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.XBox pt. deux
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. PowerColor 9600XT
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Your Comments: "You guys rock, keep up the good work." - Marc
DDR-2 Memory; The Next RAM

Whenever a new RAM standard is thrust upon consumers, some familiar questions arise; "is it better, faster, and cheaper?" As new computers will make the transition to DDR-2 shortly, now is a good time to present you with an introduction to DDR-2 memory. In this article, PCstats covers the basics, the differences, and the advantages of migrating to DDR-2 RAM. You'll have to wait a little while further for the benchmarks, however.

Have you ever wished you could watch TV right on your computer monitor? Well, if you don't have display like the 192MP from Samsung, you're going to require a TV-tuner card to do that. This week, PCstats tests out just such a product - Leadtek's WinFast TV2000XP Expert TV tuner. And yes, this is the one time when watching TV counts as work. ;) For the mainstream gamers in the crowd, take a moment to read our review of the PowerColor 9600XT Ultra videocard. PowerColor have tweaked the memory on this little red bad boy, so performance is quite nice.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their compliments for last weeks Guide to Home Networking. this week I've included PCstats Guide to Internet Connection Sharing in the PCstats Newsletter - enjoy! Also in this weeks editon, PCstats Industry Insights column looks towards the Xbox-2, we dish out answers to dealing with noisy cooling fans, and in the Weekly Tech Tip... something special.

Remember, if have tech questions, or need help - come to the PCstats Forums and post them in the Beginners Q and A area!

Introduction to DDR-2: The DDR Memory Replacement
Read it Now! Companies including Micron, Crucial, Kingston and Corsair have already begun shipping DDR2 memory modules, though there are no desktop applications for it as yet. In this article, PCstats will look at the features and specifications of DDR2 memory, and take a sneak peek at some of its future applications, like the upcoming Intel i915P 'Alderwood' and i925X 'Grantsdale' chipsets. DDR2 picks up where DDR memory currently stops, at 400MHz. DDR2-SDRAM is considered an evolutionary upgrade over existing DDR memory. It maintains the same core functions, transferring 64 bits of data twice every clock cycle for an effective transfer rate twice that of the front-side bus (FSB) of a computer system, and an effective bandwidth equal to its speed x 8.Continue Here>>

Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert TV-tuner Review
Read it Now!

Over the years, TV-tuners for computers have gone from providing basic (and arguably lousy) TV signal input on a monitor, to having a variety of features and capabilities beyond simple TV watching. Newer devices provide a wealth of standard features, such as letting you capture TV input to hard disk as one compelling example. While the primary purpose of a TV-tuner is still to put that cable TV signal on your computer monitor, these products are definitely moving towards the role of video appliances. In this review, we're testing one of Leadtek's latest TV-tuner cards, the Winfast TV2000 XP Expert. This PCI card has ambitions to replace your VCR, with video recording straight to DVD, timeshifting and an assortment of other goodies made for a computerized home theater setup. Continue Here>>

PowerColor Radeon 9600XT Ultra Videocard Review
Read it Now!The PowerColor Radeon 9600XT Ultra has 128MB of 2.5ns Samsung BGA DDR RAM backing the GPU up. The card supports TV-Output, and PowerColor include all the necessary cables, including; an S-Video-to-S-Video cable and an S-Video-to-Composite converter. If you want to take advantage of the card's dual monitor capability, they also toss in a DVI-to-analog adaptor. The software package consists of WinDVD 4, a six game demo CD, Big Mutha Truck and a the full version of Tomb Raider TAOD. Cool! It shouldn't be any surprise that the PowerColor Radeon 9600XT is based on the ATI reference design - virtually all Radeon's are. Under power, the fan on the 9600XT Ultra lights up bright red, which certainly adds a bit of flair. It runs pretty quiet too. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I'm going to sell my computer soon to buy a laptop. For now I just want to do a little maintenance on my system so it's ready to sell. I have an NVidia GeForce 2 MX400 and the fan is making a grinding noise, so I opened up the tower and did a good dust clean-up, but that didn't help. I then disassembled the fan on the video card to clean it with an air can, several times, but it still makes a grinding noise. My question is; do you have a good trick to clean a video card fan for good?

Second question: I want to buy a laptop, do you have a recommendation for a brand or model? It's for Internet, digital photography, etc.

A: You may or may not be able to do anything about the fan. The grinding sound is dirt that has worked its way into the bearings of the motor. The standard way to fix this is to locate the oil-well of the fan (which should be behind the manufacturers sticker) and put a single drop of oil in. This might help in your situation, if the oil-well can be got at with the fan you have. See our 'annual PC checkup' article for more detail on this procedure. You may also be able to pick up a replacement fan at your local electronic parts store.

I'm afraid we don't recommend specific brand names or models of computer equipment, but if you are getting a laptop, I'd steer clear of buying from small computer stores. While these small stores are a cheaper alternative for desktop PCs, they do not generally have the know-how or warranty reliability of the big retailers when it comes to proprietary equipment like laptops.

Next week: RAM, quantity or quality? To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

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

Beginners Guides: Internet Connection Sharing

Read it Now! Learn how to make that DSL/Cable connection go further!
Internet sharing is essential if you have more than one PC in your house, and getting it to work isn't that hard once you know what steps to follow. Setting up a computer to share its internet connection should be easy right? After all, you've successfully networked your computers together and even shared files with all your home computers, so why not the Internet? Well if you have a small home network of computers all connected and have tried to open up a browser, you've probably found out that things aren't quite as straight forward as connecting one machine with an Ethernet cable to the computer that has the DSL/cable modem. The other alternative is to set up Internet connection sharing (ICS). Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Binary Registry Edits
Search Dealtime
Super Micro

This tweak is more for the experienced computer user who can identify services by Microsoft's abbreviations.

First load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the ok button) then follow this path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControSet -> Services. Inside that folder you'll find all the folder names for all the services that run in your PC, browse the one that you want to edit then find the Start binary value. Entering a value of 2 sets the startup to automatic, a value of 3 is manual and a value of 4 is disabled. Once you've made those changes save and reboot your PC.

Hey just becase you're newbie doesn't mean you have to be afraid of the PCStats forums. If you have a question to ask, post it in our Beginners Question and Answers 101 section! We'll do our best to give you a hand! Remember to Vote for PCstats today on the Techlinks list too!

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Industry Insights

When Microsoft unveiled its first Xbox, it was decided that the gaming console was decidedly similar to a PC. Granted, the Sony PS2 and Nintendo Game Cube both contain similar components, but Microsoft's decision to use an Intel processor, NVIDIA chipset, and NVIDIA graphics accelerator hit a little too close to home.

Preliminary sketches of the next-generation Xbox are also reminiscent of PC architecture, and the companies rumored to be involved should also ring a bell. The primary processor, supposedly an IBM design, looks to incorporate three cores, each operating at 3.5GHz or more. Each core will get a unique 64KB L1 cache and share 1MB of L2. The system's North Bridge will interface with a graphics processor, which in turn is rumored to feature 10MB of embedded DRAM. The undated sketch also alludes to at least 256MB of main memory connected to the North Bridge (possibly from SiS).

All of the peripheral devices connect to the machine's South Bridge, including 100Mbps Ethernet, a pair of 64MB memory cards, a DVD drive capable of reading dual-layered discs, and a possible hard drive with between 20 and 80GB of capacity. More than likely we'll probably hear more about the next-generation Xbox as E3 approaches.
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