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Best and Worst of 2K2
By: Jim Miller
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    2003-10-09

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    Wow, what a year huh? 2002 has brought those of us in the performance PC community some great things, and some not so great things. It returned high overclocks to budget CPU's in the form of the P4 Northwoods... It brought in a stout video card by ATI, while we watched the reigning champion struggle to keep up... It brought the promise of revolutionary games in 2003 with the leaked beta of DoomIII... Really a pretty good year when you think of it! We wanted to recap a few of the biggest items of the year with some high and low points for hardware, games and peripherals in the industry. Some you'll like, some you'll hate, and some you'll just downright disagree with, but as always, we call 'em like we see 'em. Lets see what 2k2 had in store for us.



    Wow, what a year huh?  2002 has brought those of us in the performance PC community some great things, and some not so great things.  It returned high overclocks to budget CPU's in the form of the P4 Northwoods...  It brought in a stout video card by ATI, while we watched the reigning champion struggle to keep up...  It brought the promise of revolutionary games in 2003 with the leaked beta of DoomIII...  Really a pretty good year when you think of it!  We wanted to recap a few of the biggest items of the year with some high and low points for hardware, games and peripherals in the industry. Some you'll like, some you'll hate, and some you'll just downright disagree with, but as always, we call 'em like we see 'em. Lets see what 2k2 had in store for us.

     


    CPU of the Year

    The Intel P4 1.6A Northwood Processor. Intel's Willamette processors were a miserable disappointment for enthusiasts worldwide, but with the introduction of the Northwood CPU boasting 512K L2 cache and .13-micron technology, this chip simply could not be beat in the overclocking department. Bumping up the FSB from 100 to 133 gave you an easy 2.13GHz running speed and clocks of 2.4GHz air cooled were fairly common. All for a price of right around 130$. That simply can't be beat. The 1.6A may seem a bit dated today, but it was certainly the choice chip for enthusiasts for the majority of 2002.


     

    Honorable Mention - The AMD AthlonXP processor promised to extend the lifetime of the Socket A platform and did so indeed.  While the AthlonXP has gone through an evolution to the .13micron process, the most notable chip by far in the past year is the old .18micron Palamino based AXP1600+, specifically the AGOIA and AROIA steppings.  When 1600+'s began arriving in these two steppings formerly reserved for the 2100+, they were met with open arms.  Easily OCing ot 2200+ levels air cooled, and known to hit a true 2ghz on water, they became THE bargain chip at just over 50 bucks a pop. 


    Performance Video Card of the year

    ATI's Radeon 9700 came out of nowhere to take the video card crown. With 128MB of memory, 8 parallel rendering pipelines, AGP 8X support and a bevy of ATI graphical goodies, this card was simply the best video solution available. Not only did this card spank NVIDIA's top end card in the benchmarks, it also reminded everyone that picture quality was equally as import as the almighty FPS. Quality and speed- who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?

     



     


    Best Value Card of the Year

    nVidia's very own GF4 Ti 4200. At a price of just over 100$ currently, and even under 200$ at it's release,  the Ti4200 is a very good choice for someone looking for a top performing video card but just doesn't have $300+ to lay down for a high-end solution. And with the miserable showing of nVidia's GF4 MX series of cards, the 4200 easily won this category.  The Ti4200 raised the bar for what we expect in a "value" based graphics card.  It let us know that you don't have to give up stellar performance with high resolution playability just to save some money.
     


     

    Worst Video Card

    Matrox Parhelia
    - Oh dear, what went wrong here?  We had such high hopes for this new Canuck Mademoiselle. Those nice people at Matrox over-hyped it's abilities by promising us unsurpassed speed and functionality (although the color was fabulous), and slapped on a healthy price tag to make us think that we would be buying something reassuringly expensive. Then they lost the plot completely by making the card support three monitors- like who has that sort of desk space? If I was the Matrox CEO I'd be giving a wedgy to the head of Marketing and demanding to see where the market research said everyone was demanding a three monitor video card.
    When it came to measuring the performance, the final analysis showed that the Parhelia couldn't even match a Ti4200 or 8500 in games, but it's pricetag was that of a Ti4600 or R9700.  So the Matrox Cinderella turned up to Gala Ball just after the two step sisters had left to go onto the Rock Concert.
    To save Matrox a shed load of marketing money, I'll tell them now what they need for next year. Keep the high picture quality aspects and multi-media capabilities, but make it FASTER. Oh, and loose the three monitor feature if it saves money. However, on a final note, we must admit that the Matrox Parhelia is MUCH better than BitBoys 2002 offering. :)
     


    Mobo Chipset of the Year Awards

    AMD - VIA KT333 - The Via Apollo KT333 chipset could possibly be more accurately called the KT266B The first chipset from VIA in years to not need a second revision to properly function, it combined all that was good in the KT266A chipset with a 1/5 clock divider and 166 MHz asynchronous ram to provide improved performance and stability at an affordable price. We are starting to see great promise now from the nForce2 and KT400 boards, but for 2002, the KT333 was the one to beat.
     




    INTEL - Intel i845 Series - Intel came on strong with the introduction of the 845 series chipset and further enhanced compatibility and overclockability with the follow-up 845E version which included 533MHz FSB support as well as USB 2.0. Intel's latest incarnation, the 845PE is going to be a winner now that Hyper-Threading chips are available, but for 2002, the i845E was the one to carry the mail.



    Game of the Year Awards

    Lets face it. There's a little bit of gamer in all of us OC'ers. What better excuse to build and continually upgrade your system than to have the latest game running at high resolutions with all the bells and whistles? Here are OCA's top gaming pics for the year.

    FPS - EA's BattleField 1942 took the crown as OCA's pick for the top FPS title of the year. Single player was a bit shaky, but MP is plain and simple the best fun we have had in quite awhile. Hats off to a great game EA.



    FPS Honorable Mentions

    UT2003
    - Awesome graphics weren't enough to put UT2k3 in the top spot, but for sheer Death Match style fragging, UT2k3 delivers the goods.

    Medal of Honor - Another excellent EA title that combined an excellent single player game, incredible realism and top notch graphics.

    Strategy - Blizzard came on strong with Warcraft 3 which is simply unmatched by any other RTS with awesome graphics, intense gameplay and 4 distinct races, it easily earned our top pic for Strategy Game of the Year.



    Driving Sim - NASCAR Racing Season 2002 won a tough category.  With the popularity of NASCAR 4, Papyrus had a tough act to follow, it took the challenge and answered the call.  NASCAR Racing 2002 provided unprecedented AI competition at the same time as it was setting the standard in online racing simulation play.  We look forward to what they bring to the table in 2003.


     

    RPG of the year - Neverwinter Nights was the highly anticipated RPG from BioWare that took the RPG genre to new levels. Several years in development, top notch graphics, excellent single and multi-player capabilities give this game the top award for RPG of 2002. BioWare has their hands full if they intend on topping this title.



    Peripheral of the Year

    Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse -
    Microsoft introduced their cordless offering late in 2001 but it just didn't have what gamers needed to get the job done. When Logitech launched the MX700 this year it was simply ahead of the competition in every way imaginable. With quick response, a super fast recharger and the flexibility to run on both MAC and PC with PS/2 and USB, you really can't go wrong. Expect an OCA Flavor review coming soon.

     



    Cooling Products of the Year

    Socket A - Swiftech mcx462+ - As heat sink manufacturers become more creative in their designs, Swiftech slowly gets edged out by the almighty Thermalright SLK-800.  However, Swiftech did not hesitate to get left behind.  They came up with the best air-cooled solution for your precious processor.  The MCX462+ features a half inch copper plate with 371 helicoid pins.  It is the best air-cooled heat sink today.




    P4 - ZALMAN cpns6500a-cu - Zalman surprises us with their new Pentium 4 cooling solution. They are known for their quietness and not their performance. Zalman combines the best of two worlds--quietness and performance on this one. The cnps6500a-cu proves to be an excellent performer without driving you insane with loud fans. Quiet and still cool, what can be better?




    Hard Drive Awards

    Best - Western Digital Special Edition Series with 8MB Cache - Great performance, low price and sturdy reliability makes this award an easy choice. Even though Maxtor drivers were ATA/133 they could not compete with the WD SE's. Then Maxtor came out with their own 8MB HD late in the game but WD was there first to step up to the plate to offer a serious performance contender for IDE HD's. Keep up the great work WD. Now lets see some serial HD's in 2002!

    Worst - IBM GXP Series - The IBM drives were no doubt the fastest IDE drives made today. But much like the cheetah of the African plains, it sprinted ahead of the competition, only to die out halfway through the race. If you are currently running an IBM GXP HD, I suggest backing up your data and getting a new drive, trust me on this one.

     


    And last but not least,

    Beer of the Year

    This is a category that we junkies here at OCA know more than our share about!  The winner of the coveted BOTY award from OCAddiction is the flavor SPeeD and Justi consume the most when they are relaxing from a hard day of burning up CPU's.  Don't believe us?  Go to Harrison's Bar and Grill in Cary, NC and ask 'em what we order when sitting down at the bar, they'll tell you...

    HEFEWEIZEN - Perfect with any Meal. Heck, it's perfect as a meal. Mistakenly pronounced "Heifer-weizen" by many, this classic brew is about as far from the brazen boldness of a large bovine as one can get. With a thick hearty taste and a smoothness that can't be matched, Pyramid Hefeweizen was an easy choice for us.


    It's not quite as good as it's German parents, but for an American brew it can't be beat! :)


    We'd like to thank you for joining us here @OCAddiction.com to checkout our Best and Worst of 2002. We know you guys will be ready to flame some of our choices so head into the forums to give us your point of view.


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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