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Gigabyte 54Mbps Router and WiFi Security Guide

AMD launched the Athlon64 FX-53 processor earlier this week, clocked at 2.4GHz. While the FX-53 is undoubtedly fast, I wouldn't recommend jumping on board the socket 940 formfactor; the FX-53 is a powerful processor, but I don't think it is worth buying in the long run. AMD as you know, are moving their Athlon64 FX CPU over to a 939-pin socket, which they will be running with for the foreseeable future. This means the gamer-oriented 940-pin A64 FX series has about as much of a future as socket 423 Pentium 4 processors did.

Intel on the other hand are doing really well with the socket 478 Pentium4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition. Though, even Intel is about to move its mainstream processor over to a new socket called the LGA-775 (socket T). If you've already sold that 'right eye', and bought the expensive Pentium 4 EE chip, good for you, upgrading is a distant object far off in the horizon. Intel's Prescott core continues to scale up to past Northwood levels, but only by a modest percent.

If the photo montages flooding back from CeBit 2004 are any indication, Q2'04 is going to be as rebellious for the computer industry as is memorable in recent times. PCI-Express solutions from both ATI and Nvidia will be vying for your dollar, but will either really offer a drastic performance increase over current 8x AGP levels? Unlikely at first, but as the technology progresses, we can only hope video games will take more advantage of the technology. If this is sounding overly pessimistic, it isn't. One thing I've learned in this industry is that there is always something newer, faster, and better just around the corner...

In the PCstats Newsletter today we test out Chaintech's awesome new Apogee AA5700U mainstream videocard which delivers great performance for a reasonable price. Next in line is the 802.11g GN-B49G Wireless Router from Gigabyte. I had to pry this kit from Mike's hands after the review was done because he liked it so much... though it did have some documentation shortcomings. Still, a good read, especially if you are looking to add 54Mbps WiFi in the office or home. On the Guide front, we have a slightly updated look at wireless networking security - how to ensure no one uses your WiFi connection to take a peek at your data, and a Guide to the Little Known Features of WindowsXP. Don't forget to vote for today. Help keep us in the No.1 spot!

Chaintech Apogee AA5700U Videocard Review
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Let's be utterly frank for a moment, the AGP slot's days are numbered. That being the case, there are still many millions of AGP motherboards in the world, while virtually no computers in the hands of consumers use PCI express. It may be some time before the balance swings in favour of PCI Express, so videocard manufacturers are continuing to produce their products for consumers looking to upgrade older machines. After all, it is all about playing the games we like at the best possible visual quality isn't it? Mainstream graphics cards are often talked about in publications, and while the industry slang is an accurate depiction of the FX57000 videocard, I'm sure most consumers are really only interested in improving the FPS and appearance of their game, for the most economical outlay of cash. Chaintech have now found a GPUs worthy of the high-end Apogee brandname. When you first look at the Chaintech Apogee AA5700U, you get a feeling that the card really is something special; the AA5700U is definitely one of the best looking videocards on the market. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Wireless Network Security
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Modern wireless networking products are inexpensive, simple to set up and very convenient. They are also full of holes... security holes, that is. Unfortunately, the only way to make a complicated appliance like a wireless router idiot proof is to use default settings that will not require the user to change a single settings on any of their other wireless hardware. By extension, this means that any wireless device can connect to said router using default settings. To repeat, this means that ANY wireless device in range can connect to the Smith's new router. No wires equal easier access to the network for everyone. This also makes one of the most popular 'hacking' tactics vastly easier: 'packet sniffing,' or capturing data sent over the network to analyze it for information. Anyone in range can receive all traffic sent over the wireless network.Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GN-B49G 802.11g Wireless Router Review
Read it Now!The market for the Internet sharing devices most users know as 'routers' has exploded over the past three years, to the point where they are becoming common in every broadband-enabled household and small business. 802.11g is the newest official wireless data transfer standard, and is capable of transferring data at up to 54megabits per second, almost five times faster than 802.11b, the current dominant standard. The router we are reviewing today is one of the new breed of 802.11g wireless routers, and we were curious to see how its performance stacked up... More specifically the Gigabyte GN-B49GU is a lot more than just a home Internet sharing device. It contains a multitude of extra features that would appear to be of considerable use in a small to medium size business environment. This is an interesting idea, since business network routing and security has traditionally been the domain of major players like Cisco. The GN-B49GU might just fill a couple of niche markets, providing wireless support and routing and security features in the same package. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I've recently started having problems with my PC every time I try and do anything with large files, pictures, etc. The system hangs, and Ctrl+Alt+Del gives me the message: 'System is dangerously low on resources' A while ago I changed my hard drive and I've just reached the capacity of my old hard drive, although I have plenty of space on the new one, so I don't know if this might be the cause of the problem. Any ideas on how to solve this 'resources' problem would be greatly appreciated!

A: I'm inclined to say that the fact that you are out of space on the old drive is the problem. Low hard disk space on the system drive can cause all sorts of odd behavior from operating systems. Having said this, research seems to point to a rogue program(s) on your system being the cause of the system resource error, since Windows 98 actually keeps 'resource' areas for programs that are used separately from the main memory and are assigned a finite size. The problem could be with a program that does not release all of its 'resources' when it closes, or loads at start up and grabs a disproportionate amount. This can happen regardless of the amount of physical memory in your system. This memory management problem is fixed in Windows 2000 and XP, which goes a long way towards explaining their comparative stability.

As for a solution, now that you have the new drive attached, move as much data and/or software onto it as possible from the old drive, freeing up space. See if this makes a difference. If it does not, try running 'msconfig' from the 'run' prompt on the start menu, going to the 'startup' tab and disabling any programs that you do not need or recognize. This will stop these programs from loading upon startup, taking some of the strain off your computer.

Make sure that your system is free of viruses and spyware. See PCstats' Guide on that topic for a more detailed list of how to combat such annoyances. A quick look through the Microsoft Knowledge Base (search with the error code the computer spits out) can also help you pinpoint potential causes too.

Next week, a question on the notorious 'MS-Blast' worm, or; "Why doesn't my PC like me anymore?" To submit your question to PCstats, send us an email.

Beginners Guides: Little Known Features of WindowsXP
Read it Now! There can be little doubt that Windows XP is Microsoft's best OS yet. As WindowsXP is based on Microsoft's line of server operating systems, it is undoubtedly that which provides it with a rather pleasing lack of crashes. Compare WindowsXP to Windows 98, where the daily reboot has pretty much been accepted as a feature of the operating system, and you can see why it has been embraced so well. This same sever-OS-origin also provides XP with a deep layer of configurability. Not necessarily tweaks as such, but tricks to getting a grip on what is happening behind the scenes for those with an interest. In this PCstats Guide, we will explore some of the little-known features and abilities of Windows XP Home and Professional Editions, with an eye towards providing a better understanding of the capabilities of the operating system, and the options available to the user. Continue Here>>

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips More Files/sec
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To surf the web I use Internet Explorer; I guess I should support the "little guys" but I don't because of the compatibility problems that sometimes arise when using a third party browsers. One thing I find annoying about IE is it only allows you to download two files at a time! This can be a serious bottleneck if you plan to download multiple files though IE. Naturally, there's a registry hack that fixes this up to a maximum of ten simultaneous downloads. ;-)

First load up regedit (Start, Run then type regedit and press ok) and follow this path HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Internet Settings. Right click on the right hand window and create a two new DWORD values...


Give each a value of "0000000a" then save and exit. You might have to reboot for this tweak to come into affect. After that's all done, you should notice that you can now download more than two files at a time. Now if you haven't already done so, head on over and Vote for at!

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Industry Insights

Buying a notebook computer is a particularly interesting process, especially if you've never purchased one before. There's a natural tendency to emphasize power rather than portability; that's just the way desktop PC users think. However, Intel's Centrino initiative proved that mobility is as important as performance. A 1.7GHz Pentium M may not beat a 3.2GHz Extreme Edition, but it gets the job done, and at about the same speed as a 2.8GHz Pentium 4, too.

There's already a little information available regarding the successor to Centrino, code named Sonoma. Like its predecessor, Sonoma is comprised of three principle components. The chipset, Alviso, looks like a variant of the upcoming Grantsdale chipset with dual-channel DDR2 memory support, PCI Express, Serial ATA, and a high-definition audio codec. Intel also makes note of its third-generation integrated graphics solution, which will feature DirectX 9 support with hardware pixel shaders and a software vertex shader. The second component, Calexico 2, is an 802.11a/b/g wireless solution with a hardware-based Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Bluetooth co-existence support.

Finally, Sonoma includes a new processor called Dothan, which will run on a 533MHz front side bus and include 2MB of L2 cache. Like today's Prescott, Dothan will be manufactured on a 90nm process, with initial versions emerging in the second quarter of 2004.
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