27 May 2008

GeForce 8600GT vs 9600GT

It's been a very long time since my last post in this blog. Now I returned with one-to-one benchmark review of two nVidia GeForce video cards. The first one is the last year's champion for mid-range video card 8600GT and the second is current year's most favourite video card 9600GT.

There is no major improvement since last year's DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0 are newly equipped in 8600GT. The 9600GT also adopt the very same technology, therefore there is no graphic quality difference between these two cards, except for the speed performance.

Before going to the benchmark result, first I will show you the general comparison between these cards:


8600GT 9600GT
Core Clock 540 MHz 650 MHz
Shader Clock 1190 MHz 1625 MHz
Memory Clock 700 MHz 900 MHz
Memory Amount 256 MB 512 MB
Memory Type GDDR3 GDDR3
Memory Interface 128-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 22.4 GB/s 57.6 GB/s
Texture Fill Rate 8.64 Billion/s 20.8 Billion/s
Stream Processors 32 64
Interface PCI-E 1.1a PCI-E 2.0


In this test, I used a EVGA GeForce 8600GT OEM card and a Galaxy 9600GT Single Slot Fan card. My 8600GT actually don't run in standard speed, it was overclocked from the factory to 600MHz for the core clock. For comparison purpose, I also made a test for an overclocked 9600GT to 700MHz/1000MHz/1750MHz for its core, memory, and shader clock. Below are the picture of both cards:
EVGA OEM GeForce 8600GT
Galaxy GeForce 9600GT Single Slot Fan
And here's my PC specifications:
  • CPU: Intel Pentium D 940 overclocked to 3.60GHz
  • RAM: 2 x 1GB DDR2 PC-4200
  • Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-8I945PLGE-RH Intel 945PL chipset
  • Harddisk: 2 x Western Digital 7200rpm SATAII 160GB
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic SP1
To test these cards' performance, I use the new 3DMark Vantage to test DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0 performance. Also, I used 3DMark06 as this program still yields relevant result and that these cards are not high-end. To test gaming performance, I used Crysis with Crysis Benchmark Tool version 1.05. For all tests, I used relatively the same display settings, with 1024x768 resolution and without anti aliasing. Here are the test results:
From results above, 9600GT obviously outperforms 8600GT significantly. With over 60% difference for 3DMark Vantage, 36% for 3DMark06, and almost 100% in average for Crysis, GeForce 9600GT is surely a worthy successor of 8600GT. It is also shown that the performance increases quite significantly when 9600GT is overclocked. However, the performance difference is subtle in Crysis, perhaps it is because of the bottleneck with my processor speed.

Although superb in performance, 9600GT is also very power consumptive, a 600W power supply is a must as this card requires additional power (using two headed molex power cable which should be attached directly from your power supply). Also, its big size makes a micro-ATX case won't fit, therefore a mid-size ATX with cleared hard-disk bay is required.

With cheap price tag, around $140 now, no wonder 9600GT becomes a very popular card for mid-end gamers who don't have much money to buy the luxurious 9800GTX or GX2. If this price is still too expensive, nVidia offers a slightly slower version of 9600GT named 9600GS (a.k.a 8800GS) is also a good choice as it only slightly different in speed but quite much cheaper. Another more expensive alternative (but still in similar price range) is 8800GT, which is more powerful than 9600GT but with a slight more expensive price.

At last, nVidia moto The perfect price and performance combination to get the most bang for your buck for GeForce 9 series is finally proven.


13 May 2008

3Planesoft Screensavers - Have You Seen Nice Screensavers Lately?

Screensavers have good effects on your computer. Not only it can suit your moods or adds more colour to your monitor or just simply makes your computer less boring, it can also helps calibrating your monitor by making your monitor project less repetitive colour scheme. That's why it is better to have screensaver for your PC.

Talking about screensavers, there are many screensavers available for Windows. Many of them are free, but if you want to get a very good quality screensavers, you might have to pay around $10-$20. Although not free, some commercial screensavers are indeed very good. 3Planesoft is a company who specialise in making beautiful 3D screensavers. They have many varieties of screensavers from nature to sci-fi. Personally I like the Earth, Lagoon, Watermill, Ancient Castle, and Nature as they look very realistic and beautiful. These screensavers are also completes with music and sound effects. However, these all comes in steep system requirements although you can customise them to lower quality settings in the options.
See screenshots below to see the proof:
To download the screensavers, go to: http://www.3planesoft.com

You can then use these registry keys to unlock the trial limitation. It contains serial numbers to all screensavers which can be downloaded from 3planesoft.com except Koi Fish and Lagoon.


08 May 2008

Powerwave 360 Shape Controller for PC Review

If no one ever heard about Powerwave, it's because Powerwave is just a small Australia based company that produces medium quality gaming accessories like gamepads and headsets. 360 Shape gamepad is one of their product. Like its name, its form is basically derived from XBOX 360 controller. Complete with dual vibration it is virtually an alternative XBOX 360 controller for PC.

Judging from its package,
complete with a well-designed box, manual, and driver CD, this gamepad doesn't look like a cheapo, considering its real price is only US$15. Out of the box, this gamepad is very comfortable to hold. With non-slippery soft textured material, it allows you to grip the gamepad longer without worrying it becomes slick as you are sweating.
About the buttons, they is very responsive if not a little bit sensitive, especially the analog sticks. Other normal buttons works very well and easy to press. However, the placement of select and start button are different from the original XBOX 360 controller. Powerwave swap those buttons to below the fire buttons instead in the centre. This odd placement sometimes makes you miss-press the fire buttons with select or start buttons.
This gamepad also has force feedback (vibration) function although not mentioned in the website. You can manually adjust the vibration power in the control panel as well. However, although this gamepad features dual vibration (left and right), it feels just like you only have a one centre vibration.

Although this gamepad has some flaws, still overall this gamepad is good. Built with quite good material and has nice features like force feedback and analog controller, it is definitely worth all of your money.

See http://www.powerwave.com.au for more info.


06 May 2008

Taskbar Shuffle - Drag n Drop Taskbar Like Firefox

Have you ever thinking how convenient it is to reshuffle your Windows taskbar items using drag n drop? Or closing an item in taskbar by just clicking middle mouse button?
Now with Taskbar Shuffle, you can do that! You can now easily arrange your taskbar items (including system tray icons on the right) by just drag n drop. Additionally, you close a running programs in taskbar by just middle-clicking the icon. And the good thing is that this program is completely free!

See screenshot below to see how it works:
More information at: http://www.freewebs.com/nerdcave/taskbarshuffle.htm
To download Taskbar Shuffle v2.5, click this link: http://www.freewebs.com/nerdcave/downloads/ts2.5_setup.exe


03 May 2008

eDimensional AudioFX Force Feedback Gaming Headset Review

eDimensional is a US based company which manufacture unique gaming accessories such as headsets, 3D glasses, gamepads, and voice software. Although not a popular brand like the old established company like Logitech, Creative, or Altec Lansing, eDimensional products are surprisingly good in quality.

AudioFX Force Feedback Gaming Headset is one of their successful product in the market. Boasting a sensational vibration effect, this headset basically converts low level sound frequency which human cannot hear into soft vibrations. This means that bass sounds will have nice vibration effects. Another unique feature that this headset includes LED indicators at both sides which displays the intensity of current sound.

When I saw this headset, only one thing comes up in my mind, it's huge and must be heavy.. But once I put it on my head, it feels really comfortable and balanced thanks to the soft cushions provided at the top and at both speakers. However if you wear it for a long time, you ears will surely sweat heavily as the cushions covers all of your auricula without any air-hole.
About the vibration, AudioFX produces soft vibration which gives a sensation of 'feeling' the sounds without making your head feel dizzy. Moreover, Vibration and volume can be adjusted easily with the handy controller attached with the cable. Last but not least, the headset is also fully adjustable for any head size.

About the sound quality, AudioFX produces smooth sound in almost any frequency. However, it somehow produces rather coarse sound when playing music with heavy bass, especially when the vibration effect is turned on. Another problem with sound quality is that it feels lack of power to output loud sound. Therefore it produces rather soft sound. However, this sound problem is compensated with surprisingly good sound suppression. With good sound suppression, the sound produced in the speaker will not mix with the microphone. Thus you can chat while playing loud music without anyone hear your music. The microphone itself is well built and perfectly sensitive.

Athough it has some problems, overall it produces good sound quality and quite comfortable to wear. With price around US$49.95, it is very reasonable for such good gaming headset compared to other more expensive brands.

See http://edimensional.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=30 for more info.


30 April 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3

Windows XP SP3
On the 29th April 2008, Microsoft fully released Windows XP SP 3, the latest and the final service pack for Windows XP. Although there will be no more service pack for XP, Microsoft lengthen their support for XP until 2009 and also delay the prohibition for computer manufacturers to embed Windows XP as the operating system.

Basically in this SP3, Microsoft added some new functionalities mainly to improve performance, security, and stability to the operating system. It also includes the previous updates released prior to SP3.

Important new feature is Network Access Protection (NAP) which adds compatibility to Windows Server 2008. It also updates MMC (Microsoft Management Console) to version 3.0 and MSI (Microsoft Windows Installer) to version 3.1.
Security feature additions includes Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) standard to secure wireless connection and Descriptive Security Options UI to help user configuring Windows settings.

Please note that SP3 does not include Windows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer 7. These software can be downloaded freely from microsoft website.

Download link:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/a/e/4/ae43e777-d69b-4b96-b554-d1a2a0f40fac/windowsxp-kb936929-sp3-x86-enu.exe


26 April 2008

Total Uninstall - Totally Clean and Tidy

There are many uninstaller program in the market which can help you clean out all the traces that applications left when you uninstall them. Basically, when you use standard Add Remove Programs provided by windows, an application may left traces such as registry settings, data files, and log files. But even with a third party uninstaller, sometimes there are still hidden registry entries or files left by the uninstalled program. This may cause Windows to run slowly and hard disks to fragment. To ease this problem, Gavrila Martau has created a very handy program to totally clean and uninstall a program, making sure that there are no leftover.

Total Uninstall works simple, it creates a snapshot of your computer files and registry settings before installing a program, and compare it when the installation is completed. Therefore, when you try to uninstall the monitored program, Total Uninstall not simply uninstall the program, but also erase the entire files and registry entries created at the installation process.
Moreover, this program can also work with already installed applications. It will analyse the installed application and find all traces that the programs created. It works fast and easily, because the user interface is friendly.
Personally, I've never seen an uninstaller program like this before. It is unique and very effective uninstaller. I am impressed with its functionality and I would recommend it for anyone who want their computer runs faster yet clean.

To find more info, visit this website: http://www.martau.com/

To get Total Uninstall (v4.8.0.562), please follow this link: http://rapidshare.com/files/110244329/Tu4.8.0.562.rar