We have actually been using Quick Tech Pro fromUltra-X, Inc. for quite some time. This software is one of the most full-featured products available for the professional service technician. After having used several other software diagnostic utilities, including commerial and shareware, we can honestly say that this one is the best of all we have tried. Ultra-X has recently released their QuickTech Pro 2000 update, which includes some additional features.
This utility can be used either as an information gathering tool, to burn-in a new system or to fully diagnose a system that is misbehaving. Any x86 based system from a 386 up to the K7 are supported! It can be run from DOS, or via the self-booting diskette, which allows the software to test components at the lowest level possible. Comprehensive tests for system RAM, cache, hard and floppy drives, CDROMs, video cards, sound cards, modems and monitors makes this diagnostic tool extremely versatile and capable of detecting just about any problem a technician is likely to encounter. With the newest release, the CMOS and BIOS can be tested for Y2K compliance and support has been added for PC133 SDRAM, up to 60x CDROM drives and even support for 3DNow! technology.
The System Stats option provides detailed information about the system, including complete CPU, memory, hard drive, video card and peripherals information, as well as installed drivers and driver names. This information can be printed or saved to a file for later reference. There is also an option to interrogate which system interrupts and DMA channels used and available, making installation of add-on cards simpler. Unfortunately, as with all software diagnostic programs we have seen, this information is not always 100% reliable. A more reliable solution is a hardware DMA/IRQ detection tool (which, of course, Ultra-X also has available). Other functions display information about the PCI and/or PCMCIA devices on the system, as well as Windows and network configuration data.
The memory tests allow diagnosis of the system RAM (base and extended), external cache, video RAM, and CMOS RAM. In addition there is a memory dump utility (called Memory Scan) which displays a scrollable list of the contents the memory. The tests provided are similar to those in the RAM Stress Test utility we reviewed in April. These tests are extremely comprehensive, and have been highly praised by engineers from several major memory manufacturers.
The media diagnostics include comprehensive read/write/verify tests on floppy disks and hard drives to ensure there are no physical errors. In addition, a FAT editor is included for inspecting and modifying the data on the drives. Some of the tests are ‘destructive’ tests, meaning they will destroy any existing data on the drives (write and verify functions) but allow a more comprehensive analysis to be performed. There are Low level formatting functions for both IDE and non-IDE drives, as well as a SCSI identification utility to display all SCSI devices attached to the system.
The modem test function will automatically detect and test any attached internal or external modems for proper operation. Of course, there are the ‘standard’ serial and parallel port loopback tests, EGA/VGA graphics tests and a keyboard test which allows every key to be tested. A multi-media test is included, which will test the CDROM transfer rate and display information about the installed sound card. There is even a printer test to verify an attached printer is functioning (a single page test document), as well as HP and Postscript specific tests.
The package comes with a floppy cleaning diskette, serial and parallel port loopback plugs and a comprehensive user manual. The one item that is included in the package, and is extremely valuable is Lifetime Tech Support!, which we have used on several occasions. Even the most difficult questions are researched and answered, if possible, and we have not had to wait more than a few hours to get our questions answered (even the tough ones). Our inquiries have shown that several large and well-known manufacturers used Ultra-X products, including the ones listed on the Ultra-X website.
There may be cheaper alternatives, including shareware utilities, but for the service professional there is no substitute for quality engineering and solid support. Ultra-X provides both of those in all the products we have used. Quick Tech Pro is designed with the professional service technician in mind who needs to quickly analyze and troubleshoot a customers system (see our review of Quick Tech 98 for a good hobbyist diagnostic). It delivers on this with flying colors, and is highly recommended by us. Don’t leave the shop without it!!
For more information on RST, and other products by Ultra-X, Inc. check out http://www.uxd.com.
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