We last reviewed XCPUScalar in June 2004. A little over 2 years later what has changed?
Support for more devices including Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices
Underclock as low as 104MHz and overcook as high as 728MHz depending on your XScale CPU
I FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED
So, how does it work? Before I give you my overall opinion, let's take a look at the various options and settings available in XCPUScalar 2006.
This is the rest of the "Speed" tab which features the Auto Scale with CPU load, TaskBar Meter and color options.
You may notice the graphic glitch in the screenshot above. I found several of these while using the program. Considering the Treo 700w has a very slow video processor, I am willing to give XCPUScalar the benefit of the doubt. I have not seen these glitches in any other program on my Treo, though.
One of the best features of XCPUScalar is the "Auto Scale with CPU load" option. This allows you to let the program decide the best speed for your device based on what it is doing and how hard the CPU is working. The concept is, most applications do not stress the CPU. So, you should be able to get better battery life out of your device by underclocking the CPU most of the time and only speeding it up when it is needed. Let's take a look at the "Advanced" tab where the settings for Auto Scale are located.
You can define speeds for various CPU loads, which is VERY nice.
You will also notice the "Ignore Safety Checks on Start" option in the above screenshot. Normally, XCPUScalar performs a safety check when it is started or after a soft reset if you have it set to start automatically. The safety check makes sure that your device will boot at the speed you have chosen. If it does not boot, XCPUScalar will return your device to the stock clock speed. If you are feeling brave, the "Ignore" option lets you bypass those safety checks and force XCPUScalar to run at the speed you have chosen.
Another built-in safety check runs while the device connected to a desktop PC using ActiveSync. XCPUScalar will automatically return your device to the stock clock speed during the ActiveSync session to prevent conflicts. After all, ActiveSync is quite capable of messing up on its' own... it certainly does not need any help!
TAKE IT TO 11
I used XCPUScalar for several weeks on my Treo 700w. Unfortunately, I was unable to get SPB Benchmark to run on my device so I will not be able to give you scientific speed results. This was not XCPUScalar's fault because SPB Benchmark would not run after a hard reset even before I installed XCPUScalar. So, I will give you my subjective "feeling" on how my device performed while running XCPUScalar.
I found that using the Auto Scale function worked splendidly and I used that most of the time. Approximately 80% of the time, XCPUScalar was able to downclock the CPU to 208MHz. This resulted in a battery life bonus of about 10%. Fortunately, the Treo's battery life is pretty good anyway, but for some of the more "longevity-challenged" devices, this could be a real bonus. When playing games such as Bejeweled 2, which is notoriously CPU-intensive, XCPUScalar scaled my CPU smoothly up to 520MHz. The author tells me that some people using the Treo have even run the CPU at 624MHz, but I am not quite that brave. The device was perfectly stable at speeds between 208 and 520MHz. The only difference that I noticed was a slight lag when the program us ramping up the processor speed. This lag is barely noticeable, but it is there. This is definitely not a deal-breaker... in fact, I don't think most people would even notice it.
I also used XCPUScalar to run my Treo at 416MHz for an entire day. Truth be told, there really just is not too much that I do on a normal basis that requires that speed. I carefully watched the TaskBar meter and I never saw the CPU load go past 75% except for very brief moments. Battery life suffered about 15-20% when overclocked to 416MHz which is really not too bad.
There is a very limited trial available which does not save any settings and will not allow you to use the Auto Scale function. I recommend giving the trial a spin just to make sure that your device does not reject the clock changes. If you like it you can purchase XCPUScalar at any major handheld software store such as PocketGear, for $19.95.
- Supports a wide variety of XScale devices and CPU speeds
- Built-in safety features to prevent damage to your device
- Underclocking your device can provide a significant battery increase
- Graphic glitches on the Treo 700w
- Menus are not designed for 240×240 screens
- Only works with XScale-based devices
Overall, I was very surprised how stable my device was while using XCPUScalar. I was expecting my device to have some problems when changing the speeds up and down, but those problems just did not materialize. The author of this program obviously spent a lot of time testing to ensure stability. I previously used a Verizon XV6700 for an extended test. One of my primary complaints with that device was battery life. On that device, XCPUScalar's Auto Scale function would be great to underclock and extend battery life. I also think XCPUScalar would be great on a high-end VGA device. The bottom line is, give XCPUScalar a try and see what it does for your device.