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  Hold No Punches...  by Rode

shareware_button.jpg (766 bytes)  Diag  shareware_button.jpg (766 bytes)
Download - 470k
DOS Only

I have spent thirty years and two careers using professional tools and I speak from experience when I say that there is no greater satisfaction then the one that comes after performing a task using the right combination of knowledge, experience and professional tools. This holds true whether your using a Paslode nail gun to nail off roof sheathing or troubleshooting and repairing your computer hardware with professional software diagnostics. There is only one negative when it comes to professional tools ..they are very expensive.

DIAG by  Dominik Marks is hardware diagnostic software that runs in any version of DOS and is similar to professional level diagnostics. I use the word similar because DIAG is a program in development and has not yet reached the caliber of Ultra-X, Micro-Scope or other professional software diagnostics. Nonetheless DIAG is a remarkable achievement for an individual effort and is the first really useful diagnostics available as shareware.

When you first load DIAG you will see this simple interface:

From here you can generate reports about your operating system or your network. You can test your hard drives, your ports, your video card, your memory and you can discover a wealth of information about your computer from DIAG's numerous information screens.

I spent the better part of a week running DIAG through it's paces using these computers:

  • Intel Celeron 300a running at 450 on ABIT BX6 with 128 megabytes P 100 RAM

  • AMD K62 400 on a FIC 503+ with 128 megabytes of P-100 RAM

  • Intel MMX 233 on Tyan Tomcat III with 64 megabytes of EDO RAM

  • 486 Intel DX4100 with 16 megabytes of Fast Page Mode RAM

In addition... and as a self check...when I had doubts about a particular test or feature I sent the program to other associates for a confirming opinion from a different setup.

The ideal way to run a DOS diagnostic is to clean boot without drivers off a floppy drive and then run the diagnostics from the floppy. Of course if you wish to test a device like a CDROM or a mouse you will need to load the drivers when you boot into DOS. Unfortunately DIAG is just a little bit too big to extract to a boot floppy so you will need to boot from one floppy and then run DIAG from a second floppy or run DIAG from the hard drive. If you have a DOS system you can boot to DOS and then run DIAG from it's own directory but if you have a NT, Unix or an OS2 system you will need to boot from a DOS floppy and then run DIAG.

DIAG's many information screens are easy to get to, simple to use, concisely laid out and impressive. There is a wealth of information to be found about your PC with DIAG.

The diagnostic tests are average for this type of program. You can test your keyboard, mouse, drives, ports soundcard and other devices. Most of these tests are very basic: for example there is no use of loop back plugs in the port tests and DIAG does not have any kind of burn in program with it's diagnostic tests.

The motherboard and sound card tests are an exception. They are based on a actual database of specific information which makes them unique and impressive. However your motherboard or soundcard must be in the database for these to work correctly. I haven't seen soundcard tests like these in other diagnostic programs. In fact these are better then the test software I have downloaded from soundcard manufacturers for their own products.

I did run into a number of error messages and a few lock ups when running various diagnostics. For example; I had a solid lock up when viewing the Award-BIOS information of my Tomcat III. This was disappointing as I have never experienced a unresolved lock up or even a error message that was not fully explained or resolved using other professional diagnostics.

There are benchmark tests for your processor…Standard and Mandelbrot…your video card…your drives. They are easy to use and look impressive but I often questioned the results. This is the result of the Standard Benchmark for my Intel 233 MMX

benchmark.gif (22676 bytes)

The graphic is the output of a < Pint Screen > to a laser printer… what the user sees on the monitor is far more colorful. As you can see my 233MMX scored a 5454 and yet the Celeron A ..I assume this is a 300A…running at 466 is rated at 5728 and a AMD K62 333 is at an unbelievable 6506. These results just don't make sense.

Program documentation for DIAG is weak and there is no help file. When I downloaded the program from DIAG's web page I selected the English version and while it included a English text file, it was disguised with a .eng extension. The default is in German. Documentation is an area that DIAG could use some expert English help. To read the English documentation, history, and registration information open the .eng files in your text editor.  

DIAG is shareware and the free version is crippled. The unregistered version is limited in what menus you can access. DIAG can be registered for $10.00. Registration will allow you access to all of DIAG's menus and a few new ones.

DIAG is a program in development. The author states this in his documentation and even asks you to send in reports generated by the program so he can add to his database. I see DIAG as a program in a Beta state. DIAG has the right look, feel and instincts of professional diagnostic software but it does have problems and needs a lot of polish. As professional level diagnostics it has a way to go but for the average PCBUILD subscriber who likes to work on their PC and wants the tools without the high price it is a must have download !


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