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Accelerate Your Mac! News Archive for: 2/21/2001 Wednesday's NewsReturn to Accelerate Your Mac!

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Top stories of the day:

GeForce3 $350 BTO Store Option, $599 Separately, iMac and Cube Changes:
The Apple store is back online now and checking the high end G4/733 I see a $350 option to add a GeForce3 64MB DDR Graphics card! (It's also an option on other G4 tower models.) The bad news is it's listed as "Coming in April". The card is also available separately at the Accessories page for $599 but is noted as available in late April, and there's no "buy" button currently there. Here's the "more info" data for the GeForce3

"The NVIDIA GeForce3 graphics chip is the personal computer industry's most advanced graphics processing unit ever. With more than 57 million transistors its able to perform 800 million operations per second including 76 billion floating point operations per second (GigaFLOPS). Powered by the new NVIDIA nfiniteFX engine and the LightSpeed Memory Architecture, the GeForce3 GPU enables user to experience a much richer 3D graphics environment than they ever have before. Featuring a large 64MB DDR SDRAM frame buffer it can handle a new generation of games and professional applications that use large texture maps. Naturally the GeForce3 supports very high resolutions with full color support (up to 2048 x 1536 at 32 bits per pixel)"

There's also a new G4/733 config for $3099 that doesn't have the DVD-R SuperDrive.

There also appears are new iMacs with up to 600Mhz G3 CPUs that list the "Rage128 Ultra" as the graphics chip on the high end models (with 16MB vs 8MB of video RAM). The upper 2 iMac models include a CDRW drive.

The Cube pricing now starts at $1299 and the 500Mhz model shows the GeForce2MX as the graphics card. The upper two models now list CDRW drives instead of DVD ROM drives. I didn't see any iBook changes at the Apple store tonight.

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Cinema Display Cut to $2999:
Another change I noticed tonight is that the 22" Cinema Display has a $1000 price cut to $2999.
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Guess that NV20 (GeForce3) Macworld Tokyo Rumor was True:
Last Saturday I posted a rumor about Jobs demoing a Nvidia NV20 (aka GeForce3) card at MW Tokyo but removed it after about 4 hours (the other part of the rumor was the demo would use Doom3, hard to believe at the time but true). Also likely is a demo of Altivec enhanced Quake3, which Apple has according to a post at Quake3world forums. I heard from several readers tonight that there will be a Mac NV20 card demo, with card pricing about the same as the PC retail cards noted here recently - $600.

Other notes received so far are that there will be a v1.1 update to iTunes (available now - adds support for more CDRW models) and note the Apple store as of 9:30PM EST shows "We are busy updating the store for you and will be back within the hour", which must mean new hardware is due. One reader is at the show and promised to send photos for posting.

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Firewire 2.7 May Improve DV with Firewire Drives:
Included in today's TIL updates listing is one titled Final Cut Pro, iMovie: FireWire 2.7 May Resolve Dropped Frames. Here's a few other related TIL updates today you may also want to read:
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TechTool Pro 3.03 Update:
The Techtool Pro 3.03 update includes a long list of fixes and improvements.
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Retrospect Driver Update To Add Support for Many QUE CDRW Drives:
Included in tonight's Software Updates, TILs, Other Net News listing update is a link to Dantz's page noting a QPS Retrospect Driver v2.1 Update. The Good news is it adds support for many Que drives; the bad news is the page notes it's not available until Friday the 25th. When available it will add support for the following QPS drive models. (Requires Retrospect version 4.3)

  • QPS Que! Fire DVD-RAM (Hitachi mechanism)
  • QPS Que! USB 4x4x8 CDRW (Mitsumi mechanism)
  • QPS Que! Fire 8x4x32 (Samsung mechanism)
  • QPS Que! Fire 12x10x32 (Plextor mechanism)
  • QPS Que! Fire 16x10x40 (Plextor mechanism)
  • QPS Que! Fire Combo 4x4x24x4 (Samsung mechanism)

    The following drive models are UNSUPPORTED until a future driver update
  • QPS Que! Fire 8x8x32x (Teac mechanism)
  • QPS Que! Fire 12x10x40x (Teac mechanism)

Bookmark the Dantz page and check by on Friday when it should be available. Looks like Teac mechanism drives (noted has initially having problems in the Drive Compatibility Database here with Toast) are again out in the cold. A firmware update is said to fix the Toast issue, but Teac's update (flasher) is only for PCs.

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Sonnet G4/500 ZIF Price Cut to $484.95:
Jamie Dresser of site sponsor OWC sent a note they've dropped the price of the Sonnet G4/500MHz ZIF CPU upgrade for Beige G3, All-in-One, B&W G3 and G4/PCI (Yikes) models:

" Hi Mike,
We have lowered the price on the Sonnet G4/500 ZIF to $484.95 today- thought the readers would like to know. With the $5 FedEx, that's the best price out there on it.
And, I have activated it on the XLR8YourMac Specials page
Thanks!
Jamie"

The Sonnet upgrade requires no jumper or switch settings changes. More details on the Encore G4/500 upgrade are available here.

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VectorWorks Problems Also Noted with Radeon Card:
In reply to an earlier post on GeForce2MX problems with Vectorworks (see below), another reader noted the program also has issues with a Radeon card.

" It's worth noting that the Radeon card suffers from similar incompatibility problems in VectorWorks, although the Rage 128 Pro apparently works fine.

The software is also ignorant of Altivec and multiprocessors (pretty lame for a $1000+ 3D application).

(I asked if the latest 1.1.1 Radeon drivers were used-Mike)

Yes, all drivers were up to date, as was VectorWorks. The test machine was a DP533 with 640Mb of RAM.

I happen to work in the same office with Bob Tiedemann. I saw his post and just thought I'd add some details. We bought a DP533 with a Radeon card specifically to try and circumvent the problems we were having with the NVidia card and Vectorworks. Needless to say, we're pretty disappointed.
Best Regards,
Shannon Calvert"

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PowerBook G4 DVD Drive - No Grinding Here When Tilted:
A reader sent an email concerned over a post he had seen where a PB G4 DVD drive had grinding noises when tilted during playing the disc. I tested my PB G4/400 while playing a movie tilted at about 45 degrees and did not hear any noises. I have also not had any eject problems with the drive as some early owners noted here a few weeks ago (see the PB G4 comments page for those reports). Perhaps the grinding is related to the drive alignment issue noted by some early owners. As noted previously on the PB G4 comments page, one Australian reader said he was told the alignment issue was only present in a certain batch of USA models. Mine shows a production date of 1/31/2001 and I've seen no DVD/CD drive problems at all so far. However I do not squeeze the area over the DVD drive. When I lift it I grab the PB by the edges with both hands, not grabbing the unit with one hand over the DVD drive.

If you're concerned over issues like this, I'd suggest seeing if a local dealer will let you test the PB before buying it. (This is why I bought at retail, to check the screen and DVD drive. I'm not sure all retailers will allow you to open the box before buying however - but I insisted and was allowed to do so.)

I'm continuining to run tests on the PB G4 and last night ran PSBench tests in Photoshop 5.5. That 21 filter test (used in many upgrade reviews here) is heavily weighed for filters that don't use Altivec. (The filters that take the longest to complete don't benefit from Altivec.) For those filters that do use Altivec (aka Velocity Engine) - the PB G4/400 was in some cases 3x faster than my results with the Wallstreet with a BlueChip G3/500MHz upgrade, although the total time to run the 21 filters showed the PB G4/400 just slightly faster than the G3/500. I'll have full details in the upcoming review. If you missed it, I posted my initial impressions plus updates for 10GB vs 20GB hard drive tests and WaveLan vs Airport card range tests on this page.

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B&W G3 Rev 1 and IBM 75GXP - Intermittent Corruption Report:
Reader Tim Seufert sent a note that although he originally thought his rev 1 B&W G3 with an IBM 75GXP drive was immune to the data corruption issues that IDE chip has with replacement drives, using a tester he wrote discovered otherwise:

" Mike,
Could you update the drive database entry for my Rev1 B&W with a 75GXP to show that I have corruption? I recently wrote a better corruption tester tool and have found that there are very rare read errors (though I've never found a write error).

Small SMI tests will not discover this. It took writing a 2GB test file with multiple readback passes to uncover it (and sometimes it will pass even that test, so multiple test iterations are a good thing).

Also, I'd like to distribute the tester through your site so that xlr8yourmac readers can use it for better corruption testing. It doesn't have a GUI interface because I wrote it to easily compile under either Linux or MacOS, but it should be fairly straightforward to use. You just tell it how many test iterations to run, the size of the test file, and the number of verification passes to do after writing the file, and it goes and does its thing.

Unlike SMI checksum tests, it can detect literally any error (checksums can be fooled). It works by writing a file filled with a (repeatable) pseudorandom sequence. After the file is created, it reads it back and compares the file against the recreated sequence. If any discrepancy is found, it logs it and prints a warning.
Tim Seufert "

This issue has been noted here since about spring 1999 when it was first discovered. Tim's going to send his tester for posting here, so that rev 1 B&W G3 owners can download it for use on their machines. The safest bet for adding/replacing drives on a rev 1 is to use a PCI IDE card. (Although some readers have used the slower CDROM channel and ZIP bay, Apple doesn't recommend the ZIP bay be used for hard drives, due to possible heat issues I assume.)

If you have a B&W G3 and it has the dual drive stacked bracket and dual drive cable, then you have a rev 2 model with the revised IDE controller. There were some interim models shipped without the dual drive bracket however, but with the revised IDE chip according to past reports. To check the IDE chip, see the B&W G3 rev 2 page here which shows where the IDE chip is located and the marking on the revised chip.

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GeForce2MX Problem Report Running Vectorworks CAD Software
In reply to recent posts on problems in Rogue Spear, a GeForce2MX owner noted problems running his CAD software with the card:

" I don't have Rogue Spear but I have been having problems with my CAD software (VectorWorks) and my new G4 533 and it's Gforce2 color board. The software cannot be used unless the colors are set to 256K. Even then after working for several hours I have noticed screen artifacts on the desk top in the form of random lines here and there. These lines appear with all types of software not just CAD.
Bob Tiedemann

(I asked Bob for more info)

[ what's the URL to that product? ] http://www.nemetschek.net/

[does it run Rave mode? or opengl?] YES
(OpenGL mode I assume-Mike)

[Is Vectorworks OS 9.1 compatible?] YES

Information on Vectorworks 8.5.2 can be found at http://www.nemetschek.net/. You will find information on the video card issue under general discussion message board. (See this post)
You might know this product by its old name as MiniCad. I have been using it for years as an Industrial Designer & Exhibit Designer for developing a wide range of designs for many clients.

I have also used it as a front end for Strata- StudioPro. Its is a really good value for the money. However it has limitations when you get into organic forms. However most of the work I have used it for is exhibit projects where this has not been an issue. The cost of making the jump to a higher level is about three times Vector works on the low side. I am reluctant to spend 3 grand on software when I can't be sure they will survive. I have a lot of dead software in the garage.
Best Wishes,
Bob"

Hopefully a future driver release can address the issues. My original concern about the GeForce2MX was how universally compatible the first drivers would be (i.e. Pro apps, OpenGL 3D apps, RAVE, etc.). Nvidia has a reputation for good drivers and frequent updates, let's hope the OEM deal doesn't hinder that. I wish they could post beta driver updates at their web site, rather than having to wait for official releases through Apple. Beta releases would be a big plus as it would provide them with a huge base of beta testers with far more apps and configurations than they could test otherwise. The same applies to ATI - I wish they would post beta driver versions publicly.

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CPU Upgrades Owner Ratings Database Updated:
The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 10 new reports (total to date: 5,282). [Entries from after midnight EST will be added the following day.]

  • Metabox G3/320 in Starmax 5000 (rated 9)
  • Metabox G3/300 in Umax S900 (rated 10)
  • Other World Computing G3/450 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • Other World Computing G3/400 in Beige G3 (rated 10)
  • Other World Computing G3/400 in B&W G3 (rated 9)
  • Sonnet G3/400 in Umax J700 (rated 1 - may be bad card)
  • Sonnet G3/350 in Starmax 3000 (rated 10)
  • Sonnet G3/250 in 7100/66 (rated 9)
  • Sonnet G3/400 in 7300/180 (rated 10)

  • Beige G3/266 OC report

You can find these full reports by searching the database selecting the indicated Mac model and upgrade card brand/type. If you've upgraded the CPU on your Mac, please post an entry in the database. Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand). For detailed reviews with performance tests and install tips, see the CPU Upgrades page.)

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CDRW/CD/DVD/HD Compatibility Database Updates:
The Drive Compatibility searchable database had 16 new entries added this morning including CDRWs, CD-ROMs, DVD ROMs, Removables and Hard Drives. (Current total 2,982 reports). Entries from after midnight are added the following day. [BTW - the drive database is not a place to post questions, it's for reports on drives you've used. For guides to drive installs, see the IDE, SCI or Firewire articles here and/or the FAQ. Thanks.]
You can find full owner reports by searching the database by drive/brand/interface/mac models (the latest reports are shown first in searches).
If you've added a IDE, SCSI, Firewire or USB hard drive, CDRW, tape drive, etc. make sure you add a report to the database.
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Video Card/System Benchmark Performance Database Updated:
Updates to the Mac Game/Video Card Performance database included:

  • Quake3 Team Arena results from Beige G3 w/G4 433 CPU and Radeon PCI
  • CineBench 2000 results from 73-7500 w/G4 450MHz CPU upgrade and Radeon PCI
  • ThroughPut results from B&W G3/400 with Radeon PCI (tested under OS X Beta Classic)

Total entries in the database to date: 2,465. If you haven't already, enter your results with any of the game titles or benchmarks listed on the entry page (details on how to test are there). If you're curious how a CPU upgrade or new Video card would help game performance, the search page options can help you find similar system/configurations to get an idea before you buy.

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Software Updates, Apple TILs, Other Net News:
Reported By: Barney Buoy

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Recent Reviews and Articles:
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