In the ongoing saga to get a motherboard that works well with Vista SP1 going to sleep, I have yet again switched motherboards.
I was happy with the Intel DQ35JO, but this did not last very long. A few days after posting I found my machine with garbage characters on the screen, requiring a cold boot. Intel support was of little help, but a few days later I updated the firmware on my ThinkPad T61, and I read that one of the fixes in the firmware was to fix garbage characters on the screen when sleeping on resuming from sleep caused by the AMT feature. The DQ35JO board also has AMT, so maybe that was the same problem.
Not wanting to have more trouble I returned the Intel DQ35JO board to Fry’s, and I ordered an Asus P5E-VM HDMI board from Amazon. There are three variants of the P5E-VM board; the SE, DO, and HDMI, but only the HDMI variant was immediately available on Amazon. I would not be using the HDMI output since I was going to use the ATI HD 2600 XT card, but it does not hurt to have onboard HDMI available.
Installing the board was simple, the RAID still worked, and Vista Ultimate x64 booted without issues. The only missing driver was for the Realtek audio. I tried the driver from the Asus site but that failed to install, rather disappointing. Asus support told me to use the driver from the Realtek site, and that worked fine.
I again noticed that the power LED was intermittently not working, this being the third board with this problem, I was now convinced it was a problem with the actual LED. I contact Antec support, and a few days later I received a new power LED free of charge. I installed it, and problem solved.
Asus provides several utilities to monitor and adjust the performance of their boards, i.e. AI Suite and PC Probe II. I’ll spare you the details but these utilities are of very poor quality, failing to install, failing to uninstall, crashing on start, crashing on sleep, crashing on resume from sleep, and worse when uninstalled they still leave crap behind. I had to delete two tasks from the task scheduler, delete several files and folders, and manually delete several COM objects from the registry. Avoid these tools.
One feature I really like about the Asus board is the BIOS upgrade feature. Just copy the firmware to a USB key, plug the USB key in, boot, enter the BIOS, select the upgrade option, pick the file, and upgrade, so simple.
This time round I waited a few weeks before posting, and I am very happy with the Asus P5E-VM board.
This article was originally posted here.
After my bad experience with the Abit F-I90HD motherboards, read about it
here, I purchased two Intel DG33TL motherboards.
Although these boards do not have HDMI onboard, they do have HDCP compliant DVI,
and by adding an ADD2 HDMI board you get HDMI and audio over HDMI.
- Onboard HDCP compliant DVI.
- Intel ADD2 HDMI card support.
- Vista installed very fast and with no problems.
- The driver DVD that came with the board installs all devices that is not
installed by Vista.
It even lets you set your username and password and will automatically
reboot and continue the installation after every driver.
- The DVD installs the 5.x version audio driver, works fine, yet the Intel
website lists the latest driver as 6.x.
However the 6.x driver fails to install, reporting that the hardware is not
Intel support says the 6.x driver installed fine on their test system, and
they recommended I wait for a new driver to be released, or I exchange the
I find it hard to believe Intel support, and I believe the website is
incorrectly listing the 6.x driver as compatible with this board.
- Intel Desktop Utilities sporadically reports 0.000V warning messages,
and lists one source for a voltage reading as unknown.
Intel support told me that Desktop Utilities is not supported on the 3x
series boards, yet the DVD that came with the board installs Desktop
Utilities, and the Desktop Utilities download page lists support for the 3x
After pointing this out to Intel support, they recommended I reinstall the
BIOS and the Desktop Utilities, made no difference.
A new 0262 version BIOS was released that lists some corrections with the
Media Engine, but this made no difference.
Waiting for Intel support to respond, or for a new version of Desktop
- I purchased the
Prolink PV-CH7315 ADD2 card, but connecting the HDMI does indicate that
there is a HDMI signal, but no picture on the television.
The Intel GMA control application does list three outputs, monitor,
television, and digital television, only monitor / VGA works.
- The Intel 15.7.3 and 15.8 igdkmd32.sys and igdkmd64.sys GMA drivers and Vista SP1 are incompatible,
the machine blue screen crashes when going to sleep.
I tested this with Vista Ultimate x86 being upgraded to SP1, and a clean
install of Vista Ultimate x64 with integrated SP1.
I notified Microsoft of the issue during the Vista SP1 Beta, was told Intel
would fix it before SP1 ships, yet the problem still exists even after SP1
shipped and after the 15.8 GMA drivers shipped. The issue now appears to be
- I have been contacted by several readers that experience similar issues,
I urge you to contact Intel support and notify Intel of the problems.
- After several exchanges with Intel support I am still waiting for a new
version of Desktop Utilities to solve the 0.000V alerts.
- Intel removed the 6.x audio driver from the download site, and updated
the 5.x driver, seems the 6.x driver was not supposed to be on the site.
- I have not been able to get HDMI working with the Prolink card.
- Waiting for new GMA drivers that do not bluescreen with Vista SP1, the
issue is now documented in
This article was originally posted here.
I purchased an Antec Fusion Black case to replace my aging HTPC.
The case looks very nice, until you turn on the LCD display…
- The case looks very nice.
- The construction is solid.
- The two included case fans do not have speed monitoring wires, I had to
purchase new fans.
For such an expensive case this is rather disappointing.
- There are two fans on the side of the case, both set to extract hot air,
but hard drives are located in an area with no direct ventilation.
There is ample ventilation holes around the drives, but it remains to be
seen if the drives will overheat or not.
- The LCD display used on the case is an OEM version of the iMON from
The Antec provided software has far fewer functions compared to the software
provided by SoundGraph, unfortunately the SoundGraph software does not work with Antec
- The LCD turns on bright blue when power is applied to the case.
The LCD only turns off after the LCD software is installed, and the setting
enabled to turn the LCD off.
I really expected the opposite, LCD remains off until turned on by
- The LCD contrast is very poor, and the viewing angle is severely limit.
From pictures I expected to see a blue display on a black background, but
instead I see dark blue on light blue, it literally looks like the backlight
is way too bright.
The LCD details are not visible from angles other than almost right in front
of the display.
The plastic panel covering the LCD is highly reflective and any light
sources obscure the display contents.
The Antec LCD looks like a cheap joke compared to the excellent quality of
the LCD of my Yamaha RX-V2700 receiver.
Low contrast setting (text is visible):
Medium contrast setting (text is partially visible):
High contrast setting (you can’t see the text at all):
- Antec support sent me pictures of a similar LCD in a test system, they
do not have the actual case, and it looks marginally better than mine, but
still very poor.
Picture from SoundGraph website for iMON OEM LCD (very different to the
- The LCD started flickering, I tried rebooting, removing power from the
LCD, does not stop.
It does seem that while the PC boots the display does not flicker, but the
moment the iMON software starts the flickering starts.
Here is a movie of the flickering in DivX AVI format
- I returned the LCD module to Antec under RMA, they were unable to
reproduce the flicker problem, but they did send me a replacement LCD
I installed the new LCD module, and the new module does not suffer
from the flickering problem.
As for the quality of the new LCD module, the
text is now readable at the medium contrast setting, but not nearly as good as the picture from the iMON website.
- The remote only starts working once you have logged in, you can not use
the remote prior to logging in. I am now forced to use a mouse or keyboard
to log in.
The original eHome Media Center external IR receiver works just fine without
being logged in, this allows me to boot the machine, and select an account
and log in using only the navigation buttons on the remote.
- The LCD would occasionally hang with strange characters or elements on
the display. Once this happens you ave to unplug the case and reboot.
This problem is being discussed in
this thread on the SoundGraph forum.
- Several readers emailed me and also complained about the quality of the
LCD display, and the lack of features vs. the retail iMon, I urge anybody
that is not satisfied to contact Antec and raise your concerns.
- Due to the poor LCD image quality and various other issues I do not recommend this case.
This article was originally posted here.
I have been looking for a digital photo frame for a while, and from what I
read the Philips Photo Frame
models appear to have very good image quality and good features.
I bought a Philips 9″ wood border model 9FF2CWO.
- The frame looks very nice.
- The image quality is really very good.
- The frame’s built in software is very extensive and easy to use.
- The frame directly displays pictures from cameras or pictures copied to
to memory cards, no special settings required, no image resizing required.
- The battery only lasts for about an hour, I see no point in having a
battery at all if it only lasts an hour, better make the device cheaper and
lighter without a battery.
- The included CD launches a very nice looking flash based autorun
application, from there you can read the manual or install the Photo Manager
Unfortunately the launcher software does not work on Vista, clicking the
links to the documentation or the Photo Manager installation does nothing.
On exiting the application Vista notifies you that the application is not
Vista compatible and that it will run the application in compatibility mode
On launching the autorun application again the links now work.
- When you connect the frame’s USB connecter to the PC, several new
removable drives are mounted.
The one drive is the internal frame memory, the other drives are for the
removable media slots in the frame.
When I clicked on the drive letter associated with the SD card, Windows said
the drive needs to be formatted, the Photo Manager software was also unable
to access the SD card, yet the frame itself can display pictures from the SD
Philips tech support confirmed that the card, 2GB Kingston Ultimate, was on
the compatibility list, but they did say that there are some compatibility
problems with larger sized memory cards, and they recommended I use a
smaller memory card.
I tried a 1GB PNY SD card, again the frame displayed images fine,
and this time the SD card was accessible in Windows and in the Photo Frame
- The Photo Manager software (picture) leaves much to be desired.
The software is slow, but maybe this is because accessing the frame storage
It took me a while to figure out how to transfer pictures, no simple
intuitive copy or transfer, you have to drag and drop them, and you can only
transfer pictures, not folders.
- When I tried to delete a photo I got this error “Disk has no enough free
space. There should be 20% free space at least”, what can I say, dumb error,
Philips tech support recommended I delete the pictures using the frame
software, or to delete the pictures directly using Windows Explorer.
- The version of Photo Manager (188.8.131.52) I received on the CD and the
firmware (9.01.38) in my frame was both later versions than the versions
listed on the Philips support website.
- Because the picture quality is so good, I am willing to avoid the Photo Manager software,
and using the USB connection directly manipulate the pictures on the SD
- I can only hope that Philips will replace the Photo Manger software with