91 posts • joined Wednesday 18th April 2007 19:50 GMT
I'm going to disagree slightly here. Each new generation of Lynnfield/Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge/Haswell uses less power, runs cooler, the unlocked processors overclock dynamically and the rise of native SATA6Gbps and USB 3.0 is a thoroughly good thing.
I agree that quad core/six core is of marginal interest and feel that dual core with Hyper Threading will suit most mainstream users.
Sandy Bridge Extreme was an absolute hoot but no-one seriously proposed it was anything more than a biggest/fastest/more bandwidth exercise in bravado and it fulfilled that role superbly well.
I suffered a VM 'upgrade' when I switched from 20Mbps to 50Mbps, not for the extra speed but to avoid hassle with monthly caps. I foolishly expected the change would involve nothing more than someone flicking a switch in the Virgin HQ but instead a man in a van turned up with my shiny new SuperbHub. It seemed to come as a surprise to him that the SuperHub didn't support bridging and thus my D-Link router was consigned to the bin.
My new modem/router came with firmware R20 and had deadful wireless. Since the change to firmware R26 the wireless has been perfectly OK but I miss the option of dual channel 2.4GHz/5GHz.
As the firmware is pushed out from Virgin I wonder, how did you manage to get R29?
Combining SSD and HDD
I'm a firm fan of SSD and have reviewed a number of drives for Reg Hardware.
In my own PC I use a 256GB SSD for Windows 7 and applications with two HDD (1TB and 2TB) for data and am very happy with the set-up.
From a personal stand point I detest RAID on the desktop as it adds complexity and failure points however if you want the best of both worlds from SSD and HDD you might consider the Intel Z68 Core i5/i7 chipset. Z68 introduces Intel Smart Response which is a form of RAID that uses a 20GB SSD as a cache drive with software that learns how you use your PC and then copies files from the HDD to SSD to speed up access.
The technology relies on a compatible BIOS and Intel integrated RAID drivers and isn't my personal cup of tea however it works surprisingly well if you want extra performance on the (relatively) cheap.
^ series chipset, UEFI and battery life
Frymaster - you're quite correct that the 6 series chipset/SATA300 issue should have nowt to do with battery life on HDD and SSD but it isn't impossible so we thought it best to make mention.
Robert Carnegie - I was focussing on the benefits (or otherwise) to the end user. In that context the UEFI implementation in this laptop is pretty damn similar to a BIOS. As for what it does - for instance support for hard drives larger than 2.2TB - well that's a tick in the box and make me pleased however it is invisible to the end user, at least for the time being. It's a bit like reviewing a motherboard and referring to whether the graphics slots are PCI Express 1.0 or 2.0. The standard and data bandwidth are all well and good but do they make your game play better or not? In this case the set-up screen is effectively a BIOS that you can control with the touchpad.
Enki and Irneb
You're both quite possibly correct. The fact is that I came across some strange test results and felt it better to put them on the page instead of sweeping them under the digital carpet. I discussed exactly this theory with Intel using a car analogy about how many miles you travel on a tank of fuel (work done) and how long you take to get there (battery life). If their tech people had come back and said 'yup, that's how it rolls with SSD, more work and less battery' I would have understood. Instead there has been a resounding silence.
60% for the Dell
Ace Rimmer, I scored the Dell high for performance, low for battery life, and fairly low for features and value for money, hence the overall score.
I disliked the layout of the ports and connectors as the rear-facing USB are something of a pain.
The BigYin - It is my opinion that Windows 7 is a good PC OS and very good for laptops. It is better than XP and far better than Windows Vista. There are no Apples in this group so Mac OS X is neither here nor there and you cannot buy a mainstream Linux laptop without a huge amount of effort.
If it makes everyone feel happier, please imagine that the offending sentence reads 'Windows 7 is my OS of choice for laptops'.
@TeeCee re cost
TeeCee, I use Netgear XEB1004 85Mbps adapters that cost £75 the pair and have four Ethernet ports on each unit to connect my AV kit at the back of my telly to the Internet. The Nintendo Wii has Wi-Fi and no Ethernet so I leave it to its own devices but both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are connected over Ethernet. No doubt in time I will have a TV that uses Ethernet and if I update my superb WD TV to the new WD TV Live Plus that will also sprout Ethernet.
Why don't I just use wireless? I find it easier to use Ethernet for static devices as it is rock solid reliable and I have never noticed any problems as a result of using HomePlug. Also it beats the arse out of attempting to enter WEP/WPA security keys using a virtual keyboard to make a wireless connection with your games console.
In time I expect every device in my living room will demand an Interrnet Connection and I shall continue to use Ethernet rather than wireless wherever possible and I have no intention of stringing Ethernet cable around the house. HomePlug for me thanks.
Archos 5 and Android
For what it's worth, my Archos 5 Internet Tablet has the latest firmware which is Android 1.6. That suggests to me that Archos is delivering Android updates very slowly, even for hardware that has been out for some time.
40GB and 64GB SSDNowV
If you refer to our review of the 40GB Kingston SSD you'll see that performance was lower than the 128GB SSDNowV that we previously reviewed. We speculated that this is a result of the 40GB using five memory chips which doesn't take full advantage of the ten channel memory controller.
So yes, your 64GB drive is very likely faster than the 40GB.
Intel DP55KG Bluetooth
I didn't mention Bluetooth on the Intel board for a nmber of reasons.
1) The word count on each review is very tight so I stuck to what I considered to be the highlights and I am baffled by the appeal of a wireless technology on a desktop PC. For the record the DP55KG also has infra-red.
2) The antenna for the Bluetooth radio is a horrid fiddly thing that clips into place and then attaches inside your PC case using double sided tape.
3) There are no dedicated Intel drivers for the Bluetooth and you rely on Microsoft for the installation. In my opinion this is never ideal.
4) The Bluetooth doesn't appear to work. Or at least my phone cannot see it which boils down to the same thing. as there is no software on the PC and no way to configure the device. The drivers simply say 'Bluetooth' so I have no idea whether it is working but not broadcasting publicly or broken or what. As the drivers are Microsoft I shall wait for Rev. 3 and see if it bursts into life.
MSI and PCI Express graphics
Does dual x16 PCI Expres offer more performance than dual x8?
The bandwidth offered by x8 is huge and personally I have no time for the nasty hot NF200.
Lucid Hydra 200 sounds superb but the trouble is that Nvidia protects SLI jealously. It seems that MSI Big Bang Fuzion with the Lucid chip has been pulled either temporarily or permanently as Nvidia has apparently threatened to break unofficial SLI in the graphics drivers.
Of course you're correct in pointing out that LGA1156/P55 is an enthusiast platform but I doubt there will be many water cooled systems out there. The CPU remains amazingly cool with a decent cooler and a slow fan and can be very, very quiet without any need for water cooling. If you do decide to go for water cooling (and I would question the merit of adding expense and complication) you still have a degree of air flow thanks to the fans in the graphics card(s) and power supply.
If push comes to shove you can add an 80mm or 120mm case fan as extra (quiet) insurance.
I'm well aware that my used-to-be-hard-drive-but-now SSD is full of software but it DOES NOT load endless crap at start-up. The app that takes a chunk of time is Sophos ani-virus but I don't have parental controls, toolbars and media players running at start-up, honestly I don't.
I run Windows XP SP3 and have discs for SP1 and SP2. I could have built a slipstream install and risked overlaying a new Windows installation on top of the existing installation but who needs the aggro?
For that matter I could have cloned my old Samsung SP2504C hard drive to a new hard drive and no doubt that would have helped performance but instead I jumped to SSD. The reduced time at start-up is amazing and at the very least shows that the hard drive is thrashed mercilessly.
By simply cloning my hard drive I have made life better with zero risk to my data or PC and it was a beautifully quick and simple installation. I had to reactivate both Windows XP and Office 2003 but that was the extent of the hassle.
Windows 7 RC and power draw
Phil, The Register may or may not have an MSDN account. Your humble freelancer does not.
Anton, 'fit for purpose' is a fraught topic. If I was building a HTPC with low power CPU, integrated graphics, DDR3 and an SSD I would expect a tiny power draw of less than 50W. On the other hand a system power draw for a Core i7 PC with an HD 5870 of 225W or 310W with dual cards in CrossFireX strikes me as quite remarkably low.
I should probably have shouted long and loud that this is the power draw for the entire system and not just for the graphics card.
Matt, there are plenty of features in DX11 to stir the juices but personally I'm not all the thrilled about cloth textures and the like. For me the main point of interest is threading as DX11 promises to unlock multi core processors and let's em rip. At present you need clock speed and very little else. If DX11 delivers on its promises we will see a real benefit from quad cores.
Jonathon, in the Lynnfield preview we used the Core 2 QX9650 as a base line as that was the processor that Intel used at IDF and we were trying to stay within the NDA on performance figures. Intel presumably selected the QX9650 as the clock speed was the same.
We also compared the Core i5/Core i7 800 with Core i7 900.
To the best of my knowledge Intel hasn't said that a particular firmware version is cursed by the bug however I can state that the drive I reviewed came with firmware 2CV102G2 and the bug fix version is 2CV102G9.
Tony, if you do a straight comparison of performance between SSD and HDD you may well find the cost prohibitive. If you do swap the OS/apps drive on your PC for an SSD I am convinced you will be impressed by the result. Forget extra RAM - this is the business.
For laptops you also have to add in the peace of mind of having an indestructible drive.
More from your author
Chipsets may well require active cooling however I would far rather install a quiet CPU fan - provided it is up to the job - and then install a large, slow, quiet case fan to handle the chipset.
Noise levels - yes, I agree that pitch, annoyance and volume are not necessarily the same thing but it can all get horribly subjective. With these coolers I found that the four-pin fans were better than the three-pin jobs as they can be quiet when the load is modest and spin up to speed when necessary. The Thermalright was very nearly a superb cooler and was much improved when I used it with the Akasa fan.
Installation: OK, tricky one this. If you're building your PC once and only once then the aggravation of the Asus or Zalman doesn't much matter. If you intend on semi-dismantling your PC every so often then the Noctuas are really good as you install all the hardware one time with the motherboard removed. Thereafter you can remove the cooler and part of the mounting hardware to gain access to the CPU without touching the motherboard.
I scored the Intel style of mounts highest as they are the easiest to use if you want to pop off the standard cooler and replace it with an after-market cooler. Changing from Intel to GELID, for instance, takes about 20 seconds.
Annihilator (Annihilator? Really?)
If you're building a new PC it's much easier to plug the CPU, CPU cooler, memory and graphics card into your motherboard and then install the OS and drivers with the system flat on the bench. If you suffer a problem such as incompatible memory or something silly like a duff cable it is much easier to sort it out on the bench than it is inside the case. If you get into overclocking you'll find that some motherboards will reset the BIOS after a problem while others will lock solid and necessitate a reset. In the latter case micro buttons are a Godsend.
I'm going to take your question at face value, although I suspect there may be some deep sarcasm that escapes me. Micro buttons are quite common on high end motherboards for Power, Reset and Clear CMOS. They are dead handy if you do a dry build of your system before you plug the components into your PC case as they allow you to tinker with settings and configure the BIOS without connecting the case buttons to the front panel headers. Micro buttons also avoid the need to short the headers with the blade of a screwdriver to turn the system on.
Overclocking Core i7
It's true that you can raise the base clock multiplier with the Extreme 965/975 and that does indeed make overclocking very, very easy but raising the 133MHz base clock speed on a 920 is child's play and delivers identical results.
I'm in the thick of a piece on DDR3 and Core i7 and the only way you'll have a problem overclocking the 920 is if you have really cack memory that won't run faster than 1200MHz or 1300MHz as the memory may restrict the base clock speed.
I use the SSDs and HDDs that I review both as Windows drives and also as data drives and the widely reported JMicron small file stuttering problem hasn't caused me any problems.
I can, however, see strange results in testing. Atto and CrystalDiskMark show horribly reduced transfer speeds with the 4KB data size so I am prepared to believe that certain SSDs may cause problems in certain applications.
My question is this - do you ever transfer a large block of tiny files around your HDD/SSD?
I was unimpressed with the OCZ Apex but the Vertex is a properly good piece of hardware, as is the Samsung 256GB and the Intel X25-M.
GTX280 in 3DMark Vantage
Nvidia shifts the PhysX workload from the CPU to the GPU which mightily increases the CPU score on high end Nvidia graphics cards. Unless you plan on playing games with loads of PhysX features you'd we well advised to focus on the GPU element of the test.
The X2 uses CrossFire to link the two 4870 GPUs and its performance shows that CrossFire suffers all sorts of strange problems. When it works well its good but when it goes wrong it is a stinker and with an X2 you cannot turn CrossFire off so you're lumbered.
Blimey, a third response by your reviewer
I didn't buy any 2x BD-R media for the external LG as it is exactly the same drive as the internal LG that I previously reviewed. The only reason to run any burning tests was to check whether the USB 2.0 interface had any impact on performance and the 2x BD-RE burn test categorically shows this is not the case so burning to 2x BD-R wouldn't have helped us in any way.
Blu-ray write/Blu-ray Rom
I had considered distribution of data to clients, customers, friends and family and struggled to think of many cases where DVD didn't fit the bill. In those instances when you want to send 25GB, 50Gb or more I wonder how many people would have the necessary Blu-ray ROM drive to read the discs. Blu-ray is primarily for movies and doesn't really work with data, in my opinion.
Not exactly. Well sort of.
I rated the LG at 60% as I feel that Blu-ray is an ineffective and expensive way of shifting HD movies from one place to another. Solid state memory or a hard drive are quicker, cheaper and easier.
Apologies for this folks - the figures on the graphs are correct however I managed to trip over the reams test results and make some silly mistakes in the copy which Tony has sorted out.
ref Bronek's comments: Tony and self talked about hard drive testing a while back and came to the conclusion that benchmarks are all well and good but file transfer tests are more real world.
Transferring files and timing the results should reflect any funny business such as excessive latency. If this is not the case I'd be happy to hear the flaw along with any suggestions about how we can realistically measure it.
I reviewed a factory overclocked graphics card with their own heatsink/cooler package. You seem to be saying that not only should I tinker with the software that controls the cooling fan but that I should consider installing the biggest passive cooler I have seen in all my born days
If a manufacturer includes software with a product I am happy to use it. Other than that I'll stick to the approach that they build it, I use it and then I tell you what I think about it.
Yes the GTX 280 CPU results jump in 3DMark Vantage thanks to the PhysX offloading which is turn affects the overall score. That is the reason why we published all three scores and not just the overall score.
Why does every DECT handset come with lousy ring tones? I recently bought a Panasonic that is a decent phone but the choice of Fur Elise, William Tell and various beeps and bongs is too horrible to behold.
Clearly no manufacturer can afford to supply decent ring tones on a phone that leaves the factory for £5 and which goes on to retail at £70. Such is life.
My question is, does any handset give you the option of adding ring tones in the same way that you can with a mobile. I appreciate you would need some form of memory card or data connection but does such a beast exist?
Formatting and capacity
You're quite right Mr Anonymous that the capacity is not reduced by formating and that this is the difference between true capacity and the wretched 'decimal' Gigabytes that appear on the specification..
The point is that you only see the true capacity once the drive is installed and formatted so it appears that formatting eats capacity.
In this context 'formatted capacity' is short hand for 'you actually get'
Athlon X2 4850e power
I have previously used the X2 4850e in testing for other reviews and those figures are the basis for my observation that the power saving is 20W and that the performance hit is 20 percent.
These are my own measured figures and are not manufacturer's figures.
As for SidePort I have seen some bold claims for this on-board graphics memory but have never seen any measurable effect, either in terms of performance of in terms of power draw.
That may be due at least in part to my practice of rounding power figures to the nearest 5W.
I considered using Phenom II for this feature - I'm writing the review for El Reg right now - but shied away on the grounds of cost. The 3GHz Phenom II X4 940 costs £220 which puts it up against the 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad Q9400 and I'm not sure that either processor is necessary for a PC that has integrated graphics.
@Robert - Linux vss. Vista
You've got it in one - if you run Linux then a single core Atom is fine but Windows Vista requires dual core for true loveliness. It's the reason that netbooks come with the choice of Linux or XP but not Vista.
I'm not suggesting that Vista is essential and I run XP on my personal PC (Tautology?) but anyone buying a shrink wrap OS for a new PC build is likely to buy Vissta
Or there's Plan B
Or switch to the Netgear XEB1004 which has four Ethernet ports on each adapter
more from Leo
In the transfer tests from one drive to another the first drive is the C: drive that is running Vista. The second drive listed is a data drive/Slave/euphemism of choice.
MTBF is something that I cannot test and neither can I verify the manufacturers' figures. To the best of my recollection every drive manufacturer has had a dodgy patch when drives fail horribly. They have all had problems and have all come through them and I would be loath to recommend one make over another. Wimpish I know but if your photos and music go up in smoke after two or three years do you much care about getting the purchase price of the drive refunded?
I don't understand the Crysis figures and it's bloomin' annoying.
I started using a Crysis run-through with FRAPS out of idle curiosity some time ago when it became apparent that the built in benchmarks are hopelessly inadequate.
My methodology is this: I choose the game settings, load a Crysis saved game and play through a short section part of the game.
At first the test results were fairly predictable as more powerful graphics cards gave better results in terms of frame rates and Nvidia had an advantage over ATi, doubtless thanks to the Way It's Meant To Be Played.
The fly in the ointment is that dual graphics chip cards and SLI/CrossFire perform far worse than a decent single graphics card which goes against logic. It's not just a low FRAPS score - the game plays like you're running through treacle.
Here's the thing; a number of readers have picked up on this apparent contradiction in the test results of some of my reviews - high 3D Mark scores and low Crysis scores - but no-one has said that they run HD 4850 CrossFire or a GeForce 9800 X2 and have a great time in Crysis.
I used the Crucial SSD as it was what I had to hand - I don't have a sample of the OCZ despite asking but when I get one you'll read about it.
I've reviewed the Intel SSD and expect it to go up very soon and then you'll see how a proper SSD performs ...
In an ideal world we would have majored on VelociRaptor vs Raptor but the fact of the matter is that Raptor is now rather old and didn't compare especially well to the Hitachi 7K1000 which is indeed a peach and offers superb value for money.
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