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In This Issue...

FireFox 1.0
Geforce 6600GT
Unattended XP
PC4400 Corsair
Wi-Op Mouse
PowerColor X700 Pro
Tracer PC4000
G-Max N512 Laptop
ASRock K8 Combo
PCstats Weekly Tips
FireFox 1.0 Browser - move over IE


It's 2005! Happy New Year from all of us here at! In this issue of the newsletter we're taking a look at a new internet browser making waves; FireFox 1.0. Built by Mozilla, not Microsoft, FireFox is quickly winning over users and taking market share from IE6's stronghold, so be sure to give our review a read.

The second half of PCstats three part series "Mysterious Motherboard Troubles," continues on from where last week's issue left off, and explains what went wrong. A little further down the page are three new PCstats Q & A letters, followed by PCstats Weekly Tech Tip.

On the review front we have a look at Gigabyte's NX66T128D 6600GT videocard, a nice set of Corsair PC4400 DDR memory, PowerColor's X700 Pro videocard, and a funky wireless optical rechargeable mouse. PCstats Guide to Unattended Windows XP Installations is a handy tool if you're in the IT business, and a real time saver. There are a couple other reviews here for you to check out, including the very ingenuitive Asrock K8 Combo-Z motherboard.

Mozilla's Firefox 1.0 Internet Browser

Nothing compares to the power of positive press. One moment there was Microsoft's Internet Explorer, standing tall against a small horde of 'alternative' web browsers, none of which had the following to seriously threaten the giant; the next moment Mozilla's Firefox 1.0 appeared, seemingly fully formed in an instant and gaining momentum at a furious rate. Suddenly we have the potential for a browser war again... we haven't seen anything like this since Netscape. Firefox (like Mozilla) has been in development for a while, slowly perfecting its browser technology on both Windows and Linux platforms, and it shows.Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D GeForce 6600GT Videocard Review

The Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D is a PCI Express x16 videocard based on nVIDIA's GeForce 6600GT GPU, and packs in a svelte 128MB of Samsung GDDR3 memory On the accessory front, the Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D includes a DVI/VGA converter and a Component/S-Video break out box. If you're holding out for a motherboard that has two PCI Express x16 slots, you'll be happy to know the GV-NX66T128D is SLI compatible as well.Continue Here>>

Advanced Guides: Unattended Windows 2000/XP Installations

Make a customized Windows Install CD with all the drivers already included. Let the install process go ahead 100% unattended, so you can get down to some real work, and leave the "click ok" job to the non-IT folks.

Every now and then there comes along a computer or server that needs Windows installed with a specific blend of drivers and settings. It's times like this that having your own customized Windows installation can be a time saver, and life saver. The goal of this guide is to help you create a bootable WinXP/2K install CD which not only contains the latest version of your operating system, but also has any SATA/RAID drivers needed to install Windows and all the necessary drivers Windows will need for your hardware. Not only that, once you start the installation process it will install all of this automatically in on go, without any input from the user. Continue Here>>

Corsair TwinX1024-4400C25PT Memory Review

These two TwinX1024-4400C25PT Platinum Edition DDR modules are 512MB in size, and run at 550MHz. Officially the TwinX1024-4400C25PT is designed to run mainly on Intel systems and is rated for dual channel configuration at 275 MHz, with 2.5-4-4-8 memory timings and 2.75V. Upon removing the heatspreaders we found that the TwinX1024-4400C25PT is equipped with Samsung K4H560838F-TCCD DRAMs. It's the same stuff that Corsair use in its "XL" PC3200 memory, which means at lower speeds the memory should be able to run with tighter timings, good news for AMD systems. Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GM-W9C Wireless Optical Mouse Review

Gigabyte's new wireless rechargeable optical mouse, the GM-W9C, is an RF device that is scaled for portability, and includes a rechargeable battery that can be charged within the mouse itself for convenience. What makes this a particularly interesting item? In one word - 800DPi Optical technology.Continue Here>>
PowerColor X700 PRO Videocard Review

Call me a snob, but I until recently I never would have considered using anything but a high end card in my main computer. Videocards based on the ATi Radeon X700 VPU and nVIDIA GeForce 6600 GPU are extremely quick, and offer a great deal of value. In many instances, these new mainstream cards are as fast, or faster than the previous generation's top of the line models. In this review PCSTATS is testing out thePowerColor X700 PRO videocard, which is native to PCI Express, and comes packing 128MB of Samsung GDDR3 memory.Continue Here>>
Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC4000 Memory Review
Each 512MB Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC4000 stick is rated to run up to 250 MHz, while maintaining CAS 2.5-4-4-8 at 2.8V. At first glance the memory looks pretty much like every other DDR DIMM on the market, but upon closer inspection we can clearly see the LED's on top and near the pins. The ones on the bottom glow a nice blue on both sides, the LEDs on the top alternate red and green in colour. The blue underlights are particularly cool as they illuminate each DDR socket. Continue Here>>
Gigabyte G-MAX N512 Centrino Laptop Review
This 1.7GHz Intel Centrino powered notebook is well equipped to succeed in a variety of roles. The G-MAX N512 features an ample 15" wide TFT LCD screen, ATI Radeon Mobility 9700 graphics chip, 60GB hard drive, built-in 802.11G wireless networking, 4 hours battery life, 512MB of RAM, and weighs a neat 2.5kg. Now, how does all this fare when we put the N512 through a couple rounds of Doom3, or some office benchmarks? Let's take a look! Continue Here>>

ASRock K8 Combo-Z/ASR Motherboard Review

Today PCStats will be testing new the ASRock K8 Combo-Z/ASR motherboard. This could be the perfect board for those of you who want to go Athlon64 on the cheap, but don't want to be stuck without an upgrade path to newer socket 939 processors. Based on the ALi M1689 chipset which we'll cover in more detail later in the review, the K8 Combo-Z/ASR can be used with both Socket 754 and Socket 939 AMD Athlon processors! Although not at the same time. The full range of socket 754 and 939 processors are supported, from the 32-bit AMD Sempron to the mighty AMD Athlon 64FX.Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Hiding Shared Folders

With a Windows operating system, you can share folders or drives which allows users to see them by browsing the network. If the users don't have access to view the contents of the shared drive, Windows doesn't hide it from them. However, sometimes it's best to "hide" these shared drives entirely. Doing so is quite easy, simply place the dollar sign ($) after the shared name. For example, if you're going to share the C drive type 'C$'.

A word of caution, while this works to hide shared items from users using Windows operating systems, users of other OS's like Linux will still be able to see the shared drives and folders. They still won't be able to access them because of permissions, but the shares will be visible.

This tip works great if you want to move files between PC's but not let everyone know that a folder is being shared.

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Mysterious Motherboard Troubles - Part 2

In the last newsletter we were faced with a bit of a puzzle over a dead PC. When that system seized up without warning everything was tried to revive it, but nothing worked. We were at a loss and ready to move on when suddenly everything became clear.

Now at first glance everything inside the system seemed in order. Yet looking closer revealed something that should never happen, but something we'd unfortunately seen kill systems before.

Eight of the 25 low-ESR aluminum capacitors on the FIC AU11 motherboard had blown their tops, spewing out a brown mixture of electrolytes, and not coincidentally killing the motherboard in the process.

In 2003, PCstats had the same situation happen with another motherboard. Several of the capacitors blew, trashing the board completely. This was one of a series of such incidents to hit the computing community, caused apparently by faulty electrolyte solution that precipitated hydrogen gas to build up inside the caps, forcing them to eventually burst. Several other members of the community speculated that more of these incidents would happen in the future, since no one seemed quite sure how many capacitors were produced with the faulty electrolytic mixture as detailed here.

Stay tuned for next weeks issue, as we'll be detailing how to check your own motherboard for burst and leaking capacitor problems. If you do have an issue, hopefully you can stop it before it costs you valuable time and data, not to mention computer equipment. In the meantime, if you've had an issue with faulty capacitors on your motherboard anytime in the last two years, we'd like to hear from you. Drop us a line through the PCstats Feedback page with your story.

The PCstats Forums
Our readers ask a lot of questions, and now you can see all the answers! Every week from Tues. to Thurs. around 5pm, keep an eye out for the new PCstats Q & A column as it pops up on the front page of PCstats. The only address you need to remember is

If you miss it, select the 'Tips' news category from the box just below our four latest feature reviews to read through all the tech advice that has been dished out.

This weeks letters are:
Thanks for the Memory
Cold, Hard Reality
Out of Sync
Last weeks letters were: Upgrade ME
NATure of home routers
Jumper troubles

This Issue By
. M. Page
Weekly Tips
. C. Sun
. M. Dowler

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