PCI-E, DDR-2 and a New Pentium 4 CPU
It's always exciting to see new computer gear first hand - which is what I spent all
of last week doing at Computex 2004. With the June 21st
release of Intel's new socket 775 "Prescott" Pentium 4 quickly
approaching, the computer industry is getting ready for great
change. Along with the pinless processor, high
end users who jump on board with a 925x based system are
going to need a PCI-Express
videocard, and DDR-2
memory to go along with it. Sure, there were a few
motherboard makers showcasing dual DDR/DDR2 motherboards at Computex, but
these solutions were generally for 915P-based motherboards.
According to the small army of PR and
marketing reps PCstats spoke with in Taipei last week, the 915P
"Grantsdale" chipset is the way to go. The performance
differences between the 915P and 925x "Alderwood" chipsets directly
parallels the current situation between i865 and i875-based boards. While
the 925X is the more powerful of the two Intel core-logic chips, the 915P
offers the best bang for the buck... apparently. PCstats has yet to test
any system first hand after all. See my articles from Computex; Getting Ready
for BTX, and Tech
Tidbits for more insight into the show.
Albatron burst onto the scene in this weeks
newsletter as we test out the GDDR-3 based FX5700U3 vidoecard. The new
nForce3 250GB based Epox 8KDA3+ also makes its way onto our test
bench, with benchmarks I think you'll find quite interesting. Also
in this issue, PCstats answers a reader question on the topic of
vidocards, and Industry Insights dishes out the facts on dual-layer DVD
burners. Don't forget to check out Colin's Weekly Tech Tip too!
The proposed benefits of the BTX
standard have been discussed at length already, so we are not going to
rehash what has already been written. However, what has been interesting
to see at Computex 2004 in Taipei, is just how many manufacturers are
displaying BTX compatible cases and motherboards. Intel itself had a
half-dozen BTX motherboards on hand from different manufacturers, but
during our meetings with the manufacturers themselves, there was a "let's
wait and see" attitude in the air. There is so much change going on right
now that most consumers are just getting their heads wrapped around
technologies like PCI-E (PCI-Express), DDR-2 RAM, and processors which
almost seem to be loosing pins and jumping socket sizes on a quarterly
Computex has always been useful event for companies
to gauge the interest of buyers in their new and innovative products. As
such, during Computex 2004 countless manufacturers had mock-ups and
prototypes on display. Across the board, the home media PC appeared to
generate the most interest, with products ranging from set top boxes by
Gigabyte, to the just announced TM8800 1.6GHz Transmeta Efficeon processor
powering a WindowsXP Media Center Edition system. Also covered are
Motherboards that cool themselves, an update to the videocard power
supply, and cable TV in the notebook. Continue
The GeForceFX 5700
Ultra is already a pretty decent mainstream videocard, but that hasn't
stopped nVIDIA from trying to sweeten the deal by including GDDR3 to the
mix. GDDR3 (Graphics Double Data Rate3) is a new type of DDR memory, one
which has been specifically developed for use with graphics card. As
PCstats tests out the Albatron GeForceFX 5700 Ultra GDD3 videocard, we'll
take a closer look at GDDR3, and what it means to gamers and
A Reader Asks...
Q: I'm looking to buy an Nvidia FX5900 powered video card soon, and I'd like to know the difference between the various brands on the market. How does an Asus card compare to an MSI card, for instance? Which would be better and how would I know? Also, my friend just bought some DDR-2 Ram and he said it was horrible for his computer. So was it just because it wasn't very compatible or because it was no good?
A: There should not be any major difference between any
two FX5900 cards (or any other GPU), regardless of
manufacturer, since the graphical processor is made by Nvidia,
not the manufacturer of the video card, and will be identical
in all cases. Manufacturers may use different brands of DDR
memory for their cards though, which may or may not have a
slight effect on performance and overclocking ability. Overall
though, there should be little difference between them, though
there are times when manufacturers utilize their own custom
PCB... My advice in the future is to check some reviews before
you purchase. It saves you from having nagging doubts after.
As for your second question, I'm not surprised your friend was displeased with his DDR2 memory, since to my knowledge there are no DDR2 capable motherboards available at this point. DDR2 memory uses a different set of connectors and is not backwardly compatible with DDR motherboards. See our DDR2 preview here for more details on
what to expect from this latest DDR RAM standard. Intel's next
generation of chipsets include support for DDR2 RAM, but you
can also expect similar offerings from the other chipset
manufacturers in the near future.
Next week: Do computers wear out? To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.
| -Join us - Beginners Q and A in the PCstats Forums|
Now that the nVidia nForce3-250 chipset is upon us, I think we'll see
a few more enthusiasts jump on the Athlon64 bandwagon. After
all, the biggest obstacle from an enthusiasts perspective are the system peripherals that don't
like to run out of sync. The socket 754, Athlon64-based Epox 8KDA3+
motherboard we'll be testing out on the following pages has a couple of
features geared towards enthusiasts, and plenty of features for those of
just looking for a solid AMD Athlon64 mainboard. For starters, the Epox
8KDA3+ boasts onboard Serial ATA RAID, Gigabit LAN (including hardware
firewall), 7.1 channel audio, and of course the classic Epox Port 80
diagnostics card. Continue
Weekly Tech Tips
||Use the search Engine|
Personally I think the Microsoft search dog is cute but apparently there are quite a few of you out there that don't like it much. Well if you'd like to remove that mutt it's pretty easy...
First load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the OK button) and follow this path HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Explorer -> CabinetState. From there create a new String value and enter this as its name Use Search Asst, after that's done give it the value no and exit.
Every time you search now the dog will be gone.
If you have a question to ask, post it in our Beginners Question and Answers 101
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Plextor's vice president of marketing over some strawberry lemonade and chicken tenders to talk about business in the optical drive manufacturing industry. Plextor is an ultra-conservative company, he said, so don't expect to see dual-layer DVD burners until the technology has been proven. More specifically, he mentioned that compatibility testing revealed severe issues with dual-layer burners recognizing their own disks, not to mention media burned on other drives. Attractive as the technology might be, dismal performance and lackluster interoperability should leave most potential customers waiting in the wings.
We also talked a bit about Plextor's strategy moving forward with Serial ATA. Plextor recently announced its PX-712SA drive, the first Serial ATA optical drive. However, don't expect it to be any faster than the PATA version. According to Mr. Wing, the drive's principle function will become clear later this year when Intel unveils it's ICH6 with four Serial ATA ports and just one PATA connector. For those looking to adopt Serial ATA today, the PX-712SA boasts 12x DVD+R burning (on 8x media), 48x CD-R writing, and an 8MB buffer. It will be replaced later this year (in the September timeframe) by the first 16x DVD writers.
. M. Page
. C. Sun
. C. Angelini
A Reader Asks...
. M. Dowler