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Intel and AMD Tech Releases

I just got off the phone with a videocard and motherboard manufacturer you all know very well. It seems that we can start looking forward to nVidia nForce3-250 based Athlon64 motherboards towards the end of this month. The preliminary impression is that you can expect the nF3-250 to match performance levels of VIA's K8T800 Athlon64 chipset, but not necessarily outperform it. According to our past reviews, the nF3-150 chipset had a hard time performing at the full Hypertransport speeds of 800MHz 16-bits wide (upstream/downstream). Looking further along the horizon, socket 939 solutions will begin appearing in March, and in April we are anticipating Intel to release the i925x and i915 chipsets (previously known as Grantsdale and Alderwood) which will bring the long awaited PCI express and Intel socket LGA775 to the table.

With Spring just around the corner, this week we try out a rather nice computer bag from Tom Bihn. The crimson coloured 'Smart Alec' knapsack pairs well with a tough notebook case called the 'monolith' that slips inside. If you're tired of lugging around a laptop over the shoulder, I'm sure you find this review of great interest. OCZ's PC3200 dual channel DDR kit got some high marks as it overclocked up to 240MHz on a stock Intel system.

Increased Wireless speeds are always a welcomed upgrade, and so Mike has tested Gigabyte's new 802.11g WiFi access point, which features an extra PCMCIA slot for dual-band compatibility. Lastly, PCstats tackles the topic of unsolicited commercial email in our latest guide. We have a couple tips to manage the junkmail you already get, and guidelines on how to avoid getting more of it.

And since PCstats is not junkmail, why not tell a friend to subscribe here, so they can try out the PCstats Newsletter for themselves? :)

Tom Bihn Smart Alec and Monolith Computer Bags Review
Read it Now!

There are two schools of thought on bags intended especially for carrying around computers and like-wired accessories. Either you got it for free when you bought your notebook, or you went out and specifically found a designer bag that a.) looks decent, and b.) is bound to be another colour other than black. Let's face it, these default standard computer bags tend to be pleather, pretty utilitarian, and the equivalent of the 1980's brown Columbo trench coat. In other words, they get the job done but you end up looking like just another computer geek toting around a 20lb black rectangular bag make from plastic cows that don't mooo. People, there are better options out there; bags that will protect a notebook from bumps, hold more wires and cables, and frankly look a damn-sight cooler. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Stopping Junk Email
Read it Now! The use of email as a mass-marketing tool has become an epidemic particular to the current global use of computers in our society. According to one recent opinion, over 45% of all email sent over the Internet is unwanted and uninvited. This is a conservative estimate, while an average email account may start out pristine and useful, it quickly accumulates layers of unsolicited commercial email like the age rings of a tree, until the whole thing collapses under its own weight. So what to do about it? Many processes have been set in motion to declare unsolicited commercial email illegal, but as yet no law exists to really regulate it. The best way of dealing with unsolicited commercial email currently is through avoidance and redirection. It's sort of like the 'if a tree falls in the forest...' question. If unsolicited commercial email lands in an inbox, and no one is there to read it, does it really exist? Answer is, who cares? Let's look at what unsolicited commercial email is, and how to filter it out of your life like the hairball in your sink. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q:I assembled a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 computer recently with a Gigabyte (Intel 865G) motherboard. When I set the 'top performance' setting in the BIOS, my computer doesn't work... When I cleared the CMOS by removing the battery, my computer worked fine. Can you tell me why this happens so I can fix it?

A: The 'top performance' BIOS option is found on many Gigabyte motherboards. It changes the memory timings of the system to deliver higher performance. Depending your computer's memory, you may or may not be able to enable this successfully. By lowering the memory timings, you are attempting to force your computer's memory to transmit data more promptly, which should increase the overall software performance of the computer. Most motherboard manufacturers implement some version of this 'turbo' switch in the BIOS and getting them to work can be a toss-up.

According to Gigabyte, success using the 'top performance' setting depends on the configuration of your computer, and it is not guaranteed to work every time. Gigabyte's implementation apparently changes memory timing options which cannot otherwise be set in the BIOS, and requires memory able to run at low latency timings. Your memory is likely not capable of performing with these settings, which does not mean it is defective, just that it is not capable of the more aggressive memory timings. Take a look at Colin's excellent article on Memory Latency vs. Bandwidth for a more detailed exploration of how memory timings work (or don't). Tune in next week for a question about the upcoming BTX form factor and upgrading to it. To submit your question, send us an email.

Gigabyte GN-A17GU 802.11g WiFi Access Point Review
Read it Now!

Combining complete compatibility with the now-standard 802.11b with improved speed and security mechanisms, WIFI ‘g’ does not really have a downside. Business users have been among the first to jump on the 802.11g bandwagon, as the new standard offers increased security over the previously flawed implementations of WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol). Wireless Protected Access, or WPA is the latest wireless encryption scheme to come along, and most WIFI ‘g’ products now support it. For today’s review, we take a look at Gigabyte’s entry into the WIFI ‘g’ business arena, the GN-A17GU wireless access point. Gigabyte has released several wireless ‘g’ products recently, and the company is starting to make a name for itself in the business wireless market. The GN-A17GU can be considered their first foray into ‘corporate’ 802.11g products. Continue Here>>

OCZ PC3200 Platinum LTD Edition Memory Review
Read it Now! Gamers and enthusiasts are always looking to speed up their prized PCs, and one way to reach such ends is to find the perfect pair of overclockers DDR. It's a tough search for certain, but the rewards can be very fulfilling in the long run. In this review, PCstats will be testing out a set of 512MB modules of OCZ's PC3200 Platinum Edition which are priced at $405CDN. You may already be thinking the OCZ PC3200 Platinum Limited Edition memory is "only PC3200," and why would anyone want a set of those DIMMs instead of a pair of "PC5000 Ultra Extreme Terminal Prejudice 2 DDR?" Well, if you're a seasoned overclocker you know what to look for when it comes to memory... and that little nugget just happens to be the Winbond BH-6 DRAM this set of OCZ memory use.Continue Here>>

The 'Quickening'
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Have you ever found your computer slowing to a crawl when working on the network? That's because WindowsXP by default, uses your CPU to process network tasks instead of off loading them onto the network card which obviously chews up less resources.

Luckily if you have a good network card you can force Windows to do all the calculations at the network card instead of on your processor.

First load up regedit (start -> run then type regedit and press ok). >From there follow this path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControlSet -> Services -> Tcpip -> Parameters and find/create the DisableTaskoffload DWORD value. Set its value to 0 then save and reboot.

Once that's done WindowsXP will use your NIC's processing power to handle any network tasks instead of the main processor.

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PCstats Issue
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Industry Insights

If you don't already own a luscious hi-definition television, I'd imagine you've at least lusted over the technology. There's an undeniable appeal associated with big screens and high resolutions. Unfortunately, that stuff costs money - lots of it. But there's another way to achieve hi-def glory without spending gratuitous amounts of money. It's called HDTV on your PC, and any number of HDTV tuner cards will enable the functionality with a bit of help from a directional antenna.

There are a number of tuner cards already available - DVICO's HDTVFusion 3 and MIT's MDP-120 are two of the most popular. However, ATI just announced its HDTV Wonder, which also tunes terrestrial hi-def programming, and like its competitors, will record the signal as well. ATI plans to ship the tuner in a package alongside special All-in-Wonder RADEON cards and as an upgrade for current AIW owners. For now, it won't be available to those with NVIDIA products or older ATI cards.

The best part is that ATI representatives claim the card will cost about $100 - significantly cheaper than any other tuner on the market and with more advanced features, such as hi-def time-shifting and a program guide that gathers information from the data included in a digital broadcast. ATI already has a working demo of the DTV software, which will be incorporated into the Multimedia Center suite. Don't expect to see the card until April, though.
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