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I have had my GeForce 4 Ti 4400 for just about a month, well I paid for it over a month ago. Thing was I had heat problems, or at least what seemed to me to be heat problems. The company I bought it from sent me out a lovely new one so they must have agreed with me anyway. My first impressions of the card were overall very good; I bought the MSI distribution of the chipset. All seemed well, the only thing that this one doesn?t have that others do is a DVI to analogue converter which most other card do have and it?s very handy to have. Especially if you have two analogue monitors and want to run them off the one PC. I didn?t buy this card for petty things though! Oh NO! It was for games, games and more games. Hopefully to be able to play them at high detail levels as well. I can?t test out the performance at higher resolutions than 1024x786 because I use an LCD panel instead of a CRT monitor. Just because I need desk space and I basically love them. One thing to make sure of before buying this card is that it won?t feel lonely, in order for it to perform to the best of its ability it needs some nice hardware around it. There is really no point in putting this card in a PC with less than around 256mb of RAM or a processor of over 1GHz. What is the point of having the same amount or less system memory than dedicated video memory? I would also advise either RDRAM or DDR RAM because they will both allow the card to perform well. This is the system I was running when testing the card and what I am currently running: AMD Athlon XP 1700+ MSI K7T266 Pro-2RU 512mb DDR RAM CAS2.5 IBM Deskstar 40 GB 60GXP 16x ASUS DVD drive 16x10x32x LG CD-ReWriter Creative SoundBlaster 5.1 Live! Player 15? LG Flatron 563LE Running Windows 98SE The first game that I have been playing on this card that really requires the enhancements on this card will be Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix. As far as I have read it is based on
the old Quake III engine, but it has been tweaked to give better detail and smoother surfaces. It also means it requires a better graphics card hence the GeForce 4 Ti 4400! When you open the box there is a stack of 7 CDs. Yes 7! There are 3 full games (all of which are over a year old sadly) 4 pieces of software including DVD playback software and one games demo disc. A pretty full package if you ask me. Most of which I sadly won?t use, because there is only one of the games that interests me, No One Life?s Forever. I may at some stage during the summer try out the other two games, Sacrifice and Aquanox, but only if I get bored with GTA3 and Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix. The first thing that struck me when I took the card out of the box was the size of it, I can actually see some people with micro-ATX cases having problems with the size of this card! It also has a pretty cool looking heat sink on it, but on closer inspection it looks slightly shabby and incapable of doing its job. I would rather something that done the job better, because I think this is what was causing my heat issues. Also I was not intent on changing the heat sink and risk voiding my warranty if something else goes wrong. The installation was very easy, as long as you remember to remove the old drivers for your card. Unless your old card is by nVidia (from TNT) and you keep the drivers updated regularly, you could theoretically be able to lift the old one out and put the new one in no problem. Good practise is to uninstall and reinstall the drivers though. One thing I would say is before you go to install this card is to look on the internet for the latest released drivers, they don?t have to be from nVidia?s site, there are often Beta releases available from 3rd party sites. When installing these new drivers you notice there is a new thing nVidia has now created. It?s called nView, and in case you haven?t heard of it before, it allows you to work with mu
ltiple desktops at the click of a button on one monitor. For me it is useless because I am hardly ever working with that many windows, but I can see it being of some use for some people. This nView software can used to manage two monitors with relative ease. If you have a CRT monitor and a digital flat panel, then the chances are you can connect the two to this card with no problems straight out of the box. You may need to purchase a DVI to analogue converter though. This can be good fun if you want to let your kids get on watching a DVD while you get one with some work (or vice versa). Well I think that should cover the installation, now onto the features. One thing I really love about this card is the fact that it supports hardware Anti-Aliasing, not many people really understand what this is, but it basically smoothes the lines created in the processing of an image by the graphics processor. It does have a huge hit to performance though. This card thankfully has such a high performance normally that even when using anti aliasing the card still plays games flawlessly (unless you use a resolution of something like 1600x1200). The first game I actually played on the card was Flight Simulator 2002 from Microsoft. I was absolutely amazed at what the card was producing, and then when I enabled 4x Anti Aliasing in the display properties, I noticed the massive difference it made to the graphics. My friend has a GeForce 2 MX and he plays Flight simulator 2002 on his PC and the difference in performance is amazing almost mesmerising. Especially when you start downloading extra packs off the internet for the game, the GeForce 2 starts to stutter, but the GeForce 4 is still going strong. One thing I have been noticing about the GeForce 4 cards from the benchmarks on other sites is that if you work at 1024x786, then there is no point in having either the 4400 or the 4600, the Ti 4200 will do just as good a job. This is because there is very
little difference in the performance of the cards at this resolution, it is only when you go up to higher resolutions that you will begin to notice the difference. This card has been released only a short time after the previous flagship card from nVidia, the GeForce 3 Ti 500. This is very disheartening for people who had already splashed out on one of these. I would say don?t bother changing to this card though because until some new games come out that will use the new features on this card. I personally was previously using a lowly Kyro 2 card, so this is a major step up in terms of performance (and price for that matter). This card is by no means aimed at the budget end of the market. There is another series of GeForce 4?s for that; the mx400 series is aimed at the budget market (these cards retail at under £100). The Ti cards are firmly set in performance, and this they certainly do! They have become the best performing cards on the market, but again unless you play up-to-date games or have an ancient video card, there is no point in buying this card. I am one for the games. I purchased my GeForce 4 Ti4400 for £240, but the different distributions are slightly different in price, yet they all perform similar. I am overall very satisfied with my GeForce 4, I just hope that they don?t bring out something new for the next 6 months to give me time to save up for it. I also hope that the games developers catch up pretty soon with the hardware, at the minute there is all this fantastic hardware out there but very few games that utilise it to the max. The first game that will I feel with be the long awaited Doom 3 (yes I love First-Person-Shooters). If you got £250 to spare then go ahead and buy this card, if you play games or just want to boast. I have been pretty pleased with this cards ability at both! I wouldn?t advise going for the Ti 4600 because it offers little in the way of performance gain over the 4400, yet the prices
are very different. The Ti4600 doesn?t even have any extra features, the Ti4400 can even be overclocked (something I didn?t try) to speeds similar to that of the Ti 4600.
I, as I seem to writing all too frequently, have just built myself a new PC! It was the first one I have ever built and the only previous experience I have had with PC Hardware was doing the odd upgrade to my old PC. It was pretty nerve reeking, but I survived and I really enjoyed it and the sound I now get out of it is great. Most people underestimate sound when it comes to computers, but I consider it as important as anything else in a PC. It is not required to have sound to make a pc work, but I couldn't live without it. I listen to music a lot and have a large music collection. I encoded these all into mp3 files on my PC. Thankfully they sound better being played on my PC than on anything else. I have the DTT2200 Home Theatre speakers with the Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Player. This is a very common combination and I can see why. Anyone who has experienced 5.1 surround sound when playing games will know what I'm talking about. These have to be one of the best surround sound speaker sets available that don't cost £200 or so. I got my set in a deal with the sound card for £90! That's a saving of over £100 compared to PC World. Well I got my speakers home and the first thing I realized was the amount of leads there are. Then I thought there are 5 speakers to connect and I can tidy them away behind things. The installation of the speakers was especially easy. I had the OEM version, and I only had a wee diagram to refer to. It is thankfully self-explanatory; each socket on the subwoofer is clearly labeled and easy to read. There are also handy little stickers you can wrap around the leads to let you know what's what. There is one really useful thing I find with this set-up. You get a lovely wee remote control. It is the on/off switch, front to rear fader and volume control. This makes things lovely and easy. The only dial on the actual subwoofer is the one for bass. This is particularly good for
me, because by the time I had all the leads in, I had a very messy panel, so since there is nothing to change on it, it is hidden neatly away on the floor. The subwoofer is also a very large box, which you may want to keep on the floor. They connect using analog connections (their older brother the DTT3500 has digital connections), which is fine for me. There are three leads to plug into the back of your surround sound, sound card. Now onto the performance of the speakers, after all that's what I bought them for. Like I said I love music, and these speakers don't disappoint. There is great playback. Although it does depend on your sound card and what media player you are using. One thing to be careful of though; I wouldn't advise anyone to set the bass level to anything about ½ way round the dial. It is unbearable I find at anything more than this. It doesn't even sound right. If you have a sound card that supports EAX, then you can use these speakers to create some pretty cool in game effects. If you use a game like Operation Flashpoint or Half-Life for example, you pinpoint exactly where everyone else is just by sound. This doesn't work with all games, but good when you get one that does. You also need the proper surround setup for this to work properly. The sound you get is crisp and clear. For around £60 this is one of the best deals I have ever seen. There is little better than it. The only thing that I would maybe consider upgrading my speakers for would be something like that of the DTT3500. It has an amplifier that attaches to it. One thing to be wary of with these speakers is that they aren't brilliant if you need your music really loud, there is a little degradation of the sound. If like me on the other hand you don't need your PC to sound like something from a rock concert, then this will probably be the best choice. Also the volume control is a little steep, it rises very sharply.
Overall if you are looking for 3D surround sound; for games, music, DVD movies or anything else, then this will probably be perfect for you. It has been for me, I have had no problems with the set-up. If you would like to know where I got this deal, then leave a comment and I'll post the address. Don't want to be accused of advertising though. David (aka Tybalt)
Ok I?ll explain my current situation. I have decided to have a go at building my own PC, I know how to do it all and I have just started ordering the components for it. I came to purchasing the monitor and had intended on going for a big 19? Iiyama Vision Master Pro 451 CRT (this is basically the type of monitor you are likely to have, with a ?tube? at the back) monitor. I looked at the dimensions of it and realised that it was going to take up over 45cms on my desk, which is a lot on my small desk. So I had to look to alternatives, and I arrived at TFT (LCD) Flat-Panel displays. They seem to be the perfect space saving alternative to traditional monitors while still giving reasonable performance and a reasonable price. The only problem with them is that some are a little bit pricey. This put me off a little until I came to the LG Flatron LCD 563LE. It is about the price that you?d pay for a good 19? monitor, and offers the screen are of a 17? CRT monitor. The main difference between a Flat Panel Display to a tradition CRT monitor is that it doesn?t have the tube. This can also make it easier to read. It mainly depends on how close you are to the screen. I find with this screen the further away (within a certain distance) the clearer it can be. This is mainly because when up close you can see the pixels. If you intend on using this screen then I would advise you to have a recent graphics card, because it can help. Also make sure you install it with the correct Windows drivers and not Plug and Play drivers. Using the Plug and Play divers I find the display to flicker in certain parts of the screen. One really impressive thing I found with this monitor when using it, was that it arrived with no stuck pixels. Some lesser models arrive with ?stuck? pixels. This means that they are one colour and will not change. Although with most recent models this doesn?t happen. When you lift this screen out of the box you will probably be
very surprised at how heavy it is. I also realised this is excluding the power supply. It is very deceitful about its weight; I nearly dropped it when lifting it because I wasn?t expecting it to be so heavy. I have yet to find out what makes it so heavy. There are many screens on the market (namely Sony models) that are sort of designer models. They look well as well as perform. This LG model isn?t really the best ?looking? model. Although it does perform very well, and when up and running it is barely noticeable. It does however look pretty good, nothing special. I would describe it as modern. If you want to see a monitor that I don?t like, go look at the Proview LCD screen. Once I had installed the screen the first thing I noticed was how bright it is. There are a lot of screens with poor backlights. This one doesn?t fall into the trap. The colours are vibrant and well lit. One thing to be very careful of is, make sure you are running it at the recommended resolution and colour depth. I was running mine with 16bit colour instead of 32bit colour and it meant that it ran with a lower refresh rate. It was actually painful on the eyes to look at. When you have it all set-up and installed, you then get the joy of a near perfect picture with no eyestrain. One thing I thought I would loose out on was some of the quality of my games. Surprisingly for my dad (who bought it for me for Christmas) and I (spot the English grammar) was that I didn?t. I think that it?s actually better for games than our 19? monitor. The picture is a lot clearer, vivid and colourful. One other really impressive thing about this monitor. Is the OSD menu, I only really use this for checking the refresh rate because I find the default settings are fine. It is really easy to use though. There is also a very handy AUTO/SET button, which you can use to make the monitor select the best settings according to the input signal. I look at it this way, if you wan
t a massive monitor without paying loads and loads of money then you will need to go for a CRT monitor. If on the other hand you can live with a 15.1? screen (viewable area of a 17? CRT) then you may as well go for this LCD screen. It is one of the cheapest on the market and works like a dream. It is though £350 (PC World price), so you can get for around £200 on the web. In my opinion the extra money is definitely worth it. The better quality and modern look make this actually quite good value. There are Sony models of the same size for around £500 but this is just mad. It doesn?t perform a lot better, just better styling. I hope I haven?t confused you, like I seem to have confused some people with my last opinion. David
Well having built my new PC (getting sick of saying that), I need to pick my graphics card, that I was going to use to power my 3D games. After all that's what I built it for. The only thing was that I had to go for a sort of budget graphics card that could hold its own in anything I threw at it. I had considered going for a GeForce card, but then I heard of the PowerVR graphics-processing unit. This card is based on the Power VR Kyro II Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which it uses to create all of those lovely pixels you admire when playing games. After I had bought the card, I began wondering why I had gone for this card when it appears nVidia basically own this part of the market. Then I went and read a review on the card, and saw the benchmarks. It is benchmarked to perform as well as the GeForce 2 Pro cards, yet it costs £50 or so less. The difference between the Kyro cards and the GeForce cards is the way in which they process the information. The GeForce draws everything in the image, but the Kyro only draws what can be seen. This make it far more efficient that the GeForce cards. So it doesn't really need to be as fast since it is more economical. It also comes with 64mb of onboard SDRAM, which gives it more than enough bandwidth for all those games. DDR RAM would have been nice, but I guess SDRAM will have to do. There are a few draw backs in this, that will probably be seen in the future, but with today's games, this is more than up to the job. If there is anything I don't like about this card is the amount of wasted space on the card. There is a lot of empty space on the top of this card, since I went for the version without the TV Out, which I am guessing this space is for. You would think though that they would have cut down on the size of the card for the version without the TV Out. Oh well too late now I suppose. The main problem I have with this is that it means I can't access my memory banks on the mo
therboard (this problem is also partly caused by the motherboard layout). The card blocks access to all three of the latches on the memory banks. At the minute my PC is a right picture. I have a red motherboard, a blue graphics card and a black soundcard. Yes you heard me a BLUE graphics card. Hercules has decided to go with a blue PCB for this card. It has also included a fan for the Kyro II GPU. It also looks pretty good. The main reason I went for the Hercules version of the Kyro II is mainly because of the fact that they release fairly up-to-date drivers for their cards frequently on the website. This has been very important for me because when I tried the reference drivers on the Power VR site, they didn't work. The Hercules version of the drivers was only a couple of releases behind though. If you are looking for a middle of the range graphics card and don't want to fork out hundreds of pounds just on your graphics card or you are looking for a card to tide you over until you can afford the GeForce III Ti500 or ATI Raedon 8500, then this card will do the job perfectly. I have no problems with it whatsoever. David
Just a little note here, I'm going to go into pretty good detail here and maybe slightly technical so sorry if I baffle you. Well as some may know (probably not many), I have recently built myself a new PC. The first one I've ever built in fact, and thankfully and came off without a hitch (pity the second one ain't going so well). Anyway this is the motherboard that I choose as the basis for the system. It has all the features I could wish for (I will list them later), and is one of the cheapest boards to offer the best performance DDR chipset (in my opinion) the VIA KT266A. The chipset for those who don't know, I like to describe as a gateway between components. There is a Northbridge and a Southbridge, each controlling different things, but equally important. That's enough detail, I don't really understand much more about it myself. Before buying this motherboard I read lots and lots of reviews on this motherboard just to ensure that it wasn't going to be my worst purchase every (Oh the memories of my last PC purchase). I was very close to waiting and going for the Abit KR7A-RAID motherboard, which uses the same chipset. Then I thought I couldn't be bothered waiting for the Abit board to come out. Thankfully I haven't been disappointed. If you want a detailed specification of this motherboard, then browse over to MSI's site, there's a full specification of the board there. ~~Features~~ This board is basically a feature packed board, and I managed to get it on offer for around £110 (£20 saving), which I was pretty pleased about. It has more features than I think I will ever need. It even features an onboard USB 2.0 controller, which is you use the header provided, gives you four USB 2.0 connections. These are 40x faster than the previous USB 1.1, and they can even be used with USB 1.1 devices. The speed increase isn't breathtaking considering there are very few USB 2.0 devices on the mar
ket yet, but it's a nice idea all the same. In total you get 8 USB sockets. There is also an onboard RAID controller. This can let you join up two of your hard drives in a RAID partition. The only thing I don't like about the controller MSI choose to use with this board (Promise RAID controller) doesn't allow you to use as a normal IDE controller, which would allow you to connect up to 8 IDE devices. I haven't tried it out yet, but I have check out the manual that comes with the motherboard for it. It looks pretty easy to use, but unless you have two or more hard drives (of similar size) it isn't really worth it. I had to disable to controller on first boot in the BIOS, so that it doesn't search for drives on each boot. The board also features onboard sound, again I didn't bother trying this out, mainly because I have a Creative SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 Player soundcard. Those who have heard, there have been some problems with this card and some motherboards. I am happy to report though that I didn't have any trouble using the two together. I'm also a little boastful and I have to say one of the best attributes of my new PC is the sound. I've got 5.1 surround sound. With the Cambridge Soundworks DTT2200 Desktop Theatre (also manufactured by Creative, but that's another opinion). The best bit about this, is that I got both together in a deal for £90 (including VAT). There I also another very useful feature that is only really found on MSI motherboards, D-LED (may also be found on other boards but under different names). This makes it very easy to locate problems. It is made up of four green and red lights, which can show 16 different messages. If something is wrong, then whatever pattern of lights shown can be understood using the manual. I haven't had to use this yet on my PC, but it came in very useful on one that I was building for someone else using an MSI motherboard. The LEDs can be found
on either the motherboard itself or using the back plate that comes with the motherboard. MSI also decided to go with 5 PCI slots and 1 CNR (Communication Network Riser) slot, instead of just 6 PCI slots. I would have preferred 6 PCI slots, but I guess I'll have to live with it. They also included a 1x/2x/4x AGP slot, so it is basically compatible with any AGP graphics card mine included. There is also a very useful Windows software program that comes in the package. It is called PC-Alert and can be used to monitor you PC Health in real-time. It gives current running statistics of your PC, things like CPU temperature (a must for the overclocker). You also get Fuzzy Logic, which allows you to overclock your PC in real time running Windows. The only good thing is that it makes it a simple process instead of needing to go though the BIOS settings. One other feature that isn't really a feature would be that the motherboard is RED. I love colours, so a bright colourful motherboard is lovely, and very much appreciated. ~~Overclocking~~ I am not a real hardcore overclocker, but I do like getting my money's worth when buying something, so being able to get more out of my CPU (Central Processing Unit) is always a nice thought. This motherboard gives you the option of increasing the FSB in 1Mhz increases, which is really good. I had my Athlon XP 1600+ running at the same speed as an Athlon XP 1700+ and could go even further. The only thing about this is unlike some motherboards you can't overclock the FSB by itself, you have to overclock the PCI bus at the same time. Also you can only increase the Voltage setting up to 1.85Volts, 2Volts would have been nice, but this should be enough for most. ~~Layout~~ I definitely thing that MSI have spent a good deal of time when considering the layout of this motherboard. There are only a few minor niggles about it, but then no motherboard is perfect is i
t? Me being a system tweaker find one thing very annoying, because of my extremely long Hercules 4500 graphics card, I can't access any of the RAM slots without removing the Graphics Card first. This is very annoying to me, but can be forgiven by the fact that the board is pretty small. The ATX power connecter also could have maybe been placed somewhere else, because where it is means that the wires runs directly over your heatsink, which could cause problems with air flow. One really good thing about this design is that there are few heatsinks that I think won't fit on this board. I don't have a very big one, but there are no problems when fitting it (except the extremely tense spring) and there is loads of room left either side. ~~Performance~~ I have nothing to complain about performance wise about this board. It is one of the best performance motherboards in its class. Especially when used with quality components. It may not perform as well as the reference board using the VIA KT266A chipset, but the difference is barely noticeable. This is my so to say test setup: MSI K7T266 Pro2-RU (of course) AMD Athlon XP 1600+ 512mb DDR RAM (2.5 latency) Hercules 4500 40gig IBM Deskstar 60GXP CDRW and DVD drives Using this set-up and Windows 98SE, I have very, very little to complain about. The motherboard is as stable as a rock, even when overclocked. It is easy to install and use. ~~Conclusion~~ Of all the motherboards that I had to choose between, this one has proved to be a very stable performance motherboard. The use of DDR RAM is an added bonus and with the fact the DDR RAM is basically the same price as SDRAM, there is really no reason not to go for DDR with its extra performance increase. That is if you can afford to upgrade your motherboard. I now love this motherboard, how can I not it's red and it works like a dream. I don't think there is any other motherboard available that
would change my mind, other than maybe the Soyo motherboard using the same chipset (it's black with purple PCI slots and yellow RAID connectors), but it wasn't available when I was purchasing the parts for my PC. You'll now be happy to hear I've said what I wanted to say and also slightly baffled myself in the process of writing it. Now I'm off to go and play Operation Flashpoint, now that I can play it at full settings. David
AMD have been in the processor business for quite a while, but it wasn't until their Athlon Thunderbird line of processor that they really entered mainstream acceptance as a competitive processor to the Intel family of processors. Intel had the lead over many of the other CPU manufacturers for quite a while in the past decade, but things are changing. There is now some competition for them to deal with. Intel gained a lot of respect for their Pentium line of chips; they became the standard for others to follow. They had their name printed on the boxes of games, remember the saying Pentium Pro or compatible processor. This has left many people thinking that Intel is the only people in the business. Many people haven?t even heard of AMD! Things are changing though, and more and more computers are being built with AMD chips. Most people who build their own computers have decided to use the AMD Athlon as the basis for their system. The main reason being that the Athlon is under half the price of the comparable Intel chip. It's now the turn of AMD's new chip. The AMD Athlon XP. There has been some controversy over the model numbers of the chips though. The Athlon XP 1600+ doesn't actually run at 1600MHz as you may think. It actually runs at 1400MHz. AMD claim that the reason for so naming, is because the chip performs as well as an AMD Athlon Thunderbird running at 1600MHz. Some people say that it is a comparison with the Intel Pentium IV, but I disagree, because I think that my Athlon XP 1600 could easily outperform the Intel Pentium IV 1800MHz processor. The Athlon XP may not have amazingly high clock speeds, but the reason that it performs better than the Pentium IV and previous chips is that it can perform more operations per clock speed (or something like that, anyway correct me if I'm wrong). This is where the chip gets all its speed. It can perform something like 9 operations per cycle, but the Intel chip can only per
form 6. There are also many other improvements in the Athlon XP, one notable one being that produces less heat than previous Athlons. This is important, because it means that you don?t need as big a heatsink in order to use the Athlon XP as would have if you were running an Athlon at the same clock speed. The only thing is you do still need a hefty heatsink unless you fancy using your lovely brand new processor as your latest coaster (instead of all those CDs you have wasted). One other thing that will be noticeable to the overclocker is that the L1 Bridges (I think that's what they're called) are now hidden underneath the processor, but they are still accessible. You see on Athlon processors, the L1 Bridges can usually be unlocked in order to change the multiplier setting (mean you can overclock the processor will still maintaining slightly more stability than other methods. The difference on the XP though is that it isn?t just a case of joining them up with conductive paint, AMD have come up with some new way of stopping you, don't ask me how because I can't remember. I have overclocked my Athlon XP, I had it running stable at 1480MHz, which is about a 6% increase. Not a lot, but means that I am getting an Athlon XP 1700+ for the price of the 1600+. This was around the best I could get stable using my heatsink, I am thinking of investing in better cooling and maybe going further than this. As far as stability goes, this chip has been pretty rock solid for me, I have had very few problems with it. I don't expect many either. AMD chips are traditionally less stable than Intel chips, yet I haven't had any trouble with mine. I get very good performance and don't need to pay as much of a price. In conclusion I would if you are on a budget and are choosing a processor, then you can't really go far wrong with the Athlon XP. I think the Athlon XP 1600+ retails now for around £115 (OEM ve
rsion). This is considerably cheaper than any other processor that can offer similar performance.
For people who don?t know what an Operating System is, it is sort of the program, which tell the hardware what to do, when software wants to do something to it. It's sort of the middleman with a lot of extra features. It interprets what the software says into something that the hardware can produce for use to see and manipulate. ~~~Windows in general~~~ About 90% of new PC's will have some version of Windows installed on them, with the rest being most likely some form of Mac computer. This is mainly because Windows (from version 95 onward) has been made with the Home User in mind. Most the others have been designed for the Business user, which makes them harder to use. Many people put Microsoft Windows down as being to unstable, but what do they expect. There must have been so much time and effort put into it and all the coding, what do they expect from an operating system that can do nearly anything you want. I'm not going to say it's perfect, but give it some credit for the reams and reams of coding that?s based in the system, it's obviously going to crash sometimes. I actually get very annoyed with Windows, because I can't spend more than about 2 hours without having some form of problem and the system crashing (only when on the internet, anyone have any answers as to why?) but I am not sure whether this is Windows fault or the insides of my PC. The main reasons I applaud Microsoft for Windows is the amount of things it allows you to do with your PC. If you think about the main attraction for people to Windows is really the chance to go on the internet and also be able to publish their work (like essays for kids and project for business people) and play games all on the one system. My main reason for choosing Windows, was the chance to play games (also online games) and do out any work I may have to do. ~~~Now onto Windows ME~~~ With Windows ME now on many PC's, the integration betwe
en PC's and multimedia is now ever closer. With the new Movie Maker you can create your own movies using clips of video (if you have a video camera and maybe a converter if it's analogue). Movie Maker is a very versatile piece of software; you need to use it to find out. Then there's the new Media Player incorporated in the Operating System. It can now play .mp3 files, which with the big music boom on the Internet (napster) has deterred some people from downloading some third party software to play their .mp3 files (although I would advise to download something like winamp as it produces far better sound). These are really the only new changes to the system, everything else has remained largely the same. The only other change I can think of is the greater integration with things like scanners and digital cameras (multimedia). This isn't without it's pitfalls though, since writing this op, I have had to reformat my pc and then I decided to go back to 98SE. I had loads of corrupted files and the system was running ... just! Windows 98SE doesn't have as many useless applications running during normal operations as ME does either saving system resources. ~~~How could it be improved?~~~ I think for Microsoft to make any substantial improvements to Windows would require a big competitor, which there really isn't at the moment. People like the creators of Linux need to branch out and make their Operating System more for the Home User like Windows. At the minute they are too much based for programmers and Business?. If this were to happen then a whole range of things would happen, we would get better value for money and also a better Operating System as a whole. One other improvement that would really improve Microsoft Windows would be for them to cut down the amount of RAM it consumes to run or at least make it more efficent. Windows 98 takes up about 32mb of RAM just to run, and on my system I
usually have about 60mb of locked memory when my system is lying idle (don't ask me what this means, anyone know?) which means I have very little left for me to run anything else. It is a good thing I have 128mb of RAM. ~~~The Deciding Factor~~~ If you are getting a new PC then you may as well get Windows ME, but if you are thinking of upgrading then don't bother. For the extra £30 there isn't really and added bonus? for the experienced user of any version of Windows 9X. Tybalt!
Have you ever had the feeling of complete despair after having spent over 10hours building furniture only to find that you haven't been given either the right parts for something or that something hasn't been drilled etc. That?s what has just happened to me. About a month ago now I went down to MFI Homeworks in Lisburn and purchased some furniture (OK a whole rooms worth of furniture) and decided rather than to waste money on getting them to build it for me, I would do it. At the moment I wish I hadn't. Well last Sunday was delivery day and no sooner had they delivered the packages, than me and my dad were in middle of trying to put them up. We got the first set of drawers up no bother and also the corner unit. I was beginning to think that we were missing something because the instruction manuals keep on referring to the Bedroom Installation Guide, that we now know the delivery people forgot to give us. This meant we had instructions on how to put the worktops on (thankfully it was just a case of a few screws). We struggled on, and using the instruction manuals alone (which were pretty good for a change) managed to get all the units up, apart from the corner wardrobe. We had a strong feeling they had given us the wrong 'fillet' (it basically joins the two double robes to make them look good in a corner. The wardrobe itself was about a foot shorter than the fillet. This was extremely annoying. So the next morning my father and I decided to take a trip down to Lisburn and to find out what had went wrong. The sales-person was very helpful and of course he blamed it on the delivery staff. He also gave us the idea that the 'fillet' might need to be cut down to size (we had thought of trying that, but there was no reference to it in the manual so we didn't). He said we may as well try cutting it down because he had also ordered one that should have been the right size, but that wasn't going to arrive
until another 12 days time. Well we got home, and decided we would finish the remaining units (my computer desk, the most important part of the room). The desk went up without a hitch, I have to give them credit here, because the instructions were pretty clear except that we put some if the screws in on the wrong side of the back-board. This was mainly just caused by us miss-understanding the instructions, but they could also have been a little bit clearer as there is now a whole in the back of the desk. That then only left the wardrobe as the only thing to be finished. So of course we tried cutting the fillet to see if we could get it to fit. We cut it to the right length and started to look for some instructions on how to attach it to both of the wardrobes, and in keeping with MFI's recent form of instructions, there were none. I can only hope that there are some in the Bedroom Installation Guide. We went searching through the leftover bits and pieces we had and found a few brackets we thought might work. Thankfully they did; somehow. Well the room's now finished and so far nothing has fallen apart so our craftsmanship must not have been all that bad. Now I shall do a little summary of my feelings on MFI, after all that's what I should be doing in my opinion. Value For Money: Usually for a full room of furniture they aren't too bad, I can't remember the total rice exactly but it was somewhere in the region of £500-£600, which isn't bad when I also got a full suite of bedroom furniture for free, including; wardrobe, bedside cabinet, drawers and a desk. This would probably have cost £300 on its own. Overall I would say it was a pretty good price for the things that we got. Ease of Use/Installation: On the whole it wasn't the hardest thing I?ve ever had to build, and even though we only had about half of the instructions that we should have got, it could have been even easier. If you do
n't like trying to build these sorts of things you could get them to do it for you, but this just adds to the price, but I can't comment on their workmanship. Looks: It all depends on what suite of furniture you choose, and how much time you spend planning it all out as to where each piece will go. The one I choose though looked well and I always like blue, and now I?ve got a completely blue room so I can't really complain all that much about. While looking around the store, most of the different types of rooms look good and it really just depends on personal preference. Support: The after-sales support was on the whole impressive, I might have needed to go into the shop to explain to the sales-person what the problem was, but there was no trouble getting a replacement. I don't think I would have been able though to have explain the problem over the phone. Overall: If you are considering doing up a room, then I would say why not go down and have a look around the shop. I'm sure there is one not too far from where you live. If you take with you a sort of map of the room with the dimensions included then the sales-staff with be able to help you in putting together a picture of what you could fit in the room. I think if in the future I was redoing a room, then I would go and have a look at what they have, and at least get a quote of what they would cost. I know I have mainly pointed out bad points to the MFI Homeworks experience, but that is just the way I'm feeling at the present time, in a few days if things go well, then I might be feeling differently and will update this opinion accordingly. *Update* After sawing the fillet, it all fits in great a part from that we took wrong dimensions and had to sacrifice one of the three drawer chests. Finally I'm pleased with the room, after a couple of days HARD WORK I am finally able to relax in front of my PC on dooyoo. David
When I first joined the Freeserve Off-Peak (now called HomeTime) I experienced a lot of problems with connecting to the service, but first I?d like to start with the signup process. I first joined Freeserve about 2-3 years ago and used them as a standard ?Pay-As-You-Go? ISP (Internet Service Provider, but then you already knew that) and they were as good as any other ISP at the time. I didn?t have any trouble with them in this period mainly because I hadn?t found DooYoo at this stage and I hardly used the internet other than research. Then they released the Off-Peak service, and I had been waiting for something like this for ages. In case you don?t already know the package is based on the BT SurfTime (now called SurfTogether) package. I heard of the package in April 1999 and I had to wait until September 1999 before my local telephone exchange was upgraded to be able to use the package. As you can guess I got a bit annoyed because living in Northern Ireland you always get things later than anywhere else. Once the service was available I was straight over to Freeserve?s site to see if I could join up, just to find that I had to go over to BT?s site and join up with Surftime first. This was OK because I didn?t mind. You basically pay BT for the package any way. There was no set-up charge and I only had to £6/7 a month, I can?t remember which. You then go back over to the Freeserve site and connect to their service. You are required to already be a Freeserve member to do this, but I was. You give them your details and at the time I joined, they were going to pay £1 a month to my BT account as part of the deal. I am sad to say it but things have now changed, you now need to pay Freeserve extra to use the service. The total price is now £9 I think. After you give them your detail it takes a couple of days and then they email you with details on how to connect to the service. You have to go to their site and download some software to u
se the service. The software basically just puts a mask over the standard dial-up networking software that comes with Windows. The software has one nice feature though, instead of having to remember the two different numbers to dial, one for Off-Peak and one for Peak. There is a sort of Phone Book which stores both numbers for you to choose between. This is how I signed up to the service; it might have changed by now. I downloaded the software and installed expecting to connect to the service first time. Then I thought ? I never have that much luck with computers. Of course I was right, the download of the software had failed, and I needed to connect on the old connection and download the software again (argh!). The good thing was that when I downloaded it again it did connect first time. The system very soon became very crowded and it was taking usually over 10 attempts to get connected to the service. Luckily I?m a fairly patient person (some of the time) and I managed to live with it. I couldn?t really expect much speed wise from the service though because at the time I was plodding along on an old 28.8Kbps modem. I also had a DACS 2 box to split the line in two, so really I had half a line and a 28.8Kbps connection. Recently things have all changed though, I got a new 56Kbps modem and I got BT to remove the DACS box and install a full second line, which I know that I should have had when they first installed the line. I didn?t bother complaining though - I was getting it fixed. One other thing about how things have changed, recently (the last couple of months) I have been connecting to Freeserve usually first time anytime. With speeds of around 45Kbps, which isn?t bad for all I do on the internet. There are a couple of catches with the service though, you are required to have a BT line in order to use the service, and I have heard of reports of people being thrown off the service for using it too much. Personally I h
aven?t had any problems with it. Lately the service has been pretty rock solid for me. I would advise this package to anyone who connect to internet at off-peak rates, and who doesn?t require a broadband connection. This service has suited my needs well, but I have recently found an even better deal elsewhere (but that?s another opinion). I know that a lot of people have been having trouble with Freeserve, but they have recently cleaned up their act. I have had a few problems with the internet lately, but few of the problems have been related to Freeserve. The only thing that I wasn?t too happy about was the price being increased without them emailing me. I hope this helps you out. David
The first thing you are likely to notice when you enter the consumer reviews will probably be the fact that all of the things up for review are computer related. This may be a little annoying to some, mainly because of the fact that sites like dooyoo offer a whole host of other things to review. The categories are: Computer Hardware Computer Software Computer Games (including consoles) Computer Vendors Computer Magazines Internet Service Providers (as you can see the site is based around computer products) This doesn't only act against the site; it also acts for the site. While there are fewer things to review, nearly all of the reviews are quality, well written reviews. It's not a place dedicated to 'computer nerds' (no offence anyone) it's for anyone who has an interest in computers, or even buying computer parts. There aren't all that many reviews on the site, but most of them are good. Of course you get some people who write a few lines and collect the money. When the site first started, I think they offered 40p for a review, but this soon dropped to 30p and then 10p, this I think is mainly because people were abusing the system and writing a lot of short meaningless reviews and posting them, as soon as they had the required amount (now £20) they collected it, and there was nothing the site could do until now. Now the minimum number of words is I think 120, which isn't an awful lot to ask, and so far you have already read 239 words of me rambling on. If you join the site then you get £1 just for joining, which isn't bad to get you on your way. The only thing about the site is that there aren't a lot of users so getting reads on your reviews takes careful timing of when to post it on the site. I have seen the same review being in the Latest Review spot on the home page for over a day. I think you should go over to the site and have a look around, can't hurt now ca
n it? I would say that if everyone who reads this opinion would go and at least look around it would help out a lot. The one thing this site needs more than anything is members. It will probably never have as big of a membership as sites like dooyoo and ciao, but it is more likely to have quality reviews than any other site, because of the fact it only does reviews of computer related products. There really is no sense of community on the site, unlike dooyoo and ciao, but I think is mainly because all the managers/owners of the site want is a collection of reviews. If they added some form of community feel to the site other than the independant forums then it would probably have a much wider appeal. I will admit I really like the site, and I don?t want to see it fail miserably. I have wrote about 20 reviews I think for the site, and most of these have been on games. I have managed to collect up £11 in my account with all these reviews, so you can make something out of it. If you think that's nothing then I know someone who has made over £50. Who knows maybe someday it will become as popular as dooyoo and ciao. David
PC Advisor, its slogan - Expert advice in plain English, is pretty true to the magazine. Not only is it good if you want to keep up-to-date with all the latest gadgetry, but also if you are thinking of buying a peripheral for your computer. I was thinking of buying a new scanner last year, and they recommended the HP ScanJet 4300C for my type of use, and once I got it to work it was great. I only had a few compatibility problems. If you are thinking of buying a new PC or just a peripheral then take a look at the charts, either in the magazine or on the web. Their reviews of them are straight to the point, although they may be considered a little short. I would definitely trust their word against anyone else I know. They also write guides, and things like program secrets. These are very useful, because they can help you to get the most out of a program. The first one I read that they had done was one on How To Get The Most Out Of Windows. It was a couple of years after I had bought my first PC, and I told me how to customise it, instead of the same old bland windows theme. They are all very useful. It is more of a magazine that I buy when I am thinking of buying something, like a new scanner or program. It doesn?t even cost as much as its rivals (mainly because over half the pages are adverts and there are about 300 pages per issue). One problem I have with this magazine is all the adverts, I understand it makes them a lot of money, put it also gives you slightly sore fingers, after all the page turning. Over the past couple of years the cover-discs have really lost touch. They used to have really useful software for you to use free. The best piece of software lately has been the DigiGuide. Anyway, the magazine can stand on its own without the cover-discs anyway, so it isn?t really much of a problem. ~~~The Deciding Factor~~~ Overall, it isn?t a magazine that I would consider buying on subscription, even though it is o
nly £2.99, I don?t need every issue, although it is useful if you want to keep abreast of all the latest gadgets and computing gizmos. Tybalt!
One word of warning before I go into the review, please don't take offence if you are one of the people who love Flight Simulators! I am not one of you so I differ in my opinion and after all that's what I'm meant to be writing here isn't it! Have you for £40 lying around not being used for anything special. Then why not waste it on this game. I know that some people like these games, and so I have to be careful in what I say. I find it boring with a capitol B. Why would you want to spend hours upon hours flying around the open sky for no real purpose? Ok I have to admit it, when I first got this game I loved the idea of being able to say that had flown a British Airways Concorde, but that soon wore off. After having spent a while up in the clouds, I got a little sick of seeing the same scenery over and over. Then I thought that I had spent £60 on this game didn't make me feel too good. Unless you are a pilot and need somewhere to practise I don't see the need for such a game as this. If someone can tell me a very good reason to go back and try this game again, then please do. It is still in its original box, with no scrapes on the CD, because I've hardly ever played it since I got it. If you are now thinking 'Oh I take it he didn't play it for more than an hour'. Believe me I did, and I even tried changing the realism settings to make it more exhilarating. The problem is how can squares be interesting? Of course you can download what the weather is like in real-life and have a go at flying in the same weather, as any real-life pilot would be. I think there is one thing I have to credit this game with. That's realism of some sorts. The graphics aren't the best, but some of the weather effects are pretty good. I feel like I'm rambling on a bit here, so I'll move on and explain some of the features that some people seem to be hooked on. Firstly there are the weather se
ttings, they don't look great but you do get lightening and things like that. The graphics aren't in any stretch of the imagination realistic. The planes aren't too badly modelled I'll give Microsoft that. The landscapes on the other hand are squares with buildings sticking out of them. I am being a little harsh on them here when you consider that they have mapped basically the whole world so it isn't too bad, but don't expect pictures. One of the good things about this game though is the fact that you can download scenery to add into the game, which can improve certain areas of the game. To download enough scenery to make it all pretty though, will have you spending some years even on a broadband connection to get enough packs. One of the things I did enjoy about playing this game was the ability to download new planes to add into the game. It isn't all that hard to do either. The range of planes you can download as well is quite astonishing for just one game. You can even get a man with a rocket strapped to his back. Most of the planes are well modelled as well, but it can take a while of downloading if you also want to get the sound files. I don't think there is any point of me going into anymore of the features of this game, because I will probably just make it sound worse and worse. I'll just mention a bit about general things about the game. Firstly I can take ages to load. I would advise that you have a pretty good graphics card and a good deal of RAM if you want this game to run smooth without needing to lower the settings etc. I ran the game on the following specification, and it went pretty smoothly: AMD Athlon 850MHz 288mb RAM Nvidia TNT2 M64 32mb onboard RAM (I would advise better) SoundBlaster PCI128 28.8gb Hard Drive That's all I can think of right now that would influence this game, but I would definitely advise you to have a better
graphics card than I do if you want to get decent results from playing this game. One good point now about the game for me was that the uninstall process was painless and also pretty quick, which was a big relief for me. One last thing to mention is that if you do the full install (like I did) this game will take over more than 1GB of your hard drive, and the more you download the more it will continue to gobble up! As you can generally see I don't like this game. The thing is you either love it or you hate it. I will admit that some people will probably think of some of the things that I have pointed out as bad things that they will probably love. This is just my opinion, you can decide yourself. Basically if you like action, you will hate this. If you like FS98 you will love this. David!
I have certainly tried a far amount of digital music players, and the one, which I have chosen to stick with, is Winamp. In fact I?m listening to it right now. It produces a very crisp sound when compared to some other players on the same set up. I think winamp has the nearly perfect balance between features, ease of use, and little system resources used up. I shall now explain what I mean about each of those. To start with, Winamp is feature packed nearly. You can customise it in a lot of ways. In just looks you can skin it and make it smaller or bigger. You can make it sit on top of all your other programs. There is even an output plug-in, which makes a little pink guy dance about your screen in tune to the music you?re playing. These are all the little aesthetically pleasing features. If you search the web, there are lots and lots of sites dedicated to winamp skins. Generally if I am looking for a new winamp skin, I just go to winamp?s site and browse through their categories. I found a really good Doritos one in the Brand Name category. Have a look and see what suits you. One of the other more over-looked features of winamp is the Equaliser. It comes with presets for you to choose between. The default is ok for most types of music, but to get the most out of some songs it can take a bit of changing. For most of the music that I have been listening to, the preset Club has worked very well. This has been with groups like Steoreophics and artists like Faith Hill and Bryan Adams. If you are willing to delve a little deeper into the setting of the player, you can change what output plug-in is used to play your music. You can choose between Wave Out, DirectSound, WMA Output and even a Disk Writer output. I personally just stick to the Wave Out, it doesn?t make a lot of difference between each of them, but either Wave Out or DirectSound are the two that I generally stick to. There are so many plug-ins that you can download
off the internet for winamp, they are limitless, so I won?t go into all of them. The only other ones that I have used in the past have been DSP/Effect plug-in, it can add or take away from the richness of your sound depending on the settings you choose. Now, onto the other reasons why I choose this player. It is very simple to use. You don?t need any knowledge to be able to use it. Even my dad has been able to create a playlist for his favourite songs. Believe me this means it must be simple. He has even been able to change the skin on winamp. Winamp is also a very small player and uses up very little system resources, which can be very important when choosing a player. It does take up more than small players like CoolPlayer, but when compared with Windows Media Player and Sonique it seems tiny. One thing to note about using any digital music player on your PC though, it does also require that you have some decent hardware to support it. Nothing special but the better the hardware and speakers, the better the sound will be of course. Overall if you looking for an all purpose music player on your PC, then I would advise this one to anyone. Unless you want to able to stream videos (although you can stream music) over the internet then this will probably also suit you like it does me. When you compare it to the more graphically pleasing Sonique, I would still choose Winamp, because I produces a far nicer sound. Also winamp is completely FREE. I have also tried some other players, but few of them came close. Stick with Winamp. David
I wouldn?t have bought Insane (it should be 1SANE, but I would rather just call it as it is pronounced) but for the fact that I got it free when I bought Operation Flashpoint. I was quite happy getting a 2 for 1 deal on two ?Codemasters? games, because they are usually quite good. If any of you want to get this deal, I got it in PC World (surprisingly) in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. I thought the game mustn?t be all that good since they were giving it away free. ~~~My Problems~~~ I had a few BIG problems with this game. The main one being that it was compatible with the driver I was using for my graphics card. This meant that every time I went to play the game, it just froze. Then once I found a driver that worked (the one that I got with Windows ME just to surprise you, probably because it works best with Direct X) the game would have worked fine if I had been able to get into it. You are probably laughing, but believe me I wasn?t. The problem was the transition in the game from the intros to the game menus. To solve this I had to do a little registry hacking and delete the Key that told the game where to find these intros. Well once all this was done, I got into the game, since I was unable to play Operation Flashpoint under the current driver. ~~~Eventually I got to The Game! ~~~ Insane is an arcade racing game for the PC the way it should be done. You can get straight into the action without needing to do a thing but look at the keys (even these are slightly obvious) to see what ones you need to use. I had first played a demo of the game, which wasn?t really all that good, but the actual game is really good fun. It doesn?t have the long-term appeal of games like Gran Turismo. The game isn?t built on realism; it?s built on the player having fun, and lots of it! I haven?t been able to play this game on my own for more than about an hour (surprising for me) for the reason that I get slightly bored with. If I have a couple of mates
around, or even if I play in as multiplayer over the internet, it regains its whole appeal. It?s an arcade game, not a game for someone to sit down and play it for hours on end (which may be possible). ~~~The Game?s Insides (stop reading if you hate in-depth reviews)~~~ The first thing I would advise anyone who buys this game to do is start playing (what a surprise). What I mean is don?t bother reading the manual, yes it tells what you can do, but who needs it. You can find it all out playing it. Start off with maybe a couple of Quick Races, but get to the championship. You could basically start with the championship and win the first one quite easily. When you start up the game, you get presented with a screen giving you the option of Championship, Quick Race, Practice, and Multiplayer to have a go at. It may not take to long to complete the Championship of the game, but to me the best bit about this game, is the Online Multiplayer! It?s GREAT! I don?t think it would be possible for me to rate it too high. The game is also available for a wee snip at £15 (at most). Of course the Championship is good, but really you should be able to complete it with the relative ease. As I?ve already said, I find that it?s the online multiplayer part of this game that I love. There aren?t that many people hosting games for it at the minute, because really to host it you need a High Speed internet connection (Broadband). The good thing though is that you can have a good game online with a 56K modem connection. If you are worried about being able to play this game, don?t unless you have something that you bout over 2-3 years ago. The minimum Requirements for the game are: Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 Pentium II 233 CPU 64MB RAM DirectX 7.0 (comes on game disc) 3D Graphics Card 4x CD-ROM 100MB Hard Drive Space (after installation). Personally I never go by these, I would usually double or treble these to mak
e them what I would advise, if you want it to run smoothly. ~~~ Interested? ~~~ This is a quality arcade racer, but nothing more than that! It performs well and the graphics are solid. I just can?t stop playing the game online. Who knows maybe some day you?ll get the pleasure of playing me online. David
I bought Operation Flashpoint in PC World on Friday 23rd June. This was the day of release, and I had been waiting for it for weeks! Thankfully it didn?t disappoint me. The first good thing when buying the game was I got a game for free with it ? 1NSANE ? although overall compared to Electronics Boutique it cost me £5 more (£35 in PC World, £30 in Electronics Boutique). It didn?t matter to me because I was getting Operation Flashpoint! If you have any interest in either first-person-shooter games, or even just strategy games, maybe even war. Then you are likely to love this game. I personally wouldn?t usually go for these types of games, but I had £30 in PC World vouchers, and I decided to go ahead and buy it. Haven?t regretted it since. For anyone who hasn?t heard of this game before it is basically a first-person soldier simulation game (can be third-person but it isn?t as good). It?s really the first one I?ve ever played. Even though I haven?t played any other games in the category I am pretty sure it is the best one! In fact it is one of the best games I have ever played. First of all in order to play this game, you will need a pretty good graphics card, also a good processor. This is only if you want to play the game with full features. On my system I need to downgrade some of the setting in order to get the game to run smoothly. This is what my system is: AMD Athlon 850mhz 288mb RAM NVIDIA TNT2 M64 (the only thing I really want to upgrade) Sound Blaster PCI128 Win 98 SE DirectX 8 30 gigabyte Hard Drive The minimum requirements for the game (as far as the creators are concerned) are: Windows 95 DirectX 8 (It comes on the disc) Pentium II 400 CPU 64mb RAM 16bit Direct Sound Compliant Sound Card Compatible 3D Graphics Card with 16mb RAM (8mb if using Voodoo2) 8x CD-ROM 450mb Hard Drive Space The requirements to play this game smoothly will basic
ally rely on what Graphics card you have. Most 32MB graphics cards will be able to run the game very well and have nearly pleasing graphics. When you start playing this game, I advise that you forget about trying the single missions and jumping into the Campaign game, it is by far the best part of the game (can?t comment on multiplayer as I haven?t tried it yet). If you try the single missions please don?t try the first one, it will probably put you off the game all together. When you start the campaign you are sent to the training ground, and taught about basic movement and firing. The introduction into the game is among one of the best I have seen in any game. It teaches you all the things you need to know before you reach the battlefield. Now that you?ve passed your training course you become part of a team who need to retake control of an island that is being invaded. I will not tell you much more about the story because it?s pretty and is one of the main reasons why I continued to play the game. After a while of being just part of a team. You end up becoming commander, this takes a great deal of skill to be able to tell everyone else what to do and also keep yourself. Before you become commander life is really easy all you need to do is fire when your commander tells you to and duck when he tells you to do that. Simple. Well as you can probably see I really enjoy playing this game, and you can also play it online. The only about this is you need to download a 40mb patch in order to be able to, and this take about 3hr 45mins on a 56KB connection. So if you have to play for your internet calls this works out at £2.25 just for a patch. I have downloaded the patch and the online games are really good fun. I would advise anyone to try it if you have the internet even on a 56KB connection. David