Ultra-X PHD PCI Diagnostics Card Evaluation

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Conclusions

The Ultra-X P.H.D. card can be a valuable addition to the professional PC technician’s arsenal of diagnostic equipment. The versatility of the card is reflected in the large variety of operating modes that are available. Whether the PC being tested is a new system under development or an older system with problems, the P.H.D. is capable of some of the most advance diagnostic testing on the market. The card’s ability to check PCI bus timing and specification compliance is unique and quite valuable. Even if a system is completely dead, the P.H.D. card is still capable of providing some level of feedback as to what the problem might be.

It’s important to realize the P.H.D. card can be complicated to use and is targeted for experienced technicians. This is not the sort of diagnostic tool that always gives the user a clear course of action once it has been applied. It is often necessary to use experience and guile to interpret what the card is telling you, and this is something that will take time to learn and apply successfully. Working closely with Ultra-X can be valuable as you learn what the card is capable of, and what the various error messages mean. Even systems that appear to work perfectly might have some basic errors flagged, and knowing when to ignore them and when to act on them is part of the learning process. Overall the P.H.D. card can be recommended because it does things no other tool is capable of, and does them well.

Advantages:

  • Many versatile operating modes makes it more than a one-trick pony
  • Compatibility and compliance testing of the PCI bus spec is valuable
  • Excellent use of visual indicators.
  • Addition of Hummer IP card makes testing ISA bus subsystem easy.
  • Ultra-X support is excellent and many customization services are available
  • Basic testing easy to carry out
  • Software/firmware is upgradeable

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Learning curve can be significant
  • Manual needs work to add technical depth and better organization
  • Results of testing doesn’t always offer a clear course of action
  • Ultra-X support, while excellent, can be slow in coming depending on their work load.


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