Still Looking for a Bug-Free Computer

Rumor has it that the 200MHz Pentium Pro with the 256KB Level 2 cache isn't, well, all it's cracked up to be. Noise in the industry and our Lab tests indicate that this chip (although ideal for workstation applications) isn't terribly well suited for a multiprocessor server because it doesn't scale well. Up to a point, even a 166MHz Pentium with a large cache module (say, 2MB) can pace the 256KB Pentium Pro. In fact, most major server vendors have dumped the 256KB versions and are selling only the new 512KB ones in their multiprocessor servers (512KB availability problems are slowly easing). So, don't expect to see many more Pentium Pro servers with the 256s, and if someone offers you a good deal to buy one, don't. In January, we'll look at the Pentium vs. Pentium Pro running both Windows NT 3.51 and NT 4.0 Server under SQL 6.5 tests.

The Right Mouse Button
Here are some more tips on using NT 4.0:

  • Right-click My Computer and then click Properties to bring up the System Properties form. This route is much faster than clicking Start, Settings, and Control Panel and then double-clicking the System icon.
  • Right-click Network Neighborhood and then click Properties to bring up the Network configuration form. This approach is much faster than clicking Start, Settings, and Control Panel and then double clicking the Network icon.
  • Right-click the desktop background and then click Properties to bring up the Display Properties form. This method is much faster than clicking Start, Settings, and Control Panel and then double clicking the Network icon.

Did You Know...
The Cirrus Logic CL-GD754X video chip, which is often used in laptop computers (such as systems that support 800*600 pixel resolution at 16-bit color with 1MB of VRAM) to drive both passive (Double SuperTwisted Nematic--DSTN) and active (Thin Film Transistor-- TFT) matrix color LCDs, doesn't function properly with NT 4.0's built-in Cirrus video driver when running 800*600 at 256 colors or more.

Laptops with active matrix displays don't seem to have difficulties, but DSTN displays end up with line dropouts (black stripes across and down your screen), cybercrud (windows or objects leaving permanent trails on your screen), or outright video failure. We've seen this problem in the Windows NT Magazine Lab on TwinHead, AST, and Dell portables with passive color screens.

Cirrus Logic reports it is aware of the problem and has a new NT 4.0 driver in beta testing. The new driver is slated for release by the time you read this article. Go to to download it for your passive display portables running NT 4.0 (but only if they use the Cirrus chipset--obviously). We tested the beta version, and it does fix the problem.

On an unrelated topic, did you know that if you need to switch back to NT 3.51 after installing NT 4.0 (either Workstation or Server), you can corrupt your ntdetect and other primary boot files when you reinstall NT 3.51? However, you can recover your NT 4.0 setup. Install each OS into its own directory and redo your NT 4.0 installation after installing 3.51 (using the winnt32.exe /b command, for instance) but exit before you copy over your existing NT 4.0 directory (and after you've copied all files to your hard disk). Simply delete the temporary directory ~wnt... that NT Setup copies onto your hard drive, and you're ready to go with a dual-boot system of NT 3.51 and 4.0. Note: Initiate this procedure with caution--always back up your system first!

Corrections to this Article:

  • In The Lab Guys, "Still Looking for a Bug-Free Computer" an item about the right mouse button implies that you can double-click the Network icon to bring up the Display Properties form. Of course, the correct icon is the Display icon.
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