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In This Issue...

Tracer PC4000
Geforce 6600GT
PC2-4200 DDR2
G-Max N512 Laptop
ASRock K8 Combo
LG Dual Layer DVD
Asus WL-330
Gigabyte ATI Mobo
Soltek K8TPro-939
PCstats Weekly Tips
Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC4000 DDR Lights Up!


'Tis the season for giving, so PCstats has teamed up with to give away 1GB of Ballistix Tracer PC4000 DDR memory! The lights on this memory will make an Xmas tree look dull by comparison, so exercise that left-mouse button and tell all your friends and co-workers to enter!

Since you're already subscribed and receiving your weekly edition of the PCstats Newsletter, enter by filling out the Subscribers Entry Form, and including the email of 1 person you referred to try out the PCstats Newsletter. As long as that individual subscribes to the PCstats Newsletter before the close of the contest, you're BOTH in the running to win some fast DDR memory! So bug your friend in the next desk to give us a try, and one of you might walk away with 1GB of RAM.

This issue is jam packed with info, including a three-part column called "Mysterious Motherboard Troubles", a recap of three new PCstats Q & A letters, and our look at 2005 Tech Roadmaps.

On the review front, PCstats has tested Crucial's new Ballistix Tracer DDR, the spritely Gigabyte Geforce 6600GT PCI-e videocard, the G-Max N512 'Dothan' based Centrino notebook, and an ingenuitive Asrock K8 Combo-Z motherboard which supports both socket 754 and 939 Athlon64 processors. Further along are reviews of the GSA-4120B dual layer DVD-burner from LG, and Soltek's SL-K8TPro-939 Athlon64 motherboard. PCstats's Weekly Tech Tip rounds out the newsletter as always.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at PCstats!

Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC4000 Memory Review

As reviewers, we were extremely pleased to see Crucial enter the enthusiast memory arena with its Ballistix line of DDR memory. After all, the entry of a major player like Crucial should help to drive down prices for the consumer, right? Each 512MB Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC4000 stick is rated to run up to 250 MHz, while maintaining CAS 2.5-4-4-8 at 2.8V. At first glance the memory looks pretty much like every other DDR DIMM on the market, but upon closer inspection we can clearly see the LED's on top and near the pins. The ones on the bottom glow a nice blue on both sides, the LEDs on the top alternate red and green in colour. The blue underlights are particularly cool as they illuminate each DDR socket.

Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GV-NX66T128D GeForce 6600GT Videocard Review

nVIDIA was the first to enter the 'mainstream' PCI Express video market with the GeForce 6600 class GPU. ATi followed suit a few days later with its Radeon X700. While the companies are different, the technology behind the competing VPUs is actually quite similar. Over the next dozen pages, PCStats will test out a videocard made by Gigabyte called the GV-NX66T128D. This PCI Express x16 videocard is based on nVIDIA's GeForce 6600GT GPU, and packs in a svelte 128MB of Samsung GDDR3 memory. If you're holding out for a motherboard that has two PCI Express x16 slots, you'll be happy to know the GV-NX66T128D is SLI compatible as well.Continue Here>>

PDP Systems Patriot PC2-4200 DDR2 XBL Memory Review

When it comes to memory, there are two eternal truth's; it can never be fast enough, nor in a large enough quantity. For the longest time, 1GB of total system memory has been the sweet spot for PC systems. Yet, with programs demanding more resources than ever, often 1GB of system RAM doesn't feel like enough anymore! Called the Patriot DDR-2 eXtreme Bandwidth and Latency Kit, each of these 1GB PC2-4200 XBL sticks of memory have official timings of 3-2-2-4. When those timings are loosened up to 4-3-3-12, PDP Systems PC2-4200 XBL RAM is almost able to 'fly' at 700 MHz!Continue Here>>
Gigabyte G-MAX N512 Centrino Laptop Review

In this review PCstats will be putting the Gigabyte G-MAX N512, which is based on the Intel 'Dothan' processor, through its paces. This 1.7GHz Intel Centrino powered notebook is well equipped to succeed in a variety of roles. The G-MAX N512 features an ample 15" wide TFT LCD screen, ATI Radeon Mobility 9700 graphics chip, 60GB hard drive, built-in 802.11G wireless networking, 4 hours battery life, 512MB of RAM, and weighs a neat 2.5kg. Now, how does all this fare when we put the N512 through a couple rounds of Doom3, or some office benchmarks? Let's take a look!Continue Here>>

ASRock K8 Combo-Z/ASR Motherboard Review

Today PCStats will be testing new the ASRock K8 Combo-Z/ASR motherboard. This could be the perfect board for those of you who want to go Athlon64 on the cheap, but don't want to be stuck without an upgrade path to newer socket 939 processors. Based on the ALi M1689 chipset which we'll cover in more detail later in the review, the K8 Combo-Z/ASR can be used with both Socket 754 and Socket 939 AMD Athlon processors! Although not at the same time. The full range of socket 754 and 939 processors are supported, from the 32-bit AMD Sempron to the mighty AMD Athlon 64FX.Continue Here>>

LG GSA-4120B Super Multi DVD Rewriter

While I've had a DVD burner for quite some time now, it was only recently when backing up some of large home videos files did I realize just how useful they are. As I was finishing off the 7th DVD+R disc (with more to burn still) I realized that if I were using regular CD-R's, I would have gone through about 50 discs at that point. Dual layer DVD burners like the LG GSA-4120B 12x Super Multi DVD Rewriter which writes to dual layer DVD+R discs at 2.4x are now starting to appear on the market, and with compatible media they can store up to 8.5GB of data on one disc! That's enough space for you to back up an entire DVD movie! Continue Here>>

ASUS WL-330 Pocket Wireless Access Point Review
The Asus WL-330 is a tiny wireless access point so nondescript as to be practically invisible; it's also about the size of a deck of cards. The unit supports 11Mbps 802.11b wireless, and is designed to act as a wireless access point, or wireless adaptor in a pinch. The unit is a true travelers friend, great for use turning hotel internet jacks into wireless connections. Continue Here>>
Gigabyte GA-8TRX330-L Motherboard Review
The new ATI RX330 chipset looks to be full of potential, its memory compatibility is even being validated by ATI. Currently Gigabyte has exclusive manufacturing rights to this chipset, so if you want an ATi Radeon RX330 based motherboard, the only vendor that can currently supply it is Gigabyte...Continue Here>>

Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939'Tis the season to be jolly, and if you're an enthusiast things couldn't be sweeter! With that in mind, it's good new that PCStats is reviewing an affordably priced AGP8X based motherboard called the Soltek SL-K8TPro-939. Like most Athlon64 motherboards these days, the SL-K8TPro-939 is very nicely equipped with IEEE 1394, 7.1-channel audio, Gigabit Ethernet, a Promise PDC20579 SATA/IDE RAID controller and the always useful Port 80 diagnostics card. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Mapped Network Drives

Mapped drives can useful when it comes to moving data around on a network, but sometimes you don't want the PC you're working on to reconnect upon boot-up. Sure, you can simply disconnect each time, but Windows has a built in feature that will disable all persistent connections.

First thing you'll want to do is load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the Ok button) and scroll to this path HKEY_USERS -> .Default -> Software -> Microsoft -> WindowsNT -> CurrentVersion -> Network -> Persistent Connections. Once there look for the SaveConnections string value and give it the value 'no'.

Now when you boot your system your computer will not automatically restart/re-enable all old network connections.

- PCSTATS covers the 2005 Tech Roadmaps for AMD / Intel CPUs, and videocards, right here. Be sure to check this feature article to see what is just around the corner! -

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Mysterious Motherboard Troubles
The warning signs were there if we'd been paying attention. The previously stable AthlonXP FIC AU11-based computer had shown signs of instability before. It had its OS reinstalled a few months back due to constant crashing, and last week the entire PC seized up when a USB key was inserted - trashing a good hour's work in the process.

What used to be a fast computer now seemed to be aging a little every day, getting slower and slower... Still, there was nothing which would have led us to predict such a rapid demise. Without a beep or even a burst of blue smoke, the computer just died.

Once the screen went black, we used this standard troubleshooting checklist to try and revive the system:
First off, was the PC still plugged in and had there been some sort of electrical mishap? It was, and the computer was still humming away, even in death. Eerie.

Next, the PC was restarted, and when this failed, powered off then back on. No luck. The monitor was tested to see if perhaps it was the reason everything went black, but it worked fine on another system. There was no other option but to crack open the FIC AU11-based PC, and pull each and every component other than the processor and memory out to see if it was a peripheral fault. No dice. We were stumped, the motherboard was dead and we had no suspects. Then we noticed the problem, and it was least possible thing you could have ever expected...

Tune in to next week's PCstats newsletter as we reveal what killed this PC, and how it could happen to you.

The PCstats Forums
Our readers ask a lot of questions, and now you can see all the answers! Every week from Tues. to Thurs. around 5pm, keep an eye out for the new PCstats Q & A column as it pops up on the front page of PCstats. The only address you need to remember is

If you miss it, select the 'Tips' news category from the box just below our four latest feature reviews to read through all the tech advice that has been dished out.

This weeks letters are: Upgrade ME
NATure of home routers
Jumper troubles

- - - - - -

Don't miss out on PCstats feature look at the 2005 Roadmaps for CPUs and Videocards too!

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

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