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Doom 3 & PCX5900 Video Card Reviews

Doom 3. We've been waiting for it for months, and it's finely here. Unlike those pointless Half Life 2 coupons which enticed us all to buy a certain brand of videocard... Ahem. Mike has a review of this killer game for anyone who might still need some convincing on the matter. So give it a read!

On the review front PCstats covers the Albatron Trinity PC5900 PCI Express Videocard first. Next up is some bright red PC4000 Firestix DDR from Buffalo Tech, the Asus A8V Deluxe Athlon64 motherboard, and a quick guide to getting rid of Spyware and Hijackers. This one is short and to the point, so be sure to bookmark it. Last but not least is an updated look at Windows XP Service Pack 2. We've added a few pointers, including how to disable SP2 from being installed on your PC if you don't want it.

Chris talks about videocards bursting into flames as part of today's Industry Insights, and our resident "Guru of Guides" answers your questions about Athlon64 motherboards and PCI-Express. Don't forget to check out PCstats Weekly Tech Tip, and perhaps glance over the little ad just below. Without support from out advertisers, we wouldn't be able to keep sending you the PCstats Newsletter each week. :-)

Albatron Trinity PC5900 PCI Express Videocard Review

With high end PCI Express videocards in short supply, those of you looking for the best performance may want to cast an eye towards nVIDIA's GeForcePCX 5900 series. The PCX 5900 core itself is architecturally identical to its AGP counterpart, the GeForceFX 5900, but nVIDIA engineers have placed a HSI chip between the GPU and PCI Express which allows them to communicate together. The Albatron Trinity PC5900 videocard is powered with 128MB of DDR RAM, and supports both analog and DVI monitors. Continue Here>>

A Quick Guide for Eliminating Spyware and Hijacker Software
It's difficult to overestimate how big an issue parasite software (otherwise known as adware, spyware, malware, etc.) has become on the Internet. Fortunately, it is possible to keep a clean system with a few effective and simple precautions. This is a quick and concise guide to removing spyware and adware from your system, and preventing future infections. This is a problem we've tackled many times at PCstats, so we will list all the necessary software tools and procedures a step at a time. Continue Here>>

Windows XP Service Pack 2

Waiting for the next Windows Service Pack has become a way of life for Windows users, especially professional ones. Microsoft's irregular barrages of bug fixes, new features and changes to the institution that Windows has become are viewed with a mixture of expectation and trepidation by home users (and with outright fear by business IT departments). Microsoft's newly released Service Pack 2 for Windows XP is a big event for the XP user community. In this article, we will look at the new features Windows XP Service Pack 2 offers, as well as why the average user should bother with it. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I'm interested in upgrading my motherboard and CPU. However, I have been doing some research on video cards, and in order to stay up-to-par with the latest technology, I have decided I want to purchase a board with a PCI express slot. The only problem is I prefer AMD over Intel, and so far I have yet to find an AMD with PCI express. Do you know of any AMD boards, (price is not an issue) that support PCI express? It does not matter whether the board is AMD64 or not, but 64-bit would be preferable. Also, do you think it is worth it to purchase a board right now that has PCI express, or to stick with my system now, and upgrade later once the prices go down?

A: Currently, there are no PCI-Express compatible AMD motherboards available for either 32 bit or 64 bit processors. This is going to change very soon, however, as all the major AMD compatible chipset manufacturers have announced plans for new chipsets with PCI-Express support.

As for when these products will become available, best guess is we will start seeing review samples in late September from some companies, and later in the fall/winter from others. I'd certainly expect a wide variety of products to be available for the Christmas season.

The thing is, the current crop of PCI-Express compatible cards from Nvidia and ATI were not specifically designed for the new interface. My advice to you would be to hold off on your upgrade until these manufacturers finally separate their product lines to take full advantage of the bandwidth that PCI-Express offers. This way you avoid being stuck with a stopgap solution. Next week's Issue: Blocking XP service Pack 2

Asus A8V Deluxe Athlon64 Motherboard Review
When AMD released the new Socket 939 form factor for its Athlon64 and Athlon64-FX processors, AMD sent out evaluation kits to media around the world. In those kits which would serve as the first introduction for its newest processor, the company included the Asus A8V motherboard. Now, if AMD is comfortable with picky journalists judging its newest multi-million dollar CPU roll-out on an ASUS board, then that certainly underscores something consumers should be taking note of. The pale brown Asus A8V motherboard. One of many Socket 939 Athlon64 motherboards you'll be seeing on the market, the Asus A8V is based on the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset. Continue Here>>

Doom 3 Review: The Legacy from ID Software Continues

The second half of 2004 will see two of the mostly hotly anticipated games in history dueling it out with each other for supremacy in the world of first-person shooters. Half-Life 2, of course is scheduled to come out anytime now, but the game that concerns us today is Doom 3, descendent of the game that still defines the first-person genre. The original Doom was not the first 3D shooter to hit the market, but its astonishing graphics and game play quickly captivated gamers, opening up the market for the many, many similar games that followed. Many now-adults can remember with fondness the first time they saw Doom in action as a youngster. ID Software is attempting to resurrect these feelings with Doom 3. Enthusiasts have been drooling at the screenshots for over a year, so ID has some tough work to meet up with the gaming community's expectations. Let's see how they do.... Continue Here>>

Buffalo Firestix FSX5000V DDR Memory Review
Even with all the changes occuring on the Intel platform this summer (PCI-Express, DDR2 RAM, socket 775 CPUs, etc.) DDR memory's future is still very bright. After all AMD systems from the AthlonXP through to the Athlon64 use DDR, as do all socket 478 Intel-based motherboards. Buffalo's new series of DDR RAM comes with a snazzy new name, some bright red heatspreaders, and modules like the ones we are testing today which are rated to run at 250 MHz, while maintaining 3-4-4-8 memory timings, at a voltage of 2.7V. For this review PCstats is testing a pair of 512MB PC4000 CL3 DDR modules Buffalo call the FSX5000V-512M. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Home PCs
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Super Micro

Since many of the tips that PCstats has shared with you involve editing the registry, it's important that we go through how to back up the registry, and specific branches.

First let's load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the ok button) and from there click File/Registry menu. Windows9x users only have one option, to export the entire registry. When you do that, make sure you're putting the file in a place you remember so that if your system starts to die you can quickly import the backup.

Win2k/XP users have a bit more options, you can back up the entire registry, or just the parts you're about to edit. Simply browse to the location you are about to edit and then go to export, from there make sure the "Selected branch" radio box is selected and regedit will only back up that folder and any sub folders inside. Restoring data is the same. If you don't like how things turned out after the mod, simply import the data back and you're set.

Whenever we do any registry editing you should always back it up first! If you don't, and hose your system, only a reinstall will save you!

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PCstats Issue
Circulation: 251,182

Industry Insights

During the past week, I've read several accounts of AGP cards going up in smoke on more than one enthusiast web site. Not just failing from overclocking, or electrostatic discharge. There cards literally caught fire and burned within their owners' cases. I recently received valuable information from an OEM regarding the cause of these failures. As it turns out, some of the heavier, higher-powered AGP cards currently available are experiencing back-out - a condition whereby moving or bumping a case causes the graphics adapter to dislodge from its slot. Generally, because most add-in boards sport back plates that are physically secured to the chassis by a screw, cards start backing out from the other end.

The problem isn't isolated. Intel has a support page dedicated to warning its customers about back-out, along with a disclaimer that the failure to fully seat an AGP card might cause an electrical short across the slot's power pins causing damage, though Intel doesn't elaborate on the extent.

Of course, this could be especially problematic for LAN gamers who haul their high-end systems around. So, if you own a heavy graphics card and move your system with any frequency, routinely check your graphics card before applying power. It might just save your pricey investment. Alternatively, find a Cardkeeper or similar bracket (a simple, $4 retention mechanism) that fits your card to keep it secured.
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