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Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Posted: February 13, 2000
Creature Comforts, Ease of Use, and some Spiel
The computer was very easy to get running - it came with an attractive poster illustrating how to connect your do-dads and do-hickeys (hickeys? did somebody say hickeys...) to your computer and get it up and running. The computer seems to run just fine, and it had some interesting things pre-installed on the system, including some pretty cool demos. All of the drivers were pre-installed and all of the applicable system updates had been applied, but there are a few places in which the system's software...lacks.
First, and foremost oversight in the system's software is the total lack of any word processor short of wordpad. I know, this is a gaming rig, but everyone, and I mean everyone, uses a word processor from time to time (the kid's homework, that letter to your aunt, writing critiques of computer systems...), so it would have made sense to include one that had a spell checker in it. The other notable exemption from the software package is that it doesn't include a single complete title. Sure, demos are nice, and free, and can give a couple of hours of gaming enjoyment, but including a full game would have been much appreciated (and a retail copy of Quake II is about $12.99 now).
From the hardware side of things, the system seems to be pretty complete - they even included a very nice Everglide mouse pad (arguably my favorite part of the system ;) ). There are a few areas, however, that could be improved without any significant price change. One would have to be the keyboard - I'm not a real big fan of keyboards that don't include a full-sized backspace key. The other would have to be the choice to use a software modem instead of a hardware driven modem. Even the best of software modems will crash during an intense fragfest if your CPU utilization hits 100% - so they really can't be counted on in a gaming environment.
For this test I put the Talon 1.2 system up against the system I built while writing those How To articles. Here are the specs of that system:
Celeron 400 oc'd to 570 MHz (95 MHz FSB)
128 Mb. PC100 RAM
9.6 Gb. IBM 7200 rpm drive
Voodoo3 3000 (166 MHz)
Diamond Vortex 2 based MX300
40X Samsung CD-ROM drive
At the time of the testing, the system was about a month old and hadn't had its settings tweaked in about as long - it probably could have used a defrag, but I really wasn't that worried about it. Maybe I should have been... Oh, and just to throw something uniquely Tweak3D into the mix, after I finished benchmarking the Talon system I tweaked it out a bit and re-ran the tests. Note: I didn't tweak any of the test programs settings, only the system itself.
SiSoft Sandra Test Results -
Homebuilt - 1554 MIPS / 765 MFLOPS
Talon - 1832 MIPS / 713 MFLOPS
Multimedia CPU Bench:
Homebuilt - 1446 it/s Integer MMX / 838 it/s FP-FPU
Talon - 1152 it/s Int. MMX / 756 it/s FP 3D-NOW
Interesting results on the Multimedia CPU benchmark, huh? Well, truth be told, I've heard that there is a possible bug in that last test when regarding the Athlon processor - so definitely take those numbers with a grain of salt.