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In This Issue...

- Asus' Silent 7800GT
- Samsung Photo-Printer
- ECS nF4-SLI Intel Mobo
- Powercolor X1600XT GFX
- ECS 945G-M3
- Guide: Dead PCs
- Guide: Bad Memory?
- PCstats Weekly Tips

Spring PC Cleaning and Tune Up's

In a meeting with AOpen last week I was briefed on the Mobile on the Desktop (MoDT) initiative Intel is championing. Heat, noise, and power draw are steadily becoming important criteria, and MoDT seeks to address these issues with technologies born of the notebook industry.

We're not quite at the tipping point where power efficiency, low thermals, and quiet operation are really motivating the computer industry to make drastic changes, but it's not very far off but the looks of it. The Intel MoDT initiative swings the doors wide open to really compact computers - and in fact I was shown a fully operational Mini PC about the size of a club sandwich. The AOpen miniPC MP945-V as it's known, is VIIV ready, based on the Intel 945GM chipset, and packs in an Intel Core Solo or Core Duo mobile processor into a package just 1.3 litres in volume. A standard desktop PC is upwards of 18-20 litres in volume, and draws considerably more power.

The briefing also touched upon the impact RoHS is having on the computer industry in terms of long-term reliability, technical hurdles, added production costs, etc. Since we're on the consumer side of things, much of RoHS won't impact our use of computers and technology. I won't go into the complexities of lead-free RoHS-compliant solder formulas, but suffice to say that question of long-term reliability is a nagging one...

In the 210th Edition of the PCSTATS Newsletter we have part 1 of a special column on AMD vs. Intel; so follow along over the coming weeks as we delve into that question. PCSTATS Weekly Tech Tip focuses on FireFox today, and on the hardware front there are bunch of low noise videocards coming off the test bench. First up is Asus' EN7800GT Top Silent with its ingenuitive heatpipe-based cooling system. Following along is an ATI Radeon X1600XT Powercolor PCI Express videocard, the ECS C19-A SLI nForce4 motherboard (great for gaming), an ECS 945G-M3 microATX motherboard and the Samsung SPP-2040 dye sub 4x6" photo printer.

Spring is always a good time to clean out the dust bunnies from your computer, so on that front we have PCSTATS' Beginners Guide to diagnosing bad memory, and the recently Digg'd Beginners Guide to the most common ways to kill a PC - obviously, don't do what this guide describes!

Thanks for reading,
Max Page

Asus EN7800GT TOP Silent 2DHTV/256M Videocard Review


Just yesterday I was speaking with a colleague about some graphics cards on the test bench in the PCSTATS labs, and specifically about how loud videocard fan was. ASUS has caught on to all of this, care of an innovative heatsink called the 'SilentCool', this graphics card is dead silent. Behind the mass of metal is an nVidia GeForce 7800GT GPU and 256MB of 1.6ns GDDR3 memory - the Asus EN7800GT TOP Silent/2DHTV/256M is guaranteed to be fast with a package like that...Continue Here>>

ECS C19-A SLI nForce4 SLI Intel Edition Motherboard Review


The nForce4 SLI XE chipset is destined for the Intel Pentium 4 platform (socket 775), but it has the potential to dish out full nForce4 SLI Intel Edition type performance! Nice. Motherboards based on the nForce4 SLI XE are going for a little over $100 CDN, and at these prices it's looking like a pretty good bargain for basic computer needs. The ECS C19-A SLI motherboard is one of these affordable nForce4 SLI XE-packing motherboards, and it's paired with the nVidia MCP51 Southbridge. The ECS C19-A SLI incorporates a pretty concise set of features: 7.1 channel audio, Gigabit LAN, a bunch of USB and SATAII ports, and 20 lanes of PCI Express.Continue Here>>

PowerColor X1600 XT PCI Express Videocard Review


Including features such as Shader Model 3.0 and the capability of running two videocards at the same time has certainly bumped ATi's latest mainstream videocards into the same league as nVIDIA's GeForce 7600/6600GT. The ATi Radeon X1600 series still has a bit of an uphill battle to unseat the Geforce 7600GT, but judging from what we've witnessed of the Powercolor X1600XT we're just about to dive into, the company is well on its way in the right direction. At stock settings, we're looking at a videocard core which runs along at about 587 MHz, with 256MB of GDDR3 memory clocked at 1.3GHz. Now, what's all this about Crossfire and High Definition Content psudo-support? Continue Here>>

Samsung SPP-2040 Dye-Sub Photo Printer Review

Canon maintains the lead in photo-printing by far, but Samsung's introduction of a compact dye sublimation printer that can do its thing straight from memory cards is certainly not going unnoticed. The Samsung SPP-2040 Photo Printer being put through its paces in this PCSTATS review prints 4"x6" glossy photo's via the dye sublimation process directly from any of six common flash media formats, incorporates a folding 2" colour LCD screen for previewing images, and can connect directly to PictBridge-enabled digital cameras.Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Most Common Ways to Kill a PC

Computers should be essentially immortal right? They are just a collection of circuits and should continue to operate forever right...? Anyone who's ever owned a computer knows that this is not quite true. Computers and their component parts do have a finite life span, but most problems stem from careless handling, neglect, unhealthy environments and old age. The thing is though, careless handling can cut your computer down while it is still in its prime. In this guide, PCSTATS will show you the most popular ways by which YOU will eventually kill your PC, despite your best intentions. This is a good primer for "what not to do" folks. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Diagnosing Bad Memory


Having problems figuring out if your system is plagued with bad RAM or DDR? PCstats walks you though the steps to diagnose bad RAM. Does your Windows-based PC crash for no apparent reason? Well OK, mine does too, but does yours crash often? At random times? With Nasty blue Screens of Death? If the answer is "yes", you may very well have a memory problem. Faulty memory, or RAM, is often the cause of the dreaded 'flaky PC' syndrome. In this short but sweet guide, PCstats will discuss a handful of free memory testing software programs which can help you diagnose your troubles. Continue Here>>

ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review

Intel might be touting VIIV as the next great thing for home entertainment, but there's nothing Earth shattering about taking a Micro ATX based PC, installing WindowsXP Media Center slapping on a shiny sticker. The brand spanking new ECS 945G-M3 motherboard is one of the first generation Intel VIIV compatible boards to be touted as such. However if you just want a low cost workstation PC with an onboard Intel graphics card, the ECS 945G-M3 fits that purpose well with IEEE 1394a Firewire, an Intel Gigabit NIC, Intel's Azalia high definition 7.1 audio codec and of course Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 950... Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Firefox Doubles as Internet Explorer

Websites sometimes look different depending on the browser that’s used. If you’re a FireFox 1.5 user who wants to see how a site looks in Internet Explorer 7 there is no need to open up a new browser, just download and install the IE extension which allows you to view pages through the eyes of IE.

To enable this feature, first go to Tools menu then select the Extensions option. From there click on the Get More Extensions link, that will open up a new Window, select the IE Tab extension. A box might prompt you about the option being unsigned, but that’s okay. Wait for the Install button to light up then click it. Once that’s done, close down all your FireFox browsers so the extension fully installs.

Now whenever you want to view a page as Internet Explorer sees it within little old Firefox, simply click the FireFox icon on the bottom right hand corner of the FireFox browser window and it will load up the page in IE mode. Please note that while you’re viewing pages in Internet Explorer mode, you’ll be vulnerable to all of Explorer’s holes and bugs. To fix those run Windows Update, but that’s another tip...

Be sure to stop by PCSTATS Forums and post your comments or questions to this tip.

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AMD vs. Intel
Will the Best CPU Please Stand Up?

Once again it's time to get into the boxing ring for another battle of AMD vs. Intel! And despite the strong opinions this editorial is likely to stir up, I always appreciate hearing back from you. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with my take on the processor industry, but hey that's why I'm the tech analyst! With that in mind, it's time for some up to the minute commentary on the state of the computer world. The AMD vs. Intel battlefront has changed dramatically over the last three years, and like you, I have gone the path that most enthusiasts have. I want the best performance for my hard earned cash, so I choose the fastest available hardware without really considering who manufacturers the parts... after all, does it really matter who makes the fastest CPU? Age has mellowed my thirst for speed, and my upgrade schedule has slowed to a yearly pace, but that doesn't mean I'm settling for any less. To fit into this leisurely schedule I've had to focus a bit more on evolving technologies, and do my best to avoid the lemons (hello RDRAM!?) and technological evolutionary branches which aren't going anywhere... say for example ATI's Crossfire. Here's how it all plays out in five easy steps.

Step 1: It's the Performance, Stupid!

There's little doubt that AMD's K8 Athlon64 processor is currently the fastest architecture available. The Athlon64 architecture is superior to Intel's Netburst (the architecture that drives the Pentium 4) in every which way, and Intel's band-aid fixes have not been enough to keep up with the perpetual underdog from Austin. It's true that Intel does have a real winner with its Pentium M and Pentium III pedigreed Core Duo, but these are primarily mobile CPUs, and consequently beyond the scope of what I'll be speaking on.

What was it that happened to so dramatically shift the position between Intel and AMD's processors?Why is Intel faltering on the desktop front and AMD winning the hearts and minds of geeks world wide? It certainly isn't for lack of advertising, but that's another story. The real reason for all of this upheaval and change is Intel's Netburst architecture. It was supposed to last for 10 years when it was introduced in 2000, however that lifespan was cut short in 2003 when Intel struggled so publicly with the Prescott core. The initial product was full of kinks, its performance was lousy, it suffered from voltage leakage, and it was pretty obvious that many of its faults were due to the way Intel "improved" its processors from one speed generation to the next. The days of the good old die shrink and ramp up are certainly dead now.

After some initial questions to the necessity of a 64-bit processor in a 32-bit world, AMD's Athlon64 processor was well on its way to becoming the sweetheart of computer geeks. It's efficient core architecture allows the Athlon64 to handle more work per clock cycle than the Pentium 4/D (which was also the case with AMD's previous generation), so more gets done with less so to speak.

...the story continues next issue.
Send your Comments here.

Tech TidBits
Aopen's MP945-V miniPC
Intel V-Pro Tech
Fastest 1GHz RAM Memory
First FB-DIMMs Introduced
Asus N4L-VM DH ViiV Mobo
10GbE PCI-e Network Card

This Issue By
. Max P.
Weekly Tips
. Colin S.

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