Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 115 / DECEMBER 1989 / PAGE 134


Back when your PC was new, it seemed fast and responsive. Now it feels sluggish and outdated. Perhaps it's an older model, or maybe it's new and you just crave a faster machine. You could buy an accelerator board, but you don't want to spend that kind of money. Short of stepping up the voltage, what can you do to add some pep to your tired CPU?

If you have some extra memory in your computer, your best option may be Multisoft's PC-Kwik Power Pak. Unlike other memory-resident programs, these programs are designed to share the same RAM—when one program finishes its work, it gives back the memory to the other programs. Now you don't have to decide between a RAM cache and a ramdisk program or between a print spooler and a screen accelerator. With Power Pak, you can have all four—and a keyboard accelerator, too.

The center of Power Pak's memory-resident universe is Multi-soft's highly-regarded RAM-cache program, Super PC-Kwik. The ram-disk, print spooler, and screen accelerator work only when the cache program is loaded, because they borrow their memory from the cache's memory.

A typical cache program stores in memory the most recent information the computer has read from the disk in case it's needed again. When the information is requested again, the computer reads it from RAM, which can be read much faster than a floppy or even a hard disk. Power Pak's cache program can use as little as 64K or as much as 16 megabytes and can run in conventional, expanded, or extended memory.

PC-Kwik Power Pak packs many tools.

I used Multisoft's benchmark program to repeatedly load a 512-byte and a 4096-byte file with a floppy disk-based PC. The total time was 888 seconds without the cache, 706 seconds with a 128K cache, 648 seconds with a 256K cache, 405 seconds with a 384K cache, and 404 seconds with a 450K cache. In general, the larger the cache's buffer the better, but performance varies according to the application's use of the disk, the amount of data being used, and how often the data is read from the disk.

Power Pak's second program is a ramdisk program. Like a cache, a ramdisk takes information from your floppy or hard disk and places it into your computer's memory for faster access. But, unlike a cache program, a ramdisk lets you select specific files to speed up. Power Pak's ramdisk program also expands and contracts to accommodate the size of its files.

You might use the ramdisk to hold the few program files you use most often and use the cache program to speed up the rest. Power Pak even lets you install a second ramdisk. Try copying a file from one ramdisk to the other: The file copies instantly, and, because the drives aren't used, you won't hear a thing.

Next, we come to Power Pak's print-spooler program. Like the ramdisk, the spooler automatically borrows its memory from the cache program. When you print a document, the print spooler captures the data before it reaches the printer, writes a copy of it to RAM, and then returns control of the computer to you. To use the least amount of memory, the spooler compresses your printer data before writing it to RAM. If the spooler does run out of memory, it automatically waits for more memory to become available as your data prints.

You can monitor the progress of your files with the spooler's pop-up display. It lets you pause, suspend, flush, or resume printing; insert printer control codes; disable and reenable the spooler; change to single-sheet printing; and modify the printer's output rate.

When the spooler is operating, you may sometimes notice a temporary delay in either your printer or, less often, in the program you're running. This happens because your computer's processor is being shared between the spooler and your program. Power Pak intelligently manages this with far fewer delays than other printer spoolers.

The fourth Power Pak program, the screen accelerator, speeds the output of text to your video screen. How much improvement you'll see depends on your display adapter. A CGA display will increase in speed 200-400 percent, an EGA or VGA display will increase 300-600 percent, but a Hercules monochrome display will improve only 30-100 percent.

When used with the cache program, the screen accelerator includes a handy scroll-back feature that lets you see text that has scrolled off the screen. The default is 16K, which is only enough for four screens, but the maximum can be set to nearly the size of the cache. If you have problems with flickering or snow on your CGA screen, you'll be happy to know that the screen accelerator can cure that problem, too.

Finally, Power Pak includes a keyboard accelerator that increases the rate a character is repeated when you hold down its key. The normal DOS rate is nine characters per second, which means it takes a full nine seconds to move the cursor across the screen. Power Pak's keyboard accelerator can increase the rate up to 100 characters per second, offer gradual acceleration, make the horizontal cursor keys twice as fast as the vertical keys, eliminate character run-on for fast cursor stops, and let you select which keys to speed up.

PC-Kwik Power Pak is easy to install, and in most cases you can use its automatic configuration. Multisoft is so confident you'll like its product that it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It's a safe bet on Multisoft's part: Once you get a glimpse of life in the fast lane, you'll never look back.


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