News Archive for: Wednesday, April 19th, 2006 (later posted items first)
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Differences in ATI X1600 Clock speed in Macs vs PCs, Overclocking using ATITool in XP
A reader posted some info on this back on April 7th, but I didn't pay any attention to it with all the other work (and the fact I don't own an Intel CPU Mac) but after an EEtimes article today on the same subject, I checked it out. Here's his post from April 7th:

" ...This might be of interest for those running Boot Camp/XP on an iMac.
I saw a post on the Apple boards about ATITool which will upclock the ati x1600 memory and core speeds.
Apparently the Apple default speed for the 20" (intel) iMac (X1600) is 400/400. The poster said ATITool told him his max was 540/594. He has his at 515/575 and apparently things are OK.
The ATITool is for windows (it's a .exe file). Another good reason to check out Boot Camp.
Any of you with Boot Camp installed on an iMac try ATITools? Benchmarks?
... the tool is here:
http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/259 (WinXP) ATITool 0.25 Beta 14))
-Jmac "

Of course this isn't the first time there's been differences in graphics chip/vram clock speeds in Macs vs PCs (and sometimes there are different GPU/memory variations with different max speed ratings). Although the french page says the MacBook Pro uses the same (Mobility X1600) chip, Apple's iMac specs page doesn't mention the X1600 is a mobility. (I wrote an ATI contact to ask.) The EEtimes article says a (french) MacBook Pro owner using ATItool showed the X1600 Mobility running at 310MHz core and 278MHz memory clocks, vs 475MHz/470MHz for some other PC X1600 Mobility systems.
Of course with any overclocking, your mileage may vary and a couple of readers with MacBook Pros here have reported they had problems overclocking the X1600 Mobility in their systems - one reader said he ended up with an unbootable Windows XP, another mentioned freezes when trying to set the clocks. Overclocking also increases power use/heat. (Apple likely chose the lower clock speed for thermal reasons and would probably void the warranty if they knew you overclocked the chip.)

Since ATItool isn't usable for OS X, I wrote the author of the ATICellerator II (dynamic overclocking util for OS X users) to ask if he's planning on an update to support the X1600 chip. I'll post his reply here.

If you've overclocked your Mac's X1600 (either iMac or MBP), let me know your results. Thanks.

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Intel CPU iMac owner updated comments on Sims2 Univ. Binary Performance
" I've been having issued with the Universal Patch for the Sims 2 working for me. So... I called Aspyr during lunch to ask a few questions about the Sims 2 patch. Things are alot clearer now. The patch is designed for Sims 2 without the "expansion packs" installed. If you install the patch after the expansion packs are installed it will always try to revert it back to the bare install.. and any attempt of starting the game will give you an error message.

They are currently working on Universal Patches for the Expansion Packs and they should be out soon. The Tech on the phone was very helpful and apologized for any inconvenience they caused me.

It would have been really nice if the documentation with the patch actually mentioned that this doesn't support either of the expansion packs.... would have saved me alot of pain....

(he later wrote)
I ran the game with the expansion packs installed under Rosetta on my Core Duo iMac w/256MB of VRAM. It was playable but choppy, but it still had better performance than my old G4 Mac mini. And of course, when I removed the expansion packs and installed the Universal patch the game played silky smooth with all options turned up all the way. The new iMac has amazing gaming performance and I can't wait for the other Universal patches to be released.
Hopefully with this boot camp announcement Mac developers will keep coding popular games like this to OSX.
-Brandon T."

I linked to an article/commentary on that recently (that said it won't hurt Mac gaming development). I wonder if the Intel Mini owner that reported poor performance was due to having expansion packs installed (running under Rosetta) or if it's due to the Mini's onboard Intel GMA950 w/shared memory. (Would not be my choice for 3d/gaming, but I'd think the Sims would be more CPU bound than graphics.)

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Price cuts on Mercury On-The-Go Portable Hard Drives
(from site sponsor OWC)
" New On-the-Go FW400 prices. The OWC Mercury On-The-Go line offers up to 160GB of data capacity in a reliable, performance solution that weighs less than 12 ounces. Using the best hard disk mechanisms and Oxford based bridge interfaces for the FireWire models, these solutions go where you need them and are great for Audio/Video, Backup, Music, and more!
All models are bootable via FireWire and/or USB2 interfaces (system must support such boot option), can be bus powered, are EMC/Dantz Retrospect Backup Certified, and include: All connecting cables, EMC/Dantz Retrospect, Intech HD Speedtools utility suite, Carrying Case, and a 1 Year OWC Warranty.
OWC Mercury On-The-Go 2.5" FireWire 400 Bootable Portable Solutions:
***FireWire 400+USB2 Combo models available for $5-10 more***
40GB 5400RPM w/16MB Buffer was $132.99, now $119.99
60GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $194.99, now $179.99
80GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $179.99, now $149.99
80GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $224.99, now $219.99
100GB 5400RPM w/16MB Buffer was $219.99, now $189.99
100GB 7200RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $269.99, now $249.99
120GB 5400RPM w/ 8MB Buffer was $279.99, now $249.99
UPS Ground Delivery from only $2.95; 2nd Day Air within the US $7.95 or less.
Best Regards,
Lawrence R. O'Connor
Other World Computing"
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Feedback on Retrospect 6 driver update for Pioneer DVR-111D drives
" This is a very preliminary review of the OWC Mercury Pro DVR-111 DL DVD-/+ R/RW (up to 16X, Pioneer DVR-111D mechanism), using Retrospect Desktop v.6.1.126 with the new Retrospect 6.1 Driver Update, v. 6.1.5.102, which was released yesterday, providing EMC (Dantz) support for this drive. I am a longtime owner of Retrospect Desktop. I'm using a 12 inch Aluminum Powerbook G4/1.33 GHz, 1.25 GB RAM, running Mac OS X 10.4.6 with a Firewire 400 connection.

I was one of the first to purchase this drive from your sponsor, Other World Computing, which I have had good experiences with in the past. After I was assured over the phone that this drive was "Retrospect Desktop certified," I was unable to get it to work with this drive, even after trying a custom device configuration, generating a custom "rdi" file. Last night, I installed the new Driver Update and trashed the "rdi" file that didn't work.

Now, the drive appears to work flawlessly, in tests with Verbatim media with Retrospect Desktop. I tried 16x DVD-R, 16x DVD+R and DVD+R Double Layer. All completed burns with zero errors. I will be trying 16x Sony DVD-R media tomorrow. Last, I will try some very expensive and difficult to find Verbatim DVD-R Dual Layer media, as I don't want to be burning expensive coasters.

I'll write a more detailed review in a few days, including some speed comparisons. I just wanted to let your readers know that I am pleased with the drive's error free performance with Retrospect Desktop with the new Driver Update. I previously performed a successful data burn with multiple disks with Toast Titanium v.7.0.2. Too bad it can't WRITE DVD-RAM.
Thanks!
-Len W."

The DVR-110D could be cross-flashed to a DVR-110 (for DVD-RAM support) but I don't think DVRflash has been updated for DVR-111 support yet. (There's an update in the works a reader said and two said they'd used PCs to flash 111Ds to 111 firmware for DVD-RAM support.)
The Retrospect driver update mentioned OWC's FW cased drive (they submit them for testing/certification) but I assume the update also supports internal DVR-111D drives.

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Intel CPU Mac Firmware 1.0.1 updates
Apple has posted version 1.0.1 firmware updates for Intel CPU Macs - not sure if the firmware is different or if it's just a revised installer as they mention v1.0.1 "now runs on localized systems that use languages that read right to left." and still links to the same About firmware updates for Intel-based Macintosh systems doc. (A reader that had applied the 1.0 firmware update said v1.0.1 did not appear in software update, so I suspect the actual firmware has not changed.)
Here's the download pages at Apple for them:

As a FYI, there's a previously released Firmware Restoration CD v 1.0.

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OWC SuperDrive Pioneer DVR-110D Bundles
(from site sponsor OWC)
"Special deal on remaining Pioneer DVR-110D with 16X DVD, 8X DVD Dual-Layer(8.5GB), and up to 40X CDRW Burn Speeds for your PowerMac G3-G4-G5; eMac G4; or iMac G4. This drive has full, native OS X support with version 10.4.6 (and later) - plug and play for Apple iDVD, iTunes, iPhoto as well as Roxio Toast, Dragonburn, etc. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/optical-drives/superdrives/powermac/
The drive alone is now $49.99 or save more with one of our value bundles which include software an media:

Bundle #1 which includes choice of above drive colors + NTI Dragonburn v4.x & 5 pieces DVD-R Media in Jewel now $54.99

Bundle #2 which includes choice of drive color + EMC/Dantz Retrospect Backup(Mac/PC), NTI Dragonburn 4.x, 5 pieces DVD-R Media and 10 pieces CD-R Media with Jewels now $59.99

Bundle #3 which includes choice of drive color + EMC/Dantz Retrospect Backup(Mac/PC), NTI Dragonburn 4.x, 5 pieces DVD-R Media in Jewel, and 25 pack CD-R Media now $64.99

Bundle #4 which includes choice of drive color + EMC/Dantz Retrospect Backup(Mac/PC), NTI Dragonburn 4.x, 20 pieces DVD-R Media in Jewel, and 25 pack CD-R Media now $69.99

UPS Ground is $4.50 or less, 2nd Day Air service within the US for $7.95 or less. Start burning great DVDs and CDs today!
Best Regards,
Lawrence R. O'Connor
Other World Computing"

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Mac Neverwinter Nights 1.6.7b4 Update
Eddie sent a note there's Mac Neverwinter Nights 1.6.7b4 Update at Bioware. (See linked page for list of changes.)
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Other Net News/Misc. Software Updates
(updated - later items first)

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Recent Reviews and Articles:
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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