28 January 2000 - Friday

It's The Games, Stupid!
- 18:12 pm
Wilfred
osOpinion takes a cynical look at the PC upgrading cycle spawn by release of multimedia-rich games that pushed the envelop of peripheral development since the dawn of computing. Here's a categorization of people with their various reasons to upgrade... I'm a schmuck (but without deep pockets), so described.

It's crazy. Will that GeForce card make Microsoft Word type faster? Nope. Will the 500MHz CPU make voice recognition work? Yeah, right.

There's no question that it was business apps that made the IBM-compatible market explode, and relegated Apple to the niche markets it currently holds. But since CPU's hit about 300MHz, there's been no driving need for business to have these smokin' fast machines. So why in the hell are we going gaga over Pentium and Athlon chips running at 800? Why do we care that you can get a $500 video card that's what, 10% to 30% faster than the previous generation?

Games. And it seems to be broken down into three groups: Those without means get Playstation, Dreamcast and Nintendo boxes. Those kids whose parents don't know a computer from a calculator and who are of deep pockets, those ones get the monster PCs. And finally, you get the schmucks like me (or more accurately, my friends) who just have to have the latest and best, and nothing else will do.

i820 Camino Roundup - 18:03 pm Wilfred
AnandTech pushed out a brand new roundup on some of the i820 boards in the market. If you're considering a Camino board today, here's some 19 pages of ANANDY-goodness you won't want to miss.

If you’re in the market for an i820 motherboard, AOpen is the way to go. The AX6C and AX6C-L are both very stable and very reliable contenders for the best i820 motherboard, and just as the AX6B was to the BX motherboard market, expect these motherboards to remain on top in terms of reliability and stability in the long run. 

The ability to manually select the RDRAM clock multiplier is a very useful feature, especially when overclocking, and it was a very good idea for AOpen to include that feature within the BIOS setup of both boards.

Gigabyte GA-71X Athlon Mobo - 17:59 pm Wilfred
Going the way of AMD? The Athlon is good stuff, but you have to have a worthy motherboard to match it! Gamers Depot reviewed the GA-71X motherboard and you will want to know what they have to say about Gigabyte's entry!

Using the AMD 751 "Irongate" Northbridge and the AMD 756 "Viper" Southbridge chipset, you see that it fully supports 2X AGP, UDMA/66, and 3 DIMM Sockets. 3 DIMM sockets should be suitable for most gamers, as I have yet to meet any that are running more than 768MB.

We slapped various Athlon chips into the board, including a 650, 700, 750, and an 800. We ran the GA-71X for hours on end testing for system stability, and how well it did with heat build up in the case. During the course of all of our Athlon processors, we didn't have any crashes at all, and were pleasantly surprise to see that it appears that Gigabyte has stuck to their motto of "Quality counts".

Scouring The Register - 17:54 pm Wilfred
Full of interesting bits and bytes one should never miss, The Register has several headlines that demand reading. First, yes, the colour screen Palm IIIc will ship in February and next, it seems like yields of RAMBUS continue to fall which doesn't spell any chance of a recovery or price drop any time soon. This means: no one will adopt it just for the exorbitant pricing alone.

Rambus yields have slumped from 25 per cent to less than 10 per cent, according to dealer and distributors attending this week's Computer Trade Show.

Andrew Mackenzie, head of memory broking at Rambus licensee Memory Corporations, said: "Rambus is dead. The yields are low because Intel is trying to force through the technology."

Hercules 3D Prophet DDR-DVI - 17:51 pm Wilfred
3DRage let us know that they too reviewed the 3D Prophet from Hercules (now a division of Guillemot). Of course, what sets this card apart from the rest is it's good overclockability and support for digital flat-panel displays which could hit the world by storm (soon, I hope... but don't hold your breath waiting):

The Hercules 3D Prophet DDR-DVI offers incredible performance, wonderful image quality, and one of the best overclocking possibilities on the GeForce 256 market. The Digital Visual Interface offers digital flat panel users one of the best graphics cards on the market that will enable them to play their favorite games at blistering fast speeds. TV-Out is supported and works perfect from what we've seen, as does the DVD-Video acceleration that is handled exceptionally well by the GeForce 256.

Present And Future Of Texture Compression - 17:45 pm Wilfred
3DGPU.COM has an article which talked about the present and future of texture compression. Check this out!

As we all know, texture compression has only fairly recently been a "must have" feature in 3D accelerators.  Although we've seen modern types of texture compression since the days of the Savage3D, and various other types of compression dating all the way back to the Voodoo 1 and even before, only recently has there been a "critical mass" of support for texture compression. Nearly every vendor supports it or has announced support for the future: S3, NVIDIA, ATI, 3dfx, and even Bitboys have either shipping or announced products which support texture compression.

nVidia GeForce DDR/SDR Massive Roundup - 05:59 am Kan
Woah! Check out iXBT-Hardware massive roundup on the various GeForce DDR/SDR video cards. Tons of benchmarks smacked in their usual 1 page style. Be sure to take a look!

As usual, we would like to start with 2D graphics. Although we can hardly say anything new here. The difference between the performance of the graphics cards described in the first part of our comparison and that of the cards described today is almost nought. That is why we consider these graphics cards to be on equal footing here. The only evident observation is that the graphics cards equipped with a TV-out (such as ELSA Erazor X2 reviewed before and Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR) fall slightly behind. However, the presence of TV-out on ASUS AGP-V6600 Deluxe didn't tell on the 2D quality at all. Anyway, the lag is noticeable only at super high resolutions starting from 1600x1200 and up. At lower resolutions all graphics cards on NVIDIA GeForce 256 show absolutely equal 2D quality.

Smartlink UE1205RU NIC - 05:56 am Kan
We have a review of the Smartlink UE1205RU NIC card from TheTechZone. This is a 10/100 Mbps NIC using the REALTek chipset. REALTek is pretty popular and should support most OSes without any difficulities.

The speed difference between a 10 base NIC and 100 base is pretty amazing. While you may not be able to tell much of a difference during a Quake LAN party, you will really see the speed advantage when transferring large files from one computer to another. Files that use to take 30 minutes to transfer on 10 base took about 4 minute to do on the SmartLink. Of course you will have to use a 100 base hub to take full advantage of this speed. If you have a normal 10 base hub, the SmartLink will work with that too, just at a much slower speed.

Maximizer Gold Finger Review - 05:53 am Kan
*Grin* The word Maximizer just caught my eye first. Anyway, our buds over at HardOCP have a review on the Maximizer Gold Finger. Now with this kit, you can actually overclock your Athlon processor without actually altering the PCB directly. Here's some of it:

Well, we put ours through the paces and it worked great.  It does everything it is advertised to do.  We had our Athlon 600 up and running at 750Mhz in no time.  You can shut down and tweak the voltage and multiplier as needs.  This is what the Maximizer is designed to do and it accomplishes these two jobs flawlessly.  You know in these cases there is not a lot to say, unless it was junk, and it is not junk.  It worked very well and I think it is a unit that could make a lot of the peeps happy with their purchase. 

You select the voltage and the speed by simply flipping the switches on the dips.  If you have rather large fingers, like myself, you had better get you a very small screwdriver or paperclip.  The dipswitches instead of dials is the only negative thing I found about the unit.

MSI 6153 Review - 05:50 am Kan
We have the MSI 6153 motherboard review over at 3D-Unlimited. This is a PPGA motherboard with 5 PCI/2 ISA. With 16 FSBs to choose from, it's a pretty overclockable motherboard as well:

The MS-6153 comes with a very good array of utilities to help manage your computer. 3D Turbo II is a small utility that lets you change the core clock speed or the RAM clock speed of your video card. Although, this utility does work fine, there are better and more functional overclocking available. Soft Cooler II is also included and it is basically a utility that helps your computer use less power and therefore decreases the CPU temperature. Another utility is PC Alert II. PC Alert II provides you with real-time information on CPU and System temperature, fan speeds, voltage usage, CMOS battery status, suspend mode voltage, network management, memory statistics and case intrusion. PC Alert II works very well and is one of the best of its kind.

Linux+DVD Support - 05:48 am Kan
Thanks to CDR-Info who pointed to us that RealMagic Netstream 2000 cards will be able to have DVD support under Linux.


Sigmadesigns going to support Linux with REALmagic NetStream 2000 card
"..Over the past several months, we have received hundreds of e-mails from Linux users who have asked us to support DVD under Linux. We're happy to announce that very soon, Linux users will be able to play DVD's using the new REALmagic NetStream 2000 card.."

SECC1 Athlon/P2 Cooler Comparison - 05:41 am Kan
Overclockers Australia has been busy lately and did a roundup between four different types of coolers for your Athlon/P2 processors. If you are itching for a new cooler, check'em out:

Slightly less beefy-looking, this unit has thinner heatsink fins and smaller fans (Delta Electronics 50mm ball-bearing units). Both these fans are intelligent and the unit is supplied with a Y-connector for sharing a single fan header if required. GlobalWin's mounting placement of these fans seems a little odd to me. Stuck right on the edge of the heatsink as they are, you'd think that the inner edge of the fan would eject air straight out of the heatsink through the gap cut for the mounting clip, and the outer edge will eject straight out the end, hardly even touching the heatsink. I think that mounting the fans side-by-side in the centre of the sink would be more effective - certainly more of the blade area is over the sink itself and the air will have to travel the length of the sink to escape. A little experimentation in order here, I think. It uses the same exercise-in-frustration mounting system as the VEK-32 but it's a lot easier to remove because you can get a screwdriver in there to lever the tabs out. This unit sells for AUD$45.00 with a free tube of thermal paste. 

PC Cooling Guide - 05:39 am Kan
We all know how important is PC Cooling. FastGraphics whipped up an article teaching us the importance of proper cooling in our system as well as how to do it correctly.

I remember the time when I bought a AMD 486 DX4-100 which had a inscription saying "heatsink + fan reqd". It was one of the fist chips that really needed active cooling to keep it from overheating.  As the speed increased the need for bigger heatsinks seemed to be quite underestimated by some companies. A CMOS device (which a CPU is) is very critical to it's operating temperature. When CMOS devices become too hot, the speed of random moving electrons will get too high, which can result in malfunctioning of the circuits (the processor)... There can be very small mix ups which you will not, or hardly notice, but it can also cause your machine to crash. Apart from the possible crashes when temperature goes up, electronic parts also wear down a lot faster when they're running at high temperatures... If you run a CPU with insufficient cooling for extended periods of time, you shouldn't be surprised if you find it dead one day...

Sony CPD-420GS Monitor - 05:32 am Kan
Uncamility.com dropped us a line on their review of the Sony CPD-420GS 19" Monitor. It doesn't look like this model is based on the new FD Trinitron tube, but then again, the guys seem to like this model a lot. So, here's a summary:

Installation of the monitor was a breeze, so now for a few notes on this monitor.  Its screen was nearly FLAT.  When Windows started, I was greeted by an exceptionally clear screen (at least compared to my POS 15” monitor).  The icons were of perfect color, and contrast was very acceptable.  Of course, I remedied the brightness settings by turning it up to 50%, which was perfect in my eye.  There was very little to no distortion on the screen, though earlier “flat” models from other companies, including Sony, were plagued by a displeasing warping of the screen image.  Basically, this is the sharpest monitor I have ever laid my eyes upon.  8-point text was quite readable at 1600x1200, at a refresh rate of 76Hz.  Graphics were absolutely splendid coming from my LeadTek TNT2 Ultra.  I am enthralled by this high quality Sony product. My only qualm about the monitor, out of all of its excellent aspects, is that the auto-sizing doesn’t work very well. 

Iomega Zip 100 USB - 05:22 am Kan
Gee, over at ArashBest, the dudes took a look at the Iomega Zip 100 USB drive. Definitely faster than the parallel port versions, the ZIP drive offers easy exchange of data between your friends. But then again, I prefer at least a CD-RW nowadays with DVD-RAM to be the norm soon.

Remember, however, that since it is a USB device, it does require Win 95 OSR2 (or above) to connect to your computer. The ZIP USB is also compatible with some Mac systems with USB capability, such as the iMac. This drive is not perfect however. The 100MB Zip disks may be a tight fit for media professionals with large projects. Also, the ZIP disks are relatively expensive these days considering a 650MB CD-R can be poached for less then a Washington!

27 January 2000 - Thursday

ASUS P3C 2000 Camino Motherboard
- 21:22 pm
Wilfred
Keen on the latest Intel Camino boards that hit town? Wy Mun reviewed the first Camino board to grace our labs and rated its highs and lows. Don't miss this!

Olympus And Nikon's Answers To 3.3 MP - 18:26 pm Wilfred
WHOPPEE!!!! This is the best news I heard today!!! Yes, over at Digital Photography Review, there are 2 links to sources of information to Olympus and Nikon's upcoming 3.34 Megapixel cameras! Here's a blurb of the C3030Z taken from DigitalKamera.de:

The new digital camera, called C-3030 Zoom, is coming along in a classic black gown. The "black knight" signs his pictures with 3.34 million pixels, and is additionally "armed" with a modern USB interface. Nothing escapes his keen eye with its 3 x zoom; not even moving images (in QuickTime-MotionJPEG format), speech or music are not safe from the C-3030 Zoom.

Regarding the taking of images, the C-3030 Zoom is uncompromising, too: focusing, exposure and white balance can be controlled both automatically or completely manually.

What's Behind The Coppermine? - 18:21 pm Wilfred
Tech-Review put up an article for those curious what's in a CuMine that makes it different from the earlier Katmai PIIIs. If you pick up one of those jewels, they really overclock excellently.

Once Intel was able to shrink the die size of the Pentium III by using a 0.18 micron process, they now had the proper configuration to implement 256k of full speed on-die L2 cache, as opposed to the 512k of 1/2 speed off-die L2 cache. Now some of you may be wondering why would having 256k of L2 cache be faster than 512k? Well for starters, the 256k of L2 cache is located closer to the CPU, making it faster to access. Second, the 256k of L2 cache runs at the full clock speed of the CPU, so the L2 cache on the 800 MHz Intel Pentium III Coppermine runs at 800 MHz as opposed to 400 MHz if it were an original P3. The faster the rate at which the L2 cache runs, the faster the processor. Combine the on-die placement of the L2 cache with the increased speed, and you have yourself an increase in overall CPU performance.

Dell To Stick With Intel - 18:16 pm Wilfred
That's what friends are for eh? NOT! But anyhow, Yahoo News reports that Dell will not switch partnership to AMD despite Intel supply shortage. Check this:

Dell told analysts on a conference call that the Round Rock, Texas-based company was studying how to ensure a better supply of components but was not ready to spurn its long-time supplier Intel Corp. (NasdaqNM:INTC - news) -- at least just yet.

"You are not going to see us change our approach to partnering based on one difficult transition,'' Dell said.

ATI Rage Fury MAXX - 18:12 pm Wilfred
The FiringSquad let us know a new review they rolled out. Judging from the verdict, they quite liked the Rage Fury MAXX especially the DVD acceleration. Gamers should prolly stick to the GeForces:

The MAXX is probably the most unique video card today, as it takes a novel approach to the "scan-line interleave" idea in "Alternate Frame Rendering." Even though the ATI Rage Fury MAXX can't generally keep up in 3D performance, the fact remains that it is a fast video card by today's standards. Performance wise, the ATI Rage Fury MAXX is roughly 85% the speed of a GeForce SDR. We should also note that the GeForce drivers have matured over time, so the performance gap can only decrease as ATI improves its drivers.

Interview With VIA - 18:07 pm Wilfred
Downunder, our pals at Tech-Junkie scored an interview with VIA's Richard Brown, Director of Marketing, regarding their fight with Intel on the chipset front. Here:

Tj: The Intel 820 chipset relies heavily on the success and adoption of RAMBUS,which has proven to be unfavourable due to exorbitant prices. Has Intel shot themselves in the foot by relying too much on RAMBUS? If the prices of RAMBUS does plummet and become viable, will VIA support it? Where does VIA see the memory industry going?

Richard Brown: We believe that the mainstream memory this year will be PC133, and that it will migrate to DDR 266 in 2001. RAMBUS memory will still be available, but we think that its market share will remain low because of the cost.

GearHeadPhones Guide - 16:30 pm Sniper
Looking for a pair of good headphones? IGN took a few of them for a test run.  Hurry over there.

Looking to upgrade those dinky little Walkman headphones?  Bombastic workplace cutting into your job efficiency? Think those little in-ear headphones are gross? Well, it sounds like it's time for you to graduate to a decent set of headphones. With hope this expose will help you in your quest. 

Diamond Monster Sound MX400 - 16:21 pm Sniper
Anandtech just checked out the Diamond Monster Sound MX400.  You can find the link here.

Once again, Diamond capitalized on the Monster branding as they teamed up with ESS for the latest edition to this famed series, the Monster Sound MX400. Simply by having a higher model number, many consumers will automatically assume that the MX400 is better than the MX300, but remember that Diamond was effectively forced to change their high-end sound card. Let's take a look at what Diamond can do with the ESS Canyon3D to see if it's really better.

Windows 2000 Report - 11:21 am Sniper
PC Magazine chunk out a report on the upcoming OS.  Need to find out more before you make a decision to switch? Check it out.

It's been a long time coming, but now that Windows 2000 is here, it's time to make decisions. Different types of users will have very different reasons for upgrading, and some people shouldn’t upgrade at all. PC Labs has explored every aspect of the new OS in depth. Our special report has all the details.

China's Web Secrecy Rules - 08:38 am Wilfred
Yahoo News reports that China laid down some rules about operating websites, chatrooms and bulletin boards in the land, that all operators and their sites must undergo security checks and get the State's approval. Have a read:

"All organizations and individuals are forbidden from releasing, discussing or transferring state secret information on bulletin boards, chat rooms or in Internet news groups,'' the State Bureau of Secrecy announced in the rules carried in the Communist Party's flagship daily.

"Any Web site that provides or releases information on the World Wide Web must undergo security checks and approval,'' the rules state.

How To Overclock With Rock Hard Stability - 08:34 am Wilfred
Heh, what an interesting heading to start the article. Learn from what Tweak3D has to say about the nuances and pitfalls of overclocking.. the little things you can do that might just create success! Here's a blurb:

There are generally two types of testing that I perform on a newly overclocked system. One is an intensive integer/FPU test which keeps processor utilization up between 95 & 100% for upwards of a half an hour. If the CPU passes this test, the overclock on the CPU itself is stable. However, even if the system passes that test, I still run a gaming test. The gaming test determines how well the rest of the system responded to the overclock (this is particularly important when dealing with non-standard bus speeds and out-of-spec RAM. Another test that I recommend, if you own the software, is the SiSoft Sandra benchmarks, or alternatively, WinBench 2000. Both pieces of software do subsystem specific testing - something that can be very important, particularly if you are trying to determine which pieces of hardware within your system are causing a failed overclock.

ELSA Erazor X2 DDR - 08:30 am Wilfred
The extremists at VE reviewed the ELSA Erazor X2 DDR card in their barracks today. Along with the good 9 page read, check out also my review of the product.

The Erazor X2, along with other GeForce DDR solutions are the first and currently only boards which make [email protected] a reality. It is absolutely the fastest board available. On top of that, the GeForce packin' Erazor X2 has a blazing fast T&L engine, though its true potential is yet to be unleashed. If only the price of the board was around $25-$40 lower, ELSA would have the ultimate performance solution. Luckily, TV-out and Revelator deals may make the Erazor X2 the card of choice for that niche market.

ActionTec 56K USB Call Waiting Modem - 08:24 am Wilfred
Looks like call-waiting is a major selling point for modems these days eh? SystemLogic looks at the popular ActionTec 56K modem several sites had their hands on with. Here's an brief description of the call-waiting feature:

The modem uses a simple technique to detect the tone a call waiting service makes to notify you of an incoming call. Once a chip inside the modem detects the tone, it tells the modem to emit an audio warning of the call. When the audio warning is sent out, the modem waits for the user to pick up the phone that is attached to it and when no one picks up the phone, the modem ignores the incoming call and stays online. If someone does pick up the phone, the modem sees that and lets the user talk for a brief 7 seconds before terminating the connection unless you hang up before 7 seconds. This is a simple concept to understand and to familiarize yourself with and simplicity was ActionTec's focus when making this modem with a USB interface.

Logitech Mouseman Cordless - 06:18 am Kan
AbsolutePC jumped into the boat as well and reviewed the Logitech Mouseman Cordless. I'm sure we have a review of that as well over here. Check'em out if you are shopping for a new mouse:

For years one thing has plagued PC users. The mouse cord. Now, cordless mice have been around for a while now, but for the most part, they have had disadvantages that corded mice did not have, or had functional problems. Logitech, famous for their second-to-none mice, have taken arguably the most comfortable and useful mouse shape and layout and made it cordless. Gamers especially have felt the burden of the cord, as a cord stuck under something keeps you from pulling into perfect aim in Quake 3, or selecting that trireme in time in Age of Kings. But the casual computer user runs into cord-related problems as well. For example, when trying to hit the corners of the screen while web browsing, word processing, or using your computer as your personal jukebox. The lack of a cord gives you excellent control over everything and great freedom.

CoolerMaster ATC-200 Thermal Case - 05:45 am Kan
A person once asked me whether my casing is sexy. I replied it's 'macho' looking. GamePC reviewed the CoolerMaster ATC-200 Thermal Case whch I will classify it as under 'macho' as well. Check it out:

Speaking of the motherboard tray, it's capable of holding MOST motherboards. We loaded the motherboard tray with some quite large BX and i820 motherboards and it worked with all of them. But of course, since it IS a mid-tower case, it can't hold everything. Larger boards like Supermicro's I840 boards, and Tyan's Thunder 100/Thunderbolt motherboards don't have a chance of fitting in here. If they could possibly squeeze in the case, there would be no room for hard drives and connectors. Coolermaster has a full-tower version of the case coming out in a while that should accommodate users with large motherboards. The motherboard is held to the tray by a set of incredibly flaky stands, which fall out quite easily, we would recommend Coolermaster take a cue from Addtronics and integrated some sturdy stands for their next cases.

PowerDVD vs WinDVD - 05:43 am Kan
There's an comparison review over at FastMHZ on the differences between PowerDVD vs WinDVD. To keep things short, here's an excerpt:

If this is your only DVD player, the parental controls are useful especially if you have movies in your collection that you do not want your children to watch.  Parental control is safe guarded by a password, and can only be changed when that password is entered; however default is off.  One control box to note that I did not find was a Region Selector.  Some of this could well have been simply because I purchased the US version and it is automatically set to Region 1 (US/Canada) or that this feature requires an additional/external program such as DVD Genie.  I like the fact that it has brightness controls, however found it terribly bad judgment on their part not to include a contrast or sharpness control, especially considering how comprehensive the rest of the configuration toolbox is. 

 

26 January 2000 - Wednesday


16 Year Old DeCSS DVD Crack Maker Jailed
- 23:56 pm
Wilfred
Thanks to the link at Ars Technica that I got to read this. I dunno how best to put it in my own words but quoting what Hannibal blurbed "They raided this kid's house for evidence, arrested him, and locked him up. You know, when a kid gets thrown in jail over the fact that the American motion picture industry is upset because he proved that their encryption scheme is unsecure...well, that makes me real upset." Anyway, this is a short snip:

Norwegian police arrested a 16-year-old student who sent the U.S. movie industry into a frenzy when he helped create a program that breaks the encryption on DVDs that spread like wildfire on the Net.

In an interview today, Jon Johansen said that police raided his house yesterday to collect evidence stemming from allegations that he violated trade secrets to create a program called DeCSS, which cracks the security code in the DVD Content Scrambling System. That, in turn, allows people to view digital movies through unauthorized players, such as computers running the Linux operating system.

Hercules 3D Prophet DDR-DVI - 23:43 pm Wilfred
Quite a number of GeForce related reviews today. Hardware Central threw out a review on the Hercules 3D Prophet card. This is a quite a hefty read, good stuff.

The Hercules 3D Prophet DDR-DVI is one of the faster DDR boards currently on the market, as well as arguably the most overclockable. Both Hercules and Guillemot are well known in terms of reliability, so owners of this card can rest assured they’re getting a high-quality product. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re set on a GeForce DDR board, we do encourage you to look around and attempt to find one that best suits your personal needs. All things considered, the 3D Prophet DDR-DVI is a card definitely worthy of consideration, and one I’d be proud to have in my rig.

Voodoo 3 3500 TV - 23:37 pm Wilfred
ArsTechnica posted a 'fun read' on the V3 3500 TV card. They checked out the card's digital VCR functions, tested the card in Windows 98, NT and even Linux. So what's the mileage?

The next thing we tested was video capture quality.  Unfortunately the V3 3500 couldn't compete with other hardware based vidcap solutions like the Matrox Marvel G200 in quality. It's a great application for recording that one TV program you always want to see but always seem to miss. I love The Simpsons, and never get to see them, so I set the Visual Reality software to record the appropriate channel between 6 and 6:30 every day. It saves the file in MPEG2 format, taking about 10MB/minute on the low quality setting, which I'd compare to a recording made by a $60 VCR. On the higher quality settings, the V3 3500 looks better, and would be acceptable for recording back out to tape or a digital source (like CD-ROM).

ASUS V6600 GeForce SDR Deluxe - 23:33 pm Wilfred
AnandTech's second shot for the day. They checked out the ASUS V6600 GeForce SDR card (some more down-to-earth stuff following the Quadro DDR they did earlier). Read this:

When all is considered, ASUS has created a powerhouse of a card with the V6600 Deluxe. Is the increase in price worth the increase in performance and features? You bet! The shipping clock speeds of 140/195 MHz provide a speed increase not yet seen in any GeForce SDR card and the overclocked speeds of 158/208 MHz leave even the most hard-core gamer satisfied.

Plextor 8/4/32 CDRW - 23:27 pm Wilfred
Gamers Depot posted a lookie at the Plextor 8432 CDRW drive and gave it a high rating of 5 big drools. You oughtta read Wy Mun's take on it too. Great drive.

With the CDRW market becoming even more crowded, it's becoming even more important to choose a drive that not only has good brand name, but also one that is going to offer the end user the most complete out-of-box experience. With the Plextor 8/4/32 Plexwriter. you have an entire history backing you up in your purchasing decision. Along with this history comes an expertise that is rarely found in most other drives of its kind.

Hollywood Plus DVD Decoder Review - 16:45 pm Yingzong
Fancy a hardware solution for that lacklustre Matrix DVD title running on a software decoder? Sigma Designs' Hollywood Plus DVD Decoder/Remote might just be your ticket. Sharky Extreme has done a thorough review on the product and gave it a thumbs up. Check it out :

The Hollywood Plus' real strength is that it is an all-in-one DVD playback solution, which comes into play if you don't already have an acceptable DVD setup. Combining excellent TV output with onboard sound processing, the Hollywood Plus excels regardless of the quality of one's video and sound cards. The Hollywood Plus can be slapped in an old, low-end system and still offer a full DVD experience. However, if your system features a decent CPU (300Mhz+) and is already decked out with a high-end video card (a GeForce, G400, or Rage Fury), the Hollywood Plus probably isn't worth the extra money. Even though your image quality will improve slightly, it's not worth an extra $60, when you already own a capable DVD setup.

The Hollywood Plus has all the features that one could ask for in a DVD Decoder: great image quality, consistent playback, and a wealth of playback options. For those who are serious about DVD playback, but don't want to make the jump to a full-fledged set-top DVD box, the Hollywood Plus is a great choice for a mere $60. Being an all-in-one device, it is available to all users, even those with less-than impressive computer systems. Sigma Design's handheld remote puts the icing on the cake, making the experience of watching movies on one's computer truly enjoyable and also making it almost seem normal.

Viewsonic PT795 19" Monitor Review - 16:30 pm Yingzong
Caught some non-cpu stuff (Heh!) down at CPU Review. They have just done a review on the Viewsonic PT795, a 19" monitor that gives you that extra "edge". So did they like it? Read on :

The monitor powered up without any difficulties; but (as can be expected) the default settings were less then optimal.

Trinitron/Diamondtron fans would love this monitor; it produces an extremely sharp picture; and the difference in the aperture grill measurements between the center and the edge (0.25mm vs. 0.27mm) was not noticeable.

The Viewsonic PT795 is a good value; it provides excellent display quality for a good price with a great set of features.

Creative Sound Blaster Live! Platinum - 16:25 pm Yingzong
3D Spotlight has posted a review of the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Platinum. They were very impressed with all the features and extra stuff the card came packaged with. So how now, brown cows? Is it time to change that legacy soundcard now? Here's a snippet :

After more than a year since the first Sound Blaster Live! Card appeared in the market, Creative is now bringing us three new cards as an addition to the Live! Family, each one aimed to different type of users in order to full fill the needs of everyone out there looking for the latest in 3D sound for the PC.

It’s important to notice that all the cards are based in the same EMU10K1 audio processor that powered the original Sound Blaster Live! Card, this can’t be considered a drawback however, as you might know, this chip from Emu Systems (which is owned by the same Creative Labs) is re-programmable so that with newer LiveWare! Releases you can keep updated with new technologies including newer versions of EAX.

FS Reviews Planescape : Torment - 16:15 pm Yingzong
"What can change the nature of a man?". This phrase should bring back memories to those of us who enjoyed Interplay's Planescape : Torment. The big boys down at FiringSquad have given the RPG a thorough run down and they absolutely loved it, awarding it their first Editor's Choice of 2000. I don't blame them for the indulgence; it is a really great title!

The thought, effort and design that went into Torment must have been tremendous. The game is a stunning work of art, full of creativity and originality. It is faithful to the rules of both AD&D and Planescape yet bends them enough to make for a different experience for hardcore veterans without ruining the game. Everything from the storyline to the music is just … right. Black Isle has definitely achieved that magical mix that every developer tries for in every game.

Best of all, they've given us the eye-candy that we all want. The beautiful maps, great cut-scenes and stunning sound have definitely set a new standard for RPGs to follow. The cut-scenes are extremely well-done. In terms of technical quality, they are second only to Blizzard's WarCraft III trailer. The cut-scenes are in all the right places and reveal everything you need to know and nothing more. Yet they wisely avoid being overdone and giving too much away.

Black Isle has an amazing game on its hands, which avoids the pitfall of being a BG clone despite using the same engine. The emphasis on the story and the play of the game above the desires of the players and expectations of critics has made Torment the premier singleplayer CRPG so far. It has achieved a seemingly perfect balance of story (which tends to require linearity) and freedom, while at the same time offering totally new and innovative features.

ATI Rage Fury MAXX Review - 16:08 pm Yingzong
The guys at HotHardware have done their review of ATI's Rage Fury MAXX. Capable of Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR) using the dual Rage Fury Pro GL chips, performance appears top-notch. Here's their take :

From the time we first open the box to the very last benchmark, the ATI Rage Fury MAXX impressed me as a solid performer with features that differentiate it from the competition. The DVD playback on the MAXX has to be seen to be believed. 3D performance is in the running with today's top accelerators and 2D Desktop image quality is superb, rivaling our long time favorite, Matrox. The retail price of the MAXX is said to be $299 with a $30 rebate. This puts it in the pack with DDR based cards. Finally, there should definitely be significant performance enhancements in 3D mode with forthcoming driver release, so long as ATI can execute in this regard. We so no reason why they shouldn't. The MAXX is a solid foundation to build upon.

Quantum 7200 RPM with Ultra160 SCSI - 06:10 am Kan
How nice, Quantum began shipping their 7200 RPM range of hard disks equipped with the new Ultra160 SCSI interface. Thanks to CNEWZ for this piece of news:

The Atlas V Ultra160 SCSI drive incorporates advanced SCSI interface features such as Cyclical Redundancy Check and Domain Validation, as well as the new Fairness feature which improves overall system performance by providing more balanced access for all SCSI devices on the bus. Furthermore, Quantum is the only supplier committed to implementing Asynchronous Information Protection (AIP) which provides added data reliability for asynchronous data phases such as SCSI commands and messages. The advanced interface is also fully backward compatible with Ultra2 and Ultra SCSI systems for easy integration with existing networks.

AMD Athlon 800 Mhz and Gigabyte GA-71X - 06:07 am Kan
Active-Hardware got their paws on a really smoking rig running on an Athlon 800 Mhz processor on top of a Gigabyte GA-71X motherboard. *slurp*

Much like the Athlon 750Mhz, the Athlon 800Mhz uses to set its L2 cache speed at 2/5 that of the processor, or, if you prefer, to 325Mhz - as stated on the label afixed to the processor. For all intents, the Athlon 700Mhz seems to have been the last of the bunch to be able to implement an L2 cache of 1/2 processor speed. The problem stems from the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable memory capable of operating at such high speeds. Eventually, the solution will be to imbed the L2 cache directly on-die, thus cutting it loose from the dependency of the memory manufacturers, and simultaneously enhancing the speed of the L2 cache. That said, AMD is not expected to release a CPU with an on-die L2 cache until the second half of 2000.

25 January 2000 - Tuesday

Singapore Bans Half-Life
- 21:49 pm
Sniper
Saw this link over at GameSpot.  Well, you can head over to our forum to vent your anger there.

Earlier this morning, a GameSpot reader in Singapore wrote in with some bad news for gamers in the Southeast Asian island-nation. Apparently, the Singapore Board of Censorships and the Ministry of Arts have
banned the sale of Valve Software's Half-Life and all of its associated third-party mods, including Counterstrike, claiming that the game contains too much violence, despite the game's built-in parental lockouts

Speaker Comparison - 19:49 pm Kan
We have a Speakers roundup over at Dan's Data comparing the Sony's stylish little SRS-Z750PC speakers against a whopping four different models of Juster three-piece sub/sat speaker systems.

Let's assume you're on a budget, and don't want to buy some monster multipoint setup. Let's also assume that you don't have a spare hi-fi system whose auxiliary input you can hook up to your computer's line output - this is the cheapest way to get great bassy stereo sound, but if you don't actually have a spare stereo or the space to put one in the computer room, it's not an option. Stereo speakers are also, usually, not magnetically shielded, so they'll distort the image on your monitor if you put them close to it. Computer speakers, including all of the speakers in this comparison, have magnetically shielded drivers that won't muck up the image on any monitor (or TV, for that matter).

ABIT VA6 - 19:46 pm Kan
Overclockers Australia took a shot at the ABIT VA6 motherboard. Based on the VIA Apollo Pro chipset, it's one good board which supports the 133 Mhz FSB as well as ATA-66 interface. Anyway, check out our blurb on the VA6 as well over here.

Abit's famous SoftMenu II is employed on this board, allowing you a wide range of FSB settings - 66, 75, 83, 100, 103, 105, 110, 112, 115, 120, 124, 133, 140 and 150MHz. Not as impressive as some of their later BX offerings such as the BP6 and BE6-II, but a comfortable spread above 100MHz. Below 100MHz the jumps are dissapointingly wide, the dreaded 83 to 100MHz gap is there which can be a killer for high-multiplier Celerons. At 100MHz the PCI divisor becomes 1/3 and at 133MHz it becomes 1/4. This is partly how VIA can claim native 133MHz FSB support - the PCI and hence AGP drop neatly back into spec at 133MHz whereas on a BX-based board you are seriously overclocking both buses, usually beyond stability. 

Erazor X And Outrageous 3D GeForce - 19:20 pm Wilfred
Decided to pay Uncle Tom a visit today and I wasn't disappointed, having chanced upon a review of the ELSA Erazor X and Absolute Multimedia's Outrageous 3D GeForce cards.

ELSA has the slickest looking board (not that it makes games faster) armed with the unique ChipGuard feature and a solid driver interface. The price is right there with the competition and the board can be found on many of the big online stores. You get video out and the option to buy the wireless 3D Revelator glasses for a bit more.

Absolute Multimedia's Outrageous 3D performs on par with the Leadtek DDR at a slightly lower price if you grab the single software version.

No More Neptune - Consumer Version Of W2k - 18:38 pm Wilfred
I am utterly, totally and absolutely confused. Roll over to The Register and have a read of this report. Come on, the popular consumer OS has stagnated for a long long time... it's going to have to be Microsoft or somebody else!

Neptune, the consumer version of Win2k, has been cancelled, according to Windows-watcher Paul Thurrott. Instead, Microsoft is merging the project with Odyssey, which was intended to be the next version of Windows 2000. This effectively completes the bizarre little detour Microsoft's Windows roadmap took early last year, when Microsoft started making big promises for both the Neptune and Millennium projects.

Millennium was originally pitched as a consumer OS built on top of Windows 98, but the initially ambitious talk faded swiftly, and it slid back to service pack status as 1999 came to a close. Thurrott proposes that Millennium will now be out under the tag Windows 98 Third Edition in the summer, and that seems a reasonable enough estimate. Really, the only question now over Millennium is whether Microsoft will just ship it as an OEM refresh or whether it'll take another bite at retail OS revenue, as it did with Win98 SE.

More BitBoys Glaze And Glitz - 18:27 pm Wilfred
3D Accelerated Gaming posted some head-turning information from BitBoy's announcement (although the text was all out of alignment when I had to read it...) of a new architecture that tremendously increases the bandwidth of graphics cards. Here's an exciting blurb:

The revolutionary Xtreme Bandwidth ArchitectureT (XBAT) utilizes Infineon Technologies AG's leading embedded memory technology (eDRAM) with 9 MB of extremely high speed memory integrated with the graphics engine and additional external memory to deliver unprecedented bandwidth to 3D graphics. The XBAT technology has been created as part of company's Glaze3D project.

The first chips utilizing XBAT provide two to three times the memory bandwidth over the nearest competitors, totalling 12 Gigabytes/sec with a single processor and over 20 Gigabytes/sec in the dual processor configurations.

Epson PhotoPC 850Z Digital Camera - 18:18 pm Wilfred
Digital Camera Resource put up a review of Epson's highest-end 2.1 MegaPixel digital camera. If you're digging for one lately, I told you the Olympus C2020Z has hit our shores, haven't I? Heh, this is one innovative feature I thought worth mentioniong:

There's one other gadget of note on the top of the camera, that only a few cameras have. Epson calls it "Solar Assist" -- it's a prism that takes in sunlight to serve as the backlight for the LCD. If you're outside in sunlight, you should definitely use this -- it's not quite as bright as the backlight, but it saves batteries like crazy. Of course, it's hard to make out what's on the LCD outside anyway, regardless of the backlight source.

Sun's New Strategy: 'Free' Solaris 8 - 18:09 pm Wilfred
Very very bold moves as we near Win2k's official launch date. Over at ZDNet, they have a report on Scott McNealy's aggressive positioning of their flagship operating system.

"Free" is a relative term, however. Sun in December eliminated fees for Java 2 Standard Edition but still requires developers to pay for compatibility tests required to maintain their licenses. And Linux advocates and other industry watchers have claimed that the Sun Community Source License is not as free or open as Linux and other open-source licenses are.

Sun will pitch Solaris 8 against Microsoft's high-end Windows 2000 package called Windows 2000 Datacenter, which is in beta and won't be commercially available until midyear, at best.

Sun in November announced a free early access version of Solaris 8. Sun is positioning Solaris 8 as the most scalable and reliable network operating system on the market.

ActionTec 56K USB Modem - 18:04 pm Wilfred
Well, if you are not already on some form of broadband connection, a 56K will still suffice compared to slow traffic days with even broadband. ExtremeHardware let us know of this new review they have... check it:

Being stuck with a 56K dial-up account can really leave you out in the cold when expecting important phone calls, but Actiontec has come to the rescue with a hardware call waiting modem. The Actiontec 56K USB Call Waiting Modem is not the highest performing modem on the market, but it does have that killer Call Waiting feature, which can save you both the cost of a second line, or the hassle of missing calls. Add to that is diminutive size, USB interface and exceptional ease-of-use, and you have a great match for both the inexperienced and veteran dial-up user alike.

3DMark 2000: How To Bench The GeForce - 17:47 pm Wilfred
Planet GeForce posted an article written by nVidia's Derek Perez on how to benchmark the GeForce using 3DMark 2000. I guess it more for reviewers like us to read eh? Supposedly, this article was written in response to HardOCP's T&L benchmarking article.

This guide is intended as an aid when reviewing the GeForce 256 with the new 3DMark2000 benchmark. While it is a stunning visual application, 3DMark2000 has a number of significant flaws that, if not worked around, make it a questionable benchmark. Using the benchmark in its default configuration will produce confusing and misleading results. It is only by altering the default parameters that 3Dmark2000 can produce any meaningful information to predict game performance.

Athlon 750 on a K7M - 17:25 pm Kan
Those Ars over at ArsTechnica juiced down their thoughts on the Athlon 750 Mhz processor running on a ASUS K7M motherboard. Probably one of the fastest gaming rig in the market, check out some of their beautiful writings here:

AMD has had a bizarre problem on their hands since the introduction of the Athlon line.  Their problem is that the CPUs they're producing off the line are too high quality. It's quite the predicament for AMD, who traditionally had worse yields than my pappy's moonshine biz. This time around, when AMD first fired up the Athlon line, they were making too many 600s.  This creates a problem... they didn't have very many 500s coming off the production line, so they've been marking down their CPUs for quite a while now.  600s have been seen masquerading in 500MHz cases, and even some 650s have been placed in a lowly 500MHz casing.  So, as AMD ramps up their production line, we're going to be seeing more of these kinds of surprise.

BIOS Optimization Guide v6.0 - 17:22 pm Kan
Ohmigawd. Our buds over at Adrian's Rojak Pot upgraded his BIOS Optimization Guide to v6.0. Some of the new features include the Read Around Write, 32-bit disk access, USWC Write Posting  (what the heck?) and many more. Check'em out.

New Beta Detonator 3.72 Win9x Drivers - 17:20 pm Kan
Alright, 3DChipset kindly sent note on the new Detonator 3.72 Win9x drivers available for download from here

Microstar MSI-6905 CPU Converter Card - 17:18 pm Kan
t-Break just dropped us a mail on their review on the Microstar MSI-6905 slotket. Here's a blurb:

The MSI converter can run both, the older Celerons as well as the newer FC-PGA Coppermines. You can adjust the vcore between 1.50 to 2.00 volts or just set the jumper to automatic to let the motherboard decide. Besides setting the voltage, you can also select FSB speeds of 66, 100 or 133 or, again, set it to automatic to let the motherboard decide. Finally, one last jumper lets you adjust the converter between a single or a dual processor motherboard. 

D-Link USB Radio - 17:15 pm Kan
Another D-Link product review today over at The Tech Report on the D-Link USB Radio. Junk away those FM tuner card of yours and start tuning in to the waves by using the portable USB radio kit!

Now that I've talked about what a great idea this thing is, let's have a look at it. The radio comes in a box a little bigger than a VHS tape. There's not a whole lot to it: a base with a couple of wires coming out of it, an antenna, an instruction manual and a CD. That pretty much covers it. The instruction manual seems to limit itself to PC's, which is surprising, since the base is done in iMac style. Note that since this is a USB device, it's only gonna work right under Windows 98 or Windows 2000. As for the iMac look, I guess that's why God invented spray paint.

D-Link DFE-910 Networking Kit - 17:13 pm Kan
HardwareCentral reviewed the D-Link DFE-910 Networking Kit. More and more people are setting up their own LAN in their house and if you are looking for a 10/100 Mbps LAN, then do check out the DFE-910 (my personal favorite).

Originally networking was not designed for the normal household, which led to expensive products and complicated installation procedures. This has caused numerous manufacturers such as Intel, Diamond and D-Link to come out with networking products that take the normal hassle of setting up a home network. That, along with improvements to the native operating system that simplified the networking process, has permitted home networks for gaming, home offices and normal home use to become more of a reality.

Low Cost 17" Monitor Round-up - 15:05 pm Sniper
FiringSquad's latest article looks at several low cost 17" monitors.  Just nice for me when I'm intending to buy two monitors.

Many monitor polls have pointed out that 17" is the most popular size, so I'm going to focus mostly on monitors of this screen size.  I am also going to attempt to stay under $300 as well as sticking to well known brands. Since this is supposed to be a "low cost" guide, you won't find any uber models with huge price tags here.
We are going to focus on brand name, good quality 17" monitors. Please note that I tend to use the terms "monitor" and "CRT" (Cathode Ray Tube) interchangeably -both refer to the "monitor". 

NVIDIA Quadro DDR - 14:55 pm Sniper
AnandTech just finished a review of the NVIDIA Quadro DDR card.  Go check it out.

NVIDIA's Quadro GPU ( NV10GL) is set apart from the consumer grade GeForce (aside from it’s price tag) by enabling certain features on the Quadro that were left disabled on the GeForce since the latter was not intended to be a high end solution. Among these features is enhanced support for anti-aliased points and lines, which although isn’t a commonly used feature with most users, was an extremely poor performance point for the GeForce. While these settings might conceptually be “enabled” on the GeForce through driver tweaks/registry hacks, it is unclear exactly what methods NVIDIA went to in order to make sure that they were disabled on the GeForce, to this date no one has discovered the magic hack. 

Windows Roadmap - 11:18 am Sniper
According to this ZDNet report, Microsoft plans to make changes to its Windows "again" ( say that ten times).

Where the company had planned "Neptune," a
consumer-oriented version of Windows based on the NT kernel, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is now readying a combined consumer/business version of the operating system, code-named Whistler. Whistler also supplants Odyssey, referred to by some sources as NT 5.5, which had been slated as the first full-fledged upgrade to Windows 2000. 

ECS P6IWT-Me/i810E - 06:33 am Kan
Another mail popped in as SharkyExtreme notified us of their review on thge ECS P6IWT-Me i810 motherboard. Comes with 3 PCI slots as well as an integrated video, this type of mobo is pretty good for people looking for a fast (to a certain limit) and cheap solution.

The primary reason for component integration is overall motherboard cost, which also has an effect on overall system costs. By assimilating most of the basic chips on one board, expenses can be reduced in both the manufacturing and system design areas. For instance, we see very low volume pricing some of the hottest video or sound chips, but the retail product ends up costing quite a bit more. Deducting the PCB, packaging and marketing cost from the final product helps lower costs significantly. An integrated motherboard is also extremely easy to install, standardized drivers ensure compatibility and system installation can take upwards of half the time.

ICECast and SHOUTCast - 06:33 am Kan
If you are into the MP3 cult, you will have heard of ICECast and SHOUTCast. AbsolutePC took the opportunity and reviewed these software which allows you to listen to streaming MP3s thru your friend's PC or public servers.

With the birth of the ever-popular SHOUTCast audio streamer software, the number of things you can do with it has exploded. Just heading on over to www.shoutcast.com shows you all of the servers that are running, what they’re playing, and other information such as that. Say you see something that says ‘101.9FM Live Stream from New York’, and you can listen to a radio station from the big apple. Or perhaps one labeled ‘24/7 Dance – Live DJ’s’ is more to your taste. In fact, at the moment I’m writing this, I’m tuned into a comedy stream with over 40 other people. Anyhow, with SHOUTCast, anyone can become a DJ with the Internet as your audience.

IWill WS-133 - 06:25 am Kan
The IWill WS-133 motherboard was also reviewed by HardwareCentral lately which supports the newer Coppermine processors and is running on the i810e chipset.

The box contents and packaging were nothing short of exemplary. Not only has Iwill included all of the standard components (the board, manual, IDE & FDD cables, Install CD-ROM), but they’ve gone out of their way to make sure everything you need is in one box. Since the WS133 does not use the standard ATX I/O layout, Iwill has included an ATX I/O shield that can be installed in any ATX case. As well, they’ve added a second serial port riser, and appropriate back-plate. A small bag with three additional jumpers is also included, should one get dropped or lost somewhere along the way. Furthermore, the processor retention module comes pre-installed, to save on installation time. 

FIC KA-11 - 06:23 am Kan
A pretty popular board, the FIC KA-11 is based on the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset and was reviewed by ActiveHardware today. Comes with 5 PCI and 2 ISA slots, there's room for 4 DIMM sticks as well.

Configuration of the KA-11 takes a bit more dexterity than a 100% jumperless board, as Fic doesn't seem to have divested itself completely of jumpers, in favor of BIOS functionalities. Thus, configuration of the KA-11 is accomplished from a series of DIP switches in order to set the clock multiplier, while bus speed is determined from the BIOS sub-menu labeled "Chipset Features Setup". Another BIOS feature found in the "Chipset Features Setup" menu, permits the user to set the operating frequency of the memory to a setting equal to that of the main bus, and to add or subtract 33Mhz from that number.

Ratpadz MousePad - 06:21 am Kan
It's Rats (literally) day as TechReport reviewed the Ratpadz Mousepad. From the pics, it looks similar to the Everglide chopping board (the type my mum uses). Here's an excerpt:

Another adjustment I had to make: turning the pad 90 degrees, so that I had more space to run the mouse up and down. I've always done the same with other mousepads; somehow, I seem to need more room on the vertical axis. Also, the contoured edge of the pad seems geared toward folks who like to rest their mouse hands off the edge of the pad. I prefer to rest my hand on the mousepad, which is probably why I need more length than width. The Ratpad'z contoured bottom edge was just an annoyance for me. The fix, however, was simple.

Viscosity Review - 06:20 am Kan
Systemlogic reviewed an interesting program called Viscosity. It's able to reproduce the animated banner you see on top with ease and it's ideal for beginners to play around with animated graphics. Here's some of it:

One of the best features of the program is my favorite feature of my favorite image editing program, Adobe Photoshop.  The feature is layers.  Layers allows you to have different images on top or below others, so say I have a background picture of a house, I can cut out a picture of me, and then put me on the roof as a new layer.  Then if I wanted to move JUST ME around I could do so by moving that layer.  Viscosity incorporates layers into their program, and let me tell you, for animation this is a VERY important aspect.  It allows for much better animation techniques and much better editing.

Adaptec Ultra160 SCSI Card - 06:17 am Kan
*Drool* The lucky boys over at GamePC managed to get their paws on the Adaptec Ultra160 SCSI card. 50% faster than a U2W interface and 240% faster than ATA-66, this must be smokin' fast! Eh-oh guys, the card is not cheap either.

The question of "What are the advantages of SCSI over Ultra/ATA?" is always a major topic when hard drives are being discussed. Kicking off in the mid 80's, SCSI has since then become the number one interface to be used in workstations and servers. And with that Adaptec has taken its new technology to the max and has created four different types of cards to be aimed at every type of computer user. Ranging from desktop to high-end server use, Adaptec has integrated Ultra160 technology into four different to meet those specific needs. From Adaptec's point of view, these four new cards will be taking the place of older UltraSCSI / FastSCSI / SCSI-2, Ultra Wide and Ultra 2 cards. To test the new Ultra160 technology, we will be looking at Adaptec's 29160 Ultra160 model. Though aimed at mid-ranged servers the 29160 will be able meet the demands any power hungry speed freak.

Ask the Geek FAQ - 06:15 am Kan
BuyBuddy whipped up a Ask the Geek FAQ and for this issue, the guys are covering the concepts of CD-Writers as well as Re-Writables.

Users must understand that CD Writing is a complex process that puts high demands on both hardware and software. The seamless interaction of both these entities contributes to the successful writing of a CD. (In this article, when we refer to CD, it can be referred to either a CD-R or CD-RW disc). With the latest writing software packages on the market, the complexity is hidden away from the user. However, knowing what is involved in writing a CD will allow the user to prepare the data and system to properly write a CD. In the following pages are the areas of interest that deal with CD Writing.

Midiland S4 4060 - 06:13 am Kan
3DHardware.net posted a review of the Midiland S4 4060 speakers. This is the new series of speakers from Midiland and and promises better base and sound reproduction. 

The control module can be attached to a free 5.25" slot in your computer chassi and the necessary screws and "passthrough" cable are supplied. The satellite cords are around 2½ meters but the audio input cable is shorter. As the speakers are supposed to sit next to the monitor the cable-lengths are quite adequate. This time around MidiLand increased the length of the cable that connects the Control Module to the subwoofer - it is now ~ meters and will be enough for most rooms. So far MidiLand has only corrected a few "misses" and improved on some smaller details. The satellites aren't bigger but the subwoofer is. The S4 4060 have a 6.5" driver for reproducing the bass and the subwoofer enclosure is also larger to increase the amount of air mass for stronger bass response.

SCV May Lower Cable Modem Prices - 06:10 am Kan
Some local news to start of the day. There's a blurb over at ChannelNewsAsia on the possibility of SCV lowering their cable modem prices before March this year. Definitely good news for us:

Subscribers of Singapore Cable Vision's broadband cable modem services may enjoy lower prices before March this year.

SCV said that is because the cost of international leased circuits could fall by as much as 50 percent with the entry of new telecom players from 1st April this year.

SCV depends on these circuits, which it now gets from Singapore Telecom, to provide its broadband Internet service.

 

24 January 2000 - Monday

3D Video Blowout!!
- 17:09 pm Wilfred
This is a MUST READ for today! Right after the real explosives I posted about, a note from Ace's Hardware went off in my mailbox, pointing me to this mega-blowout (NOT shootout!) between the top 14 graphics cards out there! Tested upon 5 platforms, this is one comprehensive article.

Yep, that's right. Your humble servant has been testing fourteen different video cards and nine different video chipsets on five different platforms. More than 200 benchmarks (7 different games) have been conducted and whether you've got a Celeron, a PIII, a K6-2, a K6-III or an Athlon plugged in your gaming rig, we will find the best videocard for you.

Performance is not everything, of course, we will also take a look at DVD features, LCD support, image quality and product lifespan (how future-proof a card is). I am telling you, if you can't make up your mind after you read this review, you never will! :)

Desktop Digital DTT2500 Review - 17:02 pm Wilfred
Tech-Review underwent a classy site overhaul and returned with a bonus review on the Cambridge SoundWorks DTT2500 speakers.

Anyone who is involved in the speaker market will know that Cambridge Soundworks has always delivered a solid, well performing speaker. With the DTT2500, they continue the tradition by creating one of, if not the best Dolby Digital 5.1 computer speaker set available on the market today. With exceptional clarity and excellent overall sound quality, the DTT2500 will have you in the middle of the action. Our only qualms with the set are the subwoofer, which could use just a little more power, the lack of a headphone jack on the decoder/amp unit, and the inability to really drive out the power that causes your neighbors to call the police. We praise Cambridge for including the Powered Subwoofer output port, and for creating an excellent set of multimedia speakers that produce crisp and clear sound no matter what the content.

1GHz Athlon Box Running Linux - 16:58 pm Wilfred
Heh! It seems like the chums at CPU Review haven't had enough with the Sys Cold Fusion 1000 PC they have in their labs. Today they rolled out an article detailing their experiences with a 1GHz Linux box.

ASUS V6600 GeForce 256 - 16:56 pm Wilfred
ExtremeHardware got a taste of ASUS's honey today and gave their thoughts about it in a long 17-page review. Here's the snippet:

The Asus V6600 Pure is the best GeForce SDRAM card that I’ve seen to date. Offering top framerates (thanks in part to frequent driver updates), a low price (in comparison with other GeForce 256 cards), and a good software bundle, the V6600 Pure is hard to beat. Compared to other GeForce SDRAM cards, it currently has the best price/performance ratio.

OctaNitroCubane - 16:19 pm Wilfred
Oh no! Are we supposed to jump for joy or what? Not exactly IT-related but heck, I saw it on Slashdot and read it. Seems like some researchers at University of Chicago synthesized a new highly-explosive molecule called octanitrocubane - a compound rated to be "more powerful than the best non-nuclear weapons". Then again, man always think he can use his inventions wisely... so let's see where things will lead to:

A new explosive - octanitrocubane - has been synthesized by chemists Philip E. Eaton and Mao-Xi Zhang at the University of Chicago and its structure proven by Richard Gilardi of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C. According to calculations, octanitrocubane could be more powerful than the best non-nuclear explosives.

How does the explosive effect come about? Oxygen atoms contained in the molecules of the explosive oxidize the other "combustible" parts of the molecule, in most cases carbon and hydrogen. This causes heat and hot gases to be released very quickly - leading to an explosion. In a detonation, the most violent form of explosion, speeds up to 10,000 m/s, temperatures up to 6,000 °C, and pressures up to 300,000 bar can be achieved in the shock wave.

Fong Kai FK-603 - 16:09 pm Wilfred
Hey! When issit out turn to check this casing out?! Anybody seen it around town? Anyway, right after the AnandTechies, the boys at Ars Technica also pushed out a review on this highly-regarded box from Fong Kai Industrial Company. They liked it very much and awarded it a 4.5 out of 5 woohoos! Nice, but catch this para... had a good laugh myself!

The front of the FK603 is a mixed bag. The sleep, power, and hard drive light indicators are bold and clear. The power button is formidable, and what should be the reset button is nice, too. Unfortunately, Fong Kai must think that most of us aren't running Windows 9x, because the real reset button is a pencil lead size button that's a real pain in the keester to use. The button that I think should've been used for reset is a freaking sleep switch.  Egad, do I hate "sleep." Fortunately, I was able to swap the cords behind the scene and make a real reset button out of the sleep switch. I'll never use the sleep function, so I couldn't care less.

AMD Athlon Overclocking Guide - 16:03 pm Wilfred
It's AnandTech again! They published a GIGANTIC guide for overclocking the AMD Athlon. I'm sure those of you wanting to make the switch to a true 7th generation processor will want to read this! Overclock away!

There are two methods that can be used when overclocking the Athlon: increasing the FSB frequency on the motherboard or increasing the clock multiplier of the Athlon itself. 

The latter requires either a physical modification to the chip or the use of an overclocking card attached to the feature connector on the Athlon’s PCB while the former requires a motherboard with adjustable FSB frequencies.

Unreal Tournament Tweak Guide - 15:59 pm Wilfred
Surely everyone could use some tweaking! 3DSpotlight delivered a little tweak guide for the UT freaks out there. Go to it now!

Transmeta Chip To Come Soon - 15:57 pm Wilfred
osOpinion has an editorial titled Transmeta chip to arrive sooner than expected. In a few months, we will see if they have made a dent in Intel and AMD's market share.

I know that many of you are probably wondering about the prototypes. I believe that they are forthcoming. Diamond, IBM, Toshiba, Sony. All of them and numerous others probably have long-standing agreements with Transmeta to develop with their chips if and when they were available. We must all remember that Transmeta has been planting seeds and making agreements for almost five years. There's an awful lot that can be done in five years of secrecy. With over 2000 nondisclosure agreements, it's not difficult to imagine how many products will be coming out of the woodwork. I'm surprised that the reporters at Transmeta's press conference did not ask if they had participated in the creation of reference platforms for the new chips. By reference platforms I mean motherboard designs that would be ready for varied form factors. We wouldn't expect anything less from AMD or Intel, then why from Transmeta? I wouldn't be surprised if Transmeta's partners have many cards up their sleeves.

IWill Slocket II S370 To Slot-1 Converter - 15:53 pm Wilfred
AnandTech reviewed IWill's converter card in a short and sharp 1 page writeup. If you just bought your 500E or 550E, then you might want to grab one of these!

Even though the many recent boards allow these states to be changed manually, this option is useful for boards that force the use of the detected FSB. Jumper 8 is the most important jumper for FC-PGA overclocking simply because it must be set to correspond with the FC-PGA chip. There are two settings -- PPGA for Celerons and FC-PGA for the Pentium III's but the default is PPGA. The final jumper, J9, must be changed from the default settiong for Intel processors when using Cyrix's rival processor, the Joshua.

Pioneer DVD-303S - 15:50 pm Wilfred
Boomgames sent word of their new review on the Pioneer DVD-303S SCSI drive. Can't go wrong with a Pioneer product!

Being a SCSI drive it is a lot more stable in data transfer than IDE is (not gonna get into the joyz of SCSI right now though, but it helps, trust me). Also, if you're like me, and have your CD-RW on SCSI too, it makes a perfect way to pass the time while you burn a CD. And since it's SCSI, unless your CD-RW drive is crap, it shouldn't have much/any trouble with it.

Crusoe Preview At iXBT - 15:46 pm Wilfred
The good guys at iXBT Hardware posted a technical preview about Transmeta's Crusoe processor. They have some pics of the processor spiced up with detailed goodness. They said PowerPoint and even Quake runs fine! Very interesting.

As any other normal processor intended for Windows (since the list of reliable operation systems includes Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT and Linux), TM3120 has to comply with ACPI power management. And it does comply with it, consuming only 0.015W in Deep Sleep system state. Of course, if the processor carries out some complex calculations the power consumption gets several times higher. For example, it grows up to 2.9W during DVD playback, which is also damned good if compared to mobile Intel or AMD processors.

As for the second version, TM5400, everything mentioned above can also refer to it with a few corrections, though. First, the working frequency increased up to 500-700MHz. Second, which is also important, the cache size significantly increased: besides, 124KB (64+64) L1 there also appeared a 256KB L2 cache. Here the core voltage depends on the frequency and varies from 1.2 to 1.6V. However, the power consumption grows only up to 1.8W even during DVD playback due to the effect made by LongRun.

The Coppermine - 09:10 am Wilfred
Well, the world is evil, no doubt about that!!! Everyone's tempting me to grab a CuMine! If not for the fact that my pockets are shallow, the deal would have been an almost irresistible offer. Anyway, Game Forces has a short writeup on the Intel Coppermine processors. Read this customary snip (the processor you'll want!):

Pentium III processors at 550 and 500 MHz are also available in an innovative flip-chip (FC-PGA) package. This advanced flip-chip package technology results in a smaller processor package that enables a new generation of smaller, sleek, high-performance PCs, with improved ease of use.

Hardware Vs Software Rendering - 09:03 am Wilfred
Ga'ash Soffer of Voodoo Extreme kicked off an article on hardware vs software rendering. He gazed into this crystal ball for the future:

Hardware solutions are limited. They are fast, efficient, and easy to use, but nevertheless, limited. Currently, the limitations of hardware are few because most graphical elements which can't be done in hardware can't be done fast enough in software either. In the future this will change dramatically. CPUs will be fast enough to render true curves, or even ray-cast in real time. If a developer feels the urge to make an ray-casted engine, they will resort to software unless the hardware is capable of doing this. Unfortunately, when processing time becomes so plentiful, there are so many ways to store and render environments that it may become impossible for hardware to have ways of accelerating them all.

FIFA 2000 Tweak - 08:54 am Wilfred
Saw over at Voodoo Extreme this link where you can grab this patch to tweak your favourite soccer title. This release from FSH Soft will enable you to play it up to 1280x1024 res with triple buffering. Sounds cool, go try it and tell me.

Diamond Viper II: S3 Savage 2000 - 08:41 am Wilfred
The Sharks turned savage today and reviewed this unit from Diamond Multimedia. It's the usual hefty read with lots of benchmarks for comparison. Here's a blurb:

Basically, if all you want to do is play Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament, the Viper II will hold some appeal. If you do anything else, you may be waiting indefinitely for the driver support most people expect out of the box. We also had good experiences with Half-Life, but with the 3D Mark 2000 issues, it still seems questionable as to which applications will work out of the box.

The Viper II has a lot of potential to be a great product, but we still don't feel it is complete. It will be interesting to see if S3 is able to deliver on the drivers that will enable the full functionality of the card in a timely manner. If so, the upcoming Viper II LE Z400 may be something to consider more seriously.

Outlaw's Water Cooling Kit - 08:34 am Wilfred
Club Overclockers let us know of their new review on this zanny water cooling apparatus for your PC. Incredible stuff if you have the courage to install these into your box.

No matter how you look at it, cooling electronics with water kicks ass!  I've never received such awesome overclocking results EVER.  Heck, this cooler was even able to overclock a previously non overclockable POS Celeron 500 to 630MHz.  Just think of what this bad boy could do for a Pentium III 550E...  It makes me drool just thinking about it.

Supermicro PIIISED ATX Slot-1 - 06:15 am Kan
AnandTech reviewed another motherboard today on the Supermicro PIIISED ATX Slot-1 i810. This one comes with 6 PCI slots, no ISA slots and 2 DIMM slots only.

The layout of the PIIISED follows the ATX specification and almost all of the components were placed to minimize cable clutter. All hard drive and floppy connectors are optimally located at the front of the board, so that no cables are forced to run over either the CPU or the memory. However, the ATX power connector is placed at the back of the board, behind the CPU slot. Running the power cable over the memory and CPU leads to more clutter and reduces airflow through the case. While this is not a dire problem, it would be nice to see optimal design embraced, making the lives of computer technicians easier. To be PC99 compliant, the standard colored connectors are included on the backpanel.

Elsa Erazor X - 06:05 am Kan
Maximum3D sent note on the review on the Elsa Erazor X GeForce SDR graphics card. This is probably the only non-reference design board out here as well:

The card itself is in the NLX form factor, something unique to this card over any other. Most of the time, when a video card manufacturer is going to produce a GeForce card, NVIDIA produces a reference design for them. This eliminates the need for each manufacturer to make small changes to things, but also means that most GeForce cards look the same. Well, not this one. In 1997, Intel came out with a new form factor for the PC, NLX. By cramming stuff together and changing the size of certain hardware, one is able to make the PC much smaller. This is NLX. The Erazor X did not follow the NVIDIA reference design and instead designed a card that would work in all PCs, even the NLX ones. This explains why there is a big gap between the face plate and the card itself. This space would be full of ports in an NLX system. Of course, if you don't have an NLX system, screw it, it has nothing to do with you.

Home Networking 101 - 06:01 am Kan
Yesh. Digital-Clips wrote a guide called Home Networking 101 which answers all your questions on networking as the guys touched on the technologies behind the hardware from null modem cables to wireless LANs.

Home networking is quickly moving from the realms of the “nice-to-have” to the “must-have”, and for good reason. Installing a network, previously an incredibly complicated and arcane task, is now made much easier through increasingly intuitive software, and easier-to-install hardware. The benefits of a home network are obvious – not only can you play games with an incredibly low ping (and enjoy the perks of being an LPB), but you can also share a printer, files, and even an Internet connection. Added to the fact that having a home network automatically gives you bragging rights… it’s just too tempting to resist!  

Report on Comdex West - 05:59 am Kan
TheTechZone written a short blurb on Comdex West held in Vancouver Canada.

Unlike the Comdex in Las Vegas, the Vancouver Comdex is much more regional in scope. Instead of showing off new products, most of the displays are the stuff already shown at the Vegas Comdex. In terms of size, there's no competition. The Vancouver Comdex had just over 100 exhibitors. Vegas had over 2,000. I think Microsoft's display at Comdex Vegas would have taken up the whole convention space at Comdex Vancouver.

Smart Card Crypto Genius Sent To Trial - 01:05 am Wilfred
I read this and my heart went out to this guy. Well, if you will go on to read this you will understand what I mean. A kind genius, perhaps too smart and too nice... The Register has the story:

"I didn’t discover a crack in the system," he said appearing in a Paris court. "I showed the card company managers that the entire system from A-Z was unsafe. The group which controls the use of credit cards did not believe me so I showed them I could fool any terminal by cracking the basic mathematical formula based on 96 numbers."

Humpich is charged with using false credit cards to buy 10 Paris Metro tickets from an automatic dispenser. He made this transaction, and sent the receipt to the credit card company, to prove that his false card worked without being detected.

Humpich was arrested in September 1999, three months after making contact with the credit card control group through a lawyer.

iTouch Keyboard - 01:00 am Wilfred
JUST IN! Mike Chambers of nV News popped a note in the box about this new review done by Neil Yates. Hmm, this doesn't look like the split ergonormic design but heh, hope I don't see this in Sim Lim Square anytime soon or I'll have to spend precious dollars again!

To some, the Logitech Cordless iTouch keyboard may appear as a total gimmick.  But to those whose lives revolve around the home PC for communications, entertainment, and education – the iTouch's wireless ability resounds with clarity.

Rumours Rumours - 00:54 am Wilfred
Some saucy rumours (oxymoron?) just came rolling out of the mills. The Register has some documented for your reading. The headlines there went "HP to buy Compaq, VIA to buy S3 outright".

A-TEC Cobra 2000 USB Memory Card Reader - 00:50 am Wilfred
Dan's Data has cooked up a review on memory card readers. Well, if you are into digital photography, or use gadgets like MP3 players, you would want to check it out. They are fast.

Guillemot Maxi-Sound Fortissimo - 00:46 am Wilfred
Tweak3D just put up a neat review of the Maxi-Sound Fortissimo sound card from Guillemot. Putting through quite a hefty load of tests, the guys love it and your mum can afford it.

At $49.99 expectations were low for the Fortissimo, but surprisingly the board came packed with great features and excellent performance in comparison to the price. A3D, EAX, built-in DirectSound3D, and Sensaura Interactive Positioning is hard to pass up at such a low pop. Money-conscious consumers have their soundcard, but the hardcore gamer and/or hardware enthusiast (like myself) have high standards when it comes to anything 3D. So I'll say it again: the Fortissimo is an excellent 3D Audio solution based on a price to performance ratio.

23 January 2000 - Sunday

Fong Kai FK-603 ATX Mid-Tower
- 20:55 pm Kan
There's a review of the Fong Kai FK-603 ATX Mid-Tower casing over at AnandTech. Pretty normal looking with three 5.25" drive bays and two 3.5" bays, it comes with a 250W ATX 2.01 compliant PSU as well.

That look can be changed slightly through the use of two different bezel modules, consisting of just the gray part of the front panel. They're interchangeable simply by snapping one off and popping the other one on. One allows the direct exposure of both external 3.5" drive bays, while the other masks one of those bays in favor of what Fong Kai calls a "peek-a-boo floppy." This floppy design is essentially a molded floppy drive slot that lends a smoother look to the front panel. It should be compatible with most 3.5" floppy drives on the market today. Potential problems may arise with older drives and it is, of course, useless for something like a Zip drive, tape backup, or most other non-floppy devices. The rest of the front bezel simply comes off with a tug, but removing it often shouldn't be necessary. Interestingly, the FK-603 offers a plastic rear bezel that cleans up the look of the back of the case just a bit. 

STIKit Joystick Review - 15:25 pm Kan
Fast-MHz reviewed the interesting STIKit Joystick which actually sits on top your cursor keys. 

Well if your looking for a cheep joystick here's one for ya the STKit... This little thing mounts on your keyboard with small magnets. Its a revolutionary device ideal for some gaming and Internet use. It also helps with some difficult cursor keys. Whether you're surfing the net, gaming or maneuvering through spreadsheets, STIKit makes it somewhat easier...

The STKit requires no power wires, software, connections or batteries.
STIKit using small-enclosed magnets, adhesive disks, and it also comes with an adjustment tool to custom adjustment to your keyboard...

Fuji MX1700 Digital Camera - 15:21 pm Kan
Chick's Hardware reviewed the Fuji MX1700 digital camera. It comes with a 3X zoom lens as well as 1.5 Megapixel resolution. If you think 1.5 Megapixel is a lot, then check out those crazy 2.1 Megapixel cameras the rest of the editors (except me) are having. 

First things first - what does the camera look like, after all, style is everything. As you can see below, it's not lacking in the looks department! The holes from top to bottom: front of viewfinder (has separate zoom lens), timer LED, automatic flash LDR, flash, main lens, digital output (serial), video output, AC adapter input. The SmartMedia slot is under the funny lump (vertical) near the bottom right of the picture. The most sexy thing about this camera has to be the lens when you turn it on. When off, a circluar lens cover covers the lens. When you flick the power button, this slide away and the lens moves out of the camera. When you turn it off, it does the opposite, the lens retracks, and then the cover slides back over, with a satisfying whishing sound. You really have to see it to understand how cool this is...

Wilfred Coughs - 13:33 pm Wilfred
Whoa! Not too much news as of now... got back my upgraded Palm V and wondering what to do with 8MB of RAM in it. Also, I just received a protest from Yingzong about my cough last night. He said this, "Fool... I already got Planescape: Torment and I completed it two weeks ago." Oh well, now we know who's nuts!?! :P 

Novell: Advantage Over Windows 2000 - 13:30 pm Wilfred
Indeed, with the imminent release of Windows 2000 this February, Novell must be feeling the heat and the need to do something before the siege begins. Interestingly, they put up a page on their site which will display the advantages of Novel Netware over Windows 2000. It even has a daily "Did you know(s)" about Microsoft's upcoming OS and a long point-by-point rebuttal to Microsoft's claims about Netware. Go check it out!

With Windows 2000 finally about to ship, Microsoft's marketing machine has turned into high gear, launching what is expected to be the most expensive marketing campaign in software industry history. As part of its hype, Microsoft positions Windows 2000 and Active Directory as a viable alternative to Novell's NetWare and NDS eDirectory platform.

On this site, Novell will help you separate the hype from the reality, and give you compelling reasons why Novell's networking solutions fulfill today's business needs more effectively than Microsoft's. With eDirectory, Novell is well positioned to extend its core networking strength to fast-growing Internet markets and Web applications. This site will include a daily "Did you know" article about features in Windows 2000 that businesses should understand before making their network choice.

For those companies which deploy Windows 2000, Novell will continue its tradition of adding value to Microsoft and integrating Microsoft products more efficiently into heterogeneous networks

Technotopus Emulation Relaunch - 13:24 pm Wilfred
Junox, my old correspondent from Technotopus, sent note of the re-launch of their emulation site. Roll over for a look and they will be bringing you more fresh updates!

Swiftech MC370 Review - 13:21 pm Wilfred
The Firingsquad posted a review on the Swiftech MC370 peltier cooler, affectionately called "Baby Kryotech" by the editors. It earned a 87% rating, see if you want it!

Lets get this straight, the Swiftech MC370-2 probably isn't going to run your CPU at -40 degrees Celsius. Nor will it necessily allow you to overclock your CPU XXMHz higher than a conventional Alpha or MC370-0 heatsink/fan would.

Swiftech doesn't guarantee this and neither do we.

What we are saying is that the Swiftech MC370-2 is a very powerful cooler, the most powerful cooler currently residing in our office in fact. If you want your CPU chillin' like a cool Coke, (not freezing like an ice cube!) the MC370-2 delivers.

Razor Boomslang 2000 Review - 10:30 am Wymun
Darn...Mice are just getting sexier and sexier these days. After reading Game Wire's comprehensive review on the Razor Boomslang 2000, I just feel the need to get this critter to satiate my Quaking needs....  

The performance of this mouse will amaze you! I can't stop talking about how great the performance of this mouse really is. I can really feel the 2000 DPI this mouse runs at. I can aim at anything with no problems, and I can change the sensitivity to any situation I encounter myself in. Whether sniping or just going on a shooting rampage, I can set the sensitivity where
I like it.

Another Erazor X Review - 10:20 am Wymun
Our Turkish pals at Hardware Mania have also gotten hold of an Erazor X for review.  Here's a snippet, but don't forget to check out our recent take on this GeForce card as well:

Time to talk about the overclocking potential of Erazor X. Although this board has a decent overclocking potential, the gain of this process is not as satisfying as I hoped. The graphs will show you the difference in speed. As you can easily figure out, overclocking the SDRAM GeForce boards is just not worth the risk of possible damage that could be caused by overheating. However, it is nearly impossible to end up with such a disastrous event using Erazor X because there is a utility called ChipGuard that checks the temperature of the board continuously.

PIII 750 Coppermine Review - 10:15 am Wymun
The chaps at T-Break, have taken a comprehensive look at Intel's PIII 750 Coppermine and brought it through its paces.  Hmmm....Ever since I managed 800MHz on my 550E chip, just wondering who wouldn't settle for that configuration instead? 

It wasn't too long ago that I was presented with an AMD Athlon running at 700Mhz that threw all the benchmarks out of the water. Today, I have two CPUs from Intel based on their Coppermine Technology; the Pentium III 733 and the Pentium III 750 - both with faster clock speeds than the Athlon. But before we dive into benchmarks lets talk a little bit about Coppermine.

Review of Linux Mandrake 7.0  - 10:14 am Sniper
Mandrake 7.0 is the latest Linux distribution out there currently, read this article for a review of it.

I wasn't however moving from Windows, but from Red Hat 6.1, and I thought it should be possible using the upgrade-option, considering Mandrake's boasting about being 99% compatible with Red Hat. This was my first disappointment. I was told that I could upgrade from
almost any version of Mandrake, but not from Red Hat. I decided to try it anyway, and when Mandrake didn't protest, I figured everything was ok. 

PlayStation2 Digital VCR? - 10:10 am Sniper
According to this link from Gamespot, Sony's PS2 is expected to have digital VCR capabilities next year.

The digital VCR capabilities will likely come as a
part of a hard drive add-on that Sony is preparing
for the console. 

Another "Ball-less" Mouse Review - 10:05 am Wymun
CTNews3D has struck up a short take on the MS Intellimouse Explorer, renowned for its "castrated" mechanism.  

You all know the common troubles associated with traditional mice... every once in a while you will have to blow out or even scrape out the lint stuck on the sides of the rollers. You won't ever have to deal with this annoyance anymore with the Intellimouse, but the real question is, how well does it perform?

Turn On The Afterburner For That Athlon - 09:55 am Wymun
These days, it seems that no CPU will be complete without an overclocker's kit.  And the "Freak!-sters" have managed to snag one from Outside Loop Computers (termed the Afterburner) for review.

So how far did my Athlon 500 go? Well, first of all, I made small jumps of 50Mhz and tested each with several loops of 3DMark99, Winstone 99 and Content Creation Winstone 2000 to make sure there weren't any crashes. In addition, I tested Quake III Arena, Ligos LSX-MPEG Encoder, and Kinetix's 3DStudioMax to see what kind of real world performance increase I would see. I continued to do this until I reached 700Mhz.  I had to bump up the voltage to 1.7v to attain maximum stability at 700Mhz. I also tried to coax my 500 to play nicely at 750Mhz but even raising the voltage up to a scary 1.9v proved fruitless.

 

22 January 2000 - Saturday

Wilfred Coughs
- 23:10 pm Wilfred
Where were we?? Heheh! Fortunately, today is yet another slow news day which is common for weekends, so not TOO much to post about. Bad excuse for our absence? Oh how about my CuteFTP refusing to work and giving me strange GPFs when I load it up and thus couldn't access HW1?! Yes, until I switched to BulletProof FTP. Hmm.. anyhows, the forum is bustling with activity. So go down there for a look!

Addtronics W8500 WTX Server Tower Case - 23:05 pm Wilfred
PC on wheels! AnandTech has a review on the Addtronics W8500 WTX server tower case. With wheels and all, it looks pretty heavy duty to me, but for the home desktop, I still crave for my SuperMicro.

If you've got one of the first WTX motherboards on the market and are looking for a high quality case to house it, look no further than the Addtronics W8500. It's one of the few WTX cases on the market at this point in time, excels at cooling, and has great expandability - all without any major flaws. At almost $300, the price seems a bit hefty, even for the intended audience, the entry level server market.

Planescape: Torment - 22:57 pm Wilfred
I remember Yingzong trying very hard not to buy this game last time. Now, I'm not sure if he has succumbed. Anyhow, go check out SharkyExtreme's review of this game from Interplay. It seems like Yingzong will prolly get it if he read this:

Planescape: Torment is an extremely well-made game, with an engaging story, fascinating characters and deep gameplay that makes exploring the detailed world of Planescape less of a game and more of an adventure. A game that bodes well for Black Isle and RPGs in general, Torment has something to offer both newcomers and RPG veterans alike, and while it's by no means a leap forward from previous releases, it stands as a finely tuned effort that hints of more great things to come.

Transmeta-Linux Connection - 22:31 pm Sniper
Upsidedown Today has an interesting article describing the link between Linux and Transmeta.

For nearly three years, it seemed like the classic red herring: What was Linus Torvalds doing on the Transmeta roster?

Industry observers wondered and open-source observers speculated, but the more they looked, the less sense it made. Why would Transmeta, a hardware company obsessed with maintaining a low media profile want to bring onboard Linus Torvalds, a software programmer with almost Hollywood-scale name recognition? 

Elbrus E2k Claims Transmeta Credit - 08:31 am Wilfred
Perhaps we detect the slightest bit of envy here, check out this story at The Register where the director of Elbrus said that Transmeta had borrowed their ideas for the Crusoe processor.

Elbrus International, the Russian chip design outfit that says its E2K chip design would be a Merced-killer if only it could raise the money to build it, is claiming Transmeta's Crusoe family of chips owes a lot to its designs. Crusoe, which was publicly unveiled earlier this week, is intended to combine high performance, low power and low cost with multi-chip compatibility via what Transmeta terms "revolutionary technology."

Best Data Theatrix Dolby 5.1 Soundcard - 08:25 am Wilfred
HardwarePros has a review of Best Data's Theatrix Dolby 5.1 soundcard based on Forte Media's FM801 Multi-channel PCI chip. Though relatively unknown in the PC sound card playing field, this seem like a very feature rich card. Have a read:

S/PDIF output was also available if you wanted to output the audio to a receiver. After choosing 6 speaker mode, I started to play the Matrix. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, the surround sound was amazing! I specifically played the scene where they are on top of the roof and the Agent starts shooting at Neo and you can hear the bullets traveling from front to back and left and right.  I'm not used to this, so it was absolutely astounding. My home theatre system didn't even sound this good! and neither did my Diamond Monster Sound MX300 paired with a quad set of Boston Acoustics speakers running in 4 speaker down-mixed mode! It's unbelievable how much difference a center channel can make. 

SuperMicro PIIIDM3 i840 Motherboard - 08:17 am Wilfred
Very interestingly GamePC delivered a review on SuperMicro's i840 motherboard, the PIIIDM3. Other than being one of the first i840 boards to be reviewed, check out the pictures of it... diagonally placed heatsinks and lots of features onboard. Real high-end stuff but it seems like it does have some issues:

Amazingly enough, our I840 scores came in behind I820 in most tests. We do see the I840 outperforming all of the other platforms on the high-end Quake3 tests, where all of the cards are equally bottlenecked by the DDR video card. Perhaps I840 can handle AGP signals faster than the rest, but even so, the Supermicro board didn't win by much. While the I840 won a few of the higher resolution tests, it's still nowhere near the performance level that most people would expect out of this high end chipset.

Unfortunately, the board didn't retain stability throughout all our tests. Like the 4-DIMM Asus P3C-2000 board which crashed on us every 20 minutes, the Supermicro board with DIMM's couldn't run through all of our tests without crashing. Quake III crashed during our stress test loops, giving a memory allocation error, and 3DMark 2000 would randomly cut out. Considering this is a high-end server motherboard, and ultimate stability is a must, we'd advise gamers and business types a like to stay away of ANY I840/I820 with SDRAM. Every board we've tested hasn't gone through our stability tests successfully. Although, to it's credit, the board successfully ran overnight with dual processors running two copies of Prime95. Each CPU was running at 100% for over 12 hours without heat problems or crashing.

ELSA Erazor X SDR and X2 DDR GeForce - Wilfred
I'm sure you now have several choices amongst the crop of GeForce cards that arrived. I had the opportunity to test out the ELSA Erazor X SDR and X2 DDR GeForce cards in this review. Do check it out!

Linksys Etherfast 10/100 Card - 00:42 am Kan
Review of the Linksys Etherfast 10/100 card over at ArashBest. OS compatibility is the most important, so make sure the network card you are buying is supported by the OS. 

The EtherFast has all the modern features; RJ-45 port, PCI card format, 10BaseT or 100BaseTX compatibility, full Plug-n-Play, software drivers for all major software, and LED status lights. It also includes more advanced features, such as newly added Wake-On-LAN (to boot PCs from anywhere on the network), full software configurability, and 32-bit "multimaster concurrence technology," which improves data transfer by accessing the CPU "directly." Compatibility is also topnotch, the EtherFast 10/100 works with the latest software, hardware, and operating systems.

AnandTech Heatsink Testing Methodology - 00:40 am Kan
AnandTech posted their own Heatsink Testing Methodology in which they touched on how to measure the effectiveness of a heatsink. Here's an outline:

The test with the simulator is used to judge about the heatsink's cooling performance. You might wonder why we're not using an actual CPU for the temperature measurements. Well, for one reason: Precision. When using an actual CPU as a heat source, it is hardly possible to measure exactly how much heat is emitted to the heatsink. All you could do is measure the power usage of the entire motherboard, with CPU and extension cards. In addition, the CPU power usage depends on the CPU's operating state, different combinations of instructions result in different power usage. There are simply too many variables to consider, the result is less than ideal precision. 

AMK CO-3123 Control Panel - 00:37 am Kan
You may be wondering what's this gadget all about. TheTechZone reviewed this and it's actually a control panel that controls the fans and temperature probe in your system. Hmm, pretty ugly looking but it looks like it's quite effective:

AMK Services just keeps coming up with more innovative devices all the time. The latest is the CO-3123 Control Panel. I know, you're wondering what in the world does this thing do? The CO-3123 Control Panel controls the fans and temp probe in your overclocked system. Those of us who run our system overclocked will have quite a number of fans in the computer to keep it cool. All those fans running at the same time can get pretty loud. What the CO-3123 allows you to do is to either cut the fan speed in half or turn them off completely, all with the flick of a few switches. In addition to controlling the fans, the CO-3123 also lets you monitor the temperature of up to two devices.

Sony G400 19" Monitor - 00:33 am Kan
Ah, check out DansData review on the Sony G400 19" FD Trinitron flat-tube monitor. This monitor is one hell of a monitor if you can't afford the 21" G500 Monitor, but still need a larger screen than the traditional 17" monitors.

If you spend a lot of time staring at a screen, a good monitor is essential. And, for many people, "good" means, first and foremost, "big". No matter how clear and sharp your 15 inch or, horror, 14 inch monitor is, it's still going to give you eyestrain if you use higher resolutions. And, since dot pitches (see sidebar) much below 0.25mm are pretty much unknown, it's just flat-out impossible to display higher resolutions than 1024 by 768 sharply on a 15 inch screen

 

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