8 February 2000 - Tuesday

Four
- 20:24 pm Kan
Like it or not.  Four more days to go (err, I mean to our scheduled server maintenance). =)

Build your Own Gaming Machine - 17:58 pm Kan
Thumb of rule. Grab whichever parts are the most expensive in the market, wack them into the same machine, and viola, you have your own ultimate gaming machine. Of course, if you are looking for some suggestions on what to buy, check out Gamelinks.net article on building your own gaming machine

The Celeron is based on the Pentium II. The Celeron chips available now have 128KB on-die L2 cache, whereas the Pentium II had 512KB external (not in the core) L2 cache. Pentium III chips are essentially Pentium II chips with added instructions that supposedly increased performance. Pentium IIIb are Pentium III chips that support the faster 133Mhz front side bus. And Pentium IIIe are the latest P3s from Intel that are based on the 0.18micron process. Pentium IIIe have 256KB on-die cache.

ASUS K7M - 17:57 pm Kan
RivaExtreme took apart the ASUS K7M Athlon motherboard and gave some of their comments on it:

The ASUS K7M, though a bit of a latecomer to the Athlon fray, has made a name for itself quickly. At a time when AMD had the clear performance crown, it still had a very difficult time getting Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers to support their new processor platform. Upon release, FIC, MSI, Gigabyte, and Biostar were the only manufacturers producing motherboards for the Athlon. The boards themselves were in very short supply, and none of them really had the polish or features that a flagship motherboard should have. AMD had more Athlons that it had boards to but them in. ASUS soon stepped in to the picture with the K7M, its initial Athlon motherboard offering. The K7M looks much different that it's competitors, and offers the polish, tweakability, and stability, that we had seen in some second or third generation BX chipset based boards.

Altec Lansing 45.2 Speakers - 17:53 pm Kan
Fancy a new pair of speakers? Check out TargetPC review on the Altec Lansing 45.2 speakers.

The frequency response of 35Hz-20KHz is another matter entirely. This spec is useless without a tolerance (i.e. plus or minus X decibels). Professional speakers costing in the thousands of dollars have to struggle to meet either a reasonable 35Hz or 20KHz output. Measurements revealed still another surprise. While the 45.2’s couldn’t reproduce 35Hz at any appreciable volume the low-end curve, relative to 100Hz, dug deep. The –3dB point was 56Hz and the –6dB point was 50Hz, not only respectable numbers but essentially matching the classic 48’s. Even though the 6.5" woofers appear to be the exact same units, I expected a more sharply rolled off curve due to the smaller and different cabinet design. Kudos to Altec again.

Liveware 3 Under W2K - 17:49 pm Kan
Yup, Philipp from NT Compatible dropped us a line on the updated HOWTO to get those naughty Liveware 3 drivers to work under Windows 2000. Included in the documentation is how to setup the 4-pt speakers, EAX as well as soundfonts. You can download them from here

Windows Millennium Debut 26 May 2000 - 13:36 pm Wilfred
So what new garnish are we expecting? Read this report at WinInfo's site that Microsoft will be releasing Windows Millennium 26 May this year. Heh, it'll feature a 'resurrection mode' as well! =)

Millennium features a new TCP/IP stack, a System Restore feature, silent installation of USB keyboards, mice, and hubs, a Movie Maker application for recording, editing, publishing, and organizing audio and video content, the removal of Real mode DOS, and a number of other small improvements over Windows 98. Microsoft is designing this release around four key goals, digital media and entertainment, the online experience, home networking, and "it just works," a marketing phrase designed to promote Millennium's self-healing capabilities and compatibility with a vast array of hardware and software.

SoundBlaster Live! Platinum - 13:29 pm Wilfred
This cream of the crop sound card is reviewed at Cole3D. You will prolly like this card if you the use for its high-end features.

I have been using this card for a little over a month, and I have grown partial to it. The EAX rocks, but I don't think it is as good as A3D in gaming. The bad thing is that A3D isn't supported in many games, and when it is supported, you get a pretty big hit in performance, unlike when using EAX.

The SB Live! definitely passes my gaming sound quality tests, but what about the windows sound, mp3, cd, and music sound? Well, it is just as good as the gaming sound quality if not better. This may be partially because of the kickass Klispch speakers I'm using, but the music is very crisp and clear.

Shuttle AV64 VIA Apollo Pro 133A - 13:25 pm Wilfred
Andy of BXBoards mailed about his review on the AV64 Apollo Pro 133A board from Shuttle. He's generally happy with what he tested, except for some minor gripes... a 4 out of 5 TICKS!

This is a potentially good product, let down by its failure to work with Socket 370 convertor boards. It is possible this incompatibility could be resolved as this is a hot-of-the-press board, and was supplied with photocopied manual, and a CDR with drivers. The board tested was revision 1.3 which suggests a certain product maturity. Unusually this product does not score the full 5/5 for stability - even non overclocked we occasionally saw BSOD's under testing, particularly with P2's. In fact the board generally seemed much happier when P3's were used. In many cases plugging in a P2 resulted in no-video, and no CPU fan rotation, a sure sign of something amiss. And no matter what we did, the board refused to work with Socket 370 CPUs, testing with MSI 6905, Powerleap, and Asus convertor cards.

PIII-550E At Digital Clips - 13:22 pm Wilfred
The boys at Digital-Clips also got their paws on a highly overclockable PIII-550E for review. Have a read of this! I've witnessed for myself the amazing speeds attainable... very good bang for the buck!

No matter how much we love to flame Intel for their controversial marketing and legal actions against anyone who dares to compete with them, you hafta admit they still make one hell of a processor. More importantly, they make one helluva overclockable processor. They did an outstanding job with the initial Celeron A series when practically every chip could run 50% above spec. Now they’ve continued with the Coppermine PIIIE series in similar fashion. The full-speed L2 cache makes for a huge performance increase, and the smaller 0.18micron core allows it to run at a lower wattage, burning less power and producing less heat. Couple that with the unique flip-chip design which makes for excellent heat dissipation and you have one extremely overclockable product. Kickass job, Chipzilla!

Gamer's Review of Windows 2000 - 13:18 pm Wilfred
So Microsoft is not targeting W2k at the consumers this round, but how exactly does it fair for gaming enthusiasts who might want a more robust OS. Does W2k live up to it as a gaming platform? It has DirectX 7.0 afterall... GamePC put forth the first installation of their W2k article and promises more ahead. Check this out!

Windows 2000 is the first major consumer OS that is NOT based on the old DOS 16-bit core code. Almost every Windows-based OS, including Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95 and Windows 98 are basically just glorified MS-DOS shells. While the user interface seemed to have been getting updated and more advanced, the heart of the OS was based on the good ole' DOS kernel from yesteryear. On the other hand, Windows 2000's core is based on the NT kernel, which was built from the ground up to handle 32-bit applications which are standard today. The core NT kernel is much better at handling large amounts of memory, hard drive space, along with the ability to handle more than one processor in a computer. We do though, give up native DOS support that was included with Windows 95/98, but there still are traces of MS-DOS throughout Windows 2000, but only through an emulated command prompt. Considering about only 5% of the games on the market still use some form of MS-DOS to run, we're glad to see it left behind in the dust.

ASUS P3C-E i820 Motherboard - 13:13 pm Wilfred
The P3C-E is reviewed at SharkyExtreme today. Well, this para about the RDRAM specifications is rather interesting, in case some of you are confused over the terms.

When many consumers see PC800 they think, "Eight times more speed…hmm, let's get it!" We'd like to be able to say that PC800 does boast speed increases of 8x, but there is underlying fine print.

The memory bus we are all used to operates at 100MHz and is 64-bits wide. Rambus' offering runs at 400MHz (transferring on the rising and falling edges of the clock) and is 16-bits wide. What this essentially translates into is a faster Rambus interface (in terms of frequency) with added latency because of the smaller "width" of the bus.

Current Technology - 13:10 pm Wilfred
Chick's Hardware UK put together a first parter editorial about the present state of technology with most of it covering 3D tech.

Most video cards only output 24 bit/8bit stencil. Going from 16bit to 32bit effectively halves the Maximum Acheivable Performance (doesn't necessarily half actual performance.), since you carry 2x more in the system bus (AGP or PCI), and 2x more ram is taken (amount of ram being used varies between what you doing). FXT1 gives the bus more bandwidth, and more memory. Lightmaps were made because of this. Most 3D hardware could not handle vertex, radiosity, and specular lighting, since they took up more space. So, developers came up with light maps. They are similar (in purpose), to Compression. Lightmaps, are basically pre-calculated lights. They don't look as good as Specular or Vertex lighting, but they take up less bandwidth. Now you may be wondering, "what does this have to do with FXT1, get back on the subject, man". Well, if FXT1 (or any compression algorithm) becomes widely supported, more developers will use Vertex lighting (which also can make great fog effects), since they have more bandwidth and ram available. Developers will also start using higher resolution textures and the compressing them. This will make games more realistic and detailed.

AMD Demonstrates 1.1GHz ATHLON - 09:07 am Sniper
"AMD today demonstrated a 1.1 GHz(1100 MHz) version of the AMD Athlon™ processor manufactured in its Fab 30 facility in Dresden, Germany."  Read it here

SUNNYVALE, CA--February 7, 2000--AMD today demonstrated a 1.1 GHz(1100 MHz) version of the AMD Athlon™ processor manufactured in its Fab 30 facility in Dresden, Germany. The demonstration featured the newest version of the AMD Athlon processor that integrates high-performance on-die Level 2 (L2) cache. The device is manufactured utilizing AMD's leading-edge
HiP6L 0.18 micron process technology featuring copper interconnects. The demonstration required no special cooling techniques and was shown in conjunction with a presentation at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

Wilfred Coughs  - 02:18 am Wilfred
Hey all... we kinda neglected the site for a good day for reasons you'll find out in the week ahead. No, we didn't go on a holiday to the alps nor fall ill due to over-eating during the festive CNY season. Okie, time to Zzzzz... am yelling at the boys in the bunker to do the same! Lights off! =)

Tyan Trinity S1854 Rev 3 Review  - 02:13 am Wilfred
The Trinity is a good board that Tyan went through 3 revisions to bring it updated with bug fixes, processor support as well as performance tuning. LostCircuits wrote about it in a concise review. Hmm.. it doesn't seem like AGP4X is really working or making a difference on any board huh? Darn.

The third revision of the Tyan S1854 Trinity 400 has finally been touched by the magic charm. The board has considerably matured and the fine tuning of the BIOS as well as the incorporation of options missing from the previous revisions have opened up an entirely new spectrum of performance.

VIA KX-133 At Anand's  - 02:06 am Wilfred
The man delivered on his promise to give you something on the KX133 today. It's a long one you'll want to read in detail over.

First of all, finding motherboards based on the AMD 750 chipset will become increasingly difficult as the KX133 motherboard solutions become available on the market.  This should happen within the next two months, although you’ll be able to buy KX133 motherboards within a few weeks. 

Secondly, although the AMD 750 with SuperBypass enabled is on-par with, and sometimes faster than the KX133 even when using a 133MHz memory bus, keep in mind that not all revisions of the AMD 750 chipset support this feature.  So while the AMD 750 may be the faster overall chipset, keep in mind that not all revisions of the chipset are created equal.

Third, the KX133 may be slower than the AMD 750 with SuperBypass enabled, but things could be much worse.  For one thing, we noticed no AGP incompatibility problems with AGP 4X video cards and the KX133 chipset (AGP 4X was enabled for our test GeForce card using the Detonator 3.68 drivers) which was received by a huge sigh of relief after expecting quite a few AGP related problems from this chipset (judging by past history).

D-Link USB Radio  - 02:03 am Wilfred
Once again, if you haven't heard or read about it yet, SystemLogic gives you the chance to - today. The D-Link USB Radio is one of the possible uses you might have for that idling USB port in your PC.

The clarity I received with the USB PC Radio was crystal clear. I had no problems at all with the installation, the software. The USB PC Radio seems to be a very solid product. The features in the software are great. Some of the highlights I liked were its ability to store up to 200 preset channels, its incorporated recording/playback controls, and WAV to MP3 software.

FiringSquad Takes Carmack Hostage  - 01:59 am Wilfred
The guards at the FiringSquad interrogated John Carmack on his product - Quake III and more. Here's a snippet:

FS: Why do you think people like Quake 3?
John: Specifically what we set out to do with Quake 3 was just a completely eyes-wide-open-focus on the game just being fun while you're playing it. There's no sense of hubris about the grand design or anything about it, or trying to impose a story or a tale on top of all this. It's looking at a game in it's fundamental sense of what you're doing has to be fun. It's not a matter of beating the game into submission or accomplishing something, the actions have to be fun."

Intel Pentium III 500E FC-PGA  - 01:53 am Wilfred
It's not surprising that so many are excited over the 500E/550E CuMines for the reason that these are extremely overclockable chips. iXBT Hardware told us of their comprehensive review some hours back.

FC-PGA Pentium III represents a new very promising direction. Socket 370 remains the only processor socket for Intel CPUs until the launching of Willamette in the end of the year, which will use its own Socket. With the cost only $30 higher than the elder Celeron models, Intel Pentium III 500E shows beautiful performance. Besides, due to the new 0.18 micron technology and L2 integrated on-die cache, this CPU can boast a huge overclocking potential and allows increasing its frequency up to 133% from the nominal. So, FC-PGA Pentium III opens a new epoch for Socket 370. However, to our great disappointment FC-PGA Pentium III still faces one very serious problem - compatibility with old mainboards that is why we wouldn't call this CPU a good upgrading solution.

 

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