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.Colin's Weekly Tips

3.2GHz Intel Vs. Athlon64 3200+ Battle Royal

First off, Happy Halloween to all the Ghouls and Goblins out there. :-) The PCstats Newsletter has a bunch of exciting things in store for you this week, including a survey we'll tell you more about in a moment. As you already know, the AMD Athlon64 3200+ processor is still a wee bit hard to find, but it is also pretty hard to beat when it comes to the benchmarks. We took Intel's 3.2GHz Pentium 4 for a test drive recently and compared it to the little green machine from AMD... how did it stand up? Well, as they say on web, you'll have to see our review to find out!

Steadfast fans of the Athlon64 need a motherboard which is just as powerful as that little 64-bit chip. Gigabyte's first entry into the K8 world is called the GA-K8NNXP, and is based on nVidia's nForce3 150 chipset. The board packs in a long list of features for a good workstation platform, including lighting fast 800MB/s IEEE 1394B - or FireWire 2. This is the first and only motherboard we've seen in the PCstats labs to come equipped with both Firewire standards, and I'm sure it will catch on quickly with digital video enthusiasts.

It isn't often that we test out a full gaming system here, but when PCStats does, you can be assured that it's something to take note of. Enter Canada Computers: Ultimate Gaming Machine of 2003. PCstats Industry Insights explores the murky world of 2004, a few mysterious items like ATI's R423 GPU and PCI Express along the way. Also in this newsletter is our review of Kingmax PC3500 DDR433 RAM, and a look at a very important but often overlooked bit of kit; the UPS. Specifically, Belkin's Home Office 500VA UPS.

PCstats Annual Reader Surveyis here, and it is something I hope you'll take a few moments to fill out. Rather than using ADware or other nasty things, when PCstats conducts a Demographic Survey we just ask you straight up. The information you fill out in this anonymous survey is bundled together and used to help PCstats find the most suitable advertising, and that helps to support and the Weekly Newsletter you receive in your mailbox.

Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz-C 800MHz FSB Processor Review
Read it Now!With the "Prescott" core just around the corner, with potentially the "Pentium 5" name attached, but not quite ready to be released, there could be no better time to release the new Intel Pentium 4 3.2C - a 3.2GHz microprocessor. The P4 3.2C, like the other 'C-class' processors, runs on a 800 MHz FSB Northword core. Architecturally it's identical to the P4 3.0C PCstats reviewed previously, and even the lowly P4 1.6A! The P4 3.2C is based on the new D1 revision of the Northwood core and the default voltage has been raised to 1.55V from 1.525V (C1 and 1.5V for the original B0). All Pentium 4 processors running on a 200 MHz FSB have HyperThreading enabled (including the 2.4C, 2.6C and 2.8C) and as we discussed earlier in our The Basics of HyperThreading: What is it? article, HyperThreading like has potential to revolutionize the way microprocessors function. Now, on with the benchmarks! Continue -- Click Here>>

Gigabyte K8NNXP nForce3 150 Motherboard Review
nVIDIA were the first chipset manufacturer other than AMD to support the 64-bit AMD Opteron processor. Titled the "Crush 8," or nForce3 when it was first released, the chipset also promised to support the then forthcoming 64-bit AMD desktop processors which would later be named the Athlon64 and Athlon64 FX. Gigabyte's brand new K8NNXP Athlon64 motherboard boasts an impressive list of features, workstation-oriented addons, and performance stats that should make it a crowd favorite among demanding users. The full-size ATX motherboard is equipped with three DDR DIMM sockets that will support up to 3GB of PC3200 ECC/non-ECC memory. Standard equipment includes Serial ATA/Serial ATA RAID, 8X AGP, IDE RAID, IEEE 1394 Firewire, IEEE 1394B Firewire (800MB/s!!), 5.1 channel audio, dual BIOS, dual Ethernet (one Gigabit, one 10/100) and of course Gigabyte's special dual power supply. Continue -- Click Here>>

Canada Computers: Ultimate Gaming Machine of 2003
Read it Now! After a few weeks of talking back and forth, Canada Computers sent us over their "Ultimate Gaming Machine of 2003" for review... and I can tell you it's a real bad boy. PCStats tends to focus on the individual hardware components a lot because that is what most of our readers tell us they look for when upgrading. But, every now and then we like to break loose, and relax with a full system review. With that in mind, it was quite a pleasure to test out this little silver rig which came fully equipped with all the bells, whistles, and bright neon lights that you could ever want. It also helped that it is was one of the fastest machines on the market too. Canada Computers built the system around an Intel Pentium 4 3.2 C processor on Intel's own D875PBZ "Bonanza" motherboard, backed up by 1GB of OCZ's EL PC3500 DDR memory and an nVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 Ultra reference videocard. That's not all, the system also packs in an SB Audigy 2 Platinum sound card, two 80GB Seagate Serial ATA HDD's (in RAID-0) and a Sony DRU-510A DVD+/-RW drive! Continue -- Click Here>>

i865PE/i875P Special Tweak Tip
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In an earlier TechTip we talked about the importance of CAS Latency to overall AMD system performance. From the response I receiced, many people saw a significant boost from running their memory at CAS Latency at 2 instead of 2.5 or 3. With the new Intel i865PE/i875P based motherboards there's now a new "big memory tweak".

When your computer first POSTs go into your BIOS (you may have to hit the DEL, F1, F2, F12 key). From there find the Advanced Chipset Features tab (if you have it, else you're out of luck for this tip) and find the RAS to CAS Delay. Make sure it's running the at 2/2T, and after that's done save and exit. With an i865PE/i875P based system, assuming the setting takes, you should notice a small performance gain in 2D applications but a significant gain in 3D apps (I'm talking 700+ 3DMarks, 10-20 fps more in Q3)!

Please note that you have to have high quality memory in order to run this setting. If you find that your system becomes unstable after applying this tweak, simply change the RAS to CAS Delay back to default.


Belkin Home Office 500VA UPS

Read it Now! As a computer tech, I have seen almost every possible computer problem that's known, and a few that must have come from outer space! I diagnosed everything from bad IDE ribbon cables to memory with bad bits, but the problem I see most often are blown and dead power supplies. Everyone should use an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) whenever possible. It can extend the life of your PC, and save you from countless headaches. For example, about two months ago when the big North American power outage hit, I lost a full days worth of work because I have bad saving habits... Today we're going to be testing out Belkin's newest Home Office Series of UPS's, specifically the 500VW/300W model. Continue -- Click Here>>

KingMAX SuperRAM PC3500 DDR433 Memory Review

Read it Now! The KingMAX name may not be as immediately familiar with enthusiasts as that of other memory manufacturers, but that doesn't mean it is a brand which should be overlooked. As it stands, Kingmax have a small and growing fan base. This, largely because they charged into the market with their unique TinyBGA memory a year ago, at a time when TSOP-II DRAM was still the default standard. The 512MB PC3500 Kingmax module uses DRAM which is labeled as "KingMAX KDL388P4EA-46." By SPD it's rated to run at 217 MHz with 2.5-4-4-8 timings, with a voltage of just 2.5V. The DRAM have what I assume - many DRAMs are no longer stating their exact speed - are 4.6ns ratings, as that fits just right into the formula for the theoretical maximum speed of the DRAM. Continue -- Click Here>>

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PCstats Issue
Circulation: 259,930

Industry Insights

Last week, I provided you with a bit of insight on possible hardware choices in 2005. It's an ever-changing landscape, difficult to pin down, but a fair bit of "asking around" went into my predictions and though I might not be on the dot, I'm confident that they're in the ballpark.

The graphics market will undoubtedly be very different in 2005 than it is today. For one, we'll be ushering in PCI Express and waving goodbye to the venerable AGP interface, at least on the high-end. ATI's R420 is, of course, expected to be the first PCI Express adapter from the Canadian firm and NV40 will be its primary competition.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with an industry insider being courted by both companies. Though he believes it is too early to tell who'll have the faster product, he seemed fairly certain that ATI's offering will be available first. He also spoke of a model name I hadn't heard of before: ATI's R423. Purportedly, it's the enthusiast version of the R420 chip.

I also promised a bit about networking. Well, there's a very good chance that both the 802.16a and Ultra Wideband standards will be ready to roll by 2005. In other words, wireless broadband will be a distinct possibility!
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. C. Angelini

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