Articles & Editorials: Hardware Guide #7

After a long hiatus due to school and work, the infamous Hardware Guides you all know and love are back. This incarnation talks about some of the advances we’ve seen in the last few months, most noticeably the GeforceFX, the Hyper-Threaded Pentium 4, and where is AMD’s new processor? So without any further ado, let’s send out the clowns and get underway.

Video Cards

The GeforceFX was launched late last year at COMDEX, but after that it has disappeared. No test boards have surfaced yet, but Nvidia promises gamers the best graphics experience yet. With clock speeds beginning at 500MHz and memory speeds around 1 GHz, it is definitely the fastest graphics card to date, albeit incredibly hot. The cooling mechanism is a heat pipe technology, popular in Shuttle PCs, but it takes up an additional IO slot on your case and sounds like a jet engine. If you are worried about noise, you may want to hold back on this one. Nvidia has promised to work on the sound issue before shipping next month, but whether or not a discernible fix is made has yet to be seen. All of us hardware gurus are waiting eagerly to see how it performs in real world applications, and are hoping Nvidia will gives us something soon before we start to lose interest.

Processors

This year promises to be an exciting one, although chances are things won’t get rolling until the second quarter. AMD is expected to launch the Athlon64 and Opteron processors at CeBIT in March, although they won’t be shipping to retailers until May-June. The 64-bit processors main feature is an integrated North Bridge, will make communication between the processor and RAM faster than ever. It is also rumored that there will be no lock on clock speed of the new processors, allowing even the casual user to ramp up the speed of his shiny new processor with ease. In my opinion, this is a good thing for everyone. It allows power users to push the edge of the processor without having to go through the complicated process of tinkering with contacts. And its good for AMD, because overclocking shortens the lifespan of the processor forcing OCers to buy new processors sooner. All in all, its a win-win situation. Intel is launching Prescott this year, their next incarnation of the P4 line. Hyper-threading will continue to be the prime selling feature, although only a handful of games actually benefit from this. Intel is hoping developers will start designing games with this in mind, however no games have been announced as supporting hyper-threading. With Intel and AMD starting to go different ways in processor development, this year is going to be very interesting to watch as the Battle of the Titans prepares to kick off.

That’s the latest from the world of hardware. As always, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to e-mail me. I’m always happy to respond to your hardware questions, so keep them coming. If I get enough support, I may start a mailbag section where I answer your questions in my monthly guides. In your online travels, you may want to check out PlanetCNC‘s Technology Troopers. HeXetic is a fellow hardware guru, and this month has a great article on what System Requirements actually mean, so be sure to check that out. So, until next month, happy gaming!

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