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.Hidden Costs of 775
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.Gigabyte K7 Mobo
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Mushkin DDR Memory Returns

Hello,
Mushkin. The name strikes fear in the hearts of second-rate and bargain-basement DDR! Mushkin has long been known for producing some pretty sweet performance DDR, but lately, it seems like the company has been struggling to match the pace of its competition. This week, PCstats tests out a couple sticks of Mushkin's new Enhanced PC3200 DDR to see if it really is the memory of legends. Read about it all right here!

Next up is our look at Aopen's newest CDR/RW drive, followed by a review of a new Socket A motherboard from Gigabyte - the GA-7VT600-RZ. AthlonXP you ask? Read the review to get the full story. Last but not least, we have a new guide entitled "Printer Sharing on a Home Network" I'm sure you will find this Beginners Guide helpful - especially if your home has one printer, and a few computers.

PCstats Industry Insights looks into the hidden costs of upgrading to the newest Intel socket 775 CPU; including PCI-Express videocard, DDR2 RAM, and a new 24-pin power supply. Down below, the PCstats Newsletter answers your questions about dual channel DDR. Colin's Weekly Tech Tips focuses in on NTFS and Windows, so be sure to give it a read as well.

Coming soon from PCstats is a whole bunch of Alderwood, Grantsdale, socket 939 Athlon64, DDR-II, and PCI-Express reviews! We're just working our way through a pile of the latest and coolest hardware on the planet right now.... so stay tuned!


Mushkin Enhanced PC3200 Special Edition Memory Review
Read it Now! For memory manufacturers to innovate, and grab our hot little wads of cash, they have to embrace the enthusiast community. For without overclocking, all DDR would be essentially alike. Toss overclocking into the mix and things like CAS latencies, and DDR speeds start to take on a very important role. Now that the focus of enthusiasts and overclockers has shifted squarely onto maintaining low latency, raw clock speed just isn't as important as it seemed when DDR memory first came out. In the following pages, PCstats will be testing out a pair of Mushkin's Enhanced Special PC3200 2-2-2 DIMM's. Each stick is 512MB in size, and when run in dual channel mode that equals a nice whopping 1024MB of system memory. As this Mushkin memory is capable of running with a CAS latency of 2-2-2-5 at 200 MHz (at 2.5V), it means that it will work super-well on both AthlonXP/Athlon64 and Intel Pentium 4 based systems.Continue Here>>


AOpen 52x32x52x CRW5232/ARR CD-RW Review
Read it Now!In this review, PCstats is testing out the a 52x CD, 32x CD-RW, 52x CD-R burner made by AOpen, the "CRW5232/ARR". Maximum CD-R write speeds have hit their limit at the 52x burn speed, and this standard has been around for well over a year now. That shouldn't be much of a surprise though, after all, a 52x burner can fill a regular 650MB disc with information in just over 83 seconds, and a 700MB disc in just under 90 seconds! Of course there's more to the AOpen 52x32x52x CD-RW than speedy burning; one innovative thing AOpen has done is include three coloured face plates with the drive! Those of you with aluminum or fancy black cases will like the option of choosing a matching silver or black face plates for your PC.Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...


Q: I'd like to ask a couple of questions about dual-channel DDR memory. I've heard that there's nothing special about the memory you use for this, just that it should be two identical sticks. Then I saw a special 'dual channel' memory pack with two modules in a computer store. I want a memory upgrade, but I can actually buy two 512mb sticks in the 'dual channel' packaging for less than two sticks of regular DDR. Does it matter which I buy? Also, I have a Pentium 4 system and I am thinking about upgrading my motherboard soon. If I do buy dual-channel DDR now, and a supporting motherboard later, would this give me much of a performance boost?

A: To answer your first question, what you heard was correct. There is nothing special about 'dual-channel' DDR memory, except for the fact that the two modules you use should be identical. The twin packs sold in stores are just two regular DDR memory modules packaged up nicely. They will be just as happy by themselves or together in a single-channel memory board as they would be in a system that supports dual-channel. Go ahead and buy the dual channel pack if it is cheaper.

As for your second question, it really depends how far you upgrade. The newer Pentium 4 processors really do get a substantial boost out of dual-channel memory when performing memory intensive operations. Certain benchmarks (not necessarily representative of real-world performance) can show an increase of more than 30%.

If you are looking for high performance, I'd recommend you buy the fastest two sticks of identical DDR memory you can afford, then upgrade your motherboard and processor when necessary to gain that dual-channel support. Next week: networking on the cheap.
To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

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


Gigabyte GA-7VT600-RZ Motherboard Review
Read it Now! While manufacturers like to promote their newest wares, based on the latest and most expensive technology, they can't get by on that alone. AthlonXP components are still much more popular than any other platform, and yet new AthlonXP motherboards are rarely seen! Gigabyte have taken steps to fill in this void, in the form of the newly released AthlonXP-based 7VT600P-RZ motherboard, powered by a VIA KT600 chipset. Gigabyte are promoting the RZ-series to consumers on a budget, and they may just be onto something. Built around VIA's KT 600 chipset, the Gigabyte 7VT600P-RZ motherboard will support any 200/266/333/400 MHz AMD Athlon or AthlonXP processor on the market. In terms of features, the Gigabyte 7VT600P-RZ is pretty lean.... it really only has a 10/100 LAN and 5.1 audio on board. Continue Here>>


Beginners Guides: Printer Sharing on a Home Network
Read it Now!

A quick and easy guide to networking your printer at home without having to buy any extra hardware for the job.
Printers are essential modern conveniences, connecting with your computer to offer you the power of a small copy shop in your living room. However, printers can rapidly become inconvenient if the other members of your household have to transport the files they want to print to a certain computer in order to print them. Wouldn't it be much better if every computer in the house or office could print directly? In this short but sweet guide, PCstats will look at how to make a printer available over your home network using Windows XP's built-in sharing abilities. Since most of us use USB or parallel connected printers, we are going to assume that this is the same for you. This article assumes that you have a printer correctly installed on a Windows XP computer and a working network connection to at least one other computer. Continue Here>>



PCstats Weekly Tech Tips NTFS and Windows
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When I work on PCs, I'm often amazed to see Win2k/WinXP boxes running FAT32 partitions rather than NTFS... NTFS is faster, more stable and more secure than FAT32. I guess people are just worried about killing their OS and not being able to access their old files. If you're using a FAT32 partition and notice your HDD slowing down the rest of your computer, you can convert file systems without having to repartition the drive. Load up your command prompt (Start, Run then type CMD and press the Ok button) and there type this command "Convert x: /FS:NTFS" (where x is the drive letter you want to convert). When you press enter, it'll ask you for a confirmation so press "Y" to each question, and then hit enter. This will force your system to reboot and start the conversion.

After the drive has been converted you should notice things are a bit faster overall. The PCStats forums have just gone through a complete overhaul, why not check the new digs and speak with fellow PCstats Newsletter readers like yourself? Make yourself at home, and enjoy your new PCstats Forums!

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PCstats Issue
No.139
Circulation: 290,826

Industry Insights

There are a number of new technologies emerging in the next week or so, beginning with Intel's 925X chipset and including DDR2 system memory, PCI Express connectivity, and of course the processor interface that corresponds with Intel's LGA775 processors. The features themselves are exciting - even the new ICH6 will sport integrated RAID and wireless networking support in its most advanced form - but keep in mind that it won't be possible to upgrade just one component.

The most obvious upgrades will include processor, motherboard, memory, and graphics. But then there's the hard drive situation; the ICH6 only offers one parallel ATA port, so if you've been delaying the move to Serial ATA, you'll need a new hard drive. The timing couldn't be better, though, as Maxtor is on the verge of announcing a new family of native Serial ATA drives with 16MB buffers and Native Command Queuing support. Then, you'll want to consider a new power supply. High-end PCI Express cards from ATI and NVIDIA require six-pin power connectors that aren't available on current ATX power supplies. Further, Intel's flagship 925X motherboard sports a 24-pin connector rather than the standard 20-pin plug.

Finally, you'll want to invest in some beefy speakers, since Intel's new 7.1-channel audio standard promises to introduce a unprecedented degree of fidelity. If you've been saving your pennies for a rainy day, it looks like a thunderstorm is brewing.
Check out the Latest Content on PCstats.com.

Written By
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. M. Page
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. C. Sun
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. C. Angelini
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. M. Dowler


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