7 September 1999 - Tuesday

Athlon Article 20:54 pm - Sniper
Ace's Hardware produced a nice article explaining the performance of the Athlon. This is just part 1 with more to come!

The Athlon is an excellent well-rounded performer (see our review), both in games and high-end applications, but what about the various aspects of the architecture behind this blockbuster CPU. Does it have any unforseen weaknesses, strengths? Ace's Hardware would not be Ace's Hardware if we didn't take a more in-depth look at the Athlon. In this article, we confront you with benchmarks which enable us to test one particular part of the Athlon, the memory and cache architecture.

Guard Duty 20:41 pm - Sniper
The boys all went for dinner tonight, so here I am alone looking after the camp.  Hmmm, maybe I get to eat the leftovers.

Klipsch Pro Media V.2-400
16:53 pm -
Ohmigawd! Been dreaming of a THX certified speaker system for your PC? 3DSoundSurge has a review of the first such system by Klipsch, a leading manufacturer of professional loudspeakers and home entertainment systems. The boys gave it a 99.5% rating!

The subwoofer is simply awesome and the satellites bring out more of the high end than any other multimedia speaker I have tested. In fact, they actually have better frequency response than my home stereo system! The sound is nicely balanced right up to around 75-80 percent of power output. Beyond that level I found the satellites got somewhat harsh and were no longer blending well with the subwoofer. The satellites are so good that they will expose flaws in your system. I confirmed that the flaws are in the rest of the PC and not the Promedia’s by exchanging the satellites with another leading brand and the difference was amazing. The Micro Tractrix horn mounted dome tweeter produces incredible high end. This really brings something to light. A look at most multimedia speakers will show that they all claim to go to 20,000 Hz. What the specs do not show is at what sound level and at the risk of gushing, the Promedia’s really show how big a difference there can be. This revealing nature makes placement of the sound card all the more important so be sure that you have the soundcard with a good s/n ratio (that basically all the second generation cards listed below) placed in a "quiet" PCI slot.

Linux: Distributions At War 16:47 pm - Wilfred
CPU Review posted a shootout of a different kind, pitting half a dozen Linux distributions against each other. Ever wondered what makes each of them different? And which will suit you better? 

  1. RedHat 6.0

  2. Caldera OpenLinux 2.2

  3. SuSE 6.1

  4. Mandrake 6.0 (Macmillan Edition)

  5. Slackware 4.0

  6. Debian 2.1r2 (Infomagic Edition)

This comparison was written in order to highlight the differences between the leading commercially available distributions. Ease of installation for non-expert users, quality of included documentation, commercial support and commercial software were taken into consideration.

Vortex 2 Shootout 16:38 pm - Wilfred
There's a Vortex 2 Shootout at BXBoards where Diamond's Monster Sound MX300, Turtle Beach's Montego II Quadzilla and Xitel's Storm Platinum were rated. Shopping for one?

The Xitel card has a digital (coaxial) connector, so transfering digital sound will not be a problem at all (i.e. no quality degradation). The headphones are a very novel idea, and are excellent overall. The bass returns on these headphones are amazing, and coupled with the force feedback it provides a somewhat unique experience. If you are the hardcore gamer, than this is the primary choice- keep in mind the Quadzilla is hot on its feet and you would not be disappointed with either.

The Montego II Quadzilla is a unique soundcard as it has a host of great features for the audio enthusiast. This card is presently in my gaming system and I am very satisfied with the excellent drivers and other audio programs that Voyetra Turtle Beach provided with the card. I have fooled around with some of the audio programs and would like to say that dabbling with these programs has started a new audio interest for me. This card comes with oodles of software, and a lot of it can be put to good use, so look this way for a great solid card with lots of cool software. I would like to add that this is the only card in this shootout with an S/PDIF connector as part of the package, so higher quality sound could be yours with this card.

 The MX300 does well, but is not my overall choice for gaming. It is a fine card, but it seems a little unrefined compared to the other cards in this shootout. These cards are all about the same brand new, but I have seen the MX300 for sale for $45 or $50 used, which is a great price for a new Vortex 2 card. If DVD is your thing, then this card might be your ticket.

Opinion: The NSA And Microsoft 14:02 pm - Wilfred
As expected, the guys at osOpinion posted their editorial on Microsoft's big boo boo. This is a scandal not many will pass off for as poor coding <ahem>. Check out this para:

In any case, the NSA must be really infuriated at Microsoft for this gaffe. With a single programming oversight, the NSA has lost a critical advantage to spy on every Windows computer in the world. Foreign computer users, whether private or public, will either switch to LINUX, UNIX or reprogram the keys so that the NSA takes longer to penetrate their machines.

Microsoft is in real trouble because this revelation will do more to harm its reputation than any Slash dot article or security hole embarrassment. Many foreign computer users will now look at Microsoft as an extension of the American spy community even though that's not the case. MS will simply lose big contracts or its clients will demand major concessions with regard to encryption.

AMD K8 12:01 pm - Kan
Yuppers... it appears that with the recent release of the Athlon, AMD is not stopping at 7 and going on to 8. AMD will announce it's next generation of chips, the K8, during the Microprocessor Forum next month. Catch the announcement here.

AMD aims turn up the heat by launching its next generation of (64-bit) processors within months -- and it has enlisted top chip engineer Dirk Meyer (a former Alpha male)to make it happen.

The step up from 32-bit Athlon K7 to a 64-bit K8 (Octathlon?) chip is relatively trivial to achieve, we are led to understand, from sources close to the company's plans.

So the 64-bit chip scene could look fairly crowded next year, with competing flavours from Compaq, Intel -- and now AMD.

Westen Digital Expert 11:58 am - Kan
Hard drive gurus Storagereview posted another new review on the Western Digital Expert WD273BA 27.3 GB hard drive.

As the successor to the 7200rpm Editor's Choice drive in our recent Drive Roundup, the WD273BA is a drive from which we expect nothing less than the best. In some ways, the drive delivers, setting record scores for an ATA drive in Windows 95. In some cases, however, the margin of victory was disappointingly slim. Let's take Business Disk WinMark 99 results, for example. The WD drive (which is, after all, based on Win-9x-powerhouse IBM's technology) edges by the DiamondMax Plus 6800 by a nearly unnoticeable 2%. When it comes to the High-End Disk WinMark, the Expert triumphs by a beefy 18% margin. It should be noted, however, that the DiamondMax is rather soft in the High-End WinMark in Win9x. When comparing the Expert to another new-generation drive, say, the Quantum Fireball KX, the Expert still leads, but by a less impressive margin of 8%.

New ABIT Boards 11:55 am - Kan
This is frigging cool! My girl over at HardOCP just posted some info on two new ABIT motherboards - BE6-II and BF6 (this one comes with 6 PCI slots!). Woohoos!

Overclk Slipstream Enhancement Kit 11:53 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DSpotlight just posted a review on the Overclk Slipstream Enhancement Kit. The name sounds fanciful, but actually it's just a fan to cool your video card. :)

Also because of the popularity of overclocking we have seen a lot of new small companies bringing video card cooling solutions for gamers.

I had heard of the Sliptream Enhancement kit from Overclk, this wasn’t only the usual cooler for your TNT2 or Voodoo3 but this one came with its own overclocking and tweaking utility as well as some game “optimizers”.  

Chip News 09:03 am - Sniper
Two interesting cpu news from The Register today, one about the Alpha and the other on the K8.

Compaq and API are readying a 1.6GHz Alpha 21364 which will include a version of SIMD 3D instructions and support for Rambus without the latency penalties that seem to dog the x.86 platform. 

A 1.6 GHz 21364 using the EV7 platform, is likely to belt out 6.4 single precision Gflops, according to sources. 

Sega Dreamcast Media Event 03:31 am - Kan
AGN Hardware whipped up an article on the Sega Dreamcast Media event held in San Francisco.

However the most impressive thing about the 19 titles for Dreamcast is the distribution of genres. In addition to Sonic Adventure, the platform title that also happens to be part of a successful franchise, there are plenty of fighting games, racing titles, sports and action/shooting games.  To help the variety, the titles look (and play) so great, consumers will have a tough time coming home with just a title or two.  Variety is the spice of life and Sega has learned that consumers like lots of choices.

PowerMac G4 Preview 03:24 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme managed to get their jaws on the new G4 PowerMacs and had written an article on them (do you know they can crack RC5 at 3 million keys per sec??).

The PowerPC G3 series, which the PowerPC G4 series is replacing, currently tops out at 466MHz. Not counting Apple's advertising campaign, a G3 at a certain clock speed is often considered the overall performance equivalent of a Pentium III with 10-15% more MHz. 

ECTS Live Report 03:20 am - Kan
If you are interested in ECTS - Europe largest Computer and technology trade show, then head over to Speedy3D where the gals are doing a live coverage of the event.

For the first time ever in the history of ECTS I was amazed to see ID Softwares stand not looking quite so popular. True you wouldn't notice it much unless you knew how ID usually pulls the crowd, yet this year they seemed to be pushing them away (no not litrally). With the crowds mainly focusing their eyes on the Team Fortress2 monitors, not much was left for poor old ID. Tell a lie though, they still were pretty packed out and clearly have lost little, my guess is that since we have all seen Q3A then there would be nothing to new to eye up at ID's stand.

WinFast GeForce 256 03:18 am - Kan
ExtremeHardware sent note that they have a little specifications of the WinFast GeForce 256 graphics card.

  • NVIDIA GeForce-256, 256-bit Graphics Processing Unit

  • 350MHz RAMDAC display resolution up to 2048x1536 32-bit

  • 32MB memory on board

  • Support AGP 2X/4X with Fast write Support

  • Driver optimized for P.III SSE™ and AMD 3D NOW™

  • DVD Software included

  • Optional Digital Flat Panel out maximum resolution support 1600x1200

  • Optional TV-out support NTSC/PAL

Online Digital Audio Showdown 00:59 am - Wilfred
Sound & Vision Online pitted the popular MP3 standard against newer ones like Lucent's EPAC and Microsoft's Media Audio V2 in a detailed test. So how do they fair against each other and the de facto CD-quality standard?

For each codec there was at least one piece of music on which it was judged to be clearly deficient. Some codecs achieved very near or full "CD quality" on some music, but with the most critical listeners CD equivalence was not consistently demonstrated with all kinds of music. However, everyone who participated agreed that most differences were subtle and became apparent only with careful listening. So our conclusion is that all three systems can deliver surprisingly good sound. And while they can't claim CD quality, they come awfully close.

nVidia GeForce 256 Tree Demo 00:47 am - Wilfred
The demo nVidia used to show off the GeForce was leaked and circulating on the net. DemoNews has it for you to download, try it out with your video card and see the sheer computational powess your vidcard need to possess - JUST TO RENDER A TREE!!!! I ran it on my humble PowerColor Sniper TNT2 M64 and it was a MORE THAN humbling experience! =)

Privacy Groups Dismissed MS's NSA Denial 00:38 am - Wilfred
More gossip on the most recent scandal. After Microsoft's quick denial yesterday, privacy groups immediately had it dismissed and here's what they say:  

"Building in a 'back up' key makes no sense unless there is a revocation method for the primary (key). There is no revocation method."

Microsoft said the back-up key was there should the original ever be lost due to a natural disaster. The company also acknowledged the name of the key was "unfortunate".

"I don't believe them -- what kind of natural disaster are they talking about? A meteor destroying all the earth's structures?" said Privacy International director general, Simon Davies."Microsoft's argument is inconsistent with its operating procedure -- it could hold a single key in multiple locations, that is a standard security procedure." He added that to compromise user security, "it's not necessary to share access with the NSA -- simply complying with their requirements will do that."

6 September 1999 - Monday

Legacy Floppy Drives
23:23 pm - David
SystemLogic has posted an editorial on Is the floppy dead? Hmm, In my opinion, it's dead ;). Time for LS120!

Back when the 3.5" Floppy Drive was introduced, it replaced the big 5.25" Floppy Drives that held from 720 KB up to 1.2 MB of storage on each disk, the 3.5" had really become a life saver for people who had to transfer documents, and other files from one place to another. It was compact, and held more data than a 5.25" disk. But when the early 90's rolled around, and things such as multimedia and Windows 95 came around, the 3.5" Floppy Drive was not so much of a life saver anymore due to the fact that when multimedia rolled into town, so did larger size files, such as .jpg's, .avi's, .gif's and so forth. They would require more space than a 3.5" Floppy could hold. And alas, in the mid 90's, along came removable media and with that would slowly, but surely come the fading of the original 3.5" Floppy Drive.

Desktop CPU Comparison 17:21 pm - Sniper
AnandTech just produced an article comparing several cpus.  Pretty impressive.

Luckily we've put together a (hopefully) helpful guide on what CPU to choose based on the idea that although having the fastest processor out there would be wonderful, it isn't entirely possible for each and every user. So instead on focusing on a single processor dominating all of the tests this comparison will focus on the fastest, slowest, and best buys out there in the desktop processor market with an attempt to help you make an intelligent purchasing decision on what processor is right for you. Because, after all, that's what we're here for, isn't it?

Poll #25: System Boot-Up Time 14:42 pm - Wilfred
Ok, where has the Instant-On thingy gone? Here's the results of last week's poll and hmm... is it DOS they are using for that 4% whose systems boot in under 20 secs? I, for one, can cook a meal waiting for my system to boot! =P

FPS2000 13:50 pm - Kan
3DRage lubed a review on the Cambridge FPS2000 speakers. Darn, I will love to try out these speakers myself. 

One thing I have to hand it to Cambridge is the packaging job. They must have some of the nicest packaging for their products in the industry. Everything is firmly seated and has its place. Now many of you may be wondering why I even mention this. Well I get a lot of different hardware and there is a lot to be desired when it comes loose or is just flopping around in the box. After all, whether it be for myself or for a customer it just really sucks when you fork out a good chunk of change for something only to have it arrive rattling in the box.

Top 100!! 13:07 pm - Sniper
Yes!! We made it to Top 100 in RC5 for yesterday! If you noticed, we have been able to increase our daily blocks steadily with your support! So those of you still not with [email protected], it's time to start! =)

Net-N-Dude Celeron 550 Mhz Supercool Kit 11:18 am - Kan
Two new reviews over at SharkyExtreme. First it's the Net-N-Due Celeron 550 Mhz supercool kit which is basically a Celeron 366 overclocked at 550 Mhz (throw in a bit of guarantees here and there). There's also a new review on the SonicVortex2 Sound card.

Net-N-Dude specializes in developing cooling solutions for most types of CPUs, including Intel P2, P3, and Celeron CPUs. They also provide cooling solutions for AMD's K6-2 and K6-3 CPUs.

Lately Net-N-Dude has begun selling Celeron CPUs with fan/heatsinks that they've pre-tested together and are guaranteeing can maintain an overclocked speed of 550MHz (versus a stock speed of 366MHz).

Abit BX6 2.0 11:14 am - Kan
Though not a new board, it is still pretty good. HardwareCentral reviewed the Abit BX6 2.0 and if you still wanna get this board, read the review here.

Abit has sometimes been accused of releasing products when still not fully tested and compliant with PC-9x specifications; as with all cutting-edge products, running at peak performance caused some minor errors. Abit, however, made sure these minor errors were properly addressed in updated BIOSes, made available as soon as the errors were properly documented and solutions available. These, in fact, were mostly the result of users running other peripherals out of spec using the motherboard's broad range of ‘out of specification’ settings, rather than of motherboard flaws.

ASUS V3800 M64 11:12 am - Kan
Roundup of the ASUS V3800 M64 vs Leadtek S325 M64 graphics cards over at Dan'sData. Check it out.

The NVIDIA TNT2 Model 64 cards are coming thick and fast. Most of the makers of regular TNT2 cards are also making a budget card using this similar but lower powered chipset, and they're selling pretty well, too. Some of these sales are to people who don't know they're not buying a "real" TNT2 and think they're just getting a huge bargain (a Model 64 board with 32 megabytes of video RAM sells for 60 to 80% of the price of a 16Mb full TNT2), but if you know what you're getting, the Model 64 still represents decent value.

Elsa Erazor III 11:09 am - Kan
Another Elsa Eazor III review from the guys over at 3aG.

The box has several info sheets, etc, and then the best, spiral-bound manual I've ever seen with a graphics card. Actually 2 manuals, one is the actual manual, the other is the installation guide. Each looks big, but the installation guide is written in 8 (count 'em) languages, the manual in 2. Even so, the english portion is still the longest of any GFX board manuals I've ever seen. The installation guide is pretty good, but the only (hardware installing) illustrations are some kind of abstract'ish sketches that could be hard to follow if you're not sure what you're doing.

SoundBlaster Live! Platinum 10:55 am - Wilfred
Our local bud sent note of a new editorial at Alive!. Now it is about the speculative specifications of the Live! Platinum... EAX 3.0? A new DSP chip or an enhanced EMU10K1? Here's a snip:

The EMU10K1 would most probably be retained in the new cards, considering the claims by Creative and E-MU that there is more "hidden" power left in the EMU10K1 (see our Dave Rossum interview). Live!Ware 3 with EAX 3.0 is primed to bring more realism to the SBLive! cards and a major change in the architecture of the EMU10K1 would just make driver development a more complex issue.

Overclocking: There is a slight possibility that the EMU10K1 may be clocked higher to allow for more processing power. A higher clocked version of the EMU10K1 may require higher quality yields from the silicon fab, which leads to higher costs. Its not very likely Creative will take this option.

What is possible though is a small revision of the EMU10K1 to improve certain characteristics of the DSP, for example, better DAC conversion for higher sound quality, and other enhancements which doesn't radically change the architecture of the chip (and require a re-write of the drivers).

Reviews At BxBoards 10:42 am - Wilfred
BxBoards has 2 reviews up today, you can check out their take on the Elsa Revelator 3D glasses as well as a writeup on the Elitegroup P6BXT-A+ Rev1.3b mobo (featuring both Slot-1 & PPGA connectors).

When using the glasses, I noticed that the games looked really cool. There was a true perception of depth! Racing games seemed to work very well (which are also my favorite!) For example, in NFS 3, racing with the other cars made me have more of a "feel" for the track, thus making me a little more tuned to driving. A somewhat scary incident happened to me when I turned around on the track. I saw the other cars racing towards me, and I jumped because I thought they were going to get me.

The glasses are quite effective at what they do. They are worth it, but you must keep in mind a couple of things when playing games. After about 40 minutes or so my eyes started to get sore, so it would be good to take a rest from the glasses every 40-60 minutes or so. You are going to need a monitor with a fast refresh rate so that the glasses will work properly.

x86 SMP On The Cheap 09:18 am - Sniper
We've seen numerous reviews around testing the BP6 using WinNT, FullOn3D has come up with one using Linux.

Linux has a sophisticated load-balanced scheduling for
processes and will shift them around between the CPUs to optimize system performance at realtime. This helps in
particular with software that isn't multithreaded - most of it.

nVidia Tree Demo Performance 08:38 am - Sniper
3D Hardware took the nVidia tree demo and tested it with Pentium II and Pentium !!! CPUs coupled with Millennium G400 and TNT Ultra graphics cards to see how they perform with massive polygons. I bet you want to find out too!

nVidia showcased their GeForce256 "GPU" with some interesting techdemos. One of them was the "Tree Demo", I bet you remember these lovely leaves and branches. We thought of posting some nice screenshots and performance issues regarding this big wise nVidia Tree with other graphics accelerators than the GeForce256.

5 September 1999 - Sunday

Warcraft III
20:58 pm - Kan
Yippee! It's confirmed. Blizzard has announced that they will be working on Warcraft III

After weeks of hinting that something major was afoot, Blizzard Entertainment has ended the speculation, announcing this morning at the European Computer Trade Show in London that it is working on Warcraft III. In a way, the announcement comes tinged with irony: The original Warcraft is considered to be one of the progenitors of the hugely popular real-time strategy games genre. Yet with Warcraft III, Blizzard is signaling an end to RTS as gamers know it. In an exclusive interview last week, Blizzard producer and designer Rob Pardo explained to Gamecenter that with Warcraft III, the company hopes to usher in a new kind of game that blends elements of popular genres. In simpler terms, Blizzard says Warcraft III is the world's first role-playing strategy game, or RPS.

Voodoo3 3500 TV 20:55 pm - Kan
Our gurus over at iXBT Hardware reviewed the Voodoo3 3500 TV graphics card. So head over to read their solid review!

This is the graphics card. It is made on AGP-card and can boast 16MB 5.5ns SDRAM placed on both sides of the card, but the memory chips are located in a not very standard way: 6 microchips are on the front side of the card and 2 on the reversed. The card is also provided with the chips responsible for TV-in/out (on the reversed side of the card) and with a tuner, which consists of the receiver with the aerial connector (metal box) and control microchip.

Xitel Storm Platinum 20:53 pm - Kan
TheTechZone reviewed the Xitel Storm Platinum Gamers Pack. Those toys they had sure looked fun to play with!

The Storm Platinum supports simultaneous instrument playback and multi-layering. This add exceptional depth sound output. Other features includes Intelligent Dynamic Resource Management (IDRM).  This makes sure that applications not requiring wavetable synthesis can access more power for accelerating DirectSound and A3D 2.0 acoustic reflections. There is also a wavetable header and full DLS support.

BIOS Optimization Guide IV Updated 20:49 pm - Kan
Head over to Adrian's Rojak Pot where Part IV of their BIOS Optimization Guide is just updated (hmm, their site seems to be down now).

Asheron's Call Screenshots 20:48 pm - Kan
SystemLogic whipped up some new screenshots on the game Asheron. Beats me what this game is about, but the name sure sounds like a hot babe (talking about babes, I just saw one HOT (read REALLY HOT) babe last night...wow, I'm surprised that the little piece of cloth she's wearing can cover her body (damn!) so nicely.

Asheron's Call immerses players in an original fantasy world where they must choose to compete or cooperate with thousands of other real people.  Players can create characters that are truly unique with extensive combinations of visual appearance, attributes, and skill sets.  A detailed and extensive system of allegiance facilitates a dimension of social game play never before experienced in a computer game. 

Freespace 2 Demo Review 20:42 pm - Kan
This is a classic (I think so!) I enjoyed playing. Anyway, FiringSquad wrote down their thoughts on the demo version of Freespace 2. Gee, I can't wait to get my paws on it when it's out.

You see, when the original FreeSpace came out (then called Descent : FreeSpace, The Great War, even though it had nothing to do with Descent), I scoffed. I looked at it and said "ooh. shiny." Anything space and not Wing Commander was always an inferior effort. TIE Fighter was the lone blip on the screen that could be considered competition, while its older sibling's (X-Wing) appeal stemmed only from the universe it was spawned from, and their successor, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, just plain sucked.

CyberSURFR Airlink Cable Modem 17:15 pm - Sniper
Wishful thinking on my part but I hope SCV will replace my current modem with this one.

This new cable modem should make installing this fast Internet access service even easier. Because the computer is rarely where the cable wire is, the CyberSURFR solves the problem of running additional wires around the house. For example, the laptop in the bedroom and the desktop in the living room can have wireless access to the cable modem in the office. Per-port PC costs will be $100 to $150, which is about standard for wireless home connections. 

Keyboard Battery Charger 17:05 pm - Sniper
This thing looks interesting if it really becomes a product. I imagine young executives typing frantically to sustain their notebook batteries for several more minutes!

A designer for Compaq Computer in Houston thinks he may have found a way to create energy by simply striking keys on a keyboard. Could this be the first step toward a computer that recharges its own batteries? So far, the design is only in its patent stage and is still a long, long way from production. However, if it works as expected, the keyboard may seriously lengthen the operating period of portable computers and possibly even other devices. 

Upgrade Price Guide 15:25 pm - David
Firing Squad has updated their Upgrade Pricing guide, hop over now!

What happened to the cheap RAM?
Uh oh. Memory prices have skyrocketed since our last guide update. The days of $60 generic PC100 128MB DIMMs are long gone. In fact, we watched in amazement as the price of our 6ns Hitachi PC100 SDRAM rose $20 over a period of two weeks. That $79 Micron 128MB PC100 DIMM we recommended a little over a month ago now goes for no less than $131.

Windows NSA Backdoor Scandal - True? 13:01 pm - Wilfred
NTBugtraq has an editorial on the controversial news heard yesterday about Microsoft's inclusion of a backdoor public key access for the NSA. Apparently the furor arose and fingers pointed at NSA because the key was named _NSAKEY. Duh? Ok, so there's no substantial evidence as yet but Microsoft is still fending herself explaining the presence of a backdoor. (Here's Microsoft's response)

Kingpin: Crime Of Life 12:53 pm - Wilfred
Our friends from the ReviewZone has a review on Kingpin for your reading. I really had a good laugh at the character's dialog when I tried the demo some months back, surely this is not a game for minors! Here's a snip:

Apart from the violence and the profanity, Kingpin is already famous for its excellent graphics. Think Quake II engine on speed and you're in the right neighbourhood, since this game certainly can compete favourably on graphics with any other game ever developed. And unlike many other games, Kingpin opts for realistic urban settings and real-world weapons, not to mention interesting stuff like money. Yeah, you can buy stuff like weapons and hire thugs for backup.

Solar Eclipse From Mir 12:45 pm - Wilfred
Yeah, you think this is a screenshot from Freespace 2? WRONG! This is fascinating picture of the solar eclipse over Europe as captured from Mir - thanks to a link from Slashdot. Nice!

Guillemot Xentor 32 Ultra 12:38 pm - Wilfred
360 Degrees sent note on their review on the above TNT2 Ultra from Guillemot. I believe you have read many positive review on this great card, always ranked amongst the best for great performance - without the garnishes.

Don’t need the VR geek glasses or TV capture, then get the Xentor 32. The price is below most Ultra TNT2s and it performs the best. It is damn fast and geared for gaming. The card is similar to a NASCAR when compared to the street version: fast and fine-tuned to win with out the extra gimmicks.

Mother Tried To Sue South Park 12:30 pm - Wilfred
I know this has no relevance to computer hardware or IT, but no one shall stop me from posting this up! =) Apparently a Canadian mother tried to sue the South Park makers for the psychological effects the show had on her son (also named Kenny), when Kenny dies a horrible death in virtually every episode. E! Online News has a report:

The frequently killed character in Comedy Central's foul-mouthed cartoon series recently drew fire from a Canadian parent. She complained her child, also named Kenny, was suffering psychological effects from the South Park tyke's weekly demise. She also grumbled about gratuitous violence and took her beef to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Coding X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter 09:02 am - Sniper
Gamasutra has an interesting article from a programmer who developed the game. 

When we started the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter project, our goal was to create the first multi-player space combat simulator to be playable over the Internet. There were several major problems that we had to be overcome to
accomplish this goal, not the least of which was the Internet itself. I will review the problems we faced, the approach we took, and the results we achieved. I hope the lessons I learned will prove to be valuable to those who read this paper.

Intel Developer Forum'99 04:01 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme did a coverage of the Intel Developer Forum'99 held over at Palm Springs. Learn more about Coppermine, Camino chipset and RDRAM over there!

It seems that both buyers and retailers alike are going to have to maintain a careful watch on which CPUs they select for their system upgrades, as there will possibly be some serious inventory cross-over as the .18 micron Coppermine models intersect with existing .25 micron Katmai P3s. Intel will likely resort to some sort of descriptive letter-based naming system for each CPU, as they did previously with the Celeron 300 and Celeron 300 "A" parts when both of those CPUs were simultaneously in the channel.

Avus Flat Panel Speakers 03:57 am - Kan
3DAlpha has another new review ready for us, the Avus Flat Panel Speakers. Yup, you guess it, everything is going flatter and smaller nowadays. Size doesn't matter anymore.

The speakers have a nice look to them, especially the subwoofer. The satellites are slightly larger than that of the Benwin BW2000 speakers, and perhaps contributes to the better sound quality. One thing that annoys me regarding the thin physique of the flat panel speakers is that they do not contribute to space saving, as they cannot be mounted on your monitor, and they take up almost the same amount of space as standard satellites. The subwoofer is relatively small, but this does help with space saving.

4 September 1999 - Saturday

Microsoft's Secret Console Revealed! 23:27 pm - Sniper
I hate to post this piece of news!  But I guess I have not much of a choice. Next Generation Magazine has the scope on a secret MS console in development.  Can't anyone stop them?

According to the story, X-Box will feature a 500 MHz processor by Intel (note: according to a follow up story in the forthcoming November issue of Next Generation Magazine, an AMD Athlon powered version is also planned), nVidia's NV-10 graphics technology (recently renamed GeForce), and a modified version of the WinCE operating system. According to the story, this will make X-Box capable of PlayStation 2-level performance.

Design for the system will come from Microsoft, but it will probably be built and sold by multiple manufacturers (Dell and Gateway are mentioned in the story), and it seems that multiple CPU/graphics technologies are possible in
different X-Box variants.

Microsoft, NSA And You!! 22:27 pm - Wilfred
Caught this posting at ArsTechnica that if this article at Cryptonym Research has any truth to go by, the security of more than half the planet's computers are compromised! From their investigation, it is found that EVERY copy of MS Windows (95/98/NT4/W2k) sold provides a 'backdoor' access to the US National Security Agency (NSA), thus making it orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access their systems. Whoa! Super scandal?!!???

Between Hotmail hacks and browser bugs, Microsoft has a dismal track record in computer security. Most of us accept these minor security flaws and go on with life. But how is an IT manager to feel when they learn that in every copy of Windows sold, Microsoft may have installed a 'back door' for the National Security Agency (NSA - the USA's spy agency) making it orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access their computers? While investigating the security subsystems of WindowsNT4, Cryptonym's Chief Scientist Andrew Fernandes discovered exactly that - a back door for the NSA in every copy of Win95/98/NT4 and Windows2000. Building on the work of Nicko van Someren (NCipher), and Adi Shamir (the 'S' in 'RSA'), Andrew was investigating Microsoft's "CryptoAPI" architecture for security flaws. Since the CryptoAPI is the fundamental building block of cryptographic security in Windows, any flaw in it would open Windows to electronic attack.

Open Letter To Mrs Microsoft 22:16 pm - Wilfred
Come on, it's a lovely weekend. Hahaha... read this for a good laugh. The osOpinion has conjured an article that is bound to relief some of your pant up stress. Here's a quote to Mrs Microsoft:

Dear Mrs. Microsoft,

First, let me say we appreciate the contributions, which your son has brought to the Manchester Boy's Institute over the years. His activities and involvement have left a definite mark upon the shape of our Institution However, it has been placed upon my shoulders as Principal of the Manchester Boys Institute to notify you that your son is having some problems playing with his classmates and in the completion and handing in of his homework. I am now compelled to bring it to your attention. I know that these events if taken separately seem harmless enough, but my colleagues and I believe that if one views these matters as a whole, a pattern is definitely seen.

It seems that during the most recent fundraiser that your son decided that since he was in charge of the baked goods and the beverages he would simply use his monopoly on one to assure the sale of both. This would not have been so bad in and of itself but his behavior was so blatant and finally it led to him also selling passes to sit on chairs in the adjoining auditorium.

DirectX 7 Information 22:07 pm - Wilfred
Received two pieces of information about Microsoft's DirectX 7 today. NT Game Palace popped a note that RC4 is available to beta-testers now; following that is ActiveWin's mail about the official release date, Sept 10, for the actual release.

Retail Vs Custom Built 21:56 pm - Wilfred
Yes, this must be a problem facing many of today's PC buyers. Well it's true, to enjoy the luxury of nit-picking the best components, nothing beats self-assembled PCs (if you know what you're doing!). SystemLogic has an article that analyses just this - which is better! Now novice users, please don't attempt to build your own PCs without assistance, cook books won't help - and you are your own tech-support! =)

I'll cut to the chase in this category, the Custom Built wins hands down over the Retail system. The manufacturer's of the Retail systems offer some name brand parts, but they cut corners on some of the other parts that are key elements of any system like video cards, sound cards, speakers, etc. With a Custom Built system, you can choose your parts, and if your like me, you'll only want the best parts for the money such as the TNT2, Voodoo3, Soundblaster Live! and all that good stuff, especially if you want to have the killer gaming setup!

G4 Upgrading Disabled On G3 Machines? 21:49 pm - Wilfred
I'm not a Mac user, but understandably this is hard to swallow. Tell me if it's possible, disabling it would be a cheap trick (just like SMP-disabled Celerons, clock-locked CPUs?). Check out Wired!

Apple's recent line of Power Mac G3s can't be upgraded to Motorola's new G4 chip, and according to hardware manufacturers, the engineering was intentional.

Gary Dailey, director of marketing with XLR8, which makes Macintosh upgrade cards, said Apple disabled the machines to prevent upgrade manufacturers from offering Mac users the latest cutting-edge technology.

HiVal CD-RW 13:15 pm - Kan
We have another review on a CDR drive today, it's the HiVal 4424 CD-RW reviewed by 3DAlpha.

At a glance, this drive looks pretty basic when compared to your normal run-of-the-mill group of CD-RW drives, and it is. The write and rewrite speeds are both four speed, and the read speed is set at 24 speed. So it's a nice little package, and a choice to consider if you're not looking to spend a fortune for an eight speed writer drive, and all you need is a solution that still is competetive in speed. The drive had your basic read/write LEDs, eject and emergency buttons, and, as always, mounts on a 5.25" bay, and the transfer interface is E/IDE.

Rift Interview 13:10 pm - Kan
GameWire sent note they have whipped up an interview on Rift, one of the first 3D RTS to be announced.

The 3D RTS market is expanding dramatically. Alot of big publishers are financing development of a 3D RTS or are looking positively into the market. Coverage and info of games like HomeWorld and WarTorn is all over the net. How do you feel about all the hype being one of the first to start what is turning into the evolution of the RTS?I

Teac 6x24 11:15 am - Kan
The guys over at SystemLogic posted a review on the Teac 6W/24R CD-R drive. You want one?

The Teac 6x24 is a SCSI-2 device, so a SCSI adapter that supports SCSI-2 of some kind is obviously necessary. With the separate process of installing and configuring a SCSI adapter out of the way, installing the 6x24 drive is a typical SCSI device installation. That said, you should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of SCSI and how it works to install the drive. Aside from the typical task of connecting power, SCSI, and CD-ROM audio cables, the only other things you need to worry about are termination and ID number in your SCSI chain.

TV Master+FM 11:15 am - Kan
AGNHardware reviewed the TV Master+FM card. Well, I find this absolutely a must if you are staying in a hostel or your room is too place to squeeze a TV and a radio.

There are two viewing modes you can choose from: windowed and full-screen. Windowed mode allows you to scale the video to any size you wish (as small as 160x120.) Full-screen switches the monitor to a resolution of 640x480. A feature I really liked was the preview function, which switches to full-screen mode and displays thumbnail images of all the listed channels in a 3x3 or 4x4 matrix. When you see something you'd like to watch you simply double-click on the appropriate image and TVViewer98 will display the channel in windowed mode.

BE6 Review 11:12 am - Kan
Hot off from the stove is the review on the ABIT BE6 motherboard from Hardware Extreme.

Just like any other ABIT mainboard, the BE6 comes with a very nicely written manual, floppy & IDE cables as well as one of the new expensive UDMA/66 cables and a thermal heat sensor ! ABIT also includes a CD-ROM with a decent bundle of utilities, the latest version of ABIT's website (after their redesign) and also manuals for all the mainboards in PDF format. Some manufacturers now include their mainboard manuals in the CD only and not printed versions. 

G400 Review 11:08 am - Kan
If this card is out 6 months ago, it would have rocked! Anyway, our pals over at WickedPC wrote their thoughts on the G400 (non-MAX). From the benchmarks they performed, this card is fast too, just slightly behind the TNT2 Ultra in Q3Test v1.08.

Installation of newer video cards seems to be either a rather simple task, or something that just came out of a horror movie. With the G400 we're proud to say that all systems were go. The install process is to plug in the G400, turn the PC on, point the wizard to the CD, and then you're set. Usually after installing drivers like this you have to run a silly setup program on a CD to install tweaking utilities or taskbar applications - with the G400 you didn't. Their installation process is simple because that one driver install is all it took. With the Voodoo3 and TNT2 you had to run other programs to get other things working which was just an extra step. Installation was beautiful.

3dfx Next Generation 3D Interview 09:48 am - Sniper
FiringSquad did a whopping 36 questions interview covering 3dfx's views on Nvidia's GeForce 256 and hints at 3dfx's next product.

As the GeForce has not increased fill-rate much at all, we expect for many applications the performance to not be substantially above the performance of a TNT2 Ultra product. As we stressed before, we believe the GeForce product to be a very unbalanced product, with good geometry processing capability but perhaps substandard fill-rate capabilities for a next-generation 3D accelerator. So if you want to run your games at 640x480, 16bpp color (a resolution, btw, which certainly has low enough fillrate requirements that the GeForce can show off its geometry prowess) then maybe the GeForce is the right product for you. But we know that gamers want to run in 32bpp color at high resolutions, so the geometry processing power of the GeForce simply does not buy
you much…

That being said, 3dfx has always been the fill-rate king, and our next generation product will have fill-rate performance that will simply amaze people. As a result, we are very confident that for the resolutions and pixel depths that gamers really care about, our next generation product will substantially outperform a GeForce product when running Quake3 (and most other applications as well). 

Promise Ultra66 Raid Card Review 09:39 am - Sniper
I've been waiting for this card to come along, GamePC managed to get hold of one and out comes the review.

Like the FastTrak33, the FastTrak66 still uses a PCI slot. The FastTrak66 is bundled with the two Ultra ATA cables, manual and drivers. Along with the drivers Promise has included their own monitoring utility that shows the user information on current status of the hooked through the controller card. To better optimize the performance of what the RAID setup will be running a utility called Ultra Tune is also included so the user can select between Business and Games or Audio and Video. There is also PCI utilization slider as well so the user can better optimize the performance with other PCI devices.

Seagate Barracuda ATA 28GB Review 09:36 am - Sniper
3D Alpha has posted a review of this monster, check it out yourself here. 28Gb? Mind-boggling....

As you can see, ATA/66 is most benificial when dealing
with smaller files. Considering that most of the files that
people work with on a daily basis are relatively small, the
speedup there is most valuable. The Seagate Barracua ATA 28GB has an estimated street price of $299. To be perfectly honest, I had genuinely expected this drive to go for closer to $400. If you are looking for more or faster storage, or are thinking about building a new computer, this hard drive absolutely provides the most bang for your buck. 

Linksys 10/100  8-Port Switch Review  09:35 am - Sniper
GameWire released a review of the Linksys EtherFast 10/100 Dual-Speed 8-Port Switch. It received a 9.13 overall rating.

How many of you have played in LAN parties? Quite a bit of you I would guess. Ok, you can put your hands down. Well, if you haven't yet experienced a LAN party or running a home network on a switch (as opposed to a hub), then you haven't really been living life. This review will start out as an explanation of why a hub is inferior to a switch and then ease into the Linksys 10/100 EtherFast Dual-Speed Switch.

Both a hub and a switch allows a user(s) to connect a number of computers to a common network. Why is this important? Well, the advantages of having a number of computers on a single network instead of isolated workstations are numerous. A common network can allow for easy administration, file and print sharing and a host of other actions. A common network can also be a gamers haven as he/she can have their friends over and take a walk down FragPipe Lane (I live in the corner house by the Quad). In short, if you have more than one computer, you should connect them so that they lie on a common network.

3 September 1999 - Friday

FA Premier League
We haven't had a game review in a long time, this round our new writer les whipped up a review especially for soccer maniacs and the likes. FA Premier League represents the latest update to their soccer title, so what's in there for you?

Build your Own Comp: Step by Step Guide 16:39 pm - Kan
TheTechZone just sent note on their latest article on Building your Own Computer. Hey, if you still don't know how to build one, time to read it!

Since this was just your average Celeron 550 system, I didn't bother to lap the CPU before installing it. This would be a different case if I was trying for more than 550Mhz however. The SlotKet I use was some no name brand but it's really stable. Even allows you to set 66 or 100Mhz bus. Since the AOpen motherboard has a softmenu for that, I didn't bother. When applying heatsink compound, it's best to use as little as possible. You just want a paper thin layer. The heatsink compound I used came in a needle. Makes applying it less messy.

SMP Reality 16:36 pm - Kan
Check out our buds over at HardOCP with their latest article called SMP Reality. Learn all about the art of SMP over there!

The first thing I want to make clear is: the HAL controls thread distribution, not the application. The HAL is like a police dispatcher, it receives hardware request and assigns it to hardware. This includes the CPUs.  The next fact is that your CPU is NOT multitasking. It can only execute on thread at a time, period. One thread, no more. With this in mind, consider this, right now your Computer is running about 60-100 threads. Most of which are idle, however, some are active, and they must wait in line for your CPU time.  

Stealth III S540 Xtreme 16:33 pm - Kan
More reviews from FiringSquad where the guys churned up a review on the Diamond Stealth III S540 rated at 166/166 Mhz.

The mainstream market now needs an inexpensive 3D accelerator that's fast enough to play today's games with all the pretty options and still maintain an acceptable framerate of 25-40fps. Of course, acceptable is a subjective term. We think having a solid 100fps in the top right corner while playing in a 16 player FFA in Q3test is acceptable, but the mainstream user will be happy with 30fps. S3 wants the Savage 4 Pro Xtreme to be the chip that keeps the mainstream market happy. Let's take a look at the specs.

Flat Panel Speakers Roundup 16:30 pm - Kan
3DWars posted a roundup on Flat Panel speakers. Included in the roundup include speakers like the Benwin BW2000, Avus QX-TFT-02 and the Monsoon MM-700.

Both Avus and Benwin use the NXT technology. This technology allows the use of flat panel speakers. Rather than using a cone, as conventional speakers do, NXT uses an 'exciter.' This 'exciter' causes the .25mm thick panels to vibrate. With a frequency range of roughly 50Hz to 200KHz, the Benwin and Avus speakers are practically equal in sound technology. Surprisingly, both systems did respond to that low of a frequency. Having a satellite unit that can respond to 150Hz, and being that small is quite a show.

Game Boy Grows Up? 15:45 pm - Sniper
Is this going to be the competitor for the Palm Pilot?  Not a bad idea, I can play games and read mail at the same time.

Nintendo plans to upgrade its popular device by including a powerful processor and a port that will allow it to connect, via cell phone, to the Internet. With the new capabilities, users will be able to go online to play multiplayer games, participate in online chats, download software, and retrieve email. 

Nintendo also said it will develop a new digital camera for the new Game Boy that will allow users to see the faces of their online opponents.

Xentor 32 Review 15:40 pm - Sniper
Extreme Hardware did a review of this card with lots of benchmarks.  Check it out.

Before starting the overclocking tests, I first had to determine what clock and memory speed the Xentor 32 would reliably run at. The card ships set at 175 MHz
clock and 183 MHz memory, and after a lot of experimenting (and rebooting) I was able to get it running very stable at the 183/200 MHz setting. These speeds shouldn't be taken as indicative of all Xentor 32 cards out there, since anything from the grade of the TNT2 Ultra chip, to the speed and brand of SDRAM will have an effect on the overclocking results. All during the overclock testing, Guillemot's cooling fan and heat sink were able to keep the TNT2 Ultra chip relatively cool, and even when I got lock-ups at high speeds, I felt that the overall grade of the TNT2 Ultra chip, and not heat, was the ultimate determinant of overclocking success

Windows 2000 Multi-monitor Help 13:00 pm - Sniper
Have a copy of Windows 2000 and more than one monitor with you?  Well this article by BetaOS is definitely for you

This information will guide you through the installation and troubleshooting of Multi-Monitor; the ability to setup secondary displays and extend your desktop to additional monitors. This guide assumes that you already have an operational PC and a supported display adapter with Windows 2000 installed and correct video drivers for your primary display (the display adapter already in your system). Also it is advised that you have your primary display adapter installed in PCI slot 1 (typically this slot is the farthest from the black ISA slots, and nearest the edge of the main logic board, otherwise consult your documentation for your PC).

Gigabyte GA-6WMM7 11:25 am - Wilfred
BXBoards readied another i810 mobo review. You know these boards are for really 'basic' PCs, but Gigabyte has thrown in various innovations to this otherwise simple board. So is it any good?

This is a pretty decent attempt at producing a i810 board. The GA-6WMM7 is faster and more stable when overclocked than the AOpen MX3W although 83mhz was still a no-no with the Celeron 366. The onboard hardware sound is a definate plus too and is backed up with generous connectivity possibilities on the mobo. I would not go as far as to call the GA-6WMM7 an innovative board - it is however a very competent product, ultimately hindered by a lacklustre chipset, and the reliance on the i752 for display duties.

Carmark On GeForce 11:20 am - Wilfred
No doubt the man will be consulted when there is a new arrival in the graphics scene. I correct myself, an impending arrival. Here's a snip from his little .plan update.

"I have been getting a lot of requests for commentary on two subjects lately:

Nvidia's new geometry accelerated card with the funny name. It is fast. Very, very fast. It has the highest fill rate of any card we have ever tested, has improved image quality over TNT2, and it gives timedemo scores 40% faster than the next closest score with extremely raw beta drivers. The throughput will definately improve even more as their drivers mature.

For max framerates in OpenGL games, this card is going to be very hard to beat. Q3's target of about 10,000 triangles a frame doesn't stress this card at all..."

Oh No! GeForce256 Bus Trip 11:14 am - Wilfred
Nope! It's a mighty press conference the chums at FiringSquad were treated to! There's lots of stuff, relevant and irrelevant, but there's a good load to be discovered - they even have a Q3 benchmark of the GeForce256 compared to the TNT2.

Another, more likely possibility is that the GeForce 256 does the expected - they process two textures per pixel through four pipes, giving up to 960Mtexel/sec. Now that's something to write home about. So why is it such a huge secret so far? Nvidia might be lying low on the number and waiting for 3dfx to disclose texture fill-rate numbers for their next-generation product, which many rumors have as exceeding 1000 million texels per second (putting it on-par with the announced specs for Bitboys' Glaze3D).

Matrox Millennium G400 32Mb 11:00 am - Wilfred
ActiveWindows did a review on the Millennium G400 32Mb with DualHead. Btw, I read in our forum that the G400 MAX finally arrived on the shores of Singapore, albeit at a high price of S$470.

The G400 is probably the best of the current crop of graphics cards out today, this doesn't mean that there are no problems with it - The OpenGL ICD driver for instance, isn't quite up to the standard of other cards OpenGL drivers yet, fingers crossed that this will change in the near future (I'm assured that it will). Direct3D performance is second to none and the image quality across the board is superb.

Both home and business users will find the top quality 2D and DualHead capability a very tasty addition, while gamers are likely to find the image quality excellent and Direct3D performance a big increase over other graphics cards and for those of you who want good DVD performance without shelling out for a separate DVD-Decoder card can't really go wrong. Overall its an excellent buy.

Metal Fatigue 10:15 am - David
Buddies over @ Firingsquad has something up about this game for you. New screenshots, interview and more!

Metal Fatigue brings a host of cool features to the RTS genre, namely modular units, and a three level battlefield. The modular units come in the form of giant robots called "Combots." To build these combots, the player decides which type of arm fittings (weapons) to equip them with, as well as a ton of torsos and leg fixtures that give the combot more weapons or special abilities. The combination of dozens of pieces allows for hundreds of possibilities. Metal Fatigue also features a fully rotatable and zoomable battlefield, thanks to its entirely 3D design.

Intel Demos Merced 10:01 am - David
EETimes mentioned that Intel has demonstrated it's working samples of Merced Silicon, take a look.

Barrett showed a workstation-like platform, containing Merced, running Windows 2000 as well as Linux. (Windows 2000 is the upcoming version of Windows NT; it was previously referred to as Windows 5.0. It is not a full 64-bit OS, but rather a hybrid 32/64-bit offering.)

How Much Will You Pay For The GeForce 256? 10:00 am - David
Saw over at eBay that someone has bidded $8,300 for the NVIDIA GeForce 256! Hmm, it states that all proceeds from this aution will go to charity, so it's for a good cause. Me? I'll wait till the prices drop. :)

IWill VD133 Motherboard Review 05:59 am - Kan
AGN Hardware reviewed the IWill VD133 Slot-1 motherboard. This one comes with the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset onboard instead of your usual Intel BX chipset. Yum yum, how does 133 Mhz FSB sounds to you?

As you can see from the table above, the Apollo Pro 133 is truly an impressive chipset that offers an impressive amount of options that is almost equal to Intel's upcoming Camino. The Camino is going to be a better chipset in the end, but they are also going to be priced at a higher price. This will make Camino based motherboards much more expensive than Apollo Pro133 motherboards. 

BitBoys Interview 05:49 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme did an interview with the BitBoys who's responsible for the Glaze3D chipset. With all the hype on the coming GeForce 256, looks like we have forgotten Glaze3D for now. :) 

A year on and a chip-short, Bitboys announced two new versions of the Glaze 3D chip earlier this month. Once again, the fill rates being mentioned are nigh on staggering. 600 million dual-textured pixels/second for the 1200 and 1200 million dual-textured pixels/second for the nippier 2400. In the same breath Bitboys Oy has gone on the record by saying that 200 frames per second should be possible with Glaze 3D 2400 in the Quake 3 Arena test. This time around, Infineon (formerly Siemens Semiconductor) is going to be chipping in by getting the Glaze 3D into silicon. With silicon due in January 2000 a 'product' is 'expected' to ship by Q2 2000.

Pentium III Heatsinks Roundup 05:47 am - Kan
HardwareCentral sent note on ther Pentium III Heatsinks and Roundup guide. Check'em out!

This might seem reasonable, but if you are trying to keep the CPU temperature as low as possible you must keep the thermal resistance as low as possible. Thermal resistance is the (in)ability of the heat generated to dissipate, as measured in K/W (Kelvin per Watt), an indication of the heat pumping ability of the heatsink. Obviously you want this value to be as low as possible, so you want the minimum of material between the CPU and the actual cooling device; in an ideal situation the CPU and the cooling device will be directly thermally interfaced.

BIOS Optimization Guide Updated 05:21 am - Kan
Adrian's Rojak Pot updated Part IV of the BIOS Optimization Guide and included more information on how to configure integrated peripherals in your system.

ASUS V3800 TNT2 05:19 am - Kan
360Degrees whipped up an enjoyable article on the ASUS V3800 TNT2 graphics card

The cabling alone makes the ASUS V3800 Ultra Deluxe stand out.  Many multimedia peripherals do not include every type of cable.  Thanks to ASUS my Creative Labs DVD kit can now use all the outputs without a trip to Fry’s Electronics.  The other nice feature is the SGRAM.  SGRAM can use more aggressive timings and result in better performance.  Finally, the last standout feature is the 3D Glasses.  All I can say is they are cool to show your friends but there is no extra edge you get in gaming.  On the plus side my five year-old brother seems to really like them in Turok 2.

2 September 1999 - Thursday

Computing On The Run
16:52 pm - Wilfred
I just think this is a funny editorial you should catch if you're now sitting idle at your desk. Hannibal at ArsTechnica poured his thoughts about the present state of portable computing and things he feel should be changed. LOL!

When the beginning of June rolled around and finals ended, I took a trip down South. Since I had to work on my part of the Ars Technica Office 2000 Review, I took the laptop with me in order to work on the review on the plane. This would have been ok if I had bought a first class ticket, but as it was, I was stuck back in coach, right by the exit row in one of those special seats that won't lean back. I may not have been able to lean back, but the guy in front of me sure could. By the time he got comfortable, I didn't have enough room to turn around. I reached down and worked the laptop out of its case (an ordeal in itself), fired it up, and began typing. Because of the guy in front of me, I couldn't really open the laptop all the way, so the screen had to be bent forward at what seemed like a 45 degree angle. The LCD didn't look too hot at this angle...

G4, And Why Intel Is Sweating! 16:47 pm - Wilfred
Heheh... check out this piece at osOpinion! After the cutesy iMacs, now the G4 speed demons, I think Apple got our attention - seriously and otherwise! A delightful snip:

Not only does Apple matter, but Apple is now setting the pace. Once again, the PC industry is playing catch-up with Apple. At every turn, we are seeing the companies that use to simply shake their head and move on, are now in a frantic frenzy to match Apple's innovations. The recent display of the iMac knockoffs are more then enough evidence that the Wintel industry's eye is on the Mac.

And now, those eyes, those very same eyes that are so closely watching the iMac, are now the eyes of a dear in headlights. The G4. Gigaflop. Intel, prepare to burn.

ActionTec USB Call-Waiting Modem 16:39 pm - Wilfred
Sounds pretty cool ain't it? CoolComputing has a short review on the above modem that sports a very useful feature for you! A blurb:

The call-waiting capability is quite cool and very useful.  To use it you need to have the call-waiting service from your local telephone company. Actiontec offers its own Call Waiting Utility to set up the feature.  When there is an incoming call, you can either have the modem ring or hang up.  You can also opt to disable the call waiting notification feature all together.

It is interesting to see how the data transfer does not stop (the DX LED light continues to flash) as the modem rings to signal an incoming call. You can either ignore the ringing, which will stop after about five rings, or simply pick up the phone and start talking. Actiontec claims that, depending on the ISP, you can talk for about seven seconds before the modem will hang up its connection.

GeForce 256 A Somewhat "Laymen's" Brief 15:20 pm - Sniper
GameWire has just released an article titled A Somewhat "Laymen's Brief" on the NVIDIA GeForce 256. It includes alot of information about what the new Geforce is going to do and exactly why that matters.

The simple explanation of low frame rates with fast cards is that the CPU is overworked. Even the fastest processors are having a tough time chucking enough information out to keep the games running 100% smooth. Way back in the hay-days of the Voodoo, which took over the rendering and texture work, this was a HUGE relief on the CPU. (Any of you that went from software rendered Quake II to 3dfx OpenGL with the Voodoo2 KNOW what I am talking about, It was a simple Case of WOW!). The speed pickup was simply amazing.
However, The games continued to get more complex, and the gamers hungered for more, and faster. Now we are right back to the point again, where there is more game than the CPU is able to handle on it's own. Sure, we can continue to make the Video cards faster and faster, but what good does all that power do us if the card is sitting around doing nothing? Enter the GeForce 256, with onboard Lighting and Transform engines

Samsung SyncMaster 900SL 15:19 pm - Kan
There's a blurb on the Samsung SyncMaster 900SL 19" monitor over at ComChip. Darn, when will the freaking 21" monitor prices go down??

Getting more technical, the 900SL uses a shadow mask display with 0.25 dot pitch. Putting that into perspective, a 0.28 or 0.27 dot pitch would be classed as ‘budget monitors’, while many graphics professionals use 0.25 and smaller. Along with ‘Colorific’ colour matching technology, the colours are vivid and rich, and the text is crisp and clear. The maximum resolution is 1600x1200 at 76Hz, which in my opinion is practically microscopic =) I don’t think even money forgers need to go that high.

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 6800 Review 14:45 pm - Sniper
These guys at StorageReview are efficient, another review is out.  This time it's the DiamondMax Plus 6800.

Maxtor's entry in this latest battle is the DiamondMax Plus 6800. As its name indicates, this newest Maxtor is a 7200rpm unit featuring 6.8 gigs per platter. Its seek time is specified as "less than nine milliseconds." Unlike its predecessor, the Plus 5120, the Plus 6800 was designed from the ground up to go toe-to-toe with Western Digital's Expert and IBM's Deskstar GXP series. The drive features an ATA-66 interface and a two megabyte buffer. Judging from Maxtor's press releases and white papers issued on the drive, the manufacturer takes great pride in the electronics of the Plus 6800. This newest Maxtor incorporates the company's "DualWave" processor, theoretically increasing performance and reliability through the use of fewer parts. A look at the effects of a simple cache increase (Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 5120, OEM vs. Retail) proved that increasing cache size alone provides little if any increase in performance. Maxtor takes great pains to emphasize, however, that the DualWave controller was designed with two megabytes of buffer in mind. A three-year warranty protects the drive.

Tennmax Detonator TNT Cooler Review 14:35 pm - Sniper
3D Spotlight has just posted a review of the Tennmax Detonator TNT cooler. We looked at it also, check it out!

Seeing the TNT Detonator pictured in other reviews made me eager to try this unique cooler out. The thing that makes this cooler unique is the thin layer of metal placed on the side for air to pass though and cool. The fan inside the center of the heatsink pushes the air onto the thin layers of metal. The entire unit is light and may feel underpowered, but like I said before, efficiency is the key to a good heatsink and fan combo.

Sound Blaster Live! Platinum 07:00 am - Kan
Some very juicy news from our pals over at ALive! on the possibility of a new soundcard from Creative. Check out the Sound Blaster Live! Platinum!

Barely a year after the original Sound Blaster Live! was introduced, Creative has another version in their sleeves.

What features will it have? Will Creative phase out the original versions?

nVidia Domain Registration Spree 06:56 am - Kan
Check out TheRegister where they posted info on nVidia latest domain registration spree. Apparently they don't want anybody to run a anti-GeForce 256 website.


Gigabyte Slot-1 Motherboard With SCSI 06:52 am - Kan
AnandTech posted a new review on the Gigabyte GA-6BXU Slot-1 motherboard with SCSI controller onboard.

The 4/3/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration is a little dated these days, but since SCSI is integrated on the board, it's not as much of an issue as it usually is. All 4 PCI and 1 of the ISA slots are full length. Fortunately, four DIMM slots are provided to allow for maximum memory expansion. ATX specifications are followed fairly closely, with all HDD/FDD/SCSI connectors located just in front of the DIMM slots. The ATX power connector is along the right edge of the board and shouldn't cause any cable clutter. The PCB is a little larger than the ABIT BH6, so should fit fine in any standard ATX case.

More GeForce 256 06:50 am - Kan
This sure is exciting after I really get down to read some of the GeForce 256 articles around. check out what SharkyExtreme has to say about the GeForce 256 chip from nVidia. Hmm, 256-bit architecture sure sounds mind boggling.

NVIDIA will be touting the GeForce 256 this week at Intel Developers Forum as a Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU for short. This is because of the addition of transformation and lighting 'on-chip', with the geometry calculation stage of the 3D pipeline to be off-loaded from the CPU. Concurrently, the CPU should have the added bonus of more bandwidth, which should allow game developers the ability to focus the CPU upon improving the level of physics and AI, should they choose to implement hardware T&L. In addition, NVIDIA's gem boasts 50 Gigaflops of floating-point calculation capability which is set to be dedicated to 3D. According to NVIDIA's statement, such performance rivals a Cray T3D 256-processor (Cray T3D is an MPP 'no shared memory' computer with a theoretical peak of 300 gigaflops with 2048 processors).

Quake 3 Bus Tour 06:45 am - Kan
What Extreme Hardware written sure sounds interesting. Imagine having Quake3 on a bus? (mucha like in Bangkok where chicks pull you up the bus. Well, a man gotta do what a man must do).

Saturday the bus was parked in front of CompUSA as promised.  I'll have to say the pictures on the net don't do it justice. It's not a mural folks - it's a huge sticker wrapped around the bus.  It had to be cut in certain areas to make it fit but it is indeed one huge bumper sticker. When I walked up I was greeted by someone from id who let me know there were 2 levels on the bus not currently seen yet on the Arena Test.  I also had a small conversation with a representative from AMD.

Windows 2000 Build 2114 06:41 am - Kan
Our childhood buds over at NT Game Palace sent note on the release of Windows 2000 Build 2114. If you are an official tester you can get the files from here. (Psst, do you have the password?)

Soyo SY-6BA+ III 06:40 am - Kan
HardwarePros reviewed the Soyo SY-6BA+ III Slot-1 motherboard. Even though I've not personally try any Soyo motherboards before (hint hint), but from the looks of it, it looks like a good board too.

This motherboard, as you may have already guessed is the Soyo SY-6BA+III motherboard.  This is Soyo's successor to the popular SY-6BA which was also based on the i440BX AGPset.  So as you can imagine, with a second generation board combined with Soyo's excellent motherboard design skills and the proven performance and reliability of the i440BX AGPset, you've got a potential masterpiece.

1 September 1999 - Wednesday

Early Coppermine Arrival 20:39 pm - Wilfred
Next is Intel's plan to deliver Coppermine sooner than intended, with faster clockspeeds as well. Didn't I tell you competition is good! =)

Coppermine, which represents a process shrink from quarter micron, also includes 256 kilobytes of secondary on-chip cache. The faster production ramp plays against the backdrop of a resurgent Advanced Micro Devices, in Sunnyvale, Calif., which has pushed a 650-MHz Athlon processor across the chess board at Intel. AMD said the device has the same performance as a 700-MHz Pentium III.

Smallest PII Micro Motherboard! 20:31 pm - Wilfred
Saw this link at Slashdot about this amazing product from Cell Computing. You wanna know what it means by miniaturization? Here's the spec sheet (in PDF) of the product, or you may want to see the site for yourself. Yeah, this is IT! Board, mobile PII-333mhz, up to 256Mb of SDRAM, Super I/O and more!

G4 Macs: Banned From Iraq, China, N.Korea? 19:21 pm - Wilfred
Wow! It is that powerful huh? Check out this blurb at The Register about Apple's latest 'desktop-supercomputer' modestly dubbed to be 100-200% faster than the fastest Pentium III CPUs. 1Mb L2 cache, 32 128-bit registers (8x that of the PIII) etc etc!

Steve Jobs, no stranger to the dramatic announcement, introduced the Power Mac G4 yesterday in San Francisco, dubbing it "the first desktop supercomputer" and the fastest PC ever created - 'PC', you'll note, not 'workstation'. It has a specification and price makes it a very attractive offering, and as it is capable of one Gigaflop (a billion floating point operations per second) it can't be exported to countries like China, Iraq or North Korea.

Jobs claimed the machine is 2.94 times faster than a 600MHz Pentium III according to data found on an Intel Web site, but Apple's product spec. more modestly credits it with being 100-200 per cent faster than the fastest PIIIs in CPU and Adobe Photoshop tests.

Cookies  19:09 pm - Wilfred
Yeah, most likely you are either uninformed about its existence or never really cared if they do, and perhaps some of you disabled its use altogether. Nevertheless, osOpinion has an article on its abuse by some webmasters (hey! not us all right! =P).

Webmaster must respect our refusal to accept cookies and not harass us with the attack of the infinite cookies or sending us to a web page that patronizingly informs us how to turn off the cookie protection in our browsers so we can surrender our freedom. That's pure blackmail as far as I'm concerned.

NT RAM & PageFile Optimization 19:01 pm - Wilfred
Administrators and NT users take note, the team at ArsTechnica just spewed a tweaking guide for your NT machines. As usual, you can count on them for the details. Here's a blurb:

Unfortunately, most users never question their virtual memory, or "pagefile", settings. That's too bad because there are numerous ways to improve upon the default settings NT will establish on install, many of which can really affect the speed of your machine. It's not uncommon to see someone who, upon experiencing a good amount of disk thrashing, heads out to buy more RAM when RAM isn't the problem. You have to be able to analyze your needs intelligently. 

AOpen MX3W i810 Board 18:55 pm - Wilfred
Earlier in the day, Andy mailed of his latest review on AOpen's i810 based MX3W board. Meant for super-budgeted buyers, this board has onboard ATA/66 support, i752 graphics controller and sound. Sometimes we want all-in-one, but sometimes we'll rather NOT! In this case, such boards will appeal to corporate desktops for general administrative work.

The onboard video is just fine for Windows based tasks, but is severely underpowered for any sort of 3d gaming. Quake 3 is just about playable at 640x480 in 16-bit colour, but the frame-rates are not compelling. I was actually a closet i740 fan and used an i740 board right up until the TNT2 came out in my own system, but the i752 is more of the same, just a bit quicker. You probably won't be able to buy video cards based on the i752 chipset, and believe me, you are not missing out. Its acceptable in low-cost solutions such as this board, and its just fine for Windows GDI tasks, but its no 3d powerhouse. Gamers definately need to look elsewhere.

Debian 2.1r2 17:16 pm - Kan
CPUReview sent note on their latest review on the Linux package - Debian 2.1r2.

Actually, the documentation is there, but it is in the 'install' directory; and under Windows what appear to be 0 length files in the doc directory are actually links to the files in the install directory.

The documentation, while somewhat terse, is actually pretty good. The biggest mistake they made was not to include a piece of paper (or print on the CD) a single line, which said "See install/index.html for documentation on how to install Debian."

Seven Kingdoms 2 17:06 pm - Kan
More game reviews as iGamer brought to us Seven Kingdoms 2 and an interesting puzzle game called AHa.

The return of Seven Kingdoms is here. In Seven Kingdoms 2 you will be amazed with the look of the game, its clean and looks great in 3D. The buildings are in high detail as are the units, this game rocks and has some great additions. The game has been changed around just a bit which is good. From what I can see they have taken their time to make a new game rather then using the first game as a blueprint. In my opinion that is cool. Most of these games are just clones, but they made more than enough improvements and additions to sk2, like the seven new species!.

Hidden & Dangerous 16:56 pm - Kan
Hey, this is one of the games which I managed to play this year. Kinda interesting but too difficult for my paws to control and play. Anyway, check out what FiringSquad has to say:

In Hidden and Dangerous, you command a squad of soldiers through twenty-three different missions. You have a pool of forty soldiers to choose from; some elite commandos, some average Joes, and some in-between. You can bring four men into each mission, and eight into each campaign. Each campaign is about four missions long, so if you lose some men, you've got back-up forces. You also chose equipment for each campaign and then for each mission. If you don't feel like perusing all the options available to you, there's an auto-setup option that will pick forces and equipment for you.

Vantec P3D-5030 Cooler 16:54 pm - Kan
Our buds over at iXBT Hardware reviewed the Vantec P3D-5030 Cooler. The size of this cooler is awesome again!

Two fans. A pair of fans is undoubtedly better than a single one, but there is also something to cavil at. The thing is that the first fan has three contacts and the second one only two, that is why if the latter stops (having absorbed too much dust from the protective grating, for instance) then the user won't notice anything while the overall cooling will get considerably worse.

Where Is W2K RC1 For Other Countries? 16:50 pm - Kan
Obviously we have to thank our uncles over at SL Square for the provision of RC1 in this little town. Anyway, BetaOS whipped up an interesting article on why Windows 2000 RC1 is not available in many countries outside the US. Pure discrimination again (as usual).

“Oh, ok” says a Microsoft representative “in that case I am not sure, you know it takes some time for products to get through the channel, and as you have to order it from the US…  There should be a CPP newsletter going out in the next few days, but I don’t have it here, so I can’t tell you what it says…”

ABIT BE6 16:48 pm - Kan
Our pals over at HotHardware sent note on their review on the ABIT BE6. All I can say is I will get this board personally. :)

Set up on the BE6 was a snap with one exception, playing around with IRQ resources for the ATA66 Controller was a bit of a guessing game. The board does thankfully let you designate what IRQ will be assigned to SOME of the PCI Slots. However, they are often paired up with other resources on the board like the AGP Slot or the ATA66 Controller. This issue was nothing more than a nuisance to us and we prevailed fairly easily on setting up a somewhat complex system with most all slots full.

GeForce 256 IRC Logs 16:46 pm - Kan
Looks like the chaps over at ComputingPros logged down the nVidia IRC channel with lots of juicy information on the GeForce 256. Check'em out!

Mac Upgrades 10:05 am - Kan
We have something new over at Sharky where they examined the MAXpower G3 466 vs MACh Carrier 450 CPU upgrades for Macs. Gee they sure sounds like some fighter jets to me.

An important issue to consider when thinking about upgrading your PowerMac is compatibility. If you have after market hardware, you need to check with the makers to make sure that they are compatible with G3 upgrades. And if you have older software that is no longer updated, you should also make sure that it is compatible with G3 upgrades. Also, check with Newer Technology and XLR8 about compatibility with the hardware you have. While both products are compatible with almost everything, in some rare instances, it is possible to find that upgrades are not even an option. Speed and features do not matter when your machine will not boot. The major issue of G3 upgrade compatibility has to do with speculative processing.

Gaming At 650 Mhz 10:02 am - Kan
Review-Zone released an article telling us how they felt about playing games at 650 Mhz. Darn, life sure is fast at that speed.

In order to make this a fair comparison, we included a 650MHz Pentium III to compete with the 650MHz Athlon. We did this with an engineering sample of a Pentium III 600, since enginering samples aren't clock-locked; the processor was set to 6.5x100MHz in order to replicate a 650MHz Pentium III. It may not be the real thing and there sure as hell is no Pentium III 650 on the market. But this is the closest way to get Pentium III 650 performance, and so this is the processor marked as a Pentium III 650 on the benchmarks

USB 2.0 Got a Boost 09:51 am - Kan
This is exciting. USB 2.0 got a boost from the previously announced speed of 120 to 240 Mbps to the latest speed target of 360-480 Mbps. This is horrifying!

The increased bandwidth of USB 2.0 will permit PC peripherals with more functionality, including faster broadband internet connections, higher resolution video conferencing cameras, next generation printers and scanners and fast external storage units. USB 2.0 also will make today's applications more productive, such as reducing the time to download a ``roll'' of digital photos from a few minutes on the earlier version of USB to only a few seconds on USB 2.0.

Because USB 2.0 is an evolution of the existing USB 1.1 specification, it will be fully forward and backward compatible with current USB systems and peripherals. Even with the new speed target, USB 2.0 will work with existing cables and connectors.

ECS P6BXT-A+ 09:43 am - Kan
FullOn3D put up a review of the ECS P6BXT-A+ Slot1 and Socket370 motherboard. Hmm, this board offers plenty of room for expansion but probably will be outdated soon with the new Camino chipset and stuffs like that.

The unique feature of Elitegroup’s P6BXT-A+ motherboard is that it has both a Slot 1 and Socket 370 connector on board. Therefore, someone could choose to buy a Socket 370 Celeron and then upgrade to a Pentium III when it becomes cheaper. However, an extra PCI slot (4 instead of 5) is sacrificed. The user could also do the exact same by buying a Slot 1 motherboard with a Celeron Slotcket card. That way, there could have been 5 PCI slots instead of the lacking 4, which cannot hold full length PCI cards because the I/O light connectors are in the way.

Superpower Landmark ATX Mid Tower 09:39 am - Kan
Something new over at the house of Anand is the Superpower Landmark ATX Mid Tower review. Talking about casings, I just saw one which cost over 400 bucks *cough cough*.

The look of the Landmark KS-299 screams Packard Bell when you first see it - the only thing that's missing is the logo. The gray base and contoured plastic side panel are the biggest visual cues producing said look. Whether or not you think this is good or bad is of course a matter of personal opinion. However, that bezel is quite functional and features power, sleep, and reset buttons plus power, sleep, and HD LED's. It snaps in and out of the case frame fairly easily.

Nocturne 09:36 am - Kan
We have another preview on the horror game Nocturne over at 3DRage.

The 1930's era was quite a decade, especially the one in Nocturne. During his presedential term, Theodore Roosevelt, in a drastic effort to counteract the growing presence of supernatural forces that were prominently growing, created a special investigation bureau unofficially dubbed the Spookhouse. You assume the role of "The Stranger", a double .45 carrying, shotgun toting, trenchcoat wearing monster hunter. You will be sent out to face and counteract almost every supernatural force you can conceive of throughout the world, all the while rescueing bystanders, foiling diabolical plots, and kicking some monster ass.

GeForce 256 09:34 am - Kan
Something new over at FiringSquad where the chaps covered the nVidia GeForce 256 chipset recently announced.

As most of you have probably figured out, the "GeForce 256" is the official name of the chip formerly known as the NV10. Dubbed a graphics processing unit (GPU), the GeForce 256's claim to fame is a "full-solutions package." By combining hardware-accelerated transformation and lighting to the well-established standards of triangle setup and rasterization, the GeForce 256 manages to accelerate the entire 3D graphics pipeline, from start to finish.

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