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.2-layer DVD Burners
.A Reader Asks...
.Computex 2004
.Computex Tidbits
.Albatron FX5700U3
.Epox 8KDA3+
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Your Comments: "You guys rock, keep up the good work." - Marc
PCI-E, DDR-2 and a New Pentium 4 CPU

It's always exciting to see new computer gear first hand - which is what I spent all of last week doing at Computex 2004. With the June 21st release of Intel's new socket 775 "Prescott" Pentium 4 quickly approaching, the computer industry is getting ready for great change. Along with the pinless processor, high end users who jump on board with a 925x based system are going to need a PCI-Express videocard, and DDR-2 memory to go along with it. Sure, there were a few motherboard makers showcasing dual DDR/DDR2 motherboards at Computex, but these solutions were generally for 915P-based motherboards.

According to the small army of PR and marketing reps PCstats spoke with in Taipei last week, the 915P "Grantsdale" chipset is the way to go. The performance differences between the 915P and 925x "Alderwood" chipsets directly parallels the current situation between i865 and i875-based boards. While the 925X is the more powerful of the two Intel core-logic chips, the 915P offers the best bang for the buck... apparently. PCstats has yet to test any system first hand after all. See my articles from Computex; Getting Ready for BTX, and Tech Tidbits for more insight into the show.

Albatron burst onto the scene in this weeks newsletter as we test out the GDDR-3 based FX5700U3 vidoecard. The new nForce3 250GB based Epox 8KDA3+ also makes its way onto our test bench, with benchmarks I think you'll find quite interesting. Also in this issue, PCstats answers a reader question on the topic of vidocards, and Industry Insights dishes out the facts on dual-layer DVD burners. Don't forget to check out Colin's Weekly Tech Tip too!

Computex 2004 - Getting Ready for BTX
Read it Now! The proposed benefits of the BTX standard have been discussed at length already, so we are not going to rehash what has already been written. However, what has been interesting to see at Computex 2004 in Taipei, is just how many manufacturers are displaying BTX compatible cases and motherboards. Intel itself had a half-dozen BTX motherboards on hand from different manufacturers, but during our meetings with the manufacturers themselves, there was a "let's wait and see" attitude in the air. There is so much change going on right now that most consumers are just getting their heads wrapped around technologies like PCI-E (PCI-Express), DDR-2 RAM, and processors which almost seem to be loosing pins and jumping socket sizes on a quarterly basis...Continue Here>>

Computex 2004 - Tech Tidbits
Computex has always been useful event for companies to gauge the interest of buyers in their new and innovative products. As such, during Computex 2004 countless manufacturers had mock-ups and prototypes on display. Across the board, the home media PC appeared to generate the most interest, with products ranging from set top boxes by Gigabyte, to the just announced TM8800 1.6GHz Transmeta Efficeon processor powering a WindowsXP Media Center Edition system. Also covered are Motherboards that cool themselves, an update to the videocard power supply, and cable TV in the notebook. Continue Here>>

Albatron GeForce FX5700U3 GDDR3 Videocard Review
Read it Now! The GeForceFX 5700 Ultra is already a pretty decent mainstream videocard, but that hasn't stopped nVIDIA from trying to sweeten the deal by including GDDR3 to the mix. GDDR3 (Graphics Double Data Rate3) is a new type of DDR memory, one which has been specifically developed for use with graphics card. As PCstats tests out the Albatron GeForceFX 5700 Ultra GDD3 videocard, we'll take a closer look at GDDR3, and what it means to gamers and overclockers. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I'm looking to buy an Nvidia FX5900 powered video card soon, and I'd like to know the difference between the various brands on the market. How does an Asus card compare to an MSI card, for instance? Which would be better and how would I know? Also, my friend just bought some DDR-2 Ram and he said it was horrible for his computer. So was it just because it wasn't very compatible or because it was no good?

A: There should not be any major difference between any two FX5900 cards (or any other GPU), regardless of manufacturer, since the graphical processor is made by Nvidia, not the manufacturer of the video card, and will be identical in all cases. Manufacturers may use different brands of DDR memory for their cards though, which may or may not have a slight effect on performance and overclocking ability. Overall though, there should be little difference between them, though there are times when manufacturers utilize their own custom PCB... My advice in the future is to check some reviews before you purchase. It saves you from having nagging doubts after.

As for your second question, I'm not surprised your friend was displeased with his DDR2 memory, since to my knowledge there are no DDR2 capable motherboards available at this point. DDR2 memory uses a different set of connectors and is not backwardly compatible with DDR motherboards. See our DDR2 preview here for more details on what to expect from this latest DDR RAM standard. Intel's next generation of chipsets include support for DDR2 RAM, but you can also expect similar offerings from the other chipset manufacturers in the near future.

Next week: Do computers wear out? To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

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

Epox 8KDA3+ nForce3 250Gb Motherboard Review
Read it Now! Now that the nVidia nForce3-250 chipset is upon us, I think we'll see a few more enthusiasts jump on the Athlon64 bandwagon. After all, the biggest obstacle from an enthusiasts perspective are the system peripherals that don't like to run out of sync. The socket 754, Athlon64-based Epox 8KDA3+ motherboard we'll be testing out on the following pages has a couple of features geared towards enthusiasts, and plenty of features for those of just looking for a solid AMD Athlon64 mainboard. For starters, the Epox 8KDA3+ boasts onboard Serial ATA RAID, Gigabit LAN (including hardware firewall), 7.1 channel audio, and of course the classic Epox Port 80 diagnostics card. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Use the search Engine
Search Dealtime
Super Micro

Personally I think the Microsoft search dog is cute but apparently there are quite a few of you out there that don't like it much. Well if you'd like to remove that mutt it's pretty easy...

First load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the OK button) and follow this path HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Explorer -> CabinetState. From there create a new String value and enter this as its name Use Search Asst, after that's done give it the value no and exit.

Every time you search now the dog will be gone.

If you have a question to ask, post it in our Beginners Question and Answers 101 section!


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PCstats Issue
Circulation: 291,744

Industry Insights

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Plextor's vice president of marketing over some strawberry lemonade and chicken tenders to talk about business in the optical drive manufacturing industry. Plextor is an ultra-conservative company, he said, so don't expect to see dual-layer DVD burners until the technology has been proven. More specifically, he mentioned that compatibility testing revealed severe issues with dual-layer burners recognizing their own disks, not to mention media burned on other drives. Attractive as the technology might be, dismal performance and lackluster interoperability should leave most potential customers waiting in the wings.

We also talked a bit about Plextor's strategy moving forward with Serial ATA. Plextor recently announced its PX-712SA drive, the first Serial ATA optical drive. However, don't expect it to be any faster than the PATA version. According to Mr. Wing, the drive's principle function will become clear later this year when Intel unveils it's ICH6 with four Serial ATA ports and just one PATA connector. For those looking to adopt Serial ATA today, the PX-712SA boasts 12x DVD+R burning (on 8x media), 48x CD-R writing, and an 8MB buffer. It will be replaced later this year (in the September timeframe) by the first 16x DVD writers.

Written By
. M. Page
Weekly Tips
. C. Sun
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. C. Angelini
A Reader Asks...
. M. Dowler

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