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Review: Jetway N2VIEW

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 12 May 2004, 00:00


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MagicTwin that makes sense


I covered MagicTwin, Jetway's clever combination of hardware and software that allows two concurrent local logins to a Windows XP installation, recently, in the form of their PT800TWIN product, and said "It's a specialist product that works well, but there are a lot of caveats to take into consideration before you'd do so. You'll know straight away if a MagicTwin system is for you, otherwise I'd maybe look elsewhere".

Those caveats were mainly tied to the PT800TWIN implementation, which required a graphics card purchase on top of the board cost and who's BIOS had definite issues, especially with memory modules. There are a magnitude of software issues to consider with a MagicTwin system too, but I was left with the feeling that if the hardware issues could be resolved as much as possible, it would make for a mch more desirable system to work with.

The software issues can be worked around with a little homework and forward thought, so a better implementation on the hardware side of things would definitely help.

It's a good job Jetway have other options then.

Their N2VIEW MagicTwin motherboard seeks to do what the PT800TWIN couldn't. Integration of a VGA core on the motherboard, dual-head capable at that, is the biggest bonus. You don't need a graphics card with the N2VIEW and JetWay, in choosing NVIDIA's nForce2 core logic with its associated GeForce 4 MX graphics core, have done all the ground work in testing, validation of operating with MagicTwin, and performance tweaking to get the most out of it on your behalf.

The graphics core isn't the last word in performance, supporting only 24 out of the 26 pixel shader operations that would make it a full DX8 hardware accelerator, but the other two are done in software and performance isn't dreadful depending on what you do with it.

nForce2 also means support for AMD's low cost, high performance, Athlon, Athlon XP and Duron processors. They undoubtedly offer plenty of performance bang for your buck, with lots of processors to choose from in the sub-£100 range, with even a few Athlon XP models under £50 these days. Quite the pairing for MagicTwin which is all about saving you money.

The MCP southbridge drives admirable audio, gives you access to a bunch of USB2.0 ports and things generally feel more suited to MagicTwin, much more so than the VIA PT800 core logic in the Pentium 4 version, despite the VT8237 bridge on that board, since the added features were so under used.

You even get an AGP slot on the N2VIEW, for plugging in something a bit more potent. Again that brings with it some compatibility issues for MagicTwin and I'll cover those in a bit more detail later, but it's an option that's nice to have.

With the graphics core able to feed off of the dual-channel memory controller on the IGP northbridge, the real reason for the nForce2 dual-channel controller in the first place, performance in memory limited applications shouldn't suffer too much if you use a pair of memory modules.

Now we have reasons to smile with this particular MagicTwin setup, so let's take a closer look.

Note: I'm not going to cover the MagicTwin software, issues, setup and the like in any great detail in this article, look to the PT800TWIN review for that. Nothing changes software wise with the N2VIEW, so there's no point covering old ground, especially when there's so much to cover.

Click here for the first page of the MagicTwin discussion in that review.