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Hey there everyone! =)

Well we've been pretty busy the last little while at PCStats and we have a lot of stuff for you guys to check out! Our forums are doing very well and if you have any questions whether it's hardware or software just ask them there you're bound to get a quick answer. Or if you just want to chat about the latest gossip be it Serial ATA, R300 or T-Bred drop us a line here .

Max recently looked at some of the coolest removable IDE racks around, the Vantec EZ-Swap HDD Racks. With a neat LCD display that tells the temperature of your hard drive, master slave settings and even beeps when the internal fans fail Vantec has set the bar higher for everyone else.

On the videocard front, the MSI G4Ti4600-VTD is one of the finest GeForce4 Ti4600's out there with 128MB of BGA DDR RAM backing up the GPU which has 63 million transistors it simply blew our minds with its blazing performance.

One of our writers David S. Jones looks at the technology behind Firewire and USB, tells us the strengths and weaknesses of both and which one is more likely to survive the hard battle.

One motherboard we were very interested in testing was the Epox 8K3A+. Would they be able to "wow" us like they did everyone else online? You bet, the 8K3A+ was one of the best KT333 based boards we've ever tested and you might be interested in taking a look at why we liked it so much.

Vantec EZ-Swap Removable HDD Racks

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I've had varrying amounts of luck with removable hard drive racks; some worked, some created bad bits, and others just sat there grinning back at me as I brought down the hammer. I guess you could say it goes like this; cheap hard drive rack work most of the time but break easily, mid-level hard drive racks work well but cost too much for what they do, and brand name hard drive racks just don't exist. Or that was the case until Vantec entered into the market with their EZ-Swap removable (but not hot swapable) IDE hard drive racks.

Its brother unit, the MRK102FD comes with all the bells and whistles, and although knowing the temperature of the hard drive is cool, it is really something which most consumers will not know how to change. The small fan is not going to provide heaps of cooling and that means options are limited. The added master and slave settings by the LCD panel are really cool and I could see several uses for that just in the realm of everyday testing. Most of all, these drives just look a lot better than their standard OEM counter parts. If Vantec can keep the cost of these units to good levels I think they have a pretty worthwhile removable IDE hard drive rack on the market.

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MSI G4Ti4600-VTD

We've always found good comfort in MSI's videocards because they never come decked out with cheap gimmicks in an effort to lure customers - rather MSI's videocards tend to compete on reliability, overclockability, and competitive prices. MSI's highest-end card right now is the G4Ti4600-VTD which is based on nVidia's GeForce 4 Ti4600 GPU.

MSI has one of the better software bundles out there with their Ti4600, they include three full game titles; No One Lives Forever, Aquanox and Sacrifice, a seven game demo CD, WinProducer & WinCoder, MSIDVD and MSI's 3D!Turbo software.

It's quite amazing that they can bundle so much software while keeping a low price. Also included in the package is a five prong splitter cable which takes care of the VIVO option the G4Ti4600-VTD has. If MSI had just included a DVI to analog converter for a second VGA monitor the card would have been near perfect! Speaking of which, let's take a closer look at this extra-long GeForce 4 Ti4600 and some of the things which make it a killer!

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Fire Wire VS USB; Apple and Intel Play Hardball

"FireWire." Like so many innovative Apple technologies, even this product code name exuded a cachet signifying The Next Big Thing. But something happened a few years ago that suppressed the widespread support for FireWire in favor of the much lesser Universal Serial Bus (USB). FireWire has since found its niche in digital video cameras, but with the recent introduction of the new high-speed USB 2.0, many are now wondering aloud if FireWire will survive.

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Epox 8K3A+ Motherboard

Even though Epox was one of the first mainboard manufacturers to produce a motherboard based on the VIA KT266A chipset the 8KHA+ remains one of the finest boards out there, and one which continues to enjoy a fiercely loyal following. When Epox announced the release of the KT333-based 8K3A+ many wondered if they would be able to reproduce the successes they had enjoyed in the past.

With the new 8K3A+, you can now set your CPU voltages all the way up to 2.2V, which means performance users have more room to breath, and tweak! Obviously only the more extreme overclockers would use those options (they can cause longevity issues with the processor), but it's nice to know they are there.

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Come down to the PCStats Forums, it's one of the best hardware communities there is around. You can speak your mind on anything you want from computer hardware to music or even talk about how your team is fairing in the World Cup! What are you waiting for, we're having a blast you should join as well!

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PCstats Issue No.42

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips
By: Colin Sun

For users of Windows 2000 or XP you actually have to tell the OS what size L2 cache your processor has otherwise it won't be used properly! Luckily it's fairly easy to fix.

Click on the Start button then go to run. From there type REGEDIT and press the "Ok" button. After it opens the Registry Editor follow this path. hkey_local_machine, System, CurrentControlSet, Session Manager, Memory Management

Once you're in the Memory Management folder look for the DWORD value
Right click on that and go to modify. Very important you have to change the Base from Hexidecimal to Decimal before modifying the values. After that's done just punch in your L2 cache size so if you're using an AthlonXP since the CPU has 256KB L2 Cache you enter 256. For Duron's enter 64 and for P4 Northwood's enter 512.
After that's done you should notice your programs now have quite a bit more zip and the system is less sluggish because Windows now knows how to use your L2 cache properly.

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