Dachshund Software - Hare & Zoom Review
Reviewed by: Bosco
Reviewed on: January 8, 2003
: Dachshund Software
: Dachshund Software
Price: Hare - $24US Standard, $32US Pro
Zoom - $23US Standard, $29US Pro
Dachshund Software Home Page
Recently we got a heads up from one of our forum members (Hi, ataxy) about some programs from Dachshund Software that are marketed as working within your Windows operating system and speeding things up. We are curious about anything that might do that and possibly allow for better gaming framerates in the bargain, and so we contacted Dachshund. They were kind enough to provide us with unlocking codes for 2 of their programs.
Hare - includes modules for accelerating system instructions, a RAM defragmenter, a RAM "doubler", and their "GameZap", an openGL compatible gaming framerate booster.
Zoom - accelerate startups, shutdowns, detect required reboots (for servers).
I've spent a month with the programs installed on my computer now. I am on Windows 98SE but Dachshund state that all of their programs (they have 3 others available besides Hare and Zoom) are compatible with any version of Windows. I started the testing phase by reformatting my hard drives and loading all the service packs, drivers, patches, and utilities that I use on a day to day basis. Here's my system configuration and software environment:
All of the above programs were run in the background 100% of the time during the review process. No two personal systems are ever likely to be identical, beyond the operating system installation. The above configuration gives me a very stable platform along with home networking. As you can see, it's not exactly a "supersystem" but neither is it a dog, I am able to play most games with eye candy turned on and get playable framerates.
Before I installed Zoom (Version 1.3.1, Build 211), I spent a week recording times for startups, shutdowns and reboots. I pretty much went about my normal activities and the only things installed during this period of time were 3DMark 2001SE, SiSoft Sandra 2003, Serious Sam The Second Encounter, Half-Life, and Empire Earth, along with the various game patches. Besides laying down a base set of benchmarks with 3DM2001SE and SSSE, (and SiSoft Sandra, but they were irrelevant to the review), I played some games (man, Half-Life single player is great, you should play it again too!), did lots of internet surfing, email, just normal routine stuff. Once Zoom was installed, it was more of exactly the same for a week, minus the benchmarking.
Zoom - Main Menu
Within Zoom, there are 4 tabs. The first one allows you to enable Zoom, stating: "If this option is selected, Zoom will automatically accelerate any shutdown, reboot, suspend or hibernate request". I don't use suspend or hibernate, so it was simply a matter of enabling Zoom and taking the data from the week in exactly the same manner as above, without Zoom. There is also an option on the first tab to enable Fly, which is supposed to utilize drivers and "services" only as needed, however I saw no difference with Fly turned on or off.
Zoom - Wizard options
Zoom's second tab contains 3 wizards, the first is to shutdown the computer, but it's exactly the same as shutting down normally, ie., from the Windows start menu. You get a little window that pops up and says "accelerating", regardless of which manner you chose to shut down. The second wizard is Compare Speed, which is supposed to benchmark your system by loading dll's and system startup files both with and without Zoom enabled. It tells me that I should gain 20% time but that my results may vary. Right, mine varied rather substantially from that. The third wizard is to enable or disable startup items, which is exactly the same thing that can be found within Windows TweakUI utility (free) - just a list of programs that are loaded at startup, that you can uncheck to speed up startup.
Zoom - Shutdown Options
Here's what I found:
Results from Running Zoom
Well, not very impressive. 1 second variance is certainly within margin for error on startups and shutdowns but my reboots take substantially more time with the program enabled. I will also note that under Zoom's third tab, I had "make startup snapshot" enabled (unlike the screenshot above), in theory this should greatly accelerate startup as long as no new software is introduced into the system.
Zoom - Miscellaneous Options
And finally, on the fourth tab, there are options for 1) enable startup cache, 2) on startup launch programs and drivers simultaneously and 3) on shutdown, close programs that aren't responding - all 3 of these options were enabled while using Zoom. I continually monitored these time as I moved into the Hare testing phase, and found no improvements.
Well, that was no howling success but I'm FAR more interested in Hare than I was in Zoom - this is where the money shot is as far as I'm concerned, given that I'm supposed to get better framerates while gaming. According to Dachshund, "Hare will improve performance no matter what software you use, thanks to a revolutionary compact 88-bit kernel, which accelerates common system instructions.....Hare determines automatically what program you use, and how much CPU it must allocate to it."
Hare - Main Menu
Once again, the main program menu presents 4 tabs, though Hare is much more complex than Zoom. Having said that, it's probably user friendly enough for an "average" computer user, certainly most people reading this will easily be able to navigate through the menus. The 2 options on the first tab are to enable Hare and enable CPU Tasking which "will allocate as much CPU as possible to the frontmost program for up to 200% acceleration." At all times, both of these options were enabled, hey, I want to get the most out of this, right? Under CPU Tasking Settings, there's a slider to allocate CPU resources to programs, default or "optimal" is 95% and it was left there.
Hare - Wizard Options
The second tab is where things start to have a little more depth. There are wizards for Mem Doubler, Compare Speed, and WinOptimize. Clicking Mem Doubler gives you some info on how much free RAM and page file you have, and the options to either "wash" or defragment your RAM. "Washing" the RAM supposedly gives that "just booted feeling" (sounds like a feminine hygeine commercial). I used it numerous times before and after running benchmarks, with absolutely zero net effect.
Hare - Mem Doubler in action
Hare - Mem Doubler finished
The RAM defragment however does free up system memory, especially if you've been on the computer performing various functions for a while. After defragment is run (takes 10-15 seconds) you get a new graph showing how much RAM you've gained back - mine typically said anywhere from 40% to 60% gain back, and I could definitely see a difference in gaming benchmark scores on an old boot. HOWEVER, in real life, if I wanted to benchmark my system for comparison with others or go on the net for some gaming, I would be working on a fresh boot with all background programs turned off, so for me this isn't really a useful function.
I will also mention that there is an "automatically defragment" checkbox under Settings. When I set it to automatically defragment, it interrupted my benchmarking runs to defragment the RAM. So, that got unchecked in a hurry.
Hare - Benchmarking Program
Compare Speed wizard worked very much as the wizard in Zoom, giving me an entirely unrealistic estimate of what I was gaining by using the program. By the time I got to looking closely at WinOptimize, I was too scared to let the program mess with my registry and Windows database. I'll do it once the review is finished and add a footnote telling you if my Windows install survived heh.
Dachshund Software home page
The next tab is for multimedia, this is where the 3d acceleration (3 checkboxes called MultiMediaNow, GameZap and HolyVision - geez, it hurts when I roll my eyes back in my head like that) takes place. Well, in for a penny in for a pound, let's turn it all on and see what happens.
Statistically speaking, a meaningless 0.4 fps (0.7%) increase in Sam. And, yes, I find it unusual to come with the EXACT same 3DMark 2001SE score too, but this is after 8 runs on/8 runs off, averaged, so the data stands up. 0.00% improvement. Impressed?
If you have read this far you are either a) very bored or b) VERY interested...And you know what my recommendation is going to be. I haven't mentioned that I did have 3 or 4 total system hangs, it could happen anyways knowing Windows but...And I haven't mentioned that MOST (not all) settings changes require a reboot to take effect - so much for speeding things up. I ran the benchmarks on fresh boots, old boots, rubber boots, you name it. The bottom line is, I have tried my damndest to be very thorough and scientific about this and take my time looking for the benefits but they just aren't there. For $61 USD I think I'd rather have a new DVD drive or some more RAM or, well, just about anything.
Your actual results may vary.
PS - my system survived WinOptimize, with no noticable changes in the very short term.