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In This Issue...

- DFI NF4-SLI Mobo
- 24" LCD Monitor
- OC'ing A64-3500+
- Motherboard Swapping
- Xpert 3200XL DDR
- HP's New LaserJet
- WinXP Services Guide
- Intel nF4-SLI Mobo
- Game Patch Tracking
- Epox 9NPA+ Mobo
- PCstats Weekly Tips
Overclocking and Enthusiast Calibre Gear

At its simplest, overclocking is the act of purposefully running a computer processor faster than its rated speed for the benefit of performance. This used to be the domain of a few grassroots enthusiasts, but industry was quick to embrace overclocking and now CPUs, memory, videocards and motherboards support this officially uncondoned feature.

What makes enthusiast calibre gear good at overclocking is a witches brew of engineering, and straight up bodged hardware that long ago lost any claim to its manufacturers' warranty. Advanced cooling systems are a de facto requirement, while complex BIOS options and power choices dictate where things go from there...

The Athlon64 DFI Lanparty NF4 SLI-DR is currently the grandaddy of the overclocking motherboards, and in our review you'll see just how fast it can really run. In a related article, Colin takes an AMD Athlon64 3500+ processor for a little overclocking adventure, thanks in part to a device known as a 'Phase-Change Cooler' - just imagine the coldest part of your kitchen refrigerator strapped onto a CPU, chilling it to -40 Celsius. :-) One of the mainstays of a good overclocking system is fast memory, which is why we recently tested a pair of Corsair's Xpert PC3200XL DDR. This memory is unique for its scrolling LED display attached the top of each stick of RAM. Naturally, gaming is a big motivator for overclockers, and one such LCD monitor which is not suited for that application is the Samsung 243T 24" LCD display - though it is excellent for CAD or graphics work thanks to a native resolution of 1920x1200 pixels.

I've included two handy PCSTATS beginners guides; the first deals with Swapping out a Motherboard during an upgrade without having to reinstall the entire system. The second is a slightly updated version on Tweaking WindowsXP Services. Be sure to read the column to the right for some dish on the new class of Personal Media Players, this review of a fast-paced laser printer, Epox's most recent socket 939 Athlon64 motherboard, and of course PCSTATS Weekly Tech Tip!

DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR Motherboard Review
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When it comes to real overclocking, there's only one company which enthusiasts turn to, DFI. In a market not known for brand loyalty, DFI has somehow been able to forge a strong relationship with overclockers. The DFI LANParty NF4 SLI-DR motherboard that is the focus of this review incorporates the Nforce 4 SLI chipset and a pair of PCIe x16 slots for dual SLI videocard action with compatible nVidia-based graphics accelerators. It also overclocks like no tomorrow... with options for up to 4volts for memory.Continue Here>>

Samsung SyncMaster 243T 24-inch LCD Display Review
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In this review, PCSTATS will be testing out one of its latest TFT-LCD models, the 24-inch Samsung SyncMaster 243T. This lovely piece of LCD technology sports some impressive specs including a 1920x1200 native resolution, a 500:1 contrast ratio, 170 degree horizontal/vertical viewing angles, 0.270mm pixel pitch, a pivoting display and dual digital/analog modes. It is ideally intended for commercial applications where its wide viewing angles and crisp graphics would be a definite asset. Continue Here>>

AMD Athlon64 3500+ Overclocking Adventure
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The AMD Athlon64 3500+ is the enthusiast's weapon of choice when it comes to overclocking. A few might argue that going with the Athlon64 3200+ or Athlon64 3000+ is a better deal since you're guaranteed to get yourself a 0.09 micron Winchester core, but I like the higher multiplier that the Athlon64 3500+ offers. We're going to have a bit of fun with this chip today. We'll test how high our Athlon64 3500+ will overclock with air cooling, but we're also going to put the processor under the deep freeze to see how high it goes with a R404A modded Prometeia Mach I phase-change cooler too! Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Upgrading A Motherboard Without Reinstalling
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Swapping out a that old motherboard for new one, and potentially radically different hardware is often a quick road to the Blue Screen of Death. Of course, we have a guide to getting this done, without reinstalling your entire PC.

Sadly, with the constant pace of change in the processor and chipset markets, motherboards become outdated very quickly when it comes to upgrade options. This means that any major new computer upgrade tends to require a new motherboard with it, and this brings a whole new set of complications. You can upgrade a processor or add a new memory module without causing so much as a blip from Windows XP, but a new motherboard can and will cause XP to stop booting altogether. Many have tried, and many have been greeted with the cold gasp of the Blue Screen of Death for their efforts. Fortunately, the procedure for correctly installing a new motherboard is rather easy and straightforward, and more fortunately, we're here to talk you through it. Continue Here>>

Corsair Xpert TWINXP1024-3200XL DDR Memory Review
Continue on...

Introducing the Corsair XMS Xpert TWINXP1024-3200XP dual-channel DDR kit. As you can see, it makes quite a first impression. this dual-channel, PC3200 pair of 512MB DDR DIMMs come with a pair of programmable digital displays which can be attached to the top of each module. These LED displays work with the included 'Memory Dashboard' software, allowing your memory to display several monitoring characteristics or even a custom scrolling message! Yes, it's time to get that case window installed... Continue Here>>

HP LaserJet 2420-DN Network Laser Printer Review
The Hewlett-Packard Laserjet 2420dn model that we're looking at is a networked monochrome laser printer with a 1200x1200 maximum resolution, 64MB of onboard memory, 350 sheet paper capacity, a built-in HP JetDirect Ethernet print server, and automatic duplex printing. It is far better to pay the small premium and get a printer with networking properties.Continue Here>>
Beginners Guides: Understanding and Tweaking WindowsXP Services

In Windows XP, there are background processes that run constantly called Services, and they will be the topic of this edition of PCSTATS popular Beginner's Guides. We're going to look at what the WinXP Services are and do, why they are necessary, which ones should be running on your system and which ones you can really do without for a nice speed increase. Continue Here>>

VIA Grease Monkey Patch-Tracking Software Review

PC gamers are often forced to acquire multiple patches for a single game over the few months that it is 'in play', and this activity can get tedious. Wouldn't it be good then, if you had a little application that could automatically locate the patches you need and the demos you want, as well as linking you to a dedicated downloading server for them? Well, today we're going to look at an app that claims to fill just this role, the VIA Technologies "Grease Monkey" software.Continue Here>>

Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra Socket 939 Motherboard Review
Read the Review...

The Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra offers users a very flexible nForce 4/PCI Express platform, and has some useful integrated peripherals like a 8-channel audio, 10 USB2.0 ports, IEEE 1394a, and Gigabit LAN. It's not the most well equipped motherboard we've ever dealt with, but for mainstream users I think you could say it fills out all the necessary points well. At the bottom right hand corner of the motherboard is the Port 80 diagnostics card which flashes two digit error codes to identify system status. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Administrator Loophole

When it comes to Windows Operating Systems, there is almost always an "Administrator" account set up by default that gives potential hackers or trouble makers a user name with administrative access already. With a little know how, it remarkably easy for someone to break into a system through the Administrator account. Luckily Windows also gives end users the ability to change the name of the default Administrator account to whatever you'd like.

To do that we'll need to access the Local Security Settings (Start -> Run then type secpol.msc and press the Ok button) and from there follow this path Local Policies -> Security Options. On the right hand window find the Accounts: Rename administrator account policy and double click on it. From here enter a name which will become the default administrator account (ie from Administrator -> Power Dude or whatever you'd like) and press the ok button.

Now your computer no longer has an Administrator account but a custom one which only you know. ;-)

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Tech Dawn of the Personal Media Player

There's always a type of gadget out there that the techno-literate are drooling for long before the regular public becomes aware of their existence. The MP3 player was a great example of this trend. There were MP3 players, and CD players that played MP3s, and the Creative Nomad hard drive-based player, none of which made much of a ripple on the public consciousness; then there was the iPod.

The portable multimedia player may be the best current example of this trend in the present day. After hard disk players became well known, Archos produced a version which not only had a hard disk but also an LCD screen. It was capable of playing movie clips and displaying photos as well as MP3 audio. Due to its high cost, it made little impact on the market, but the idea had been planted. Fast forward to four years later and almost every computer company has one of these players in production or development. Even Apple will soon have an iPod that plays video. Sony's PSP, though a game machine first, also taps into this market with its movie and music playing abilities.

It's hard to deny the potential benefits of these devices. In a much smaller package than a laptop, you can pack equivalent hard disk space, movie and music playing and photo viewing power. Even better, with no keyboard or pen interface, you can't actually use them to work!

None of these products have struck a nerve with the public yet, due to a combination of high prices and the difficulty of producing a portable multimedia player that will appeal to everyone. Video formats are a potential mine field for any emerging product, as a multimedia player not only needs to be able to display a wide range of them, but also needs the horsepower to display them at reasonable frame rates. The Sony PSP has sold hundreds of thousands of units on the strength of its games though, so it is quite possible that as it's multimedia capabilities become well known, demand for these types of devices will increase. Certainly dropping the price below the magical $300 mark will help multimedia players appeal to the general public.

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

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