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In This Issue...

- Foxconn NF4 Board
- PC4000 DDR
- HEC 580Watt PSU
- Guide: Safe Mode
- FB-DIMM Memory
- AirCruiser Router
- PCstats Weekly Tips
PCSTATS Around the World in 80 Seconds

Did you know that when the PCSTATS Newsletter is mailed out it goes to the far corners of the digital globe? Readers from Japan to Brazil, Wales to South Africa, the Netherlands and even the US find a little slice of PCSTATS in their mail box each week. As tech releases are slower in the summer, we're going to try something different today. For this issue, the Editor of PCSTATS has an assignment for you: Take a picture out the nearest window by your PC and post it in the PCSTATS Forums! Remember to list your city and country, and let's see if we can't create a visual map of everywhere this little newsletter goes too! Post your pictures here (and see others from all over the world too).

The PCstats Newsletter starts off with another great Weekly Tech Tip, and a column on Intel's i945P and i955X chipsets. From there we move swiftly into reviews of Foxconn's NF4K8AC nForce 4 AMD Athlon64 motherboard, MSI's Radeon RX800XL PCI Express videocard, OCZ's new PC4000 DDR, and a 580W power supply from a company called HEC. PCstats Beginners Guide to WindowsXP Safe Mode continues from there, followed by a return of the engaging FB-DIMM technology article and a review of a unique internal wireless router from Gigabyte called the Aircruiser. Enjoy!

Foxconn WinFast NF4K8AC-8EKRS Motherboard Review
Continue on...

For the majority of its life, Foxconn has been involved in OEM computer peripheral manufacturing - making everything from motherboards for Dell PCs, to the slots, sockets, ports, brackets and jacks which dot all manner of computer electronics. The econo-line Foxconn WinFast NF4K8AC-8EKRS socket 939 Athlon64 motherboard is based on the vanilla nForce4 chipset and it seems like the only difference between this and the Ultra version is Serial ATA II (this version supports standard SATA). Other onboard features include a PCI Express x16 and two PCI Express x1 slots, an integrated 7.1 channel audio codec, Gigabit LAN and IEEE 1394a firewire. Continue Here>>

MSI Radeon RX800XL-VT2D256E Videocard Review

Continue on...

The MSI PCI-Express based RX800XL-VT2D256E videocard uses the ATI Radeon X800XL core and is backed by 256MB of speedy Samsung GDDR 3 2ns memory. The most notable feature of the card is its dual-DVI connectors, but it also sports a full complement of multimedia abilities including VIVO, and HDTV-out as well as a nice software bundle. With two DVI connectors and two DVI-to-analog converters, the RX800XL-VT2D256E is the perfect videocard for those who want to use dual LCD monitors, or an LCD and a CRT. Continue Here>>

OCZ PC4000 Gold Dual Channel VX Memory Review
Continue on...

In this review, PCStats is testing a set of OCZ's 512MB PC4000 Gold Dual-Channel VX (Voltage eXtreme) DDR memory. With a name like that it had better be prepared to overclock to the roof! The PC4000 Gold Dual-Channel VX is rated to run at 250 MHz with timings of 2-2-2-8 and a maximum voltage of 3.3V. If you do not plan to overclock this memory, the PC4000 Gold Dual Channel VX can also run with 2-3-3-8 timings at 200 MHz with only 2.6V.Continue Here>>

HEC Ace 580UB 580 Watt Power Supply Review
Continue on...

Modern computers with high-end videocards and 64-bit processors generally require more than 300W of power. ATI and nVidia state that their latest GPUs need around 400 watts to function effectively, and that's excluding the rest of the system components. If you go the SLI route, your system will be even more of a power hog. With this fact in mind, we've been looking at a lot of 400Watt+ power supplies lately. The latest to cross our desk is the HEC Ace Power 580UB power supply, with has a maximum output (peak) of 580Watts. That's quite sufficient for SLI and just about anything else you can throw at it. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Windows XP Safe Mode Explained
Continue on... Hit F8 to boot your PC in to Safe Mode, and from there..... what? Safe Mode is a powerful tool for fixing problems in Windows, and finally PCstats explains how to actually use it!

Safe Mode has been a component of the Windows operating system since the days of Windows 95. The basic idea is to allow the user access to the windows interface without loading any unnecessary drivers or software. The thinking is that if device drivers or auto loading software are causing problems with your Windows installation, the easiest way to fix things is to load a version of Windows that bypasses all but the most basic drivers and will not run any additional software. Windows XP safe mode provides you with a basic graphics driver, access to your drives and windows configuration, and very little else. Continue Here>>

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Introduction to FB-DIMM Memory: Birth of Serial RAM?
Continue on... FB-DIMM memory (short for Fully-Buffered Dual Inline Memory Module) is a variant of standard DDR2 memory where both large amounts of memory and memory co-ordination and accuracy at high speeds are essential. FB-DIMM memory combines the high-speed internal architecture of DDR2 memory with a brand-new point-to-point serial memory interface which links each FB-DIMM module together in a chain. Conventional memory modules use a parallel 'stub' connection in which each module in a memory channel has a separate set of links to that channel and the memory controller. Continue Here>>

Gigabyte AirCruiser GN-BC01 802.11g Wireless Router
Continue on... While broadband Internet has become standard the world over, different countries and regions approach things differently when it comes to how the networking hardware is implemented. Today we're going to bring a bit of European flavour to PCstats with a review of Gigabyte's AirCruiser GN-BC01 802.11g internal wireless PCI router. This device incorporates a fully wireless home router/Internet sharing device onto a PCI card which you install directly into your desktop PC. It also comes with a nifty, blue-LED tipped magnetic external antenna which is fairly high gain at 3dB. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Set PC to the Right Date
After reinstalling a PC recently, we found that an error would pop up every time it attempted to access the Windows Update website - preventing us from updating the PC to the most recent set of patches. I also noticed that certain programs would give weird errors, especially when installing software that required activation.

The solution to this PC problem turned out to be the date and time; the PC thought it was 2001, but it was really 2005. The incorrect calender setting within Windows XP was causing all the weird problems, and the time update service which is supposed to prevent this error could not properly sync with the Microsoft (or alternate) servers if the date was so dramatically off.

The fix was as quick as double-clicking on the date in the lower right hand corner of the desktop screen, and setting it to the current date. Once that was done, the Windows Update website worked perfectly, the software activation issues went away, and all the really weird errors relating to this date disparity were resolved.

So there you have it, if in the future you are getting a whole host of weird errors, take a look at the date to see if it's right - it might just be the cause.

All of the PCstats Weekly Tech Tips have been archived in the Forums for your reference.

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Intel's i945P and i955X Chipsets

In the Spring of 2005, Intel introduced two new desktop motherboard chipsets, the 945P/G and the 955X Express. In keeping with the processor giant's standard retail habits, one of these chipsets (the 945P/G) is destined for mainstream and business applications while the other (955X Express) is targeted towards enthusiasts and workstation applications. Both new chipsets introduce a host of features, and main selling point is support for dual-core CPUs. Intel recently introduced two lines of dual-core processors, the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition, and the 945 and 955X chipsets are the only officially compatible chipsets. We say officially because nVidia's nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset also supports these processors.

The main story is, the 945 and 955X are the only way that loyal (are there any?) Intel customers can get ahold of dual-core processors. Both chipsets are dual-channel DDRII compatible only, as Intel is intent on leaving standard DDR memory behind. Both chipsets also feature the new Intel ICH-7R Southbridge chip with SATAII support, which is a first on Intel chipsets.

The 955X Express is the only chipset that will support the Pentium Extreme Edition dual processor and its 1066MHz FSB speed, and the chipset also features Intel's mysterious 'Memory Pipeline Technology,' supposedly increasing memory bandwidth. PCIe x16 is the graphic interface of choice, and rumours abound as to the possibility of Intel incorporating SLI, Crossfire or its own new dual-card technology into the 955X chipset at a later date. Six lanes of PCIe connectors round out the unique features of the 955X Express.

The 945P/G comes in two flavours: 'G' which includes Intel's GMA 950 integrated graphics (generally considered quite poor), and 'P' which uses a PCIe x16 slot instead. The 945 chipsets lack the MPT technology of the 955X, and can only support the Pentium D chips and the 800MHz fsb, but is equal in most other respects. Both chipsets use Intel's LGA775 socket, as you would expect, and both feature only a single ATA-100 IDE controller, but room for four SATA II devices. If the previous performance of Intel's high-end chipsets is anything to go by, the 955X should be a force to reckon with, while we are expecting the 945P/G to feature solid and affordable performance. Intel Dual-core is go!

The PCstats Forums

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

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