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Today's Contents

. Hammer Time!
.Antec Case
.Quick BIOS Fixes
.47" HDTV
.PC2700 DDR
.CAT5 Cable Making
.About Cooling Fans
.Colin's Weekly Tips

Hammer Chipsets on the Horizon


With the 3GHz barrier about to be broken, it seems rather remarkable how far processors have come since the days of the first 386 CPU running at 25MHz, or so. November 7th also marked the release of the Tablet PC. Spurred on by Microsoft; Acer, Fujitsu, Compaq, Motion Computing, Toshiba, and FIC released devices which break, and blur the lines between slate and notebook computing. The 'convertibles', like the 1GHz Crusoe powered Compaq Evo are the most interesting because they still encompass a keyboard. Only time will tell if consumers embrace or reject the new technology, but I for one can't wait to test them out at Comdex in a few days time.

This weeks newsletter covers a wide spectrum of gear, starting off with a nice metallic grey case from Antec, and some Kingmax PC2700 DDR BGA memory. In the how-to arena we have an article by guest writer Keith McClellan on tweaks to make a BIOS faster during boot up, and a guide to cutting your own CAT5 Ethernet cables. With practically every computer networked these days, knowing how to crimp your own CAT5 cable can save a lot of money in the long run. As if that weren't enough already I dug up an article which explains some of the benefits and down sides to different types of cooling fans. Okay, that might be a little too techie for everyone, so we've also included our review of a 47" rear projection HDTV - because big TV's are fun!

Antec Plus 1080AMG File Server Case
Computer cases used to be the last thing on everyone's shopping list, and then something changed - case modding brought about a resurgence in design and case style. Now it's possible to buy pre-modded cases and even all aluminum cases filled with blinking lights. In this situation, the case is designed to look professional, and be exceptionally functional. The Antec 1080AMG is an updated model of an old standby - the SX1030B and the face lift is well worth it.

The new Antec Plus 1080AMG as it is formally called, comes with a coat of metallic grey paint, and features a hexagonal side blowhole and USB/Firewire ports up front. Add to that a few other minor refinements and you'll be left wondering why you ever decided to go for a bland "white box." Adjacent to the USB ports is a single IEEE1394 jack which is great for devices like digital video cameras, or even external hard drives.

Read the Rest...

Quick BIOS Optimizations
Read Article Now! You can make some simple changes to your BIOS (the initialization program of your computer that runs every time you start up) that will drastically increase the speed of your system. To enter your BIOS, press the designated key during the power-on self-test. If your computer doesn't appear to have a power-on self-test, and instead you have a splash screen with the name of the system builder, check the computer's manual for information on how to enter the BIOS (or, worst case, you could always call the manufacturer). Once you are in the BIOS, several very simple modifications can be performed to optimize your BIOS. The first thing to do is to use the Auto-Detect IDE drives utility. Once you have used the utility to detect all of your IDE hard drives, enter the standard BIOS setup menu and disable all of the other IDE channels. Don't worry if you have a CD-ROM or other device attached to those channels - the computer has another way of detecting those pieces of hardware separate from these settings. After you've performed that simple tweak, enter the advanced BIOS setup menu and modify the following entries:

Remember when you were a kid and all fun you had playing around with discarded refrigerator boxes? Well, the Samsung HCL473W certainly comes in a huge box that will make an excellent fort for the kiddies, but this time, what's inside is much more exciting than corrugated cardboard ever was - a 47" rear projection HDTV capable of 1080i/480p!

Pipe in component output from a trusty Progressive Scan DVD player to this bad boy and movie nights will have a whole new meaning. Or if you're like us and X-Box does it for you, try playing a few rounds of multi player Halo on this $2,150 USD 47" wide screen HDTV. With a 16.9 aspect ratio, letter box films fill the screen in full glory, and two player split screen games like the oh-so-addictive Halo are really in their element. Samsung make the HCL473W for the home theatre crowd and there are more than a few touches which make it very easy to live with.

KingMAX PC2700 DDR333 Memory Review

Until recently good DDR memory was hard to find and there were only few players out there on the market Corsair, Mushkin, OCZ and KingMAX. Now that JEDEC has approved a DDR333 standard the market has been flooded with DDR333 memory and it's even possible to purchase generic DDR333 modules. Just by looking at the DIMM, you know the 256MB KingMAX DDR333 is something special. KingMAX is the only memory manufacturer that equips their DIMM's with BGA DRAM modules and It's not just for looks either, at 166 MHz+ FSB's DRAM based on TSOP-II does get very warm and almost hot to the touch while at the same speeds BGA based memory only gets warm. The 256MB KingMAX DDR333 test sample was equipped with 5ns DRAM and has a CAS Latency of 2.5 which isn't surprising since 99% of PC2700 memory is CL 2.5 by SPD. As you can see from the picture on the left the KingMAX DRAM has a 5ns rating which means it should run up to 200 MHz no problem.
Read the Rest...

How To Cut Cat5 Ethernet Cable Heatsink Fundamentals: Ball Vs. Sleeve Bearings

Category 5 cable is a multi-strand wire that forms the backbone for Ethernets everywhere. Ethernets are gaining in popularity in the home as prices for Network Cards decrease and the number of computers in a single home increase. An Ethernet can provide a fast and extremely convenient method of data transfer between two or more computers, but remember all that data has to go over a wire. The Cat 5 cable. Cutting lengths of Cat 5 is not difficult, and only really requires one special tool, and the flexibility in cutting one's own cable can be well worth it in the long run. There are a few things to be aware of however - especially if the cable is going to work! All this twisting can seem a bit confusing but it does serve a purpose.

Read the Rest...

Let's take a few minutes out of normal hardware reviews and explain what these essential components of every cooling fan are; their differences, their strengths, and most importantly their weaknesses. It's accepted that ball bearings produce more noise then sleeve bearings - 1 to 3 dBA according to some sources - but the differences are rarely noticeable during their typical roles in cooling fans. Noise generated by the fan blades tends to overcome the sound of the bearings. For example, one fan we tested rotated at 8,000+RPM and was rated to about 60 dB's of sound. When operating the fan without blades it was nearly silent. Air moving over the blades was responsible for 95% of the sound generated by the fan and masked the 5% generated by the bearings themselves.

Read the Rest...

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Colin's Weekly Tech Tips
Written By: Colin "Yoda" Sun

Faster Menus's - we have the technology

WindowsXP is a great OS, but one pet peeve of mine is how it can be to navigate through each menu, and sub menu. The delay is just long enough to be annoying, but luckily there is an easy way to speed things up if you want.

Click the "Start" button and go to "Run", type "Regedit" and press the the "Ok" button. From there go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Control Panel -> Desktop. Once you're there, go to the MenuShoDelay string and get ready to edit the value which should be "400". To speed up the delay between menu's opening, change this number to 0 and reboot.

After this registry tweak you should notice that menu's pop up instantly when you select them!

Colin's Tips Archives | The Forums

The Last Word: After winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival, Michael Moore's new film has arrived in theatres.

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PCstats Issue No.63
Circulation 165,000

The High Tech Low Down
With Chris Angelini

As the world waits for AMD's Athlon XP 2800+ to hit retail shelves, which I've been told will happen early next year, I can't help but wonder when we'll see the eighth generation Hammer family. Originally slated for release late in 2002, processors built on the K8 architecture will feature an integrated memory controller, making the job of chipset manufacturers a little easier.

Several manufacturers have already vocalized plans to support the Hammer. VIA's upcoming K8HTA (K8T400), for instance, will support AGP 8x, Serial ATA, and integrated Ethernet. SiS will take that one step further with its 755 chipset, possibly sporting integrated graphics and IEEE 1394, in addition to AGP 8x and Serial ATA. Acer Labs supposedly has a chipset in the works, though it doesn't appear to be nearly as feature-complete as VIA or SiS' products. Of course, AMD will have its own 8000 series chipset ready at launch time, just as it did with the 750 and 760 chipsets. AMD's solution adds PCI-X support, though it neglects Serial ATA and FireWire. Finally, NVIDIA will offer its own nForce-derived Hammer chipset, which I'd expect to perform well considering NVIDIA's experience with Hyper Transport.

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845PE motherboards and neat little computing accessories we can't live without...

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