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Archive for Richard Swinburne

Two weeks with MSI's X-Slim X340

Posted on 11th Jun 2009 at 10:42 by Richard Swinburne with 0 comments

Richard Swinburne
After our review of MSI's X-Slim X340 in May, I nabbed the machine off Tim's desk just before I left for Taiwan.

It's an 'extended test' I told him (and MSI), but really I wanted to try the X-Slim for myself, because having played with it at CeBIT I wanted one. Now, after a couple of weeks use, I'm not so sure.

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Why We Need New Nvidia Chipsets

Posted on 26th May 2009 at 10:32 by Richard Swinburne with 22 comments

Richard Swinburne
Are Nvidia motherboard chipsets significant anymore? Do we need them? A simple pair of questions, but doubtless they'll receive a mixed response.

If we hark back to the days of VIA, innovating with its SDRAM Pentium 4 chipsets, while Intel was pushing expensive RDRAM chipsets, and then offering the highest performance DDR chipsets, it's clear that third party chipsets have played an important role in helping PC builders get the best deal and best performance. Nvidia itself made significant contributions - nForce 2 supplanted VIA's DDR2 chipsets, and then of course came the reintroduction of SLI, which owned the market for a while.

How things change. VIA gradually became reduced to mainstream, then niche chipsets for its own CPUs. Unfortunately for Nvidia, it is going in the same direction. The 9400M might be made sexy by the 'Ion' name, but it's a low end chipset and arguably has only a limited life until Intel Pineview launches and brings graphics all on-CPU.

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Do Overclocking Tournaments Work?

Posted on 21st May 2009 at 14:23 by Richard Swinburne with 34 comments

Richard Swinburne
I'm confused.

I admire the people that take part in overclocking tournaments but I fail to understand why so much money is plowed into them by big hardware companies, presumably keen to use the event as a marketing tool.

Gigabyte has its Gigabyte Open Overclocking Championship (GOOC), MSI has MOA, and Asus and DFI have also had a stab at running their own events, and I'm curious to understand if you, the readers, follow them, takes note of what happens and even cares?

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The CoolIT Domino ALC: low cost liquid cooling still has problems

Posted on 29th Apr 2009 at 11:21 by Richard Swinburne with 35 comments

Richard Swinburne
Since several Domino ALCs found their way to the bit-tech labs, I for one have been using them extensively. CoolIT claimed the cooling and price are comparable with the ThermalRight Ultra Extreme except with fewer compatibility issues as the ALC's water block will never interfere with any memory or heatsinks around the CPU socket, and it'll cool anything thrown at it. It's a sealed system - there's no taking it apart and CoolIT reckons it'll last several years before needing a refill - "with constantly upgradable mounting brackets, you'll never need another CPU cooler", it boldly claims.

I took these claims literally, but despite impressive first discussions, things have gone downhill at almost every turn. In no particular order, here are my experiences...

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My history of RAID and storage

Posted on 23rd Apr 2009 at 10:46 by Richard Swinburne with 13 comments

Richard Swinburne
So I run three terabyte Samsung F1 drives in RAID 5 at home from a motherboard with an Intel ICH9R Southbridge with Matrix RAID. It's 'onboard RAID' but even so, I've still been impressed.

My experience with Matrix RAID has transversed the ages ever since Intel introduced the technology. Previously I've played with Western Digital Raptor 74GB hard drives connected to an ICH6R (on an Intel 925X reference board) and getting all sorts of super-sized theoretical bandwidth figures for fun and it booted a fresh install of Windows XP like lightening. Yay for a bit of e-peen swinging, hey?

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A look at Fallout 3 DLC: The Pitt

Posted on 14th Apr 2009 at 13:00 by Richard Swinburne with 8 comments

Richard Swinburne
I finally managed to get Fallout 3's downloadable content to work. Once Fallout 3 decides it can automatically login to GFWL every time it starts, it consistently works - I didn't play with the settings, it seems have quite the mind of its own.

Anyway, gameplay.

You get dropped into "The Pitt", an area to the far north of the map controlled by slavers who run the only working steel mill in the Fallout 3 world, around post apocalyptic DC.

It's plauged by a leprosy-esque blight that changes people over time as they're exposed to an exotic cocktail of toxins unique to this particular area. First they turn into semi-ghouls and finally into crazy ape-like zombies called "Troggs" who quite fancy a limb or two with a side of brains.

Naturally, that's your limb, or grey matter, you tasty thing!

After being approached by a stranger and asked to get the cure from the head honcho of a group of slavers, you embark on a quick step trail of justice from bottom feeder to king of the slaves! RAWR!

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My week with Windows Live and Fallout 3 DLC

Posted on 12th Apr 2009 at 11:09 by Richard Swinburne with 14 comments

Richard Swinburne
So I reluctantly take on the second pack of Fallout 3 DLC: The Pitt, and after Joe's last attempt at getting Operation Anchorage working, not to mention the fun with GTA IV, I wasn't particularly wanting to install it on my system. However, I am playing Fallout 3 and I do like free software, so weakness to potential stupidity prevailed.

The Games For Windows Live install was relatively painless, except for the "there's an error" "there's an error" "there's an error" on first login that doesn't tell you it's not because of your password - it's because you have to load a (IE only) webpage to tick another EULA.

At this point, I'm so hesitant I'm treating it like a newborn child. Check the pulse "CPU and memory usage" (it's only using 85MB of memory, respectfully that's less than Firefox with two tabs open) check I don't click too much, be patient, be patient..

Why couldn't have Bethesda just used Steam!?

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Where are all the AMD AM3 motherboard reviews?

Posted on 7th Apr 2009 at 10:22 by Richard Swinburne with 17 comments

Richard Swinburne
We know a lot of our readers want to see AM3 motherboard reviews and we have been trying to accommodate this request since February - honest! Fanboys have been crying bias and that couldn't be any farther from the truth - here's why.

We have been working on no less than three 'new' AMD motherboards since we completed our Socket AM3 processor review at the start of February, but the problems have been continual, and no manufacturer has been left unmarked by the spattering of not quite there yet.

Normally we'd just go ahead with a review since the products are all ready on sale, but with each one we want to get to the bottom of their wierdness before we post a review. Also, we'd usually keep the inevitable debugging process sort of thing between ourselves and the parties involved but as it stands we don't know when we'll be able to get you a full review so we thought at least we'd keep you updated on our already delayed progress.

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Revisiting the Akasa Enigma

Posted on 27th Mar 2009 at 13:29 by Richard Swinburne with 7 comments

It wasn't unexpected that Akasa had a few points of concern about our review. Akasa said that in order for the case to perform optimally, the mini-ITX board needed to be less than 30mm tall and we needed to use Akasa's LGA775 or AM2+ coolers specially designed for it.

We checked our Gigabyte GA-230D and found the northbridge heatsink and fan was 35mm tall, while the Jetway NC92-330-LF was 29.5mm, as was the reference Intel Atom board.

Revisiting the Akasa Enigma Revisiting Akasa's Enigma Revisiting the Akasa Enigma Revisiting Akasa's Enigma
Click to enlarge

Our immediate concern is "how do I know what mini-ITX motherboard I buy is compatible?" We looked around at mini-ITX boards listed on websites and seldom do they list the total height, making choosing the right board a very difficult task.

Revisiting the Akasa Enigma Revisiting Akasa's Enigma Revisiting the Akasa Enigma Revisiting Akasa's Enigma
Click to enlarge

Another thing is the complete lack of manual in the box - we had to be instructed by Akasa of the "correct way" to install everything which is very specific. Just a sheet of A4 explaining that a 90 degree SATA connector is required (another additional purchase from Akasa), and the hard drive should be installed upside down and facing inwards would have been good.

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RIP: Asus responds to its flaming motherboard

Posted on 18th Mar 2009 at 10:12 by Richard Swinburne with 7 comments

Asus has responded with a detailed report as to why its M3A-H/HDMI went up in flames and smoke. After publishing the first episode following the freshening smell of burnt electronics festered in our labs, Asus was keen to take the board back to Taiwan for further testing and let us know how it got on.

RIP: Asus responds to its flaming motherboard RIP: Asus responds to flaming motherboard

Here's its conclusion, with Asus' words and pictures (all we have done is tidy the English a little):

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Styx: Master of Shadows Review

Styx: Master of Shadows Review

Styx's interesting approach to stealth is hindered by a lack of polish.
Mod of the Month October 2014 in association with Corsair

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