The latest in Asus’s ever-expanding line of Eee netbooks is a welcome addition to the fold, and much more to our liking than the 901 model we reviewed in December.
Eschewing the previous model’s unremarkable white plastic exterior for a brushed aluminum shell is a smart move on Asus’s part. This changed aesthetic adds legitimacy to the product: The 901’s finish made the device feel disposable, while the 1002HA feels like a real computer.
More importantly, the 1002HA Asus sent us forgoes the pair of low-performance, ultra-low-capacity solid-state drives that bumped up the Eee 901’s price while wreaking havoc with its Photoshop performance (owing to the poor write speeds of cheap MLC SSDs). Instead of SSDs, the 1002HA sports a much more generous 5400rpm 160GB standard hard drive. And it really pays off: The 1002HA breezed through out Photoshop benchmark in just 690 seconds—40 seconds faster than the Acer Aspire One, our prev-ious champion, and less than half the 1,530 seconds the Eee 901 took to accomplish the same task.
AMD can use any help it can get, and for awhile, the chip maker looked like it was going to get it from a 3.6GHz Phenom II X4 quad-core processor. Not only would that represent the fastest-clocked quad-core by either AMD or Intel, but it would also be the fastest-clocked processor regardless of cores.
German website News-AMD recently said AMD would release the speedy 45nm chip in Q2 2009, but it appears the site was mistaken. According to TomsHardware, the site went offline due to "incorrect interpretation," and is now back online with an updated release schedule. Rather than Q2 2009, the site says a 3.6GHz Phenom II X4 is likely by the end of the decade, which means potentially waiting until 2010.
In the meantime, AMD's Phenom II X4 950 (3.1GHz) is still expected to debut in Q2 2009 with support for socket AM3. The new chip will support DDR3-1333 memory, come with a 4GHz HyperTransport interface speed, boast 8MB of cache, and have a 125W thermal envelope.
Asus’s P6T Deluxe isn’t the most over-the-top Core i7 board we’ve tested, but it certainly has a leg up on Intel’s bare-bones DX58SO. For one thing, it finally brings us graphics reunification by supporting both two-card SLI and CrossFire X configurations.
And instead of the gimpy four-slot DIMM setup of Intel’s DX58SO, the P6T Deluxe features six DDR3 DIMM slots. The board, of course, supports all Core i7 CPUs. Since Intel is the sole chipset provider for X58 and the memory controller is in the CPU itself, most performance differences will be the result of BIOS tweaks each manufacturer implements. We found Asus’s BIOS to be far friendlier than the Intel board’s, which at first glance seems designed for engineers. Truth be told, though, the Asus BIOS can be just as daunting if you tread into the Advanced section.
It’s no secret that we here at Maximum PC are fans of Intel’s new Core i7. In fact, Intel has held a place of distinction in our best of the best round up pretty consistently now ever since Athelon’s day came and went several years ago. Despite this fact, we are pretty fickle with our affections, and are all secretly still rooting for the underdog. We are also the first to admit that we are glad AMD is still around to keep Intel on its toes. Though both Phenom & Phenom II failed to set the world on fire, we were all pretty impressed when we discovered how much overclocking headroom we received as a result of the die shrink. We were even more excited when we saw the videos of AMD pushing the new CPU past 6.5Ghz, setting a new record in terms of clock speed.
Intel however, never wanting to concede its speed crown, was quick to go on the attack. In an email exchange with TGDaily, an Intel employee pointed out that the AMD 3DMark score of 45,474 submitted on January 12th 2009 was actually 1,170 points lower than a Core i7 score turned in by Intel just 8 days earlier. He also stated that the AMD results were achieved with unapproved drivers, and curiously were only run when the clock speed was at 4.481 Ghz. So as for who holds the 3DMark speed crown, I guess it all depends on who you ask.
It’s good to know that even if Phenom II didn’t quite bring them up to where they need to be, at least they have Intel taking notice of them again. And I for one can’t wait until I see the portable liquid helium cooling system that lets me duplicate these AMD scores at home! They are working on that right?
Speculation around the chip suggests that it will be Intel’s Nehalem EP processor, a chip designed for dual-socket workstations and servers. The EP, which is scheduled for a release in early 2009, will use Intel’s Quick Path Interconnect, removing all need for a front-side bus and letting more data flow between the processor and the system. It will also feature an integrated memory controller.
Intel has come out about the rumor, stating that although they are presenting 16 papers at the Solid-State Circuits Conference, there is nothing more to share regarding a new Xeon processor. Should the chip be revealed, it will be Intel’s first eight-core processor.
Uberclok takes a mighty gamble with its Fury PC. Instead of burying Intel’s hot, new Core i7 in the heart of its machine, Überclok reaches for something that’s beginning to show its age: Intel’s midrange Core 2 Quad Q9650. Why didn’t the company go with, say, an Intel Core i7 940, which costs the same as the Q9650? We’re not entirely sure, but Überclok makes the most of its choice.
Despite its age, the chip is no slouch. At its stock 3GHz speed, this quad core would make most people happy, but the new E0-step core used in this chip series is a heckuva overclocker. In fact, Überclok ubers the chip a full gigahertz using simple air cooling, which is quite a feat—although the execution isn’t flawless. The machine completed all of our benchmarks without a hitch, but a Prime95 stress test blue-screened the box within a few minutes. A quick call to Überclok provided the solution we expected to hear: Give her more voltage. Three-tenths of a volt later, the Fury was stable in our stress test.
According to statistics collected by Jon Peddie Research (JPR), GPU shipment numbers for Q4 2008 were just 72.35 million units. That represents a significant drop off from one year prior when GPU makers shipped 100.5 million units, and an even bigger drop from Q3 2008, which shipped 111.26 million GPUs.
All graphics vendors felt the pinch, but ATI appears to have been hit a little bit harder, giving up some market share to Nvidia. As of Q4 2008, Nvidia held a 31 percent share compared to ATI's 19 percent. Intel still bested them both with a leading 48 percent share of the market.
"The fourth quarter is usually a positive quarter for the computer industry," Dr. Jon Peddie said in a statement. "There has obviously been some inventory problems in the quarter as sales failed to live up to the optimistic expectations of the third quarter, 2008. Vendors were bracing for a slower than usual quarter due to economic factors, but performance this quarter was surprisingly low. Put simply, the market stalled in the fourth quarter."
Peddie noted a strong forecast for the second half of 2009, but cautioned that it would come after the worst Q1 and Q2 decline since 2000, DailyTech reports.
Stop the presses! (Ok, maybe not). We wanted to let you know that Best of the Best, our comprehensive list of our favorite PC hardware components, has just been updated and overhauled with new categories and parts that you’ll need to consider for your next PC build or upgrade.
In addition to three new processor categories (Extreme, $500, and $250), we’ve listed our pick for the top Core i7 motherboard. The budget through high-end GPU lineup as also been refreshed, and we now make two hard drive recommendations based on performance and capacity.
Many a hardware-encrypted disk has crossed the path of the consumer market lately, but they’ve universally been a questionable investment. All the encryption systems have been proprietary, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone that’s looking to store all their valuable data on a system that can’t be read in a few years down the line.
Thankfully, the Trusted Computing Group has just announced that (almost) every drive maker has agreed on 128-bit encryption for all SSDs and HDDs. The major vendors, such as Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Western Digital, IBM, Wave Systems, LSI and Ulink Technology have all hopped on board.
With any luck we in the consumer market will be looking at simpler disk encryption sometime very soon.
Thanks to Samsung, the first 4GB DDR3 chip has been made available to the world, making them the first to double the maximum capacity of DRAM modules. This advance will allow Samsung to offer high-end, dual-die devices that will support up to 32GB of RAM.
Born from 50 nm process technology the new 4GB monster chips will be made available to servers first, followed by DIMMs fit for desktop computers and then notebook size SODIMMs.
These chips will run at only 1.35 volts, which is 20 percent less than the usual 1.5 volt DDR3 memory that you’ll find on the market today. Samsung hasn’t made any mention yet about the pricing or availability of these chips.