower resolution TV screen. On top of that, the majority of the gamers out there don't do any digital video editing.

 

11 October 1999 - Monday


NVidia GeForce 256 DDR Preview
21:30 pm - Yingzong
Firingsquad has just posted their preview of the NVidia GeForce 256 DDR. Lotsa facts and figures here. The preview is a work in progress and more tests are promised soon. Check it out :

Our GeForce 256 DDR card has a 120MHz core and a 150MHz memory clock, but we consider the memory to be running at 300MHz because of DDR. Let's go down the list to see what's changed. Most of these changes should become standard options for all future 3D accelerators. First, let's look at the onboard T&L and quad-pixel rendering pipeline. Soon, all 3D accelerators will have to have onboard T&L and feature a rendering pipeline that can do more than two texels per clock cycle.

The 350MHz RAMDAC isn't new, but it's an improvement from the TNT2's 300MHz RAMDAC. The V3 3500 has a 350MHz RAMDAC, and the Matrox G400 MAX has a 360MHz RAMDAC. AGP 4X with fast writes sounds like a great feature. Fast writes allow the CPU to send data directly to the GPU without having to copy the data to and from system memory. It's a shame Intel is delaying the 820 chipset for couple more months. We want AGP 4X fast writes now!

Handspring Visor Deluxe Review 21:20 pm - Yingzong
The guys over at The Gadgeteer have reviewed Handspring's Visor Deluxe, Jeff Hawkins' spinoff of the popular Palm device. With a whopping 8MB of RAM and relative Palm IIIx processor speed of 158%, it really looks like an attractive offering.

Ok, now for the bottom line. Is the Visor Deluxe a good PDA choice and who should buy it? First, yes, the Visor Deluxe is an excellent choice. It is a very well made unit, has a terrific display, 1000's of shareware programs are already available for it, it has a whopping 8meg of RAM, the Springboard expansion slot and is $200 cheaper than 3com's 8meg Palm Vx offering.

Does that mean everyone should junk their current PDAs and go buy one? Uhhhh... no. People that already have the Palm V or Vx and are really happy with the units size and available memory (the Palm V only has 2meg) should stick with what they currently have. Same goes for the Palm IIIx. If you already have one of these and are doing fine with 4meg of memory then I wouldn't go out and buy the Visor just yet.

Sure the Springboard slot is cool, but I would wait till some module that you just can't live without is available first. We don't know if the Springboard will take off and become popular yet (my guess is that it will). If you have an older PalmPilot Personal, Professional or III and are wanting to upgrade, then the Visor is definitely is for you. Go buy one now!

First DDR GeForce Benchmarks! 18:20 pm - Wilfred
Bjorn3D scored a first with their benchmarks of a DDR-RAM based GeForce board. The reference board provided by nVidia was put through its paces, but even with superior RAM, the scores weren't as impressive as I would have expected. Speculations has it that unfinished drivers are the cause of the problems.

The first things we see is that the 16 bit scores are not that bad. 67 fps at 1024x768x16 is great. At higher resolutions it seems the fillrate kicks in but 45 fps at 1280x1024x16 shouldn't be considered that shabby. The 32 bit scores though are quite worrying. This is a DDR board and shouldn't we see better results than this? Ok, we have set everything to max including the textures to 32 bit but still…. This might definitely be a bandwidth problem. Turning the textures to 16 bit yields a bit better results but I'm still a bit disappointed. Let's hope this is a driver problem.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro 18:16 pm - Wilfred
Microsoft has had great success selling their range of PC input devices, and the Natural Keyboard Pro with enhanced "Internet features" sets out to replace its older siblings. Since the new arrival is significantly pricier than any OEM keyboard, you will want to check out a writeup at Tech-Review first.

This is definitely a great keyboard! The 19 Hot Keys are nice to have allowing you to open your favorite programs and control your browser. The two additional USB ports are a great feature, allowing you to connect other USB devices just in case the motherboard ports are filled. The software is easy to use and includes a keyboard diagnostic tool with help files that give you plenty of information concerning the keyboard. The newly added labels for the control shortcuts are helpful for those that can't seem to remember keyboard shortcuts. Combine everything this keyboard has going for it, and you have one of the best keyboards available on the market today. Our only gripe is $74.95 price tag, a bit up there for the majority of users.

Athlon 600 Review 18:10 pm - Wilfred
The Athlon 600 comes under scrutiny by the guys at iXBT Hardware. The review is as detailed as you would expect from these people who thrive on the latest hardware.

Today our tests prove that AMD Athlon is the fastest x86 processor with progressive architecture. Intel is absolutely unable to withstand AMD's success, because Katmai architecture has almost exhausted its potential while AMD can increase the frequencies of its newest chips without facing any serious hardships.

To cut the long story short, AMD has every chance to get the better of Intel and not just to improve its financial state but also to remove Intel from the leading position. It has just to satisfy the growing demand for Athlon and the appropriate mainboards and that's all. However, if the company has insufficient productive capacities the task may appear quite a problem.

GeForce, Voodoo3 3500, TNT2 Ultra 08:50 am - Wilfred
ShugaShack has a cool new benchmarking roundup on the above cards. It is important to note the test condition, the settings and the configurations used. There's no clear mention on the filtering and colour depth but nevertheless, I say check this particular one out (esp at 1024x768 running on the Athlon 600Mhz).

G4 Errata Prevents Hitting Above 500Mhz? 08:45 am - Wilfred
MacWEEK reports that a bug in Apple's G4 prevents it from running above 500Mhz and thus the shipping of those chips would be delayed. So even the revered 'desktop supercomputer' is hit by bugs.

Sources said that the problem -- which only arises when the G4 is run at speeds of 500 MHz or higher -- can result in some corruption in the processor's data cache. Motorola's recommended workaround is to enable the "GlobalWaitR" register in the processor, which, while preventing the problem, slows timing throughout the chip.

Jane's Fleet Command 08:33 am - Wilfred
CRUS sent word that they have a review on the complex RTS game from Jane's. Hear what they have to say about the gameplay:

... the game play is so very, very dull. It’s meant to be a simulation of strategic naval warfare yet no one seemed to bother explaining that to the programmers. Basically you can forget about any type of strategy here, it’s just a very slow version of missile command, after 5 minutes you can expect at least 10 missiles heading you way, so obviously you have to shoot them down. You fire at them; they fire at you, you fire back again ad infinitum. Eventually you will have lost either all your boats or they will have lost theirs, then your job is either complete or you have to find another group of boats or maybe a ship that’s running away. When it comes to this bit you might as well just turn the game off now, the pace is incredibly slow infact I’ve seen turtles move faster.

10 October 1999 - Sunday

New BP6 BIOS
22:58 pm - Kan
Thanks to BP6.COM (incidentally ran by our pals over at HotHardware and Hardware Exxtreme), there's a new version of the ABIT BP6 motherboard BIOS, upping the HPT366 BIOS to v1.20 (darn cool with a new interface when booting up). 

Motherboard Guide Part 3 22:04 pm - Kan
Noticed over at SharkyExtreme Part 3 of the Motherboard Guide is up. If you never installed a motherboard before, this article may prove useful to you. Here's an excerpt:

A new motherboard package should include at least three items: A users' manual and/or quick reference card, a set of cables and a driver/utility disk or CD. The users' manual contains all of the configuration information in case of questions about installation or setup. You may find that the only hardcopy documentation is a quick reference card that has only the necessary info to install the basic components, with the full manual included on the accompanying CD.

Sunon 80mm Fan 22:02 pm - Kan
Our pals over at Speedy3D wrote a blurb on the Sunon 80mm fan for your computer. 

FYI, this cooler plugs in via a 4-pin hard drive connector. Case Cooling has become a big thing as more and more people are overclocking, and worrying about their components overheating. In fact, even if you’re not overclocking, you should probably still consider getting an extra case fan. I decided to not do a big introduction for this one, as I will talk about Cooling in a future article.

Itanium Guide 17:02 pm - Kan
Once again over at FiringSquad, the guys are fast and posted a guide on the coming IA-64 aka Itanium processor from Intel.

The second way is to increase the average number of instructions processed in each cycle. This is done with structures like pipelines, multiple execution units, and branch prediction (once again, see the G4 article). The difficult part about this is that the software running on the processor cannot be allowed to know about these complexities. Pieces of code are just a strings of instructions that are not aware of each other, and that cannot be allowed to conflict with one another.

3dfx FXT1 Compression Explained 15:45 pm - Wilfred
VoodooExtreme has an article explaining the workings of FXT1. Since some form of texture compression will probably be supported in your next graphics solution purchase, perhaps you'll be interested to find out more? =)

3dfx's FXT texture compression algorithm is actually a composition of four separate algorithms each used to deal with different types of data. The algorithms all employ a compression algorithm which uses 128bits to store a 4x8 pixel block of data. This yields an average of 4 bits per pixel, or 8:1 compression ratio over uncompressed 32bit textures; yep, FXT also takes into account alpha transparency factor!

Philips Pulls Plug On Nino 15:38 pm - Wilfred
Oops! According to this report at CNet, Philips Electronics will discontinue its WinCE-based Nino line of handheld computers. Here's a snip for Nino owners to grief upon.

After selling its remaining Nino 500 and 200 handheld PCs, Philips will exit the market for the Microsoft-based handhelds, the company said, refocusing its resources on developing voice and data products, such as "smart" cell phones.

Nino never gained much of a following, even among devices running Windows CE, Microsoft's scaled-down operating system. But Philips's decision to pull the plug on the product indicates the larger turmoil among Microsoft's Windows CE hardware partners, who have largely been stymied in their attempts to break Palm Computing's grip the handheld market.

UT Screenshots On GeForce Direct3D 15:30 pm - Wilfred
Tweak3D posted several UT screenshots running on the GeForce using Direct3D. Fragged a little in this demo, and I must say the game is fluid and damn smooth with all its eye candy! I can imagine it being damn damn fast on the GeForce if my M64 can already handle so well (errmm at 800x600x16-bit that is!). Say 1024x768 in 32-bits? Wows!

GeForce 256 - Part 2 15:17 pm - Wilfred
The Hong Kong based guys from Digital-Clips readied Part II of their Creative Annihilator GeForce 256 review. Now, it's updated with more benchmarks and performance analysis. Interesting to note that they drew much the same conclusions as we did. Have a look!

The much hyped, eagerly anticipated GeForce chip has arrived.  None too soon, I'll bet. However, please note that right now as of this moment, my final judgment of the video card is still tentative, but the score that I give this card is merely based on what is available now.

There is no doubt, the raw power of the Creative Labs GeForce 256 Annihilator is there. The feature set that it incorporates is astounding, from supporting T & L, Cube Environment Mapping, bump mapping, all the next-generation geometric rendering technology (as far as we can see) is there. Not forgetting of course that this is no longer merely a video card.  It is a GPU in its own right, incorporating over 23 million transistors just to take on transform and lighting. The architecture itself is newly built from ground up, not some half hearted attempt of breathing new life back into an aging chipset (cough, Voodoo 3).

Blue Wonder GA-660 Ultra 15:12 pm - Wilfred
Nah, what's blue wonder? Nothing! Just that I think the blue card looks nice! Not that it matters when it's encased inside your dull biege casing though...  Guru3D has a very neat review on the card. Well, note the availability of GeForce based cards, so this might soon be your much sought after budget card. Check it out in any case.

The Ga-660 is the fastest TNT-2 based videocard that we have tested yet! Good driver options, high resolutions, incredible performance, good software, nice game-bundle, 2D/3D 32Bit, D3D/OpenGL, 2048x2048 texture mapping, AGP 4x support, etc. etc. But what about the price then ? Well, the card will be competitive with other high-end cards. Most likely it will compete with Voodoo 3 3000 and of course TNT-2, Ultra and Matrox's G400 Max. The selling price will be about 160$ and that includes the game-pack. For that kind of money you strike us as an excellent deal for you fellow gamers.

Ricoh 4424 CDRW 10:50 am - Kan
Our network buddies BoomGames sent note again on their latest review on the Ricoh 4424 CDRW. With 8X drive becoming really popular nowadays, should you get a 8X drive now? Also check out our review on the Compro 8W/20R drive.

And from experience with this drive I can tell you this about the way it writes….it's fast, very fast, on my 2x2x6 Acer CD-RW drive it usually takes about 45 minutes to burn 650MB on a disc, but this baby does it in 20 minutes or less (guaranteed to be hot or your money back! Offer void where prohibited. Heh, not really, don't hold me to it!). I try not to get excited about hardware until after the review is written, but this is an exception, no longer do you have to walk away from your PC, watch a movie, catch a transcontinental flight and back, and still end up waiting 5 minutes for the TOC to finish burning.

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms 10:48 am - Kan
We have another review of TA: Kingdoms by CRUS. For those who like fantasy games, this game will surely quench your thirst.

Anyway, the terrains are lovely and make a welcome change from TA’s boring desolate landscapes, and the textures there used are superb. The units are lovely however there must be a lot of simple minded people in the world as I’ve heard quite a few people complaining that they can’t tell the units apart, which I can’t quite comprehend. When I’m being attacked, I know exactly what is attacking me; anyone who thinks a Fire Demon looks the same as a Knight must have serious eyesight problems. Everything is as mentioned earlier, beautifully created and animated, the Dragons for example are nothing short of amazing. 

HPT XStore Pro 10:46 am - Kan
Our buds over at FPS3D took a close look at the HPT XStore Pro drivers which ships with the majority of new motherboards and promises up to 60% increases in hard drive performance. Does it live to its hype? Check it out.

Their HPT366 chip is sported on products all across the market, bringing ATA/66 support to almost every type of motherboard and adapter card. In addition to this, they ship their XStore Pro software with many motherboards, old and new. XStore Pro is a read-ahead cache software program that in theory should optimize Windows programs to launch and run faster.

MDK2 Interview 10:39 am - Kan
3DRage posted an interview with the developers in charge of the game MDK2. I remembered playing MDK long time ago and when MDK2 is out, watch out for it. 

How do you think MDK2 will improve upon the current and upcoming line of 3rd person aciton games?

We're adding a significant amount of story to the game via in-game movies. The other thing about the MDK2 universe is that you really never know what to expect next. The game is really not predicatable in any way. The combination of the story and the unpredictability ends up taking the player on a pretty wild ride. Also, the player is exposed to new and interesting gameplay mechanics from the beginning to the end of the game - we don't give the player everything until the game is over.

Microsoft Gamepad Pro 10:37 am - Kan
For those gaming fanatics, check out nv News' review on the Microsoft Gamepad Pro.

One feature that instantly became apparent was the Directional Pad (D-Pad) and the Shift key to its lower-right.  The D-Pad sports two software-controlled modes; Standard and Proportional modes.  In standard mode, the D-Pad performs much like an 8-way Hat-switch (like on advanced flight-sim joysticks). The D-Pad only relays movements of up, down, left, right, and each of the four diagonals - much like how the original SideWinder Game Pad performed.  Standard mode is ideal for sports games, or top-down games that are centered around 8-way movement directions.

Descent Freespace 2 Review 10:35 am - Kan
Speedy3D posted their thoughts on Descent Freespace 2. For those who like the game, don't miss it!

Surprisingly little has changed in the game itself since the original and to some degree it feels a little bit like a big add-on pack rather than a whole new game. The controls are still the same, taking full use of either keyboard, Mouse or the popular Joystick, which brings so much light to many conversations. They feel smooth and just right for a space shooter and give you maximum control right when you really need it. There are many keys that need to be assigned on-top of that, however they are mostly time savers for more advanced users and the main movement, targeting and firing controls remain the only ones really used.

PineUSA MP3 Player Review 10:33 am - Kan
Our network affiliates over at BoomGames dropped us a line about  their new review on the PineUSA Boom MP3 Player.

And then there are MP3 Players. A wonderfully unique little device that stores music - the music you want to listen to - how you want it - digitally. If you go to work out, do you want to let a DJ select your songs? If not, then CD players may be for you. However, that doesn't usually work either, you get a CD with a good song and 9 others you aren't that interested in. So get a CD Writer, you say. But what if you want to change the songs? Burn another CD? What about size? How are you going to fit a portable CD player in a fanny pack and have it not skip?

9 October 1999 - Saturday

smartBridges smartNIC USB to Ethernet Adapter 
- Wilfred
smartBridges launched their latest smartNIC USB to Ethernet Adapter today and we're pleased to have gotten our hands on one for review. Yingzong has given a thorough run down of this particularly innovative network solution, an idea conceived and marketed not too long ago. Simplicity of setup and ease-of-use is what the product offers, but is it for everyone? Check out this press release and our complete evaluation of the product. This is a new product and can be obtained from the guys at Silicon Horizon.

 

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 16:42 pm - Wilfred
Optics aside, I find the new mouse design way cool! For dependability as well as comfort, I can swear by my own ergonomic Intellimouse. Now check out HardwareCentral's review on the 'balless' rodent.

More than anything, this is a new device that will be readily snatched up by those techno-savvy folks who want to show off the newest computer wares. However, Microsoft has built a reputation of introducing new products that shape the future of accessories in computing. The introduction of the mouse wheel, for instance, has caught on so well that you will be hard pressed to find another mouse vendor that doesn’t offer a model with a wheel or rocker scroll button. So you can be sure that the future of computer mouses is optical.

CyberAttacks Against U.S. A Matter Of Time 16:36 pm - Wilfred
TechWeb has an article about the accelerating incidents of cracking incidents and warn about the high risk of the U.S. critical information infrastructure coming under such malicious acts.

"Foreign nations are developing information-warfare programs because they see that they cannot defeat the United States in a head-to-head military encounter," said Michael Vatis, director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center. "They believe that information operations are a way to strike at what they perceive as America's Achilles Heel -- our reliance on information technology to control critical government and private-sector systems."

Wilfred Coughs 12:36 pm - Wilfred
Didn't want to say "More Updated GeForce Benchmarks...", so I coughed instead. =) If you have been following the threads in our forum, you'll know that Wy Mun is actively responding to user responses and requests for other unusual benchmarks to be performed on the card. So he did. Today he's on the page Indy3D benchmarks (a professional CAD/ animation/ 3D simulation evaluation tool) and a more exhaustive test on Exercizer. Lastly, to up the readability and 'aesthetics' (duh?) of the page, I've done up the plain tables into little graphs and charts. If it still tickles your interest, have a look here.

ATI Rage Fury Pro 08:27 am - Kan
Seems like 'Graphics Day' today as TomsHardware also released their thoughts on the ATI Rage Fury Pro.

Now this does of course not mean that ATI wouldn't have to be able and supply well performing products too. ATi's Rage 128 was not quite able to compete with the fastest 3D-chips anymore by the time when 3Dfx released their Voodoo3 and later on when NVIDIA brought RIVA TNT2 to the market. Still Rage128-products sold fine, but eventually the people expected more performance from ATI as well. Now ATi's next chip Rage 128 Pro is ready to close the gap, and starting to compete against the top 3D-performers of the last 8 months. ATI-cards with this new chip are again not targeted to reach for the 3D-crown, but you'll see that those cards will again sell very successfully, again for the same reasons mentioned above.

Soyo 6BA+ IV 08:24 am - Kan
Overclockers.com also posted a review on the Soyo 6BA+ IV motherboard. It offers a hefty 27 FSB settings as well as voltage tweaks, definitely a overclockable motherboard as well.

In addition, BIOS settings are available to vary the L2 cache latency settings and to protect the CPU from overheating. This latter feature is (I think) a first - if the CPU exceeds a temperature you set in BIOS, it slows the CPU down (sort of like engaging Waterfall or CPU Idle) so it generates less heat. For those of you that leave your PCs unattended for long periods of time, this could be a life-saver.

Soyo SY-D6IBA2 Dual Board 08:22 am - Kan
High Performance PC Guide reviewed the Soyo Dual Slot1 Ultra2 motherboard. Slapped in two Pentium III 600 Mhz and you will be rocking in all the applications you can throw in. Here's an excerpt:

The SY-D6IBA2 motherboard sports a 4/2/1 design, thus 4 PCI slots, 2 ISA slots, and 1 AGP port. As well, we find 4 168-pin DIMM sockets, allowing for a maximum of 1GB of memory to be installed. I find this design a bit questionable - there is room on board for at least one additional PCI slot... Personally, I would have opted for 6 PCI slots and one ISA...

WinFast GeForce DDR 08:18 am - Kan
Looks like WinFast also announced DDR variants of the GeForce card. Thanks to FPS3D, you can check out the rest of the press release here.

DDR (Double Data Rate), the latest memory technology, is capable of doubling the frequency of data fetching to dramatically increase data transfer throughput. Traditionally, each memory cycle is triggered by either the positive or negative edge in the clock cycle. DDR technology enables both positive and negative edges to initiate the memory cycle, effectively doubling the memory data bandwidth.

By utilizing DDR memory on the already powerful WinFast GeForce256, the speed of buffering and texturing will be greatly increased, thus releasing the bottleneck between the graphics processor and the memory. In an advanced graphics subsystem, instead of using the PC's central processor, massive graphics computation takes place at the on-board GeForce256 processor and its memory buffer; freeing this bottleneck gets particularly important in order to achieve higher graphics performance.

GeForce Review 08:16 am - Kan
Yup, Digital-Clips also released a review on the Creative GeForce Annihilator. They also have some benchmarks to see how the card scales from 300As to PIII 600 Mhz.

Like it or not, nVidia has become the dominant force in the 3D gaming industry, even surpassing its main rival, 3dfx in terms of popularity, and in terms of establishing a brand name for itself. Its TNT 2D/3D chip, originally slated to be manufactured on a 0.25 micron process, was eventually manufactured on a 0.35 micron process, due to the Asian economic crisis. Even in spite of this, however, the TNT remained the dominant 3D chip on the market.

3Dfx Velocity 100 08:14 am - Kan
Win-News dropped us a line on their new 3Dfx Velocity 100 graphics card review. Also, they have written an article on Cacheman, a useful utility for the Windows OS and it allows you to tweak the buffers and cache settings.

So what is the Velocity 100? It's a $50 Voodoo3, with the only limitation that you get 8MB SGRAM instead of 16MB SDRAM. But why just 8MB instead of the 16MB that is today the rule with gaming cards? Everybody knows now that 3dfx is going for the OEMs. It therefore ceased being an all-games company and it's producing "business video cards" as well. You may wonder what's the definition of a business video card. Simple: a videocard that is cheap (round $50), has adequate 2D capabilities (such as a 300mhz RAMDAC for crisp display and high refresh rates), enough framebuffer memory (e.g. 8MB) and is fast enough in 2D. 3D is entirely optional, as the Matrox Productiva G100 or the ATi Rage IIC/Pro are quick to suggest.

Cambridge DTT2500 08:08 am - Kan
AnandTech has a new review today on the Cambridge DTT2500 speakers for your PCs. The digital DIN is the most attractive part of this speakers, allowing you to hook up directly to your SB Live! DIN output.

The speakers offer the same outsanding sound quality as the FPS2000's, and more. The speaker setup now includes two front speakers, a center speaker, two rear speakers, and a sub-woofer. Maybe I am hearing things, but I personally think the sound is cleaner now that the amplifier is removed from the subwoofer and in its own encased unit. Creative has included their own "Surround" emulator called "CMSS". This setting on the amplifier has a Music, Movie, FourPoint and Stereo setting. These essentially create some simlulated sound fields similar to what's on home amplifiers (i.e. Hall, Jazz, etc.). The movie setting on the amplifier did a very decent job of simulating 5.1 sound during the DVD's I tried. Of course, listening to them using the Dolby Digital option is even better.

 

8 October 1999 - Friday

Using Matrox Dual Head
21:42 pm - Kan
Our gurus over at FiringSquad posted an review on the G400, touching on the Dual Head capabilities found in the graphics card. *drool* Check it out!

What is DualHead? DualHead is the feature on the G400 and G400 Max card that allows you to hook up two displays to the same card! With DualHead, there's no need to spend extra money on a second video card and use up one of your precious PCI slots. You can see that the G400 cards (at least the retail ones) all have two monitor plugs right on the board. This allows you to plug in a number of different combinations of monitors, televisions, analog flat panels and digital flat panels (for digital flat panel you need a Matrox flat panel daughter card) into the card.

DirectX 7 Final for W2K 21:40 pm - Kan
Phillipp from NT Game Palace told us that DirectX 7 for Windows 2000 RC1 and RC2 is out for beta testers. You can download the files from here.

Spectrum Research Theater 2000 21:37 pm - Kan
Our pals over at 3DsoundSurge just posted an interesting review on the Spectrum Research Theater 2000 'add-on' product, enabling you to enjoy Dolby Digital, Dolby Surround and Pro Logic on your PC!

SRS Labs’ Sound Retrieval System (SRS) on the other hand is a technology that retrieves the spatial information from any stereo recording then processes these specific cues through the patented process resulting in a much fuller, vibrant sound image. Of course, whether or not you like the SRS effects on will vary from person to person. For some, the reproduced sound is much closer to that of a live performance, but its in no way 3D in way that PC audiophiles would use the term.

Building a Peltier Cooler Part 1 16:07 pm - Kan
TheTechZone updated their peltier madness with an article teaching you how to build one. Ideal for people who like to do things the hardcore ways, here's some juice:

The most important factors when choosing a heatsink is power dissipation, air temperature, package construction, and cooling mechanisms. The combination of these factors determine at what temperature your CPU will operate. What you need to look for is something called ºC/W. This is the standard for thermal resistance. For example, a thermal resistance of 1 degrees Celsius per watt means that for each watt the CPU uses, the temperature for will increase by one degrees Celsius.

Western Digital 27.3GB Hard Disk 15:54 pm - Kan
Tech-Review penned down their thoughts on the Western Digital 27.3GB hard disk. 27.3GB of disk space sure is a sweetener!

Taking a look at the specifications reveals that the Expert has a maximum formatted capacity of 27,373.7 MB with an average read seek of 9.0 ms. The 9.0 ms seek time is basically the industry standard, which is fast, but there's always room for improvement. The number one specification most everyone will be paying attention to besides the size of the hard drive is the rotation speed. Fortunately for the Expert, Western Digital implemented a 7200 RPM rotation speed which makes for faster data transfers. Add support for ATA 66 and you have a potential speed demon in the making.

Seven Kingdoms II 15:52 pm - Kan
3D Rage reviewed Seven Kingdoms II. For those of you who like FPS games, how about playing strategy games for a change? :)

There are two(generally speaking) types of people within Seven Kingdoms II, the peasants and the soldiers. The peasants are the backbone of your kingdom, as they are your workforce for your factories and mines, and also the soon to be trained soldiers. You will not want all of your peasants to be worknig though, as the ones who are not occupied working in mines or factories will be gathering food for your kingdom. The maximum number of people a town can handle is 100, after that you will have to send several peasants to construct a new town, preferably near natural resources.

PriceWatch 15:50 pm - Kan
SystemLogic also jumped into the PriceWatch bandwagon and announced a new section in their website.

Prices will also show how much the product went up or down from the last week.  Remember, these prices may be OEM products, and shipping is not included, but they are the lowest possible prices we could find.  Within time more categories will be offered as well

ASUS Athlon K7M Motherboard 10:33 am - Kan
This gotta be the most overclockable Athlon board there is! Our pals over at BxBoards just reviewed the ASUS K7M and the best part is, it supports FSBs ranging from 90 Mhz to 150 Mhz!

Onto the board layout. Unlike previous boards we've seen, which are sparsely populated - with such a low component count that they almost look un-finished, the Asus K7M is packed with components. This naturally translates into more features. An onboard hardware AC 97 CODEC by Analog Devices (optional on some boards, present on this review board) provides no more than reasonable sound, although this is greatly augmented by the inclusion of Yamaha's excellent SoftSynth MIDI software. For those of you used to the poor MIDI, on the SoundBlaster line, and on Aureal based cards, the MIDI provided is a breath of fresh air.

Sidewinder Gamepad Pro 10:28 am - Kan
Tweak3D reviewed the Sidewinder Gamepad Pro and yes, we are all waiting eagerly to get our paws on it. :)

For the Game Pad Pro's installation, we first installed the new SideWinder Game Controller 4.0 software from the enclosed CD over the ageing 3.2 software. Here we ran into a small snag - version 4.0 of the software only supports the USB SideWinder products, meaning game port-based controllers will not work correctly with 4.0. However, to bypass this, you can install version 3.2 prior to 4.0, then go ahead and install 4.0 over 3.2, and you're set. Our older SideWinder Game Pad worked fine after using this procedure. With that out of the way, just plug in the USB adapter into your USB port, and Windows 98 will recognise the device and set it up accordingly. The controller can be configured using the Game Controllers applet within Control Panel.

Geeknews Revamped 10:30 am - Kan
Geeknews sent us a note on their new revamp website. Geenews, a place for geeks...(sounds like an advertisement?)

Geeknews.com v3.0 Now Online--October 7, 1999--Geeknews.com today unveiled a completely revamped website, featuring new interviews(Peter Alm, lead programmer of XMMS), new articles(Make your own Darth Maul costume), a new poll, and of course more geek news then you can shake a mouse at, all courtesy of Thermonuclear Online Productions, LTD.

OpenGL Tutorials 09:25 am - Kan
DemoNews kindly sent note on the part 2 and part 3 of the NeHe's OpenGL Tutorials. If you like to do OpenGL programming, take a peep at the article.

It's very important to understand how OpenGL works, what is involved in creating an OpenGL window, and how to write simple easy to understand code. You can download the code at the end of the tutorial, but I definitely recommend you read over the tutorial at least once, before you start programming in OpenGL.

ATI Aurora 01:18 am - Wilfred
Wow! Looks like we shouldn't just conveniently forget ATI as a player in the drag race. GameSpot has a very exclusive piece of news about ATI's next card, the Rage Fury MAXX (initially designated Aurora). There's quite a lot of exciting bits scattered in this piece, and I urge you to check it out at once!

In making the MAXX video card, ATI placed two 125MHz Rage Fury Pro chipsets onto a single 4X AGP board and allocated 32MB of 143MHz SDRAM to each. Theoretically, that would mean that the MAXX would perform equivalently to two 32MB Rage Fury Pro boards.

So how does it perform? Even though it was still in beta stage, the board, demonstrated to us by ATI, tore through the benchmarks. (Bear in mind that these results weren't extrapolated in a controlled environment.) While running Rage's Expandable timedemo on a Pentium III 600MHz, the MAXX scored the following:

    1024x768x16 = 59.1 frames per second
    1024x768x32 = 55.0 frames per second
    1600x1200x32 = 30.9 frames per second

The first result, run at 1024x768 at a 16-bit color depth, is quite a bit better than we've seen from the Nvidia TNT2 Ultra's score. Even more pleasing was the second score, which was run at the same resolution but at 32-bit color depth. We expected a significant drop in the overall performance, not just four frames per second. But the real shocker was the MAXX's performance at 1600x1200x32, a setting that'll bring most cards to their knees. Current top-of-the-line video cards score somewhere in the low- to mid-teens at that high of a setting - if they're lucky. The score of 30.9 is very respectable, indeed.

ATI says that the MAXX's fillrate tops out at 500 million pixels per second (as compared with the GeForce 256's 480Mps), which would explain its shining performance, and claims that it's currently equivalent in Direct3D performance to Nvidia's GeForce 256 and about 5 - 20 percent slower in OpenGL. "We've only been working with the OpenGL driver for two weeks", ATI director of visual products Alan McCann told GameSpot News. "By the time the MAXX reaches production, we'll have significantly improved OpenGL performance."

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