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Newsletter Contents

.RDRAM and SiS
.Samsung CDRW
.PC2700 DDR
.Folding @ Home
.802.11B Roundup
.PC3000 DDR Memory
.Colin's Weekly Tips

The Pentium 4 and RDRAM Yet Again?

Tablet PC's like the Compaq TC1000 increase battery life by using the Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 CPU - a 1GHz chip that requires very little electricity.

As many of you settle in for some well deserved time off during the March break, things at continue to be very busy. Rumour has it that a Tablet PC with Microsoft's Tablet PC Edition of WindowsXP will be surfacing soon for you to read about... For those who have never seen one before, a Tablet PC is a relatively new type of computer that bridges the portability of a PDA with the capabilities of a notebook.

Of course another way to look at Tablet PC's is as a laptop with the keyboard cut off - but that doesn't tell the whole story anymore. With the release of Microsoft's Tablet PC Edition of Windows XP there are tools which integrate standard handwriting into the daily use of computers. For example, using instant messaging services like Messenger used to be the acid test of a persons typing skills, but no longer. Those messages can now be written out with a special pen on the screen of the Tablet PC as if you were, well, writing on paper. The computer uses some pretty fancy algorithms to then translate those written words into text, or in other cases, keep it in written format. Stay tuned, we'll have more on this shortly.

This week I've decided to focus on optical drives since a whole bunch of 52X CDRW's have recently crossed the test bench. In addition to the CDROM's we have a look at some PC2700 DDR memory for dual channel nForce2 applications, a return look at some 802.11b wireless networking gear and last but not least a PC3000 DDR memory review. C. Angelini has some very interesting things to say about chipsets which support RDRAM, and what is in store for this memory in the future.

Samsung SW-252B 52x24x52 CD-RW Review
Read Article Now!

While Samsung monitors are well known amongst consumers, the companies' optical devices have only recently begun to generate notice amongst cash-strapped consumers. After all, the competition in the optical drive industry is incredibly high, and even mainboard manufacturers are entering into the fold. Enough of that, today we're going to throw Samsung's latest CD-RW the SW-252B into the pit and see just how it stands up to the competition. With a rating of 52x write, 24x rewrite and 52x read speed, you won't be able to find anything faster then the SW-252B currently on the market. In terms of features, the drive has a large 8MB frame buffer as well as Buffer Under Run Free technology (all these BURN proof type technologies work on the same concept) and can support even 90min (790 MB) CD-R's! The SW-252 also supports all the usual writing methods, DAO (Disc At Once), TAO (Track At Once), SAO (Session At Once) and Multi session Packet Writing (both variable and fixed). Unfortunately the Samsung SW-252B is not quite available to the public yet so I'm not sure how much the unit will retail for, but Samsung usually prices their products quite aggressively.

Read the Rest...

Visit the ShoppingList Page (as of March 1st) for the March 2003 Budget $599 System, $1500 Mainstream System and $2500 High-End Performance System hardware recommendations.

MSI CR52-A2 52x24x52x CD-RW Review

In our ever unquenchable need for speed and performance, CD writers have gotten so fast that that their CD-ROM/DVD-ROM's counterparts cannot keep up! Unless you have a True-X based CD-ROM, there's no way you're going to be able to do a 52x CD to CD burn on the fly. While MSI has been in producing various computer components for a very long time now, they're still relative newbies in the optical storage market. Of course MSI has not forgotten what has made such a successful company, their CR52-A2 52x24x52 CD-RW offers value in the form of a retail price of $85 CDN ($60 US). The MSI 52x24x52 CD-RW obviously offers 52x speed write, 24x rewrite (24x media is almost impossible to find though) and 52x read which is comparable to other 52x CD-RW's currently being marketed. The writer boasts a 2MB buffer, but with BURN-proof (Buffer Under RuN) technology, you really don't need to worry about buffer size as much as in the past. The front bezel is snow white in colour rather then the ugly "pre beige" some other manufacturers use.

Read the Rest...

OCZ PC2700 EL Dual Channel Memory 2x 256MB Kit
It was only a matter of time before manufacturers and their marketing departments jumped all over the "dual channel DDR" craze created by nVIDIA's nForce2 (Athlon) and Intel's Granite Bay/Springdale/Canterwood (P4) chipsets. In all honesty I understand why they did it, after all if you can charge more for DIMM's "tested" to run properly together why not do it? Like everything else in life it always all comes down to money. Today we're going to be checking out OCZ's PC2700 EL (Enhanced Latency) memory kit which consists of two 256MB modules intended for dual channel DDR motherboards. OCZ equip this memory with black aluminum heatspreaders which are supposed to help with passive cooling, but considering that there are four DRAM's per side I don't think this is really all that necessary. The black aluminum heat spreader looks sleek and at least offers some static protection to the precious DRAM's below. Of course, being our usual curious selves we wanted to see what was under the hood on these PC2700 modules. With care and caution we pried the heatspreaders off and found four 256Mbit DRAM's per side with a OCZ 252US X4W560840A-40 markings on them. With a -40 (4ns) speed rating on it, the DRAM modules are rated to run up to a maximum speed of 250 MHz! Of course as we have seen past, just because the memory has all the markings of a good overclocker doesn't make it so. OCZ has been pretty good to us so far though, so we had some pretty high hopes in store for overclocking this memory.

Read the Rest...

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802.11b Wireless LAN Networking Roundup PC3000 DDR366 RAM Review

Read Article Now!

Wireless LAN's are gaining in popularity with a speed that is eclipsing the rate at which Ethernet's were originally adopted by home users. The chance to "split the cable" as it were and share one high-speed internet connection over an entire home Ethernet brought about a surge in Broadband routers to make the process simpler. Now, with wireless coming into the spotlight we are faced with multiple choices, features, and useability. The 2.4GHz 802.11b standard is even being challenged by 802.11a and the upcoming 802.11g which will bring more bandwidth to the table. The real question right now for users accustomed to simple-to-setup Broadband connections is whether or not the cost of going wireless is justifiable. That justification comes in several ways; connection speeds, freedom from wires, and setup. Theoretically, a wireless network should offer about the same page load times as a broadband connection which generally operates on a 10-BaseT connection from the cable modem anyhow. In reality, things are not always ideal, and then there are the security issues.

Read the Rest...

AMD Athlon processors received a huge boost in performance when the motherboard manufacturers transitioned from SDRRAM based systems to DDR. Regardless of the gains PC1600 DDR and PC2100 first brought to the table, the performance market craved more, and shortly thereafter PC2400 and PC2700 rated DDR began to pop up. Sooner or later, even the mighty PC2700 DDR333 would be surpassed by something better and faster. The next level in DDR memory was met by PC3000, or DDR366. But first a little history. Soon after DDR came out companies such as TwinMOS, OCZ and Corsair started releasing DDR RAM that catered towards all those warranty voiding people such as myself, some of it was true PC2400 or PC2700, and some of it was overclocked memory. We've seen some really good results from the PC2400 DDR that OCZ released earlier, which is reviewed right here, and now they have up'ed the ante with their PC3000 memory. Priced at about $90USD for a 256MB stick, it's some of the least expensive "high" performance DDR DIMM's available! Read the Rest...

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips

Colin Sun
Today: Wipe out Pesky Arrows in Shortcuts
A few weeks ago a reader asked me if I knew how to removed those pesky arrows that come with shortcut icons. At the time I didn't know how to do that, but I do now and it's a very easy.

Let's open up regedit, go to Start then run and from there type regedit. From there follow this path HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT -> lnkfile (that's an L). Inside there rename the IsShortcut String value to AriochIsShortcut. Reboot your machine and now you will notice all your shortcut icon's no longer have that annoying little arrow. This works with both WindowsXP and Win2k, I'm not sure if it works with Win98 to be honest I haven't even touched a Win9x based OS in the last year.

On a side note, I would like to congradulate all the Folding@Home team members! Without your participation we wouldn't have broken the top 100 teams so quickly... It's amazing, we started the PCStats Folding@Home team about two months ago and were ranked in the 5500th position, now we're team # 99 (as of 5PM EST March 5th). I'm very proud of everyone and keep up the awesome work!

Come to the PCStats forums and share your thoughts, I look forward to chatting with you!
Colin's Tips Archives | Forums

The Last Word: Folding @ Home - Does your computer sit idle during the day, or overnight? Why not use put those spare CPU cycles to good use and join the PCStats Folding @ Home Team! It's for a good scientific cause and it's also a lot of fun.

Folding @ Home is a Stanford University distributed computing project. The project uses a screen saver that makes use of idle computer time to study protein folding related diseases such as Alzheimer's, Mad Cow (BSE), CJD, ALS, and Parkinson's.

For more information, and to download the necessary files, please visit the Team PCStats Folding@Home forum discussion. You can make a difference, and all you have to do is support this worthwhile cause. Tell your friends to sign up for their own weekly Newsletter here.

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PCstats Issue

Circulation: 188,000

The High Tech Low Down

By: Chris Angelini

Whether or not you dislike Rambus' business practices, it would be hard to deny that the i850E chipset is still one of the fastest platforms available for the Pentium 4. But as we all know, Intel has forsaken the RDRAM memory architecture in favor of single and now dual-channel DDR systems. Rambus isn't dead, though. We've previously discussed SiS' R658 chipset boasting PC1066 memory support. Well, according to my source, ABIT is on the verge of shipping its SI7 motherboard based on that same chipset, compatible with PC1200 memory.

Even more interesting, SiS recently announced plans for its R659 chipset with four channels of PC1200 RDRAM, offering an incredible 9.6GB per second of memory bandwidth. The North Bridge will be accompanied by SiS' 964 South Bridge sporting integrated USB 2.0 and Serial ATA. ASUS has already been named as a development partner, tentatively introducing the board in Q3 '03. With that in mind, it'd be safe to guess that SiS is aiming to support Intel's 800MHz front side bus Pentium 4. Interestingly, that processor will have 6.4GB of bandwidth, corresponding to a dual channel DDR400 platform. For now, I can almost guarantee that populating a four-channel board with PC1200 memory will be an expensive project, so you'd best start saving now if it sounds appealing.

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