Patchou's Cabana

The personal blog of Patchou

Archive for the Tech Talk

Intel new chipsets & video

It’s nice to have a blog. You can talk about as many things as you want and you don’t even need to navigate through FarmVille messages and weight loss advertisements.

Today, I feel like talking about technology. While selecting the hardware for an office my company is opening in Montreal, I came across an interesting issue regarding motherboard. The P7Q57-M DO is a nice product, from ASUS. It features one of the latest chipsets from Intel (the Q57 Express), lots of cool Intel technologies for businesses, the latest CPUs, etc… go ahead, check-out the links. Heck, it’s even “ready for Windows7″! incredible stuff I tell you.

If you check the picture of the motherboard, you’ll notice it has a bunch of graphic ports: a VGA port, a DVI port and even an HDMI port. Asus’ web site mentions the max resolution for each one, bpp and even frequency. All that for 135$ CAD at Newegg, pretty good deal right? well, maybe, but there’s a catch: if you use one of those cool Core i7 processors Intel has been distributing recently, those graphic ports serve no purpose. The fact is, the new H55/57 line of chipsets from Intel needs a graphic unit embedded in the main CPU to output video. Unfortunately, this tiny detail seems to be mentioned nowhere on Intel’s Q57 chipset page or on Asus’ web site. I bought two of those cards and I can tell you this information is nowhere to be found in the manual either.

Surprisingly, there seems to be no review of this motherboard on hardware specialized web sites, and this is why I felt I had to write this post. I hope it will prevent some of you to make the same mistake I did when I bought those motherboards. If you buy one and plan on using the integrated graphic ports, checkout this support page on Intel’s web site to see which CPU will give you video. As for me, I’ll stick to an i7 and I’ll just combine it with an ATI 5450 (50$, twice as powerful as Intel’s integrated solution and it does not even require a fan). The end result is nice, I just wish Intel and especially Asus had done their homework when publishing their specs and manual.

Windows 7 upgrades and misunderstandings

Windows 7 LogoI’m seeing lots of posts these days about “evil Microsoft” being “greedy” and “forcing” people to buy full licenses instead of upgrades. These words are used about every time Microsoft releases something new and I’m still waiting for Microsoft employees to come at my door and put a gun on my head while shouting “sign this form and install Windows! NOW!!”.

This time, it’s all coming from a post from Eric Ligman on MSDN. Unfortunately, it seems that many people just misunderstood what the article is saying. I’m quoting: “technically possible does not always mean legal”. In his post, Eric does not point a finger at all the people who’re tricking the setup of Windows 7 to install onto a freshly formatted hard drive. His post talks about licenses, and licenses only: if you buy an upgrade license of Windows 7, for it to be valid, you need to own fully valid license of Windows XP or Windows Vista. That’s it, end of the discussion, that’s why upgrades are priced differently from full products. He does NOT imply that using the installation hack breaks your license to use Windows as it does not.

The problem at hand is that people always mix technical things and legality issues. This case is similar to when people were saying that you could change a couple of registry keys in Windows 2000 to make it work like the Server Edition. That was technically possible, but legally, you did not ended-up with a Windows Server license so people using this trick were probably be better off just pirating the real CD of Windows Server in the first place. Eric’s post is directed toward all the general users who may be in search for a bargain for their Windows 7 shopping. Some people would find this way to hack the installation, would not understand the possible legal requirements (= owning a license of XP or Vista) and would happily buy an upgrade of something they don’t have. Those people would not be thinking they are pirating anything and these are the same people who could complain later on if WGA bugs them about the issue (it won’t happen in this case but you see the point).

If I buy myself a GPS and set of brand new tires, I won’t expect Audi to give me a car to go with them, even if that GPS and those tires are designed specifically for Audi cars. The same logic applies to software and software upgrades. In the end, it’s just a matter of paying for what you’re using. I agree Microsoft probably made a bad decision in preventing people from doing fresh installs like they could before, I also find that annoying, but this is not an excuse for pirating it. If you own an XP or a Vista license, you’re free to install Windows 7 anyway you like, really, I don’ t see why Microsoft would mind. And to those claiming Microsoft is ripping them off, I have a solution for you.

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