Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! Peace on Earth and good will to all men, women and children. All 3 of my children are safely home for the holidays and all is well with life.

I installed the latest chipset drivers using Intel 's Chipset Software Installation Utility and it fixed the "PCI Device" and "SM Bus Controller" problems. The only side effect was that I had to re-install the driver for my on-board sound device. I also installed the Hauppauge video decoder and the Nvidia PureVideo Decoder (trial) which now has my Media Center fully operational. The only remaining problem is that my Plextor PX-755SA DVD-RW is still not recognized by Windows XP MCE 2005, but I'm not going to worry about that for now since my Memorex IDE DVD-RW is fully operational. I think I am done with the setup.

Nighthawk is ready to fly.

Regarding temperature, voltage and fan speed readings, I have the ASUS PC Probe II, Everest Ultimate and SpeedFan all running right now while watching TV on Media Center. All 3 programs show the same exact temperature, voltage and fan speed readings. This is what I expected since all 3 are reading from the same sensors from the Winbond chip.

For fun, I installed the Flight Simulator X demo on this new system to see how well the BFG Nvidia 8800GTS video card performs. Flight Simulator X (FSX) is one of the most resource demanding program you can run on your system today (and probably for the next year or so.) FSX will gobble up whatever hardware component you can throw at it today and you still won't be able to run it well with all FSX settings at "Ultra High" - try it yourself. I was pleased just to see it perform reasonably well on Nighthawk with "High" settings. Now, flying with FSX is definitely a fun way of performing benchmarks - not to mention, it is also the safest way to fly!

One of the reasons why I wanted to install the Media Center Edition of Windows XP instead of just plain XP was to test my Hauppauge PVR150 TV Tuner since I haven't been able to run it in my Windows Vista Ultimate x64 (RTM Build 6000) system - no Vista x64 driver! I also have an ATI 650 Wonder TV Tuner card with the same problem - no Vista x64 driver. But I have the ATI Wonder Elite installed in my Windows XP Professional system, so it was a good opportunity to do a comparison of the 2 TV tuners.

This is not a scientific comparison by any means. I used the same model monitor (Samsung SyncMaster 213T) for the "side by side" output display. One significant difference is the digital (DVI) connection for the ATI tuner versus the analog (RGB) connection for the Hauppauge tuner. The image from the ATI tuner is on the left and the Hauppauge image is on the right in the following photos for comparison:

In my opinion, I prefer the image output of the ATI Wonder Elite TV Tuner. The colors are richer and brighter. I tried to adjust the brightness of the Hauppauge PVR150 TV Tuner but increasing the brightness washed out the colors.

I will perform a similar comparison of the ATI Wonder Elite (based on the 550) with the ATI Wonder 650 in the future, after I have successfully overclocked Nighthawk.

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