Best SFF PC - Aopen i865 XCcube
The dawn of the nVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra is
here! nVidia's newest videocard for gamers tops out at a mind
blowing 220 Million transistors (NV40 core), offers full support for PCI express x16,
GDDR3 memory, and has a power draw of upwards of 60W... According
to 6800 Ultra reviews to hit the web, that means a minimum
450W PSU is required! Of course, with fresh 0.13 micron silicon comes pure
speed; and the Geforce 6800 Ultra clocks in with its core at 400MHz, and GDDR3
running at 1.1GHz. Exciting, yes. Expensive, you bet. Worth buying...?
We'll have to wait and see once a GeForce 6800 Ultra makes
it into our test labs first.
this issue of the PCstats Newsletter
we're testing out something even
better than the NV40.... which isn't yet even available for sale...
ahem... the Editor's Choice Award winning AOpen EZ65
XCcube! This little small formfactor PC from AOpen earned high marks
for its benchmark performance, and design. If SFF PC's are on your
horizon, the Aopen XCcube is an excellent choice to consider. Moving
right along, I spent some time recently testing out the rather nice 19" Samsung
Syncmaster 192MP multimedia LCD monitor. It even comes with its own
built in TV-tuner. After that, the Guru of Guides himself talks about RAM, memory,
and how to upgrade it. A great guide for anyone who feels lost
when dealing with SDRAM, DDR latency and like memory mumbo-jumbo.
PCstats' "A Reader Asks..." this week, we have two quick
questions and answers, and over on the side in Industry
Insights, more details on nVidia's NV40 announcement, and what it
all means. The brand new Albatron
FX5900XTV videocard made it onto the review bench recently, and you
can bet we have some interesting things to say about its gaming
performance. Which brings me to my last point - are you satisfied with the benchmarks PCstats uses to test
videocards? Let me know either way.
Finally, for anyone who has
ever been to Active Surplus in Toronto, after 47 years in the same quirky building, it
has become a permanent fixture of Queen St. West. This week, Active's doors were boarded,
and building under heavy construction... Thankfully though, Active has not gone for
good, just moved next door to the 2nd floor!
There's a well known saying that
good things come in small packages, but that hasn't always rung true with
Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs. With the birth of SFF computing, we have seen
toaster-sized PC's evolve from novelty items which could barely handle
first person shooter games, to systems which rival even the most powerful
full-tower computers today. With so many custom built full-sized computers
out there forming one big ocean of beige, it's good to know that SFF PC's
aren't just for word processing on integrated graphics chips anymore.
The Aopen EZ65 XCcube is
equipped well enough to replace a
standard workstation PC in the home
or office, at just a fraction of the space required for a full-sized
computer. The clean white front of the EZ65
XCcube is reminiscent of recent Mac's, but what is under the
glossy white aluminum chassis is certainly not Apple technology.
Samsung have proven that they are quite capable of
dominating the LCD monitor market, due to strengths in their own
LCD-panel manufacturing facilities, and excellent product design and
engineering. Samsung's Syncmaster
192MP is definitely a great
LCD monitor for office oriented computer work, some DVD
or TV watching here and there, and whatever else interests you.
You won't need
to purchase an extra TV-tuner videocard, or module for the display, as it
comes built in. The 19"
Syncmaster 192MP may not be much of an 'First Person Shooter' Gammers
delight, but it is perfectly sized for desktop work, spreadsheets,
television or what have you. The Samsung Syncmaster 192MP 19" screen features
viewing angles of 170/170, a brightness rating of 250 CD/m2, and contrast
ratio of 750:1 - among the highest we
have ever seen! With perks like picture-in-picture, and a
1280x1024 pixel resolution, the screen boasts a 0.294mm pixel pitch, and
pixel response time of 25ms. Continue
Modern computer processors can
perform several billion operations per second, creating and
amounts of data in a short
period of time. To perform at this level, they have to be able to juggle
the information they process, to have someplace to store it until it is
needed again for modification or reference. As a metaphor, the more jobs a technician takes on at
once, the more bench space they are going to need to place the components
they are assembling, and the more shelf space they will need to place the
finished products. Similarly, computers need
space to store data while they are working on it, and space to store
data that is not being worked on, but will be needed in the future. This
is provided by RAM (Random
Access Memory) and hard disk drives respectively.
A Reader Asks...
Q: In the
Beginner's Guide to backing
up Windows XP it says that XP Home users can add a backup utility from their installation CD. I can't find it. I went through the "Add/Remove Windows Components." Can you help?
A: Sure. The backup
utility that is built into Windows XP Professional is also
available to XP Home users, but it needs to be installed
separately from the XP Home CD. To install the backup utility
from the XP Home CD, navigate to: (your CD
drive:)\Valueadd\msft\ntbackup and double click the
'NTBACKUP.MSI' file. This should start the installation wizard
for the backup program.
Q: I have an 80 gig Maxtor hard drive and when I reformat it, I always get a 76 gig formatted hard drive. I wonder where the 4 gigabytes have gone. is there any program that will let me get the whole 80 gig hard drive?
A: The numbers provided by a hard drive manufacturer for the capacity of their drive are different from the formatted capacity. This is because manufacturers of storage devices traditionally use straight decimal measurements, like 1000 bytes to a kilobyte, 1000Kb to a Megabyte, etc. This is opposed to the way your computer measures hard drive space using binary, where a Kilobyte is 1024 bytes and a megabyte equals 1,048,576 bytes.
Using this system, a 30GB drive contains 30,000,000,000 bytes, which using binary measurement, equals 27.94GB. Unfortunately you never quite get what you pay for with hard disks, at least as far as your computer is concerned. Next week: we go after wireless vs. wired
home network questions. To submit your question, send PCstats an email.
Mirroring many other FX5900XT implementations, the Albatron
comes backed by 128MB of DDR RAM. It supports VIVO thanks
to the Philips SAA7114H chipset, and comes with the traditional VIVO
break out box and S-Video cable so you can hook your PC up to
a television. The copper-based
heatsink runs nice and
quiet; probably one of the quietest
we've heard in fact. The tiny BGA DDR chips are passively cooled with some
extruded aluminum heatsinks which are attached with a little frag tape.
Like most GeForceFX-class
we've tested, the FX5900XTV would not stably run with both core and memory
overclocked to their max. However, once we lowered the memory speed from
780 to 768 MHz everything went smoothly. Continue
Weekly Tech Tips
Have you ever wanted to password protect the 'Guest' account within WindowsXP? By default Windows disables any form of password protection for that account, but it is possible to tweak the OS to allow for one.
First load up your command prompt (Start -> Run then type "cmd" and press enter), that will bring up a small black window with a DOS prompt. From there type "net user guess password" and press enter, you should then see "The command completed successfully." Once that's done exit the prompt and load up your user accounts and you can now enable and set a guest log in password.
Make sure you're folding for team PCStats with your spare CPU cycles. It only uses the idle CPU resources and stops once your PC is under load. You'll be helping us out as well as Humanity. Remember to Vote for PCstats today too!
It isn't much of a secret that NVIDIA is about to pull the trigger on its latest graphics processor, known by the internal codename NV40. However, NVIDIA's plans beyond NV40 are a bit more closely guarded. A confidential presentation found its way into my inbox, though, that sheds some light on the current state of affairs within the influential firm.
Of course, NV40 will be NVIDIA's last natively AGP 8x GPU. When PCI-Express rolls around, it should be adapted to work with that interface, accompanied by the previously announced PCX5950 (NV38 + bridge chip). Then, in the third quarter of 2004, NV45 and NV41 will emerge, the former boasting PCI-Express and three times the performance of NV35 and the latter two times faster than NV35.
One step down, NV39 (NV36 + bridge chip) will persist until the third quarter, and then NV43 takes the reigns with double the performance of NV36. NV34 (the GeForce FX 5200) will make way for NV37 (NV34 + bridge chip) once Intel unveils the new graphics technology, and will be replaced by NV44 at some point in the third quarter of this year with two times the horsepower as NV34. By then, all of NVIDIA's chips will be native PCI-Express, though its bridge chip will enable backwards compatibility with AGP 8x.
. M. Page
. C. Sun
. C. Angelini
A Reader Asks...
. M. Dowler