had hoped to have the Gaming PC chapter completed by Friday evening.
Here it is Monday morning, and the chapter still isn't finished
(although the PC is up and running.) We still have two more systems to
do before deadline, and only three weeks left as of today.
Things are going to be a bit hectic around here, so don't expect much in the way of posts here until the book is finished.
Look for more significant price cuts on the AMD Athlon 64 X2
processors soon. AMD's price cuts last week, as dramatic as they were,
didn't come close to matching the price/performance ratio of the new
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 processor. In head-to-head testing with a wide
variety of benchmarks, the situation is basically this:
(Where two prices are given for Athlon 64 X2 models, the higher price
is for the energy-efficient version, which still draws more current
than the Core 2 Duo.) If AMD wants to remain competitive, I see no
alternative but for them to slash the prices of their processors even
more. Intel is unlikely to cut the Core 2 Duo prices until at least
November and probably early next year, so something like the following
might allow AMD to maintain some of its hard-won market share:
- The $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 nearly always beats the $187/$215 Athlon 64 X2 4200+, often badly
- The $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 usually beats the $240/$276 Athlon 64 X2 4600+
- The $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 often beats the $301 Athlon 64 X2 5000+
- The $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 sometimes beats the $827 Athlon 64 FX-62
Of course, all of that goes out the window for anyone who is willing to
overclock a Core 2 Duo. Various enthusiast web sites have reported
successfully overclocking the Core 2 Duo E6300 by 40% or more with complete stability. With even modest
overclocking, the $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 outperforms the Athlon 64 FX-62
in nearly every benchmark. That means AMD processors are no
longer viable choices for serious gamers and other enthusiasts who are
willing to overclock their systems, which is to say most of them. Compared to Core 2 Duo, the AMD
processors have very little headroom for overclocking, so the
benchmarks at stock speeds are the best case for AMD. For them, it goes
downhill from there.
- Athlon 64 X2 4200+: $187/$215 to $115/$135
- Athlon 64 X2 4600+: $240/$276 to $145/$170
- Athlon 64 X2 5000+: $301 to $195
- Athlon 64 FX-62: $827 to $240
Intel has spent the last couple of years gnashing their collective
teeth, as AMD made them look bad, apparently without effort. Now the
screw has turned, and the Empire Strikes Back.
I hope that AMD is able to hold on for the next year or two, by which
time they may have a competitive processor to sell. But for now, AMD is
back to the K6 days, when all they could do was compete on price in the
"value" segment. In a very real sense, we have AMD to thank for the
Core 2 Duo. Without the competitive pressure that AMD has exerted on
Intel, Core 2 Duo would never have existed. But it does exist, and that
is very bad news indeed for AMD. Of course, AMD has made it through bad
times successfully in the past. Let's hope they can do so again.
I don't usually post press releases, but this one is timely for a lot
of people. Probably not many of my readers still use Windows 9X, but I
suspect most know people who do.
Xandros Desktop - Home Edition Offers Easy-to-Use Linux Alternative for "Disenfranchised" Windows 98 & ME Users
NEW YORK, NY - Xandros, the leading provider of easy-to-use Linux
alternatives to Windows, today announced an immediate solution for the
50 million 'disenfranchised' Windows 98, 98SE and ME customers left
without support and security patches. In response to the recent
announcement by Microsoft to suspend support to these customers,
Xandros is providing affected users a special opportunity to upgrade
their now unsupported and vulnerable Windows systems to Xandros'
recently released Desktop Home Edition or Home Edition Premium, a
secure and stable Windows alternative with full support and online
update facilities. Xandros is offering these users a 50% mail-in rebate
when upgrading to either Xandros Desktop Home Edition or Home Edition
Premium which can be installed alongside the unsupported Microsoft
Windows, even on older hardware, eliminating the need for costly new
hardware required by a Windows XP or Vista upgrade. After upgrading to
Xandros, users will continue to have full read and write access to all
documents, music, and other files that reside within their original
Windows installation and users can choose to install and continue to
use Microsoft Office and other popular Windows programs.
"Now that Microsoft has discontinued all support for Windows 98, 98SE
and ME, legacy Windows users have three options," said Andreas
Typaldos, CEO of Xandros. "First, they can cross their fingers and
continue to use the abandoned, insecure and unsupported Windows
product. Second, they can purchase a costly XP upgrade along with new
hardware that will be out of date as soon as Vista is released. Or
third, they can continue using their existing computer by installing
the latest Xandros Desktop Home Edition. Not only does this option
extend the useful life of their computer without a need to learn
anything new, but it also provides users with a stable and reliable
platform that is free from the constant frustration of spyware and
viruses, and costs less than Windows-based Anti-Virus software alone."
"Because of Xandros' unique approach in developing Linux-based products
that do not require Windows users to change the way they use a PC
today, we can offer more than just a lifeboat to these recently
abandoned Windows users," said Todd Kanfer, Xandros' Vice President of
Marketing. "Xandros Desktop Home Edition will rescue them today from
the sinking ship of Windows 98, and provide a fortified, stable and
secure computing platform for their future, freeing them from stress,
frustration, and high costs of maintaining their digital lives on
"Like other widely used consumer products that harness the benefits of
Linux and Unix behind the scenes, such as Mac OS X, gaming platforms
and multimedia devices, Xandros Desktop delivers a packaged solution
that meets the needs of the consumers digital lifestyle," Kanfer
continued. "For the millions of users who are being forced by Microsoft
to upgrade, Xandros provides a quick, robust, easy and inexpensive
alternative to Windows. Xandros Home Edition delivers the features and
the look and feel to which these users are accustomed and can be
installed on an existing Windows 98 or ME PC, preserving access to all
their Windows files. Within minutes, they will be up and running, using
the Internet and e-mail, creating documents, enjoying their music and
media without interruption to their digital lifestyle. Even though the
Linux technology is not visible to them, users immediately benefit from
its superior performance, stability, security and lower cost of
The Platform For Your Digital Life
The new Xandros Desktop Home Edition combines the security and stability of Linux with the familiarity of Windows and Mac OSX.
Some of the included features are:
- Web: Wireless network profiles quickly connect to favorite
wireless networks and hot-spots anywhere. Easily switch between wired
and wireless networks, and connect to school and corporate VPNs
(Virtual Private Networks).
- Music: Music Manager with iPod support to sync iPod and MP3
players. Import and organize music, podcasts and audiobooks. Listen to
playlists and collections. Create MP3s and audio CDs.
- Photos: Xandros Photo Manager to import photos from your digital
camera. View, edit and organize your albums. Post images online or
print them at home.
- Video: RealPlayer support of popular media types, plus the Xine
open source video player to support most video formats and DVDs.
- Telephone: Skype Internet calling, including bonus 30-minute SkypeOut voucher to call regular phones.
- Browser: Firefox tabbed web browsing with automatic blocking of pop-up ads.
- E-mail: Thunderbird e-mail with intelligent spam filtering.
- Ease of use: Xandros File Manager for access to local and remote resources, drag-and-drop DVD burning, and more.
- Updates: Xandros Networks for automatic updates plus single-click access to free and commercial software.
- Transfer Your Windows Personality - with Versora Progression
Desktop, a Windows user can easily transfer their files, settings and
digital personality to their new Xandros environment in a few simple
Users can install Xandros Desktop Home
Edition on existing hardware and enjoy transparent Windows
compatibility, including the ability to work on the same files from
Linux and Windows. Premium users have the choice of using popular
Windows software products, such as Microsoft Office, or popular open
source software products, such as OpenOffice.org.
Special Windows 98/98SE/ME Upgrade Offer
Xandros is offering a special upgrade
promotion for Windows 98 & ME users. From now through August 31,
2006, qualified users who upgrade to Xandros Desktop - Home Edition or
Home Edition - Premium will receive a 50% rebate. Users can take
advantage of this offer by purchasing these products at any retailer
that offers Xandros, including CompUSA, Circuit City, TigerDirect,
Fry's, and Buy.com and then visit www.xandros.com to redeem their rebate
Founded in 2001 with headquarters in New York, offices in Frankfurt and
Mumbai, and research and development facilities in Ottawa, Xandros,
Inc. is the leading provider of easy-to-use Linux alternatives to
Windows. Its Debian-based products range from standalone consumer
desktops to end-to-end enterprise desktop, server, and management
solutions featuring workflow automation and centralized, remote
administration. Xandros pioneered low cost, graphical operating systems
that leverage existing skill sets and provide seamless compatibility
with Microsoft Windows programs and networks. For more information,
please visit www.xandros.com.
Xandros is a registered trademark of Xandros, Inc. All other trademarks
and/or registered trademarks are the property of their respective
Xandros Customer service or sales please call : 212-213-8083
- Nothing focuses the mind like a book deadline coming up this month. On Monday, 21 August, the new edition of Building the Perfect PC
goes to production. We have two project system chapters left to do,
along with incorporating tech review comments, some re-write, writing
the Preface, and so on. It's going to be a busy next three weeks.
The Gaming PC chapter is posted on the Subscribers' Page.
I started work yesterday on the Media Center PC. Well, actually, I
re-started work, because I've already done a lot of it. That chapter
should be posted around Monday of next week. This will be an
interesting system, built in an Antec Fusion case and using a Core 2
Duo processor, with dual analog tuners and an HDTV tuner, running
We'll get it built, running, and tested, and then probably recycle the
components into something more useful for us. There's not much point to
us having a multi-tuner DVR. We recorded Inspector Lewis on our DVD
recorder Sunday night and watched it last night. That's the only
network television program we've watched in the last six months. It
really has come down to Springsteen's lyrics, 57 channels and nothing
I was slaving away yesterday on the Media Center PC chapter when the
video on my main office system suddenly went completely wonky. Critical
Need Detector, indeed.
I wasn't having any. I shut down my main system, popped the side panel,
and pulled the MSI video adapter. I needed another PCIe video adapter
quickly. Unfortunately for the Gaming PC, it was still sitting on the
kitchen table with its side panel open. I roared into the kitchen,
pulled the nVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra out of the Gaming PC, slid it into
my main system, reconnected the PCIe power cable, put the side panel
back on, and restarted the system. Total elapsed time, about four
minutes. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
The last component we need for the final two project systems is due to
arrive from NewEgg today. Yesterday, a Core 2 Duo E6400 arrived from
Intel and an NSK1300 SFF case from Antec.
I didn't realize until last weekend that Antec had discontinued the
Aria SFF case, replacing it with the NSK1300. I had an Aria sitting in
the work room that we planned to use to build the SFF system. Then I
realized that it had a 20-pin power supply, which probably wouldn't
work with the Intel D946GZIS motherboard for the Core 2 Duo processor.
I visited the Antec web site to see if there was an "Aria II" with a
24-pin power supply, and found that the Aria had disappeared
completely. I happened across the NSK1300, which looked like a direct
replacement for the Aria, and emailed Mafalda Cogliani, my contact at
Antec, to ask her if she could get me one quickly.
Mafalda mailed me Saturday to say she didn't have any NSK1300
cases available, but, worst case, she'd send me one of the open units
they had at the office. Monday afternoon, Mafalda emailed me again to
say there were some NSK1300 cases on the way in to Antec, that she'd
ordered one for me, and that it should arrive at Antec Thursday. She
said she'd overnight it to me so we'd have it by the weekend.
Yesterday morning, FedEx showed up with the NSK1300 case. When I
emailed Mafalda to let her know it had already arrived, several days
early, she replied, "Incredible. They must have unpacked the container
just for you."
I pulled the NSK1300 to take a quick look at it. It's a very nice case,
nearly identical to the Aria at first glance. As far as I can tell, the
only differences are that the NSK1300 has an ATX 2.2 24-pin power
supply, that it has round front buttons instead of square ones, and
that it no longer includes a bundled card reader. The card reader was a
nice feature, but it did boost the price of the Aria, and the NSK1300
list price has been lowered to reflect the lack of the card reader.
- Today is forecast to be yet another with a heat index above 100°F.
The morning newspaper says the demand for electricity is at an all-time
high, but the power companies don't foresee any problem meeting demand.
Duke Power has asked that people voluntarily conserve, particularly
during afternoon hours. I've shut down all but our main systems and
bumped the thermostat up a degree or two. If even a thousand other
people do the same, that's probably a megawatt of reduced demand right
I do wish that the government and utilities would get off their butts
and start building standardized nuclear power plants. We should set a
target of building ten new nuclear power plants a year for the next ten
years. Using a standardized design and cutting all the red tape with a
fast-track approval process would cut the costs of those new plants to
a small fraction of what they would otherwise be. Plentiful, cheap
electricity would go a long way towards what should be our goal of
As someone who trained as a chemist, the idea of burning petroleum and
natural gas, or coal for that matter, seems amazingly short-sighted to
me. Although I don't believe we're in any danger of running out of
those resources, they should be reserved as feed stocks. Cheap,
ubiquitous electricity generated by nuclear plants should be used to
meet our heating, lighting, and transportation energy requirements.
Obviously, none of this can happen overnight. But we need to get started on it now.
I have both the Media Center PC and SFF PC chapters in progress. We
were going to start the build on the Media Center PC last night, but
Barbara and I were both whacked. We'll start on it tonight and finish
the build of the Media Center PC this weekend. We may also get a start
on the SFF PC.
- It looks like Circuit City has decided to challenge the DMCA head-on. Either that, or they're monumentally stupid and all of their lawyers were out to lunch that day. I'm betting on the latter.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Robert Bruce