In September 2009, we saw AVADirect push the boundaries of portable computing with its honkin’ Core i7-975 Extreme Edition–equipped D900F desktop replacement. That behemoth was both a back breaker (at 15 pounds) and a benchmark buster (at least in our applications tests).
This month, we’re presented with AVA-Direct’s X8100—a rig that’s similarly monstrous but boasts a completely different character. The X8100 features a Core i7-820QM, a true mobile quad-core part. Intel’s Clarksfield chips have obvious advantages in a mobile platform, including a lower price and a much lower TDP (thermal design point)—45W max vs. 130W—than the desktop Nehalems. There’s also more emphasis on Turbo Boost. So, although the i7-820QM has a base clock of 1.73GHz, it can theoretically reach 3.06GHz in single-threaded apps. Photoshop is our only mostly single-threaded application benchmark, and you can see from the numbers that the X8100 performed 20 percent better in that test than our 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo zero-point rig did. But in the multithreaded tests, where the X8100 didn’t have the full advantage of Turbo Boost, the applications scores were even more punishing—with the X8100 achieving leads in excess of 50 percent—such is the power of those two extra cores, plus HyperThreading, plus a superior microarchitecture.
Normally, designing a headset for one specific game would limit you to a relatively small segment of the gaming community. But we’re talking World of Warcraft here—a game whose massive popularity makes a game-specific headset seem viable.
Enter the Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset from Creative Labs. The headset uses a small USB dongle that broadcasts in the 2.4GHz range. We found the reception to be fairly good, allowing us to walk into a different room during use without static.
I am running 32-bit Windows 7 and I have a CPU that does not support hardware virtualization. I need virtualization software that does not require Intel VT, and was wondering if you had any recommendations. I have heard of VirtualBox but I’m not sure if you need VT support. Does VMWare have any products that don’t require hardware virtualization?
Right now, I’m trying to upgrade to Vista Ultimate (so when I can get Windows 7, I can keep everything) from XP Pro SP3. At the end of the installation, a blue screen pops up for a second and restarts the entire machine, ruining a five-hour install. I tried installing new RAM (the old DIMMs were faulty) but it failed to work. I can’t build a new rig as I don’t have the cash to make a proper one, and I don’t want to do a clean install as my PC has a nasty habit of being terribly unstable without certain patches (due to something CPU-related). My computer is an M3A78-EM motherboard with an AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE CPU (which amazingly, has survived a full motherboard short-out), a GeForce 8800 GTS graphics card, and two 2GB DDR2 RAM sticks. Both of the operating systems are 32-bit. Is this problem software- or hardware-related?
Read the Doctor's answer for Brandon after the jump.
So I just recently diagnosed my hard drive as having bad sectors and replaced it with a 750GB WD Caviar Black a few days ago. However, occasionally, as with my old hard drive, my system will lock up. When I reboot I get the following error: “Disk boot failure, please insert system disc and press enter.” Sometimes after a restart I will receive the same error, other times the hard drive will boot but my keyboard receives no power. I haven’t figured out why, but everything seems to sort itself out eventually.
One note: I have an old IDE drive that I was using once my old SATA drive became completely unusable. This hard drive never crashes or gives errors, and the keyboard never loses power.
I’m puzzled, and am running out of time to RMA this hard drive if I happened to get a bad one. Please help!
Read the Doctor's advice for Jesse after the jump.
I have Windows 7 Home Edition 64-bit. When I download pictures from the Internet, I want to save them to a specific folder—let’s call it ABC. I right-click the picture and select Save Picture As. Then Windows Explorer sends me to Libraries\Picture Library. I then navigate to ABC folder and click it, then click Save. I right-click the second picture, but I’m sent back to the pictures library! The save dialog in Windows XP would open right at the last directory I saved photos to, so I didn’t have to click back to the ABC folder every time. Why won’t Windows 7 do the same?
Read the Doctor's answer for Glenn after the jump.
I’d like a program that can safely and effectively clean my hard drive so that no deleted files can be recovered. Can you recommend something? I see a bunch of stuff out there but it’s for permanently deleting files, not for already-deleted files. And I don’t know which programs are clean—free of malware or other crap. It must be good enough that I can feel safe about giving an old PC to someone else and not worry about identity theft. Also: What would you recommend to minimize any data being stolen from a hard drive if your PC was stolen? I am presently using Splash ID to store my passwords and sensitive data but would feel better if the entire hard drive was protected.
Doc, I just built a new system with a 2.66GHz Core i7-920, Asus P6X58D Premium, 3GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, two GeForce 8800 GTs in SLI, two 250GB Barracudas, and an 850W Corsair PSU in an Antec 1200 case. It’s all stock-clocked and the GPUs, HDDs, and PSU were from an older machine and functioned fine.
My problem is that my new rig doesn’t work. I power on, but no boot. No POST, nothing on the screen, no beeps. The MEM_OK LED is on and it is red. The manual says that means the RAM is not properly installed.
So, I check to see if they are all in the correct slots, and they are. I pull them all out and put them in, one at a time, and none of them work. I took a stick from a working computer and it doesn’t work. I try it on every slot, same. I take my Corsair RAM and try it in the working computer, and it all works. I power on the system with no RAM installed, and same thing; no boot, no POST, nothing on screen.
After all that, I put the Corsair RAM in and took out the videocards. I then put a 9800 GT from a working computer in and the problem is the same.
So, any thoughts? Aside from assuming that the board is defective, I don’t know what else to try troubleshooting. I have heard that Asus has had some problems recently with RAM slots not working. I may have fallen victim to that. Maybe a jumper I don’t know about? As far as I can see, the only jumpers on the board are related to OC’ing, and I didn’t change any of them. Let me know what you think.
I’m debating switching to water-cooling. I was initially worried about maintenance or the unit leaking, but those issues seem to be a thing of the past. What happens, however, if the fan stops working on the radiator? Is the fan difficult to replace? Would you have to replace the entire unit? Anytime I see reviews or ads, they never specify whether the fan is replaceable or permanently attached to the radiator unit.