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In This Issue...

- K8NSP-SLI Mobo
- Intel 64-bit Tech
- Aopen 915P Mobo
- Albatron K8X890 ProII
- SLI 6600GT's
- Handy Recovery
- PCstats Weekly Tips
SLI Motherboards For Intel and AMD


It's March, and the updated PCstats ShoppingList dishes out our ideal hardware recommendations for three budget levels. This is a handy tool for anyone seeking advice on what to put into their next PC... And while we're on the topic of new PCs, expect nForce 4 SLI boards for the Intel Pentium 4 to start popping up in May. Nvidia's Intel-friendly 'Crush 19' NF4 chipset will reportedly support 800/1066MHz FSB Pentium 4 CPUs, as well as the dual-core 90nm 'Smithfield' processor which was announced by Intel at IDF today. Also generating buzz are two new multi-core supporting Intel chipsets, the 955X 'Glenwood' and 945P Lakeport. Both of which will be paired with the ICH7 Southbridge.

As you know, Intel recently released its new 64-bit EM64T processor technology just in time for Microsoft tell us all that WindowsXP 64-bit Edition will hit store shelves early April. AMD has had its Athlon64 processor out for nearly two years without the proper OS to take full advantage of its capabilities, now we'll just have to wait a few more weeks for Microsoft's 64-bit OS to make its imminent debut!

In this issue, PCstats covers the MSI K8N Neo4-SLi and Gigabyte K8NSP-SLi motherboards. If SLi has tempted you into running two PCI Express videocards side-by-side, these reviews are not to be missed! Also on the agenda is a look at MSI's NX6600GT-SLi videocards, the Albatron K8X890 ProII and AOpen 915Pa-PLF motherboards, and a look at Intel's 64-bit processor technology.

As always, the PCstats Weekly Tech Tip is a good one, and along the right hand side you'll find an interesting column about keeping up with your games.

MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI Motherboard Review
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The MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI is actually the third revision of MSI's popular K8N Neo series, and it's now based on the brand new nVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset. The motherboard supports Socket 939 AMD Athlon64 processors with HyperTransport running at a smooth 1 GHz. There are two physical PCI-Express 16x slots on the motherboard as well as three standard 32-bit PCI slots. Under SLI, the two PCI Express videocard slots operate with 8 lanes each. The K8N Neo4 has a onboard Creative Soundblaster (CA0106-DAT) soundcard!Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI nForce4-SLI Motherboard Review
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Today, PCStats will be looking at Gigabyte's next generation AMD Athlon64 motherboard, the GA-K8NXP-SLI. Based on the popular nVidia nForce4-SLI chipset, this motherboard supports socket 939 Athlon64 and AthlonFX processors, as well as up to 4GB of PC3200 DDR RAM in a dual channel configuration. As an SLI-compatible board, it sports two PCI Express x16 slots for dual videocards. This board features an onboard four port SATA/RAID Silicon Image controller, two Gigabit NICs, one wireless 802.11g PCI network card, a 7.1-channel audio controller, three IEEE 1394b ports, Gigabyte's DPS-2 power system, and of course dual BIOS'. Continue Here>>

SLI Factoid: The first round of Intel SLi boards will include the Asus P5ND2-SLI, Epox 5NVA+SLi, Gigabyte 8NNXP-SLI and MSI P4N Diamond. Each of which will support 1066MHz FSB, DDR2-667, PCI Express SLI graphics, and run with an 800MHz Hyper Transport connection. SerialATA-II will be standard on nVidia's MCP04 'Southbridge'.
Intel's 64-bit Technology: Come Late, Stay Quiet.
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As you may know, Intel recently brought legacy compatible 64-bit technology to its Xeon and Pentium 4 lines of processors. This move was inevitable when you take into account the huge success that AMD has had with its Opteron line of 32-bit/64-bit chips as compared to Intel's Itanium ('I-tanic') Server processors. The Itanium of course, is not compatible with software designed for standard x86-based computers, while the Opteron is. Intel needed to close this gap, and they have. The question is, why is Intel being so quiet about it? Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) is outwardly practically identical to AMD's 'AMD64' set of 64-bit extensions. And when we say "practically identical", we mean it...Continue Here>>

AOpen i915Pa-PLF Motherboard Review

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The AOpen i915Pa-PLF motherboard is a socket 775 Intel Pentium 4 solution designed for mainstream users getting ready to upgrade a little of everything. Obviously based on the Intel 915P chipset, this blackened-PCB motherboard supports current 800/533MHz FSB Socket 775 CPUs (Celeron or Pentium 4), and requires a PCI-Express compatible video card. AGP videocards are not supported at all. For its class, the i915Pa-PLF is not the most well equipped motherboard out there, but it still features the minimum of necessary peripherals users are likely to need. Continue Here>>

Dual MSI NX6600GT-TD128E SLI Videocard Review
As an enthusiast I'm less than impressed with the last few years under ATi's rule; they've been turbulent at best... and not especially innovative. What ever the situation, there's no doubt that nVIDIA's GeForce 6600GT is the best mainstream core on the market right now. A single GeForce 6600GT-based videocard is about as quick as last generation's Radeon 9800XT/GeForceFX 5950 Ultra cards, and then there is the "SLI factor." Based around the GeForce 6600GT core, both cards are backed up with 128MB of memory on a 128-bit bus. Continue Here>>
Handy Recovery 2.0 Undeletion and Data Recovery Software

In PCstats critically important guide to data recovery, we walked through several freeware applications that you can use to restore your data in case of disaster. Today we're going to take a quick walk through the features and tools of a commercial option for data and file recovery, SoftLogica's Handy Recovery 2.0. As you'd expect, this $30 data recovery program is free from many of the limitations that can make using freeware recovery software a trying experience. Handy Recovery supports the NTFS file system , has a full GUI and most importantly, is easy to use. Continue Here>>

Albatron K8X890 Pro II K8T890 Motherboard Review

Continue on...

Today we're going to look at an Albatron K8X890 Pro II motherboard which uses VIA's new K8T890 chipset, so you know what that means - PCI Express videocards! This Albatron motherboard supports all Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64 or FX processors as well as up to 4GB of PC3200 DDR memory. The VIA K8T890 chipset supports PCI Express, so as you'd expect we see a full PCI Express x16 video slot on this board as well as a single PCI Express x4 peripheral slot.Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Controlling Hidden Shares

Linux is a great OS, but things can be tricky when one wants to move from Linux to Windows. The problem is the various Linux distributions use a boot loader (usually either LILO or GRUB) which is written on the boot sector of the HDD. Removing the Linux partition via FDISK or other means does not change the master boot record so when you restart the system you're still greeted by boot loader, which then freezes the PC since Linux is no longer on the system.

Luckily the fix is easy... it's just not that obvious. First you'll need a DOS style boot disk (if you don't have one and need to get a copy is the best place) with the fdisk utility. Once you boot to a command prompt simply type fdisk /mbr and press enter. That resets the Master Boot Record and now you can then install a Windows operating system.

Hey, Team PCStats needs more 'folders! If you have some CPU resources to spare, make sure you're helping us and the rest of humanity out!

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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 www.pcstats.comIf 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: Hot Potato Windows XP Hot-glitches? Case of the Forgetful Drive
Last weeks letters were: Cloning in 3 Easy Steps Disobedient Desktop Automatic logoff?

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PCstats Issue
Circulation: 211,886

Keeping up on your Game

If you are a PC games enthusiast like us, you know that patching your computer games is an unfortunate chore of life. Given the huge variety of hardware which the average computer might be composed of, getting a given game to work on every system is a daunting task for programmers. Add to this the fact that many major game publishers place restrictive schedules on their game developers and its no wonder that so many promising products make it to the marketplace half-finished. Sadly, many companies know that with enough publicity, they can release untested games onto the market, then patch them up after the fact. This patch-and-release strategy has become so common that checking for patches before playing a game is now routine for most of us.

Fortunately, the easy accessibility of the Internet on home PCs also enables a positive flip side to the whole game-patching problem: Developers can easily release new content for their games, making it available for downloading in the same way as patches are. Better yet, many popular games release Software Development Kits, map-making tools, guidelines and even scripting tools to enable home users to create their own content. This legacy of 'modding' and creating new content for games stretches all the way back to the original Doom. Some great recent examples of this are Half-Life (the game that launched a thousand mods, including Counter-Strike), NeverWinter Nights which allows its players to create detailed role-playing adventure 'modules' which can be played by other players, and the recent Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004.

Many games now incorporate a patching engine into the game's front-end, making the process of obtaining software fixes painless. We're pretty sure that this will become almost mandatory in the years to come. What we'd like to see is games shipping with an entire content downloading mechanism; not just patches, but new maps and content from other players, available within the program itself. Currently, the most reliable source for patches and downloads are the major web gatherings of Gamespot, FilePlanet, etc. A few companies have even created 'patching software' which when installed, will assemble a list of the games you have installed and find available downloads for you automatically. VIA's Grease Monkey software is one good example of this type of service. As you'd expect, these applications are subscription based and come with a price tag attached, but generally offer better performance and less waiting around than free website servers.

The moral of the story is, if you have a game you are enjoying, take a little time to explore what web-based resources are available. You might be surprised at what you find.

The PCstats Forums

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

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