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Newsletter Contents

.ATI and Nvidia duel
.Half-Height MX440
.430W Powersupply
.MSI Metis266 SlimPC
.Folding @ Home
.1.6GHz P4 CPU
.18" LCD Display
.Colin's Weekly Tips

Silent Computers and SFF PC's

I've been playing around with a program lately that let's you write on the computer in your own handwriting called Windows Journal. This is another one of those features that make the Tablet PC we have in the Lab right now so interesting; handwriting apps always seem dodgy at best, but this one is so far getting most of my written words right. I don't want to go into too much detail before you have a chance to read the full review, but I would like to know how many of you have had luck using voice recognition software? Maybe its me, maybe it's the microphone, but it never seems to get anything I say correct... "green chicken road is to crossing" is a good Haiku, but that's about it.

As the title of this weeks newsletter suggests, I've put together a small assortment of hardware which is easy on the ears. For starters you'll find the rather cool Hush Technologies computer mentioned in today's TechWatch; it was only just announced at CeBit 2003 so it may still be awhile before anyone gets their hands on it.

Following Techwatch we have MSI's answer to the Small Form Factor PC craze; the Metis 266. We ran the rather stylish barebones through the benchmarks with the help of a half-height MSI GF4 MX440 card (which uses no fan). Also worth reading about is the Antec Truepower 430W powersupply which is a good replacement to consider if you have a standard desktop PC with a noisy PSU... or dieing PSU fan for that matter. For good luck, and for some serious desktop space saving an 18.1" LCD monitor can often do the trick. Last but not least we have a look back at the impressive P4 1.6GHz Northwood - an older chip by current standards, but one Colin and I have been overclocking pretty high lately.

Remember to check out Colin's Weekly Tech Tips, and if you use voice recognition on a day-to-day basis I'd like to hear how it works for you. To those Newsletter subscribers who have bumped into Colin on the street and said "hi", we're glad to have you with us, and thanks for reading each week. :)

MSI G4MX440-T8X Half Height Videocard Review
Read Article Now! While ATi and nVIDIA battle it out for the performance crown it's actually their mainstream/budget videocards that bring in most of the money. Win the mainstream battle and you'll win the war as they say. To this effect, nVIDIA know that their TNT2 M64, GeForce2 MX and GeForce4 MX line of videocards have long been popular with manufacturers and OEM's. It's not that ATi cannot offer the same type of product, it's just that until recently ATi has been focusing more on being a performance leader and offering competitive pricing on their flagship line of cards only. Based on a standard PCB, the MSI G4MX440-T8X is quite a small videocard, and could be useful for servers as small as 2U who are without on board video options. The black aluminum heatsink on the other hand got extremely hot at stock, but we were still able to get a good overclock. Read the Rest...

Antec TruePower 430W Power Supply Review
Power supplies are one of the most basic building blocks of a computer system, and they are also one of the most important . We've generally had pretty good experiences with Antec's power supplies around here, so today we'll be looking their TruePower 430W model. I'm sure from your perspective a power supply looks like is a pretty bland thing - after all, it's really just a metal box with some circuitry inside that you install once, and forget about. Apart from the odd noisy fan, or a motor seizure which causes overheating, there really isn't much to worry about, or is there? Read the Rest...

TechWatch German Engineering - Sexy, Silent and Fast?
By: M. Page

Raise your hands if you want a computer that sounds as loud as vacuum cleaner, or that old 1974 Volkswagon Bug down the street that hasn't has a muffler since 1984. Not many takers eh? The Hush Technologies Mini-ITX PC is a fine example of German engineering, designed and built in Stuttgart, home of Mercedes and Porsche.

The computer is not much larger than a good piece of stereo equipment, or DVD player, and is essentially silent. The only moving parts in the entire computer are the slim line optical drive which hides behind a custom machined aluminum plate, and the hard drive which is nestled away inside behind thick aluminum walls. Under the hood is a VIA EPIA platform with C3 E-Series processor, but there are no fans for cooling so what gives?

VIA's C3 processor does not run as hot, or fast as an Intel Pentium 4, but the CPU still requires a heatsink of some sort. Hush Technologies have gotten around this noise creating limitation by placing the heatsink on the outside of the computer, as part of the chassis in fact. A specially engineered device called a heatpipe transfers the heat from the processor to this external heatsink which is large enough to be cooled without the need for any noisy fans. There is a little more to it then that, but as someone who works around computers almost 24x7, I can really appreciate any efforts to make these machines less noisy. For more information on the specifics of the Hush Technologies Mini-ITX PC, please check the Industry News section at right here.

MSI Metis 266 Slim PC System Review

The MSI Metis 266 SlimPC AMD AthlonXP bare bones system. Sleek, black, and packed full of features like video, audio, and networking.
It seems the Small Form Factor PC craze that started early last year by an obscure Taiwanese mainboard manufacturer looking to diversify is really taking off. With several smaller manufacturers already jumping on the SFF bandwagon, it was only a matter of time before the "big guns" introduced their own take on SFF type systems - coined the SlimPC, or 'book size' PC, this system from MSI is just one such example.MSI Computer have named this very sleek, very clean looking black & grey slim PC system the Metis 266. Based around MSI's very own Socket A Micro ATX MS-6390 (VIA KM266) motherboard, the system supports any 200/266 MHz FSB Athlon based processors. For those of you who might be wondering what exactly a Barebones system is, it might help you to know that the term "Barebones" is used by the industry to describe a prebuilt computer which generally consists of a preinstalled motherboard, case, power supply and heatsink - and that's about it.Read the Rest...

Visit the ShoppingList Page for the March 2003 Budget $599 System, $1500 Mainstream System and $2500 High-End Performance System hardware recommendations.

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Intel Pentium 4 1.6A GHz Review Hitachi CML181SXW 18.1 inch TFT LCD Display

Read Article Now!

Overclockers and enthusiasts have really taken a liking to Intel's Pentium 4 1.6A. The gem of a processor operates at 1.6GHz and is based on the newer "Northwood" core which takes advantage of the 0.13 micron manufacturing process. The small die size enables Intel to build much faster P4's running at 2.4GHz and even 2.53GHz. With that in mind, you have to wonder just how high the lower ranks of Northwood P4's can be pushed... the potential is definitely there! Read the Rest...

Hitachi are firmly entrenched with the corporate markets who need cost effective displays with the best amount of features to keep the workers happy. At just over $900USD, for a 18.1" TFT LCD the CML181SXW has to be one of the most aggressive priced LCD's on the market today. The CML181SXW series uses a 18.1" active matrix TFT LCD with a 1280x1024 resolution screen. That is comparable to a 19" CRT display. The LCD monitor is capable of displaying 16.7 Million colors and features a 0.280mm dot pitch, contrast ratio of 350:1, brightness of 235 cd/m2, pixel response time of somewhere around 30-35ms.Read the Rest...

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips

Colin Sun
Today: Sorting out the mess
In real life I'm a messy person; papers and computer parts sit around me like a giant technological campfire of sorts. However, when it comes to my computer programs, folders and files, I like things clean and well sorted. One really cool feature in Windows XP is the ability to do a mass renaming of files or folders - especially useful if you have a bunch of .chk files!

Select all the files you'd wish to rename and simply press the F2 key. After you rename the first file, you'll notice that all the rest of the highlighted files have a (*) where the * represents a number.

This sounds easy, but it does take a few tries to get it right, so don't get discouraged if have to try again.

Note to all the Newsletter subscribers... While I really enjoy receiving e-mail from all of you, I simply cannot reply to everything that is sent to me. If you're looking for some good educated computer advice make sure you drop by the forums. I'm in there, and the other members are just as knowledgeable! Hope to see you there! =)

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: 185,940

The High Tech Low Down

By: Chris Angelini

The anticipated announcement of ATI's RADEON 9800 Pro has come and gone. For those who were expecting performance improvements, it may have been a disappointment. But in all reality, the 9800 Pro is all that ATI needs to maintain an advantage over NVIDIA's GeForce FX, which is fundamentally unavailable anyway.

Both graphics companies also announced mainstream cards - the RADEON 9600 and 9200 families for ATI and the FX 5600 and 5200 lines for NVIDIA. Soon after, NVIDIA proclaimed itself to be the first company offering top-to-bottom (enthusiast to mainstream) DirectX 9-compliant hardware. Apparently, someone at NVIDIA has a sense of humor.

I've heard rumors, though, from several sources that claim NVIDIA's NV35 won't roll over as easily. In fact, it has taped out already and is running in NVIDIA's lab. For now I'll abide by the saying, "Once burned, twice shy," but don't be surprised if NVIDIA regains the ground it previously lost, and then some. In fact, we may be seeing NV35 cards as soon as June or July.

Even less is known about the next thing to emerge from ATI, but early rumblings place R400 late this year or early 2004. Regardless, it's a long ways off and many things can change between then and now.

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