It's taken forever to assemble (cheers Spizzy) but we have the full set of demos from today's Euro-CPL qualifier event. BUT, due to a minor admin error (cheers Spizzy), many of the 200-odd demos have spaces in their window-long-filenames, which Quake3 can't handle. So just for tonight we bring you the Blokey vs Timber Final: Match 1 (556k), and Match 2 (510k). Tomorrow, some lucky person will sift through and replace all the spaces with underscores [well volunteered Geoff! - Ed]. It's been a long day, so please be patient.
- Dragon DirectPrice - £30 including VAT and postage Overclockers Utd. Everyone knows that heat is the overclocker's worst enemy - as your clock speed rises, whether it is your CPU or your graphics card that you are turbo charging, more heat is generated by it. The cheapest way to ensure good stability and juicy clock speeds is to simply promote good airflow within your case. The addition of even just a single 80mm case fan can slice over 10 C off your temperatures. The next stage is the basic "one-in / one-out" principle to keep the air inside your case nice and fresh. Some even go to extreme lengths and add 3, 4 or even 6 large fans to help keep temperatures down. Both Overclockers.co.uk and PowerComputing sell such cases here in the UK. Unfortunately, as one adds more and more fans, the noise they collectively generate increases. Hush for a minute, and listen to the sound coming from your PC. For many readers, there is just a faint background hum of the fan inside your power supply, and a distant rumble from your CPU fan. Add a pair of 80mm fans though, and the noise level rises. You find it hard to concentrate, and often resort to playing MP3s while you work in order to drown out the noise from the fans. As soon as you start messing with 120mm fans things start to get very loud indeed. The solution is to only have the fans switched on when they are needed. For the electronically inclined, you can order a FanBus from Cliff, or even attempt to make one yourself based on the numerous DIY guides floating around the Net. But as cool as it looks, with its blue LEDs and everything, the FanBus is still a manual solution. It is up to you to monitor your temperatures using Motherboard Monitor, and switch your fans on and off to suit. Enter The Dragon For those people with a little more money to splash around looking for a more autonomous solution, I recently stumbled on to a product that should suit you down to the ground... Introducing the Dragon-Direct DDE8, or Dragon Cooler as I call it. Designed and built in Wales of all places, it's a fully automated thermal monitoring and fan management system, which monitors the temperature of your CPU, graphics card, hard drive, or whatever you choose, and then switches your fans on and off according to your preset temperature range. The unit comes as a complete kit - you get two motherboard-type thermal probes, power leads, a pass-through cable, even four screws to mount it in a spare 5.25" drive bay. Build quality is impressive - a pressed sheet steel cage houses the electronics, and the front plastic bezel is solid enough. The model I received can take two separate thermal probes, but there is an eight-probe version if required. There are two 40mm fans incorporated into the unit which can blow or suck depending on your requirements, and they are filtered either way, which makes a handy addition for those with dusty houses, or pets. The clever bods at Dragon Direct have also specified the unit to drive one external fan. Fan/Off For such a simple principle, it's amazing how much excitement is generated when I show the Dragon Cooler to friends. The fan is off. Pinch probe with fingers. The fan switches on. Ooohh. Release the probe. The fans switches off. The crowd goes wild!!! Having lived with the constant hum of three 80mm case fans for nearly a year now, the asking price of £29.99 is a small amount compared with the peace I now enjoy with the fans switched off most of the time. They stay silent when I'm word processing, but then kick in when I get down to some heavy-duty deathmatching and the temperatures start to rise. When I quit Quake 3 the fans keep running until the temperature is down to normal, and then switch themselves off again. Heavenly. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the LCD screen is backlit? Yes, it glows an eerie blue when powered, making the display easy to read even in low light conditions, and it looks dead impressive at LAN parties. Fan-tastic While it probably seemed like a good idea at the time, and was a necessary addition for non-hardcore customers, the two 40mm fans inside the unit are pathetic. They might be silent, but they shift so little air it really isn't worth bothering. The good news is that these fans are not hard-wired into the PCB - they use tiny 2-pin connectors on to jumper-type pins on the board. So of course the first thing that a hardcore user will want to do is to unplug them. When Phil from Dragon-Direct said "Sure, try it, but it will invalidate your warranty", that was like a red rag to a bull. The personality "flaw" of the true overclocker is to never be satisfied with the normal spec of anything. Celeron II 566 guaranteed to 850MHz? Gotta run at 875Mhz! My Elsa Erazor X is cooking along at 165Mhz core and 185Mhz memory. The DDE8 was designed and is sold to drive the two 40mm fans and a single 80mm fan only, but that wasn't about to stop me... So, having removed those pitiful weenie fans, I proceeded to wire the Dragon cooler up to all three of my 80mm case fans. No problem. Determined to push the boundaries a little further, I whipped out my brand new YS-Tech 120mm fan. This bad boy is rated for 120 cfm, and pulls so much current that you will blow the fan header if you attach it to your motherboard for power. So in it goes, and guess what? No problem! This is the reason why I bought the DDE8 - I wanted to get my case temperature close to ambient air temperature without the constant ear-bashing from fans capable of shifting more hot air than your average politician. Room For Improvement Despite the two thermal channels, and capacity for up to eight, the fans will switch on when either probe exceeds the set temperature. And since there is only one channel for power, it's a case of all or nothing when it comes to fans - they are either all on or all off. In an ideal world (and possibly something that Dragon-Direct could work on in future) you would be able to power separate fans from separate probes, allowing you to zone your case and cool it appropriately. If this wasn't possible, I would really like a dual-stage monitoring system, where a set fan would engage when you reach a certain temperature, but if the level continues to rise, another fan would kick in. In the meantime, I have a single 80mm fan on all the time, and then I have my remaining two fans switching on and off as the temperature fluctuates. Conclusion The DDE8 is the only unit of its kind available in the UK that I am aware of, let alone at the stonking price of just £30. While it does not allow the individual fan control of a FanBus, its autonomous nature allows you to concentrate on your work (or play), and leave the temperature monitoring to the experts. For anyone with more than two fans in their case, and certainly anyone who is annoyed by the constant rumbling this causes, I highly recommend this product to the point of labelling it as an essential purchase. Temperature freaks rejoice, for there is a God .. and he lives in Wales. - Overclocking the Celeron II 566MHz Epox 7KXA Athlon motherboard 9
Intel originally released the Celeron as a cheap and cheerful processor for users on a budget, designed to compete with the K6-2 family from AMD. The first Celerons had no Level 2 cache though, and were very slow as a result. Introduction To remedy this Intel added 128Kb of cache memory, but crucially it was on-die and ran at the full speed of the CPU, as opposed to the half-speed off-die cache of the (more expensive) Pentium II. What made the Celeron so special was the ability to increase its Front Side Bus (FSB) speed from the stock 66Mhz to the 100Mhz of a Pentium II. It didn't take long before hardcore users worldwide were routinely overclocking the Celeron 300a to 450Mhz and beyond. The results were impressive indeed, in some cases outperforming a similarly clocked Pentium II thanks to the smaller but faster cache. So when it came to designing the Celeron II, Intel were obviously keen to make sure that, while it gave good performance for its budget pricetag, it should not compete with their more expensive "Coppermine" Pentium III CPUs, even when overclocked. And we are sad to report that they have succeeded - a Celeron II is slower than a Pentium III at the same clock speed. The question is, how far can they be overclocked, and how do they perform? To find out, we took a Celeron II 566Mhz CPU, sold by PowerComputing and guaranteed by them to overclock to 850Mhz. Test Rig The Celeron II is a "Flip Chip" design, which means it is just a naked core sticking up in the middle of the cost-saving Socket370 form factor. In order to run the chip on our Slot1 Abit BX6 rev 2.0 motherboard, a "Slocket" adapter is needed, and PowerComputing provided the appropriate model from ASUS, with on-board voltage control. It's simple physics that chips run hotter as they run faster, so a suitable heatsink was required as well if we were to make the most of the CPU. The ThermalTake Orb came highly recommended, and was fitted with the appropriate smattering of heat transfer compound, known in the industry as "goop". In order to stress the CPU's influence over system performance, we used the fastest 3D card we had to hand - the Creative Labs Annihilator Pro GeForce DDR. Overclocking The Celeron 566 has an 8.5 times multiplier, which not all motherboards support natively. But since it is hard-coded into the CPU you should have no problems running it, although amusingly the BX6-II was misreporting the chip as "806EB" instead of 850Mhz. A revised BIOS for the motherboard has now been released which fixes this minor cosmetic issue, but either way it had no impact on the actual speed the chip was running at, just the number you see as your system boots up. Although locked at 8.5x, the fact that this is such a high multiplier helps by yielding large speed increases for small adjustments of the FSB. It jumps 284Mhz to 850Mhz by simply switching from 66 to 100Mhz FSB. The next setting on the motherboard is 103Mhz, which yielded 875Mhz with no problems. Unfortunately, the next jump is 112Mhz, which at 952Mhz is just too much for this particular core to handle. In many cases, you can coax a few extra Mhz from a chip by increasing the core voltage. The Celeron-II runs at a default 1.5 volts at 566Mhz, and required 1.7 volts to reach 850Mhz - a likely product of the extra circuitry of the Slocket. 875Mhz required 1.8 volts to be stable, but I could not last more than 10 seconds at 952Mhz even at a monstrous 1.9 volts. The obvious culprit was heat - an overclocker's worse enemy. The Orb had performed admirably, but the temperature was now a little warm for comfort. A quick call to PowerComputing yielded an Alpha PEP66 - the flagship in Socket370 CPU cooling with its copper base and high-speed fan. This slashed over 5 C off my operating temperatures, but even at a moderate 29 C idle temperature I could not reach 952Mhz. If we had an ABIT BE6-II motherboard, we would have been able to tweak the FSB in 1Mhz increments, so possibly the limit of this chip lies above 875Mhz, but definitely below 952Mhz. For example, using a 107Mhz FSB would produce 910Mhz, which may well have worked. So 875Mhz was the maximum - let's see how it performed! Raw Speed Ahead Sisoft's "Sandra" benchmark is the accepted test for raw cpu speed. Measured in MIPS (million instructions per second) and MFLOPS (million floating-point operations per second), they show how fast the core of a CPU is, ignoring real life limitations like cache size or main memory bandwidth. As we can see from the results, the Celeron II keeps up with the Pentium III in terms of raw MIPS, which are a direct product of pure clock-speed. Here we have the P3@840Mhz outperformed by the C-II@850Mhz, and by a greater margin at 875Mhz, just as we would expect. So the core is sound, but we know that Intel has intentionally crippled the Level 2 cache in order to avoid an overclocked Celeron II competing with a Pentium III, so further testing is required. Mad Onion's 3DMark 2000 is an all-round benchmarking suite, normally reserved for testing graphics cards. But by lowering the resolution to 640x480 at 16bit colour and disabling the GeForce's on-board T&L acceleration, we can make sure that the benchmark is limited by the CPU rather than the graphics card. We now have our first clear indication that, megahertz for megahertz, the Celeron II is not as fast as the Pentium III Coppermine. First of all, the reason why a P3-500 outperforms the Celeron II at its native 566Mhz is due to the former running a 100Mhz frontside bus, where the latter runs just 66Mhz. We will see later how this affects other results, but since the sole purpose of buying this chip for hardcore users is to run it at 100Mhz FSB or higher, we can ignore that result. Bumping it up to 100Mhz FSB, we see that clocked at 850Mhz the Celeron II is a tiny bit quicker than a P3-600. Tweak it to 875Mhz and the score creeps up to that of a P3-650, but certainly falls short of a P3-700. Quake 3 Arena Synthetic benchmarks are all very well, but it is important to test performance using real games that you play every day, and no doubt many of you will base your decision on whether to buy a Celeron II on its performance in games like Quake 3 Arena. We ran Quake 3 at three different settings, designed to capture a number of different users. The first was "Fastest", but at a more sensible 640x480 resolution. The second was "Normal", which represents a basic 640x480 16 bit colour setting. The last was "High Quality" (32-bit colour and 32-bit textures) at 1024x768. Since these settings stress the system in different ways, with varying levels of graphics card limitation, let's examine the results at each stage. Fastest: In the most CPU-dependent of the three settings, it is not surprising to see the P3-840 come out top, followed by the P3-800 and P3-700. Disappointingly the Celeron II, even clocked at 875Mhz, cannot even match a P3-600. In fact, at 850Mhz, it is just 5.3 frames per second faster than a lowly P3-500. And with its 66Mhz FSB, it's not surprising to see the Celeron II at its normal speed of 566Mhz lagging behind. Normal: Here the story is the same again. The Celeron II has to reach 875Mhz just to keep up with the P3-600. At 566Mhz, it is slower than a P3-500, again due to the 66Mhz FSB. Even as we bring the graphics card into play by running the game at 1024x768, the Celeron II still lags behind the P3-600. Things are not looking good... High Quality: What do we have here? The overclocked Celeron II outperforming a Coppermine P3-840? Well technically yes, but it's only by 0.2fps. The fact that a P3-600 also falls within 2fps of this score highlights the fact that we are now being limited by the graphics card. Pessimists may already have written off the Celeron II as a dud, but it is clear from these results that if you intend to play games with 32-bit colour at high resolution, you are so limited by the speed of your graphics card that there is very little difference between a "crippled" Celeron II and a more expensive Coppermine. Should I Replace My Celeron 300a? Resigned to the fact that the Celeron II is no Coppermine-killer (just as Intel intended), the question many of you will be asking is "should I upgrade from my overclocked Celeron 300a?" Strip away the Coppermine scores and add in some numbers from the 300a, and we get a picture that looks like this - Ignore the fact that the Celeron 300a overclocked to 450Mhz beats the Celeron II at 566Mhz - that's just the 100Mhz FSB again. If you concentrate on the "Normal" results, the upgrade is worth around 20 frames per second. At 32-bit the benefit is more limited, but still a handy 10fps. Many people have said that the Celeron II is not a spiritual successor to the revered 300a, but I would argue otherwise. If you analyse what was so great about the 300a, I think they are more closely related than you would think. First off, in the majority of cases, the 300a overclocked by 50% of its original clock speed simply by changing the frontside bus from 66 to 100Mhz. The Celeron II can also perform this trick - 566 to 850Mhz is exactly a 50% increase. And in terms of the speed increase gained, again the story is the same - a 300a at 450Mhz is 53% faster than at 300Mhz, while the Celeron II is 36% faster at 850Mhz than at 566Mhz. The percentage change might be less, but in both cases it represents a healthy boost of about 20 fps - something that no gamer would turn down. Conclusion Since in-game performance is dependent on a number of different factors, it is always tricky to make a clear cut recommendation. I'm sure advanced users will already know from the benchmark results whether they want a Celeron II or not, but for everyday gamers I will try to sum things up... If you already run a Pentium III at 600Mhz or above, or indeed an Athlon at similar speeds, then this is not the chip for you. If you own a Voodoo3, RivaTNT2, or even a GeForce SDR, you are probably going to be held back by your graphics card, particularly at higher resolutions. And if you already have a processor running at 500Mhz or above, it is likely that you will not see a boost in your framerate until you upgrade your 3D card. If your CPU is clocked at 450Mhz or slower though, then you will see some increase, but again, only until you hit the ceiling of your 3D card. But if, like me, you upgraded to a DDR GeForce early, but were still running at 450Mhz, then you can expect a healthy 20 fps increase as you release the GeForce from it's CPU-limited shackles. If you are still in doubt, I'll let the numbers do the talking : when UK stock arrives this week, PowerComputing will sell you a Celeron II 566 guaranteed to overclock up to 850Mhz for between £120-£130, depending on final pricing. If you need a Slocket adapter and heatsink as well, PowerComputing will be doing an all-inclusive bundle for around £150. So while it may only perform the same as a P3-600 when overclocked to 850Mhz, that Pentium III would cost in the region of £200. The story does not stop there - Celeron II 600's will appear soon, and with a 9x multiplier they might do 900Mhz "out of the box", and possibly overclock a little more. It may be that for just £20 or so more than a C-II 566, the 600Mhz model will give you the performance of a P3-700, which costs over £300. Now that's what I call a bargain! Just to prove that overclocking success relies heavily on invidiual chips, check out Zarathustra's effort at LightSpeed 2000 - his Celeron-II was sooo sweet, he not only pulled 978Mhz out of it, but at only 1.7 volts. A *very* sweet chip indeed. -Geoff Related Features - Spring 2000 Graphics Card Round-Up Noddy's Guide To Graphics Card Jargon GeForce 2 GTS preview Creative Labs Annihilator Pro review
First person shooters are arguably the most popular genre in gaming these days. But fans of portable gaming have been left behind when it comes to FPS in your pocket. Until now. After over 12 months hard labour, James McCombe has finally released Dreadling - the first ever FPS game for a handheld. But those of you with GameBoys will have to wait for T-Rex later in the year, and NGPC fans miss out all together, because Dreadling only runs on Palm. Yes, the pocket organiser. And it's really rather good. To find out more, read PocketGamer.net's review of the shareware code.
Brandon Reinhart has had a busy Saturday, but has now posted the bug-fixed version 1.1 of Rocket Arena: Unreal Tournament. If you downloaded version 1.0 earlier today, grab this patch, but if like me, you've only just discovered the news, you might as well grab the whole jumbo Zip (10.5Mb)
The man behind everyone's favourite Hardware / Overclocking site HardOCP, the infamous Kyle Bennett is hosting a free Hardware Workshop at the Razer/CPL event in Dallas. He's what he has to say: "Remember it is a no charge workshop, so come on down to the Hyatt in downtown Dallas if you are a hardware junkie or don't have much to do. We have lots of prizes for the attendees." So if you're in the area, or reading this on your WAP phone at the event, why not pop along: learn something new, win some prizes, or just point & laugh when Kyle fries another mobo right before your eyes!
The eagle-eyed boys over at AdventureGamer have spied that LucasArts have updated their website with details of the games they will show off at next month's E3 show. The list contains new games for some of the most successful gaming franchises in the PC industry: Monkey Island 4, Star Wars sabre-shooter Dark Forces #3 "Obi-Wan" and another "Indy" game. Looks like a big year for LucasArts, and good news for everyone who thought that the Adventure Game genre was dead!
Warlock sent word that Blade Universe have posted their lastest Screenshot of the Week (SotW) for Rebel Act Studios' fantasy hack-fest Blade. This latest shot shows off a weapon rack, and gives you a good idea the pain you will be able to inflict when the game is released later this year. We're talking hammers, swords, staffs, big-ass shields - you won't find a RailGun amongst them, but then again, you can't dismember your opponent limb-by-limb like you can with a 4-foot length of cold-forged steel. Bring it on!
After being gibbed by a virtual RailGun shot from Dallas (was that Gestalt on the grassy knoll?), it's time for some of the headlines outside the gibfest in Dallas. - Geoff
Wow - what an epic day yesterday proved for those competing in the XSi tournament in Sweden. Match of the day was probably Lakerman vs Wombat in what was "one of the most exciting matches I've ever seen" according to Sujoy. Wombat won the first 14 to 12, and the second match was unbelievably tense: at 11 a piece, it went to sudden-death, and Wombat just managed to get the last frag. Cue a flood of 100+ messages of "Nooooo" from devoted spectators (and clearly Lakerman supporters). Anyway, the Final Day kicks off in 5 mins at 12 CET (11amGMT) - as ever, you can watch the action live via proxy, or check-out John's match-by-match summary here. Enjoy!
Nothing on TV? Tune into Q3TV and watch all the action from Stockholm LIVE using Quake3. The game will be beamed straight into your Quake3 client, so you don't need to download anything extra to catch the action Check this page for Proxy details - there are servers in Finland & Italy, as well as Barrysworld, so you're sure to find one that suits your connection. So grab the popcorn, sit back & relax, and wonder why they won't put this on regular TV! Check back later for analysis of the day's play by our man-on-the-scene, John "Gestalt" Bye.
finally released the playable demo of Messiah early this morning. Hooray! Unfortunately, it's 75Mb (DOH!) and can only be downloaded through Gamespot via Gigex (Booo!). Here's the link if you still want it. I'm going to wait for some faster, non-Gigex mirrors, or a cover CD copy. From all the screenshots, and what little we saw of it as ECTS, Messiah certainly looks to be worth the wait. Update : The demo is now available (sans Gigex) over at 3D Files - Gestalt
Paul from MadOnion.com (formerly Futuremark) has sent us 2 rather tasty screenshots from their soon-to-be-released 3D card benchmark program 3DMark 2000. Officially the project has a "when it's finished" release date, but expect to see more in the next week or two. For more info and a few more screenshots, head over to MadOnion.com or the 3DMark website.
For kids growing up during the 80's there were two major film series which featured heavily in playground re-enactments - the first was obviously Star Wars, and the second was Indiana Jones. Who could miss the chance to swing across ravines using only your whip, or being chased by an enormous boulder before diving to safety at the last minute, just like the famous scene in "The Temple of Doom"? Swing It Well now for all you big kids (and your children) comes the latest in the Indiana Jones series - "Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine". Don the hat and crack the whip as you assume the role of the famous archaeologist in a battle to thwart the Russians' plans to tap into the secrets of the Tower of Babel. Cynics might say "It's just Tomb Raider, but with a whip" (hmmm, now there's a thought...) but then again similar things could be said about any third person action adventure game. And while The Infernal Machine has clearly been influenced by Ms Croft's adventures, there are enough new features to keep things interesting. Indy can perform all the standard tasks you would expect - run, jump, swim and climb. He can also use his whip to swing across gaps too wide to jump, as well as to deliver a handy crack that can disarm his enemies. Chunky Speaking of weapons, Indy has quite an arsenal available to him - automatic pistols, machine guns, grenades, satchel charges, and bazookas to name but a few. Add to this the extensive use of vehicles like an old army Jeep, and a recreation of the Temple of Doom mine-cart ride which is said to be even better than the film version, and you know this is something special. The graphics look good all-round, though without being outstanding - the scenery has that familiar chunky Tomb Raider look to it, but the textures are detailed enough that you don't really notice. The character animation is excellent, and Indy convincingly swings and crawls his way through the 17 chapters. Conclusion The game appeals on all levels - Tomb Raider fans will feel immediately at home, and it provides a light-hearted third person alternative for those who are sick of the endless stream of 1st person shooters. Plus, you get to BE Indiana Jones for a day! It looks like Lucas Arts have another hit on their hands... Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine will be released on Friday 26th November through Activision. In the mean time, why not give the demo (34.8Mb) a try? It's great fun.
Everyone out there with a Voodoo3 board (and there's lots of you) should head over to 3dfxGamers and grab the latest drivers. Why? What's new in 1.03.04: 1. Updated OpenGL support 2. Fixed desktop corruption issues 3. Fixed power management and screensaver issues Sounds like a good enough reason for me. They're 5.17Mb.
Yes, it's true: Ion Storm's much delayed shooter Daikatana has been given an exact release date: Friday 17th December. This follows the announcement that the game would definitely ship before Christmas, but the week before is cutting it a little fine, don't ya think? The graphics have certainly improved since I last saw them. If you too have forgotton what Daikatana looks like (and who could blame you) head over to the official site for an update.
"Sensors have detected a brand new Star Trek adventure game off the port bow." "On screen..." ... at a PC near you. Following the huge success of the latest film, "Star Trek : Insurrection", comes the latest adventure game set in the Star Trek universe - "Star Trek : Hidden Evil". Audio Visual Set one year after the film, the action returns to the Briar patch and the Bak'u planet. It turns out that there was once an ancient species living on the planet, and the Bak'u have asked Captain Picard to investigate. You play young Ensign Sovak, and assist the Captain in his investigation. Cue loads of action and treachery as you fight dissident Son'a, uncover a Romulan plot to harness the youth-giving power of the planet, and have a good explore along the way. Developers Presto Studios (of "The Journeyman Project" fame) have spared no detail in developing this title - the graphics are, as I'm sure you have already noticed, gorgeous, and the game features dialogue from actors Patrick Stewart (Picard) and Brent Spiner (Data). The ever important audio experience is satisfyingly authentic - everything from the phasers and tricorders to the control panels and doors sound exactly like they do in the TV series and movies. Even the menu system and inventory chirp and bleep in the right way, and the ambient music is suitably moody, adding to the atmosphere. Set Phasers To Stun Before you all get to excited, this is an adventure game - those of you wanting to beat the crap out of Borg first-person style will have to wait for "Star Trek Voyager : Elite Force". Hidden Evil is the classic Star Trek "game of the film", but with the apparent slickness of Grim Fandango, rather than the previous (rather abysmal) attempts at Star Trek adventures. So be prepared to chat to Bak'u villagers, engage in the occasional phaser fight, and walk around with your tricorder and collect all sorts of bits and pieces, because you KNOW you're going to need them for something. Star Trek: Hidden Evil will be available in the shops on Friday 26th November, published by Activision