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.Athlon64 3400+
.PCI Express
.Laptop Theft
.Password Recovery
.CD Burning
.Radeon 9600Pro
.Gigabyte Mobo
.Colin's Weekly Tips

All About PCI Express; the Death of AGP8X

The end of 2003 draws near, and I still have a pile of prizes to give away! Make certain you've entered by taking a few minutes to fill out the PCstats Newsletter Quiz. It's pretty painless, and you could be walking home with the cool 802.11g Wireless Networking Gear from MSI Computer pictured below!

As this is the Last PCstats Newsletter of 2003, I've made sure to pack it full of Guides and great reviews... just in case you need to get away from the in-laws. ;-) Starting from the top, we have an excellent article on PCI Express, the 8X AGP replacement that will be coming to a videocard near you early next year. From there, our latest Guide deals with the subject of Preventing Data Theft from a Stolen Laptop. I'm sure many of you have a notebook, and as painful as it is too think of it being stolen, just imagine what could happen if the thief also had full access to all your personal files, emails, and data too!

Moving right along, PCstats next guide deals with Forgotten Password Recovery Methods - perfect for getting you back in the game with that PC you longer can remember the login to. After that, we take a look at the brand new Gigabyte 655TX-based Pentium 4 motherboard, and the affordable Crucial Radeon 9600 Pro videocard. After a quick stop to see what Colin's Weekly Tech Tips is about, park your mouse at PCstats' Industry Insights to learn about the newest Athlon64 processor... Wrapping up the newsletter is a guide we've gotten many requests for; step by step info on how to Burn CDs and DVDs. Good info for anyone who has a burner in their PC, but has never really used it.

Remember, each Wireless 802.11g Networking Prize Bundle consists of an MSI Computer RG54GS 802.11g Residential Gateway, CB54G Wireless 802.11g CardBus, and PC54G Wireless 802.11g PCI Card! With this gear, you can wirelessly connect your home PC and notebook together for internet access around the house, at speeds of up to 54mbps.

Introduction to PCI-Express: the AGP8X Replacement
Now all things considered, it is probably a good thing that the PCI bus has remained essentially unchanged since its inception. For one thing, it works. It has provided a stable and flexible platform for hardware and software developers to build on for almost a decade. Anyone who remembers the days before Windows 95 and 'Plug and Play' devices will understand why computers have become so much more common since then.

Now there are three other PCI specifications in existence, all designed to increase the amount of available bandwidth. These are 66MHz PCI, PCI-X at 64bit/133MHz, and the soon to be introduced PCI-X 2.0.

The trouble is, while these technologies have, or soon will find a permanent home in the server market, the complexities and extra costs they introduce to motherboard manufacturing mean that they will be virtually unknown at the desktop level. Intel, in partnership with several other companies which include the likes of IBM, Dell, Compaq, HP and Microsoft have recently introduced what they hope will be the new standard for PC I/O in the years to come;PCI-Express. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Preventing Data Theft from a Stolen Laptop
Read it Now!

A little bit of common sense and some preventative forethought can save your notebook from becoming just another piece of stolen hardware. And, if that doesn't work, at least you can protect your data better than you did that brand new notebook. Harsh words, but sound advice.

Portable computers are made for traveling and computing at the same time, and are thus incredibly valuable for their weight. We're talking 'carton of cigarettes' dollars-to-weight ratio here. Consequently, laptop's make a tempting target for thieves, and have been known to go AWOL with distressing frequency. Having your laptop stolen is a double-dose of bad news, since not only are you confronted with the fact that your (at least) $1500 portable PC is now gone, but you also have to deal with the possibility of data theft. It's sort of like losing a wallet, but a wallet cannot hold gigabytes of potentially valuable or personal data. Credit data, email records, license keys, personal documents, all at the fingertips of the kind of person who was willing to steal your laptop in the first place. For business travelers, this is especially bad news.

In this article, PCstats will look at methods to reduce the risk. First, We will cover physical security methods that can help prevent laptop theft in the first place, then we will go step-by-step through some essential data securing techniques that can drastically reduce the chance of your data being stolen along with your laptop if the worst does happen. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods
Read it Now!

Ever wondered how to recover or reset a forgotten password in WindowsXP? This guide will help you get back into your computer, all without reinstalling the operating system.

Windows 2000 and XP brought with them enhanced security features designed originally for the business environment. Unlike the Windows 9x/ME series of operating systems, these new operating systems have very effective password security measures which you can use to protect your system and your data from unwanted access. Of course, what happens if when you forget the passwords? Congratulations… You've just become "the enemy" as far as your computer is concerned. Fortunately, for every method of password protecting a computer system, there is a method of defeating said protection, especially if you have physical access to the computer. In this guide, PCstats will explore the various methods that can be used to password protect computer systems, and how to defeat them if you lock yourself out. Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: Burning CDs and DVDs
Read it Now!

This is the second half of PCstats look at recordable optical media. In this segment we will help you lean how to burn your own CDROMs, audio CDs, and create ISOs for backup of your files.

In this article, PCstats will continue its look at recordable optical media, or in other words, CD Writers. We will expand from our previous guide on "Optical Drives & Recording Formats" to discuss different recordable CD options work, and walk you through the steps to create an ISO file or disk image for burning. We'll also touch upon burning MP3 or audio data onto a CD-R/RW with an eye towards creating audio and MP3 CDs, and much, much more. Continue Here>>

Crucial Radeon 9600 Pro Videocard Review
Read it Now! I bet this holiday season quite a few of you out there are going to be getting new videocards. After all only videocards (aside from maybe a new processor) can dramatically increase your gaming enjoyment. Today we're going to check out one of Crucial's mainstream cards; the Radeon 9600 Pro. For $230 CDN ($175 US) you can get the Crucial Radeon 9600 Pro and all its goodness. The card comes with all necessary cables, (S-Video to S-Video, S-Video-Composite and Compsite-Composite) to take advantage of the VIVO feature. There's also a DVI-Analog Adapter if you want to use two analog monitors, a users manual and a copy of WinDVD. Continue Here>>

PreFetch Services
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One very cool feature built into WindowsXP is its automatic prefetch service, though it's not always enabled on all systems. It's a shame since it can dramatically increase system performance. Luckily turning it on is quite easy, but first we'll need to load up regedit (Start -> Run -> Regedit then press OK).

Fro there follow this path HKEY_LOCAL MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControlSet -> Control -> Session Manager -> Memory Management -> PrefetchParameters and find the EnablePrefetcher DWORD value. Setting a value of 0 disables the prefetcher, 1 to application launch prefetching, 2 to boot prefetching and 3 to both. Input what you think will be best for you, save and exit then reboot.

Please be warned though, enabling automatic prefetch does clutter up the HDD, periodically you'll want to clear the C:\Windows\Prefetch directory of junk.

Remember, if you haven't already taken the PCstats Newsletter Quiz, you should! Just answer 15 multiple choice questions and you'll be entered for a chance to walk away with 1 of 10 complete Wireless 802.11g Networking Bundles! For taking the time to fill out our Newsletter Quiz, you'll also get a coupon code for 10% off any purchase over $100 at!
Gigabyte GA-8S655TX Ultra Motherboard Review
Read it Now! Historically, Intel processors work best with Intel chipsets. There was a brief period where VIA captured some of the Pentium III chipset market, but that was short lived. In the Pentium 4 world there haven't really been many real mainstream alternatives to Intel's own chipsets, that is until very recently. have had a Pentium 4 licence since the very beginning, though it has taken the company a long time to shed their image as an 'economy-oriented' provider and release a competitive Pentium4 core logic for the tue masses. The SIS645/FX, SIS648/FX and now SIS655/FX/TX have all been good chipsets which do easily rival their Intel counterparts in performance, but yet, consumers still aren't familiar enough with the SIS name to flock towards boards based on its' chipsets - even when they do reveal remarkably competitive performance figures.Continue Here>>

*The contest runs from December 15th to December 31st 2003, and is open to any residents from the US or Canada over the age of 18. Coupon for is valid for purchases over $100 before tax, until 12/31/03. Official rules for the Newsletter Wireless 802.11g Networking Bundle Contest.

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Industry Insights

When AMD unveiled its Athlon 64 FX-51 earlier this year, the big news was 64-bit addressability. Yet, evaluations of the processor seemed to center on it tearing through 32-bit benchmarks and redefining "limited availability." Why the deviation from AMD's marketing focus?

Moving to a 64-bit environment involves not just the compliant hardware, but also a robust software infrastructure. AMD sent a pre-beta copy of Windows XP 64-bit Edition with its review kit, which proved stable enough for running benchmarks. I had hoped a final version could be made ready by year's end. Alas, Microsoft has its priorities elsewhere, it seems. I recently obtained the first official beta version of the 64-bit operating system, indicating that the "gold" copy is still months away.

"Who cares?" you ask. "There aren't even that many Athlon 64 processors on the market." Indeed, until now, Athlon 64 chips have been hot commodities. 2004 promises to change that, though. Early into January, we'll see a new version of the Athlon 64 (and I'm not talking about the inexpensive 3000+ everyone is buzzing about). Also, another Athlon 64 FX is expected to pop up to combat whatever Intel unveils alongside the long awaited Prescott.
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