Here are a few updates to our GF9300 launch article.

1.  We had numerous emails on what commercial BD playback software worked properly with the GF9300.  This is an important question for many as purchasing a $50 card like the AMD HD4550 is sometimes a better value than spending $60~$90 updating your BD playback program.  Our retail and OEM copies of Cyberlink's PowerDVD Ultra V7, build 4407, worked fine with our three GF9300 boards. An OEM version of Corel's WinDVD 8 Platinum HD/BD worked properly but we did not have a retail copy to test.

Current versions of PowerDVD 8 Ultra and WinDVD 9 Plus also work.  We tested with PowerDVD 8 Ultra, build 2201a, in our chipset article.  An OEM developer version of ArcSoft's TotalMedia Theater offered full hardware support for the GF9300.  However, we tried to purchase a retail copy on Friday to test and ran into a few problems.  After taking our credit card information, confirming purchase, and sending us the program download link, we were left with a program that would not work. 

A simple reason really, no license key was included in the invoice documentation.  A quick call to customer support resulted in a classic Abbott and Costello routine.  The customer support representative requested our product information and serial number on the non-fee based support line.  Of course we did not have a serial number so the customer support representative politely suggested we call the fee based technical support group or we could be transferred, which could help us retrieve the product serial number.  Of course, we never had a serial number so retrieving it was going to be difficult and a waste of $10 in our opinion. 

However, we decided to try this path in order to verify compatibility with the retail product.  Turns out before your credit card information is taken, the CSR wanted to verify the product had been registered and updated.  After explaining we could not register the product since our license key is not available, the CSR suggested we try emailing the customer support group.  A great response instead of taking our $10.

We tried emailing customer support but were directed to setup a user account first.  After following the website directions for user account creation, we faced a decision of choosing silver or platinum account status.  The platinum account offered a 20% discount at the ArcSoft store, something we could have used in advance, but thinking we might need another license we decided to go platinum.  After filling out the information form requesting our personal and/or business information, the last request from ArcSoft was to input our product name and serial number.  Turns out, you cannot register for support without a product serial number.  A quick call back to customer support reveals there really is not an easy way to get support without having first registered the product. 

We then contacted Element 5, the company that handles the online purchases for ArcSoft, and discovered there was a glitch in the ArcSoft servers. License information was not available currently and they would send a message to ArcSoft.  Our experiences in the past with digital downloads have not always been pleasant once something goes awry. We asked Element 5 to cancel and refund our order.  We received an email confirmation that our order would be canceled, but a refund would not be available until the publisher of the product was contacted and verified our request for refund.  Of course this process normally takes around 3 business days.  So, after all that, we still cannot verify if the current retail copy of TMT works correctly with the GF9300, it should, just we cannot verify it yet.

2.  As we noted in the review, CAS4 memory settings were not available in our test boards.  The manufacturers are working on correcting this and we should see new BIOS releases within the next couple of weeks.  Honestly, for 95% of users, the differences between CAS4 and CAS5 operation will be nominal at best, our problem is that the BIOS releases had the option for lower memory subtimings but they did not work.

3.  Another reason for slightly subpar memory performance on this platform is that NVIDIA's Advance Path (memory controller prefetcher) was disabled.  We were originally told this technology would be enabled in the next WHQL driver set, 20.8 that was released on Wednesday.  Turns out Advance Path is enabled in the driver sets, it is just not enabled in the core BIOS code yet.  We should see updated BIOS' releases with this option enabled shortly.

4.  NVIDIA has solved their Race Driver: GRID performance problems.  The upcoming beta driver has increased frame rates from the 13fps range up to around 28fps on our benchmark system.

5.  We are still working with NVIDIA on speaker setting problems when utilizing our Pioneer or Denon AVRs in HDMI repeater mode.  We had to change PowerDVD 8 Ultra to an 8 or 6 speaker setting instead of HDMI/PCM in order to avoid lockups. NVIDIA replicated the problem, but their system is working properly now with the latest .37 HDMI audio driver release and 0404 BIOS from ASUS.  We still had problems this weekend but we are creating a new OS image today with a fresh driver and application install to verify the fix.

6.  We reported on AHCI problems with our Sony BDU-X10S optical drive.  After a drive firmware and board BIOS update, the problem looks to be resolved once we moved the drive to a different port so the drive was not the first one recognized during PnP enumeration.  On a side note, we transferred about 130TB of information across our ASUS and MSI GF9300 boards and did not witness any data corruption problems.

7.  Our chipset launch article featured Intel's Q9300 Quad Core processor and the 9950BE Quad Core from AMD.  We did this to show best performance attributes on each IGP platform.  We will have an update to the article in a couple of days that will feature Intel's Q8200, E7200, E5200, and E1200 along with the 8750, 9350e, 4850e, and BE2400 from AMD in BD playback and a couple of general performance scores in order to gauge performance across a wide variety of popular processor choices.

8.  A few of the 9950BE/790GX scores seemed odd when compared against the 780G results, especially in BD playback.  We mentioned Cool-n-Quiet problems in our IGP chronicles part two article and suggested that users turn off CnQ for best performance during BD playback.  We have been working with AMD the past week and it turns out that aggressive C1E routines within the BIOS is the main culprit for some of the problems we noticed.  We will have more on this in the upcoming 790GX roundup along with a new set of BIOS releases from several manufacturers that greatly improve CnQ/C1E compatibility/performance during BD playback or gaming.



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  • dragones - Wednesday, October 29, 2008 - link"> Reply
  • bobdapunk - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    I have thee LCD Panels that I want my new system to drive. Two monitors (19" 4x3 and 22" 16x9) for daily use and a TV (for media. I wanted input on which path you guys would take:

    1) P45 Mobo w/4550 (fanless) + 4830 or 4850
    2) GeForce9300 Mobo w/9800gt

    I am not a huge gamer. I do plan on playing WarCraft 3, Oblivion, Portal, StarCraft2, and possibly Mass Effect. My main concerns are
    1) Power consumption/heat (small room becomes warm when computer is a space heater)
    2) Fan noise (again, this will be located in my bedroom)
    3) (Motly) Smooth game playback at 1680x1050
    4) Solution that will accelerate x264 the easiest (do either amd or nvidia solution provide hardware acceleration in media player classic or mce? and it really won't matter with a q9550, but lower cpu utilization is always a plus)

    I am leaning to waiting for the gf9300 to show up at newegg due to lower power consumption, single chip chipset implmentation, and ease of turing this into an htpc in 2 years when this system is replaced (easy due to the gf9300 being micro atx and having a small footprint due to not needing a dedicated card).

    Please let me know what you think and I have had made any incorrect assumptions or statements.
  • firewired - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - link

    Ok, old-timer here adding my 2-pennies' worth.

    Anand will probably have a dangerous flash-back to his early days with this comment, but I have to say it...

    Back in the day when the 'net was running on kbps buad-rates we'd complain that manufacturers and OEM's would release hardware that was not ready for retail release - more often than not we had the capable hardware but not the capable BIOS' or drivers and back in those days upgrading BIOS' and drivers was less-intuitive (and, I dare say, less-successful) than it is today.

    But the fact remains: we live in a time when these problems should not be persistent.

    I honestly do not care about Intel, AMD/ATI, NVIDIA, or any others from a fan-boy standpoint.

    What I care about - and I am sure everyone else cares about - is a hardware release that does not require the purchaser / customer to have to update BIOS' or drivers or software revs.

    Those days should be long-gone.

    Shame on every manufactuer and OEM.

    Grow up please - give us:

    - retail hardware.
    - retail software.

    Please note there is a period - as in "." after those statements.

    Surely not everyone has the time, patience, or *pull* with all of these manufactuers and OEM's to get updates to FIX problems, when problems should be rare and publicly acknowledged by vendors.

    No other market in existence that I know of has this problem, but this seems seems to permeate the computer industry, and we are in many ways perpetuating the problem by accepting it.

    Then again... it seems we have no choice, do we?

  • davinleeds - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    You're correct that digital downloads still have issues. You tried TMT on a bad week. They were having download problems through Element 5 and their trial.

    My experience with TMT, particularly on the 8200 has been stellular. I would retry and contact ArcSoft Jason on their forums -- is there forum participation like this elsewhere?

    You issue deserves to be addressed, and shown TMT works.
  • puet - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    Don´t forget the dilema about these chipset supporting or not the HibridPower technology.
    It was a feature not comented in the article, but in the post comments anyone seems to agree that the feature won´t make its aparicion, and i think it´s one of the more important deciding factors for an Nvidia chipset right now.

    I´ve looked in the Nvidia Site and they comment support for Hibrid SLI right out of the gate.
    In their own words: "Hybrid SLI increases graphics performance with GeForce® Boost and provides intelligent power management with HybridPower™".

    I think those words must to be proven in your next article. Don´t you?

    I also would like to see there the correct sequence, for a neofite, to enable correct HD video acceleration in an easy way (let´s say enabling HD Purevidio and hardware decoding of a BR movie throught Vista Media Center 32 & 64 bits). This should be very interesting. (Much more if we speak about x.264 acceleration, that is a very hot topic now).

    Let´s see what that next article is made of.
  • Zap - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    Wow, that e-purchase of the DVD software sounds like a cluster...

    Keep up the good work!
  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    There is nothing more fun than trying to get some got darn service from home...

    If I have to ask to speak to someone who speaks my language one more time...

    Clearly, many companies need to work harder at offering replacement parts free of charge, installation help, etc. What they need to start implementing is email contact with a "leave your name and number and we'll call you within X hours or at your specified convienience" sort of thing.

    i.e. Call me tomorrow @ 9am EST plz. My # is 555-...
    Thank you.
  • Jorgisven - Wednesday, October 22, 2008 - link

    As somebody who handles technical support phone calls at a local company, scheduling phone calls is like trying to schedule the weather around your timetable. You can allot yourself an hour for a phone call and it ends up taking two seconds and the customer is happy. You've wasted 59 minutes or so of a workable hour. You can schedule yourself 10-15 minutes, and it takes 2 hours to solve their problem and they still aren't happy. Trying to schedule your time around other peoples' problems usually doesn't work well and people just get irritated anyway. It works better for on-site support, where you can work at your pace and not the pace of the customer. *btw I was born and raised in the midwest so language isn't really an issue.

    Companies are in business to make money. Not to make customers happy. Because making customers happy can usually translate into making stockholders angry. Not always, but some business models differ, of course. Giving stuff away to keep a customer who actually buys a lot of stuff is one thing. Giving stuff away to joe schmoe who bought one product that cost $80 is usually not worth the money. Any margin that was had would be instantly gone, unless you're working at margins above 50%, which is HUGE. /soapbox rant

  • R3MF - Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - link

    Could i draw your attention to the first comment posted in the original 9300 article:

    "Via Nano support? by R3MF, 5 days ago
    Is this the chipset that nvidia is supposed to have worked with Via on to ensure Nano support?
    A HP mininote v2 using Nano and this mGPU would be an awesome product that would take a dump on every other netbook from a great height!"

    Care to speculate in absence of harder information?
  • Geraldo8022 - Monday, October 20, 2008 - link

    May I ask a noob question here? If I buy this motherboard do I need to pay more money for Power DVD in order to run a BD disc? If I buy and install the 4670 or 4550 in a non integrated system do I still need the Power DVD? Reason I ask is because of something that was said in the article. " important question for many as purchasing a $50 card like the AMD HD4550 is sometimes a better value than spending $60~$90 updating your BD playback program."
    I didn't realize there was a difference. I think this is an important consideration.
    Thank you.

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