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.Intel Renames Chips
.A Reader Asks...
.Bad Memory
.PMI PC4200
.Memory Upgrading
.DDR Speeds
.DDR Latency
.PCstats Weekly Tips

Your Comments: "I can't wait for the next one. AHHH! - Chris"
The Mighty Memory Issue

A few of you wrote in asking memory related questions last week, so I thought I'd devote a little more time to this subject in today's issue. Luckily, PCstats has published a couple guides on this oh-so-important topic. Of special note, is PCstats Guide to Diagnosing Bad Memory - very handy information if you suspect your computer is unstable because of memory-related issues.

For a more in-depth assessment on memory, say for overlocking or gaming related needs, we're also presenting a couple more intensive articles on the topic. Call it a refresher course on DDR if you will. Either way I hope you'll find the information assembled here useful. On the new and notable front, PMI's PC4200 DDR performed pretty well when overclocked in our review - so check that out too!

Been wondering if you should choose an 802.11b or 802.11g wireless home router? In "A Reader Asks..." Mike dishes out some insight on the matter, and down below in the PCstats Weekly Tech Tips, Colin has come up with a really good one... but I won't spoil it for you. Last but not least, I'm sure you've heard how Intel will begin naming its processors things like the Pentium 4 580, mobile P4 518, Celeron M 320, and so forth. Many were up in arms when AMD took a similar route, but that doesn't appear to be happening with Intel's radical departure from standard CPU names... interesting.

Beginners Guides: Diagnosing Bad Memory
Read it Now! 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? Faulty memory, or RAM, is often the cause of the dreaded 'flaky PC' syndrome, those hard-to-replicate errors that get you nasty looks from the store technician because "...nothing seems to be wrong with it. Sir." Electrostatic shock from improper handling can damage memory. Try to avoid stroking your cat while you install your new 1GB DDR module! Likewise, power surges or poor power supplies can also damage your computer's memory, sometimes gradually. The same can be said for raising memory voltage too high if you are overclocking... Continue Here>>

PMI 4200-512DG PC4200 DDR Memory Review
Read it Now! Buying enthusiast calibre memory is not an easy task these days. With so many different models and brands competing for your attention, it's easy to get lost. Should you get high speed DDR that overclocks to crazy speeds, or DDR which just has better latency? It's a difficult choice, and one that depends somewhat on the type of computer system you use. Power Memory International, or PMI, is based in Freemont California and has been around for about 14 years. The PC4200 DDR is rated to run at 250 MHz, with memory timings of 3-4-4-8 while using a voltage of 2.75V. Now PMI did not state what platform this memory is intended to run on specifically, but like all other high speed DIMMs, the PMI 4200-512DG is best suited towards Intel solutions.Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: RAM, Memory and Upgrading
Read it Now!

Random Access Memory (RAM) can be thought of as the short-term memory, in the sense that once the power is turned off, all information stored there is not saved. All modern computers have hard drives which store data permanently as magnetic information, but even with the improved speed of today's hard drive technology. Hard drives are still too slow to keep up with the needs of the processor since it can operate on considerably more information per second than can possibly be transferred to and from the hard drive. DRAM consists of semiconductor chips arranged on a small circuit board, each containing a logical arrangement of cells laid out in rows and columns. These cells use a combination of a capacitor and a transistor to achieve one of two states, filled with electrons (1) or empty (0), thus allowing binary (digital) information to be stored. Continue Here>>

DDRAM, what's the beef with PC1600 to PC3000?
Many readers ask PCstats for advice about how to make their systems faster, and a lot of the time it comes down to memory. The big question; "is PC2700 really that much faster then PC2100?" and my usual reply is "If you're into overclocking, then yes the higher rated RAM allows you to run your FSB higher should your other system components allow it." Many times the person's rebuttal is, "Oh, I don't plan to overclock though." While I love getting e-mails from our readers, hopefully this article should answer many of the questions a lot of people have when faced with buying new high speed memory for their computer. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: Just three questions: 1. Would you recommend wireless networking over wired networking in a home? 2. What wireless router do you prefer for networking a small home? 3. Where do you see wireless networking in the future, should I invest in wireless equipment now or wait?

A: First, I would recommend wireless networking for the home. While it's still considerably more expensive than using wired products, it's vastly easier to set up and square away neatly. There is no extra knowledge needed to configure a wireless network, as it uses the same principles as regular wired Ethernet. Additional attention does need to be paid to security issues though. See PCstats recent networking Guides (here, and here ) for more reference points.

Second, while we're not going to endorse individual brands, I would say to purchase an 802.11b and g capable wireless router, and make sure that it has wired ports also. Avoid wireless access points, as these do not combine Internet sharing and a firewall with their wireless capability. Most wireless products by reliable companies will do what you need well. See our wireless networking product reviews for more info. As for wireless network cards, any brand will do, but if transfer speed is important, make sure they support 802.11g. Recent examples can be found here.

Thirdly, I think that the current standards (802.11b and g) will still be viable for a while yet. G is more or less a direct and backwardly compatible upgrade of b, and the future will probably hold more upgrades, rather than replacements. Networking does not change anywhere near as fast as other areas of the computer market... Within a couple of years, there will certainly be changes, and maybe some new standards like WIMAX and 802.11n, but 802.11b/g has such a massive installed base that it's a safe bet not to be replaced overnight. 802.11g devices are practically down to 'b' price levels, so I'd say buy now.

Next week in the Newsletter; just how much power do you need? To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

-Join us - Beginners Q and A in the PCstats Forums

Memory Bandwidth vs. Latency Timings
Read it Now! All memory is not created equal, nowadays you need to know which 'flavour' is best for an Intel or AMD PC if you expect the best performance back from your investment.

Memory timings play a key role in terms of overall system performance. More so in 3D based applications which do not need a great deal of bandwidth, but rather quick access between the various pieces of hardware within the computer. When one talks about memory timings they're basically talking about how long the system has to wait for the memory to be in a ready state before data is fetched or delivered. Where it starts to get confusing is when you has the choice of buying high speed memory with slow timings. Well, the answer goes something like this....Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Swapfile Optimization
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While WindowsXP handles memory management much better than Win9x based OS's, there is always a way to improve things. If your PC has multiple HDDs, what we want to do is move the OS swap file from the main HDD to one of the secondary HDDs. It's true that the primary drive is usually the fastest for running software, but it's also the most busy. Moving the pagefile or swapfile to a drive with less activity should help speed up the PC.

To do this, right click on the "My Computer" icon and select "Properties", from there click on the "Advanced" tab then under the Performance section click on the "Settings" button. That will open up a new Window, from there select the "Advanced" tab yet again, and under Virtual memory click the "Change" button.

Under the "Drive [Volume Label]" window you should see all your HDD's - note that by default WinXP places the pagefile on the primary drive. Because we need to clean the pagefile of any anomalies and corruption first, click on the "No paging file" radio box then press the "Set" button, then click ok. Once the PC restarts go back to the same place and look under "Drive [Volume Label]", select your secondary HDD and check the "Custom Size" radio box. For initial size enter them amount of physical memory your PC has; if you have 1GB of RAM, enter 1024. In the "Maximum size" box enter double your physical memory + initial size pagefile. In our case it would be 2GB (or 2048MB). Click set, then "ok" and reboot. Once that's done, defrag the hard drive that contains the swap file and you should notice a decent performance boost within WinXP. Remember, never disable the pagefile even if you have a lot of system memory (1GB+), WinXP requires it to function.

Are you into case modding? Why not show PCstats your tuned up case! If you're a newbie don't worry, some of the best case modders reside in the PCStats forums and they're glad to give you a hand with modding questions. Remember to Vote for PCstats today too!

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Industry Insights

After singing the praises of raw clock frequency for years, it seems that Intel has decided to change its tune by adopting a new naming convention for existing Socket 478 and upcoming LGA-775 processors. Intel's plan is likely a response to its recent 90nm Pentium 4 launch, which saw performance numbers drop in the face of architectural changes. The new model number scheme won't replace the frequency specifications, though. Reportedly, other pertinent features, such as FSB speed and cache size, will also come into play.

As 2004 progresses, much of Intel's manufacturing will transition from 130nm to 90nm. Those 90nm Pentium 4 processors will belong to the 5-series, ranging from the 2.8GHz mobile Pentium 4 (518) to the 4GHz Pentium 4 (purportedly called 580) at the end of this year. The Celeron lineup will appear as the 3-series (are you thinking about BMW's yet?), ranging from Celeron M 1.3GHz (320) to the Celeron M 1.5GHz (370) with 1MB of L2 cache. In between you'll find the ultra-low voltage Celeron M 900MHz (338) and 3.2GHz Celeron (350) with 256KB of cache. Interestingly, the Pentium M, Intel's venerable mobile part, will bear the 7-series moniker. At the top-end, expect to see a 2.13GHz Pentium M (770) with 2MB of cache by the end of this year.

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