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Your Comments: "I can't wait for the next one. AHHH! - Chris"
DIY Home Networking and File Sharing

I often field questions from readers about products PCstats has reviewed. Recently I've been sorting through questions about 19" monitors running resolutions of 1600x1200 - the preferred size for programmers since more lines of code will fit on the screen, and because it's next to impossible for anyone to read over your shoulder. :) But what about encrypted displays? Screens which look like static on a TV to anyone but the authorized viewer might seem far-fetched, but not anymore. In the PCstats News today, we have a short story about a Japanese research team which have built a 'visual cryptography screen' that could be right at home in a James Bond flick... cool tech indeed.

In the coming weeks we'll have a review of one of Samsung's nicest LCD screens yet, but today I'm focusing on a couple of well built motherboards. The first is an 802.11b equipped i865 Springdale Pentium4 board from Gigabyte - the GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W, and the second is the equally swift, i865G based Aopen AX4SG Max II. Aopen's solution impressed us plenty, and walked away with an Editor's Choice Award for its fast pace, and features. I urge you to check out both reviews however, as each board has its strengths. Next up is PCstats look at some lower-latency PC3500 DDR from the OCZ, and after that, we have a guide to Home Networking I'm sure you'll find helpful.

Also in Issue 131 of the PCstats Newsletter; we answer your questions about hard drive storage capacity, Nvidia's big push on Shader Model 3.0, and tips to cleaning up file folders in WindowsXP! Remember, if have tech questions, or need answers - come to the PCstats Forums and post them in the Beginners Q and A area!

Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W Motherboard Review

If you're a frequent reader of PCStats you probably noticed that we reviewed the original Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000 Pro 2 a while back. This time around Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W has an added USB 802.11b wireless adapter bundled into the onboard package, hence the "W" moniker in the name. Of course there's more to the GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W than just a funky wireless LAN option, the motherboard also has an onboard Intel CSA Gigabit LAN controller, IEEE 1394 firewire, onboard 5.1 audio and dual BIOS'. Perhaps one of the most important compelling features is that the Gigabyte GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W is already Prescott ready. Many original i865PE/i875P motherboards on the market are not set up to work with the increased power demands of Prescott.... or they may be, you really don't know for certain. That mystery doesn't surround the rather well equipped GA-8IPE1000 Pro2-W motherboard. Continue Here>>

OCZ PC3500EB Platinum DDR Memory Review

OCZ's PC3500EB Platinum Dual Channel Memory kit consists of two 512MB PC3500EB Platinum DIMMs, with timings that are better than the average for PC3500 DDR. Each stick is rated to run at 217 MHz with memory timings of 2.5-3-2-8 on AMD systems, and 2.5-3-2-6 on Intel rigs with a supply of 2.8V. What's different about this review, is that we're throwing in some business oriented benchmarks, so you can see just what kind of performance gain you can expect from a little overclocked DDR. Overclocking a work PC isn't for everybody, but with motherboard manufacturers providing software overclocking utilities, you can squeeze a little bit more out of most rigs without sacrificing much in the way of system reliability. Continue Here>>

AOpen AX4SG Max II i865G Motherboard Review

In this review we're testing out AOpen's brand new i865G-based Intel Pentium 4 AX4SG Max II motherboard. Boasting the i865G's capable set of integrated graphics, businesses, governments and schools interested in powerful systems that do not require any 3D rendering capabilities would be well suited for a motherboard such as the AOpen AX4SG Max II. The AX4SG Max II has a 8x AGP port, so a graphics card can still be added if desired. Looking at the long list of features which accompany the AOpen AX4SG Max II, the item that stands out the most is undoubtedly the support for up to six SATA devices! The board supports any Socket 478 Pentium 4, from the lowly 400MHz FSB Pentium4 1.5 GHz Williamette to the flagship 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 3.4 GHz Extreme Edition. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I'm building my own computer and I was wondering what kind of power source would suffice for a computer with a few more features than a regular system. My friend is doing the same thing and a 300 W power supply came with his case… Will this be enough?

A: It really depends on the configuration of your PC and what you mean by 'features.' 300 Watts has been the PC standard for a number of years, and in most cases it is still perfectly adequate. A mid-range PC with 2-3 drives and a couple of fans will not need anything more.

Having said this, I think we are approaching the end of the 300Watt power supply's viability quite quickly. High-end Intel and AMD processors draw a huge amount of power, and even these are being outstripped by the new generation of video cards from Nvidia and other manufacturers. It has become standard for video cards to ship with their own power connectors, since they need more power than they can draw from the AGP port. Nvidia's next generation of cards, the NV40 powered Geforce 6800, will likely have two power connectors, and the company recommends a 480Watt power supply for optimal performance! While I'd take this with a grain of salt, it does illustrate the way things are going.

If you plan on having additional hard disks and optical drives, as well as multiple fans, it may also be a good idea to upgrade the power supply a bit. It's important to realize that the power that PC components draw fluctuates considerably depending on what work the PC is doing. If the maximum power draw of your assembled components is more than your power supply can deliver, you may experience stability problems.

Next week; A new lease of life for dying fans? To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

-Join us - Beginners Q and A in the PCstats Forums

Beginners Guides: Home Networking and File Sharing
Networking, or connecting computers together to share information, has long been one of the more difficult areas of basic computing to get a grasp on, mainly because it is one of those points at which the generally friendly user interface of your average Windows box starts showing cracks, or possibly gaping holes ready to swallow up the unsuspecting user. Now granted, since Windows 98 started the process, Microsoft's OSs have been getting progressively better at automating the process of connecting computers together, but there is still the external setup required, and if something goes wrong... well it's good to know where to look to fix it.

The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, to enable you to set up your own home network and share files between your computers, and second to make you comfortable with basic computer networking terminology and practice. Internet sharing deserves its own article, and so is not part of this one. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Spring Cleaning
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When it comes to my PC I like my files and folders nicely organized. A messy 'Program Files' directory or weird folders in the root directory of my hard drive are not going to cut it. Windows though, protects certain files and folders from deletion. I know I don't need them, and they're not loaded into memory, but Windows still refuses to let me delete!

There's a registry tweak that can bypass this little problem of course. First load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the ok button) and follow this path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Microsoft -> WindowsNT -> Current Version -> Winlogon. >From there find the SFCDisable binary value and enter this hexadecimal value FFFFFF9D (decimal value = 4294967197), after that's done save and reboot your PC.

Now you'll be able to delete whatever file you want on your PC and you won't have to hear Windows complain about it. = ) A warning though, this tweak is intended for the more experienced computer user who knows which files are important, and which are not! if you delete the wrong file, it's possible you can destroy the OS, which would require a reinstallation!

Have you found your way down to the PCStats Forums yet? If not what are you waiting for?! Remember to Vote for PCstats today on the Techlinks list too!


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Industry Insights

NVIDIA is currently making a big push to raise awareness of the Shader Model 3.0 specification and its GeForce 6800 that supports the minor revision to DirectX 9. According to NVIDIA, there are a few principle changes incorporated into Shader Model 3.0 to make it unique, including programming adjustments that enable longer shader programs, geometry instancing for batching vertex data, texture fetching to aid in realistic displacement mapping, and mandatory 32-bit floating-point precision. The end result should be faster, more attractive games, according to NVIDIA.

That remains to be seen, of course, since compliant software doesn't really yet exist (there's a patch for the first-person shooter Far Cry, but the difference in quality is under debate). NVIDIA is confident that Shader Model 3.0 compliance gives its GeForce 6800 an advantage over anything else on the market, especially since the card's competition is rumored not to support the feature. At this point, however, Shader Model 3.0 is a bit of a non-issue, largely because of application availability. A recent NVIDIA press event featured Epic's next-generation Unreal engine, projected for 2006, and it was still using Shader Model 2.0! And as one industry expert commented to me, what good is infinitely long shader support on hardware that will limit overall performance anyway?

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