News Archive for: Wednesday, October 18th, 2006 (later posted items first)
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Fan Control 1.1 and smc FanControl v1.2 (fan speed control for MacBook/Pro, Mini)
In a follow-up to past posts on increasing MacBook/Pro fan speeds to reduce temperatures, a reader mentioned Fan Control 1.1 (system pref for fan speed control, with thermal graphing in °F or C). There's also a v1.2 update to smc FanControl mentioned last week (which also noted Intel-based Mac Mini support). I don't own any Intel based Macs to try these utilities, but a MacBook Pro owner sent comments on both:

" I've used both smcFanControl 1.2 and FanControl 1.1 as well as the original modification using smc and SleepWatcher. Although the latter is not as easy to do, once done you can forget about it. The other two basically add a GUI to make use of smc without the need for the Terminal. FanControl 1.1 functions as a preference pane while smcFanControl 1.2 is an application. Although there are some differences in the GUI both perform essentially the same function. They allow you to dynamically alter the fans' idle speeds. FanControl 1.1 controls three fan speed parameters: threshold speed, minimum temperature trigger speed, and maximum temperature trigger speed. smcFanControl 1.1 only controls the fans' idle speed.

I found that on my MacBook Pro, smcFanControl 1.2 worked as advertised. However, I was unable to get it to retain the new settings after wake from sleep. FanControl 1.1 on the other hand seems to work flawlessly in this regard.

For the non-technical user who doesn't want to learn how to use the Terminal my vote would go for FanControl 1.1.

Regardless of which method one chooses the user should be aware that the modification is unauthorized by Apple. That means if the fans are damaged or if the modification causes consequential damage it will not be covered under the warranty. Apple has never acknowledged that the typical operating temperatures are a problem. According to Intel's own documentation on typical core temperatures for the Core Sole and Core Duo are 50-100 C with automatic shutdown at 125 C. Intel Minis, MBs, and MBPs all normally operate within those ranges.
-Steven K., Ph.D. "

Some have said they were leery of increasing fan speeds, concerned it would shorten the life of the fan although personally I doubt it would significantly affect that but I don' t know the quality/reliability of the fans used. From what I've seen you're basically just increasing the minimum fan speed correct? (Not forcing operation beyond the fan's maximum rated speed or duty cycle.) I've got an older powerbook G4 (17in, 1.33GHz) that often has its fans running at full blast for hours on end (when used on a flat surface and taxed) and after about 3 years of daily use knock on wood the original fans are still fine. (And even when new they were not quiet.)
A certain % of any hardware will fail regardless but there's been no long-term tests/results on these yet.
For those that have used scripts (or utils like these), most comments I've seen were positive (lower temperatures felt). Like any tweak or mod though YMMV and if you are happy with your system (case temperatures, etc.) then leave well enough alone.
I don't know of anyone that's seen any other problems (i.e. software control bugs/problems resulting in insufficient cooling) but anyone that has seen problems with any of this send a note about it. (And if it's related to a utility, write the author also of course.)
I wonder if apple would even check for these utils if it was sent in for warranty (assuming some failure that prevented booting it to remove them before sending it in.) You never know though, but in my experience the repair centers don't do a lot of digging for what you've done, unless it's clearly evident physical damage. (Of course after saying that tomorrow they'll add it to the incoming repair item inspection checklist...)

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Quake 4 FPS tests with Mac X1900XT (stock and overclocked) vs 7300GT
"I recently upgraded my Mac Pro from its stock 7300GT to an Apple X1900 XT. After playing with this for a while, I stuck an Accelero X2 on it, as the card's fan picks up speed after gaming for a while at high res. The Accelero X2 fan, by contrast, is silent. (see previous page here on Low Cost/Quiet Cooler (Accelero X2) for ATI X1900 XT.) All I can hear is the Mac's own blower fan and hard drive.

Not having messed with it enough, I overclocked it using the latest version Graphiccelerator. (ROM editor, see Graphiccelerator home page) I increased the core clock to from 600 to 650 MHz, and the RAM from 650 to 775MHz, making it effectively a PC-spec X1900 XTX. It's sad that ATI provides overclocking tools for free for PC users, but Mac users have to go to great lengths to assemble the tools to do this. (PC Nvidia drivers also have OC'ing options after the "CoolBits" registry mod. For Macs, hopefully a future version of ATIcellerator II will support the X1900 card (for on the fly OC'ing).-Mike)

Here are my results. All these tests were run with the Quake IV v1.3 patch. These are Quake IV 'playnettimedemo id_demo001' results using High Quality, no AA, vsync off, all other options maxed out. All fps results are the second of two runs.

(results updated)
results

So that's about an 8.5% increase in high-end fps, nothing to sneeze at...
(he later wrote)
It's a Mac Pro 2.66GHz with four 512MB FB-DIMMs arranged two in each bank.
I'd fill out the chart with the remaining resolutions (1280x1024, etc) with my overclocked card, but for some reason Quake IV will absolutely not change resolutions anymore. It's stuck at 1920x1200.
If you have any suggestions (besides a complete reinstall), I'll try and run the remaining resolutions. (I asked he try trashing the cfg file and then try again.)
Thanks, that worked. (table above updated)

Best regards,'thagomizer'"

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OptiBay - Kit to replace Optical Drive with Hard Drive in PowerBook G4/MacBook Pro
" Don't know if you or your readers have seen this, but I came across a new product from MCE Tech that allows you to remove the optical drive from a MacBook Pro or Powerbook G4 and replace it with a second internal hard drive.
The kit comes with a bracket that fits in the empty space left by the removal of the optical drive. The bracket holds the second hard drive and comes with an ATA adapter that allows it to be connected to the optical drive's ATA cable. As a bonus, the kit also includes a slim external Firewire DVD case into which you can put the optical drive that you remove. According to the site, the external optical drive is bootable and is recognized by the iApps.
They have kits ranging from 80GB up to 160GB, and as long as the second drive matches the size of the original internal drive, the drives can be raided! I know that I rarely use my optical drive and that the few times I actually do, I could just as easily use an external one.
The thought of having 320GB of hard drive space in a notebook is a very appealing one. Here is the link to the site: http://www.mcetech.com/optibay/
(Prices range from $249 (80GB HD) to $399 (160GB). Not available as a kit w/o HD)
Hope others find this as useful as I think it will be...
George "

Interesting. I liked the expansion bay design of the PowerBook G3s (where you could swap in a hard drive, optical drive, 2nd battery, etc. although that makes the notebook a bit thicker.)

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EyeTV 2 v2.3.2 Update
(Update - a reader with a G5 said this update has a bug - when it's running he said he had no sound on his G5 tower. He wrote ElGato tech support about it and was told they're working on a fix.)

Missed this last night but the update is available at ElGato's EyeTV 2 updates page. Here's a clip on the changes from the readme file:

What's new in EyeTV 2.3.2?
Hardware Support:
EyeTV 2.3.2 supports the following new devices:
  • Pinnacle PCTV Hybrid Pro Stick, a DVB-T/Analog USB stick available in Europe and Australia.
  • Pinnacle PCTV Hybrid Pro Stick (330e), a DVB-T/Analog USB stick available in Europe and Australia.
  • Pinnacle PCTV USB Stick, a DVB-T USB stick available in Europe and Australia.
  • Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick, an ATSC/Analog USB stick available in North America.
  • Hauppauge HVR-950, an ATSC/Analog USB stick available in North America.

    EyeTV Full Screen Menu: Picture-in-Picture:
    EyeTV 2.3.2 adds Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support. The minimum system requirements for PiP support are Mac OS X 10.4.7 and a graphics card with a minimum of 64 MB of VRAM... Note that it isn't necessary to have two live television windows. PiP also works while playing back two recordings or one live TV window and one recording.

    EyeTV 2.3.2 adds support for IceTV, the premier Internet program guide in Australia.

    Audio:
    The Audio Output menu now offers a list of all available audio devices in addition to the standard System Sound Output and Digital Audio Output items.

    iPod Export:
    EyeTV 2.3.2 adds support for iPod exports to H.264 at 640x480, which is the new default quality setting.

    Apple Remote:
    The Apple Remote left/right arrow button functions have been changed.... (see readme file)

    Bug Fixes:
    - A problem where DVB-T auto tuning in France would not find all channels has been fixed.
    - DVB-T tuner sensitivity and channel locking behaviour of the EyeTV Hybrid were improved.
    - A problem with exhaustive auto tuning for EyeTV 250 PAL hardware has been fixed.
    - A problem with Miglia TVMax not finding a signal after sleep has been fixed.
    - A crash while exporting on Intel Macs has been fixed.
    - A problem with EyeTV Hybrid in analog mode and the EyeTV Remote control has been corrected.
    - A problem with Teletext and Cinergy XS Hybrid in analog mode has been resolved.
    - A problem with the version of the TerraTec Cinergy Hybrid XS sold in France and recordings on PowerPC has been fixed.
    - A problem where EyeTV would sometimes allow the Mac to go to sleep during playback at Full Screen has been resolved. "

  • I welcome Feedback from users for adding to the EyeTV User reports/tips page. (include EyeTV version used, mac model, OS version used. Thanks.)

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    Rate Your CPU Upgrade Reports Database Updated
    The Rate Your CPU Upgrade database has been updated with 1 new report this morning. Total to date: 10,276. Here's a summary of the latest additions (search by brand/mac model for full reports - latest reports always shown first):

    • XLR8 (sold by Daystar now) G4/450 in B&W G3 (rated 10)

      (Full reviews of G4 and G3 upgrades compared to stock CPUs, including real world apps/game tests, install info, etc. are linked at the CPU upgrades page. OC/CPU module articles are on the Systems page.)

    You can find the 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, send a review with your experience and rating (1= worst to 10=best). Search the database for entries from most every upgradable Mac model *before* you buy. (Searchable by mac model/upgrade brand).

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    Other Net News/Misc. Software Updates
    (later added 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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