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The PCstats Newsletter is pleased to announce the winner of our recent Albatron FX5700 videocard contest - Ms. Y. Jeong. Congratulations!
FX5900XT Videocard and More Fast Hardware

I think we should all give Google's GMail a round of applause for introducing some much needed competition into the online world. In response to GMail's massive storage size, Hotmail will shortly increase the capacity of its free email accounts to 250MB, and allow attachments of 10MB! Add to that some nice anti-virus filtering that "scans and cleans ingoing and outgoing email for viruses and worms," and you have the makings of an actually useful service. Hotmail is popular, but tiny storage sizes and oodles of spam have chipped away at its luster in recent times. While working NXNE'04 a few weeks ago, that 2MB storage limit caused me more than a few headaches... but since Google upped the ante, Hotmail had to follow suite if the service was to survive in a competitive market. Once again, "thanks Google!"

If you're one of the many people who isn't quite ready to jump on board the PCI-Express bandwagon, then pay special attention to PCstats' review of the Aopen FX5900XT videocard. This is the best mainstream card on the market right now, so check out the benchmarks on this puppy! Next up, I've spent some time testing out Samsung's newest MP3 player, the YP-55i. Aside from the standard stuff, this player allows you to make MP3 recordings off its built-in FM tuner, on the fly. Pretty cool. Still, if you're more in favour of gear you can use to speed up your PC, then read PCstats review of Corsair's TwinX-3200XL Pro-series DDR; Low latency DDR RAM is the name of the game folks!

ATI have a core logic for the Intel platform that offers up remarkably good integrated video, but how does the 9100IGP in Asus' P4R800-V motherboard stand up to the rest of the benchmarks? You'll have to read our review to find out. Lastly, Industry Insights talks all about DDR-2 RAM this week, PCstats has another good TechTip waiting to be read a little further down, and our "Guru of Guides" has some straightforward advice on the subject of a Dell memory upgrade. Last, and most importantly, our 99 Tech Tips are back - just in case you missed them the first time around! Remember, you can always post feedback, or a question in the new PCstats Forums.

AOpen GeForceFX 5900XT Videocard Review
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If you haven't already heard, GeForceFX 5900XT videocards are easily the best value cards on the market, beating anything ATi has to offer in the mainstream segment. Naturally, while manufacturers strive for market-driving performance, GPUs like the FX 5900XT are the bread and butter of the videocard industry. AOpen's GeForceFX 5900XT packs in 128MB of DDR RAM, supports dual monitors, has TV-Out capabilities and comes with a bundled copy of PowerDVD 5. Factor in the $239 CDN ($175 US) price tag (which is one of the lowest priced FX 5900XT's we've seen), and pretty much everything else can be forgiven if the card does seem a little vanilla. Oh, did I happen to mention that AOpen boosted the default core clock speed from 390 MHz to 420 MHz too?Continue Here>>

Samsung Yepp YP-55i MP3 Player Review
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Smaller, fixed memory players like the Samsung YP-55i are just fine for the morning commute, a trip to the store, a jog around the block, or whatever. Able to store 192MB worth of music in MP3 or WMA format, the roll-of-quarters sized YP-55i also includes a digital FM tuner. It also offers the very neat capability of encoding FM-Radio to MP3 recordings on the fly; how cool is that!? The Samsung YP-55i is like the Swiss Army knife of portable music players; it functions as a USB hard drive, offers up the ability to record voice memos, and of course... approximately 15hrs music playback time with one AAA battery. The AAA battery is included, but not of the rechargeable variety - so I'd recommend investing in them unless you like buying 8-packs of AAA's every other week.Continue Here>>

Corsair TwinX1024-3200XL Pro Memory Review
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Now, what exactly are we looking at here? Well, each stick of Corsair TwinX 1024-3200XL Pro DDR is 512MB in size (for a total of 1024MB of dual channel DDR), and thanks to the nice new Samsung DRAM, boast CAS latencies of 2-2-2-5 @ 200MHz. Sweet memory indeed. Being that the modules PCstats is testing are the Pro-varient, each DIMM is encased in cast-aluminum heatspreaders with nine rows of LED's (18 in total) along the spine which indicate memory activity! At the heart of Corsair's TwinX 1024-3200XL Pro DDR are Samsung DRAM, but unfortunately the heatspreaders are bonded to the DRAM memory modules otherwise we'd remove them to take a look at what rests beneath... we always try to show you the actual DRAM markings after all. Corsair officially rate the memory to run at 200MHz, while keeping memory timings of 2-2-2-5, which means this DDR RAM is ideal for AMD AthlonXP, AMD Athlon64 and Intel Pentium 4 systems...Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q: I have a Dell PC with 2 slots for memory. I'd love to upgrade to the max allowable RAM which is 1024MB on this machine, but in order to do so, I would have to buy two sticks of 512MB SDRAM. It is surprising to me that with DDR RAM being so prevalent in new computers that the SDRAM prices still remain very high. Is there some reason why the SDRAM prices haven't come down?

A: I'm afraid the answer is economics, pure and simple. Since the demand for DDR memory is so much greater than the demand for standard SDRAM in the current market, the rather few companies that actually make memory chips are devoting the majority of their production to making DDR. However, there is still a need for new SDRAM memory because of the number of systems out there that still use the older memory standard. So the memory companies are producing a smaller amount of SDRAM in order to supply the upgrade needs of older systems.

With 'one shot' items such as processors and video cards, each new model will inevitably be made obsolete by technological advances within six months or so, and will drop in price accordingly. This makes sense, since Intel or Nvidia know very well that the same enthusiast customer that bought their top of the line product a year ago is not going to buy the same thing now. He or she is going to buy the new top of the line product, while the more cost conscious customers buy the older product at the new discount price, and so on.

Memory does not work this way though. For one thing, you don't 'upgrade' memory by replacing it. You either add more memory, or you replace the whole guts of the system, including the memory. Most SDRAM compatible motherboards are now most likely incompatible with any of the 'top of the line' processors or video cards. This means that the only viable upgrade possibilities a large group of computer users have is to either add more memory or buy a new system.

The manufacturers know that there is still a demand for SDRAM, and the people who need it can't just go and buy DDR instead. It's essentially a captive market. You can buy SDRAM at the same price as DDR, if not more, or you can spend five times as much for a new motherboard and processor, then buy DDR. Also, SDRAM is not significantly cheaper for the manufacturers to produce than DDR SDRAM, so there is no real incentive for them to discount it at all. Next week: A look at carrying old drives to a new OS.
To submit your questions, send PCstats an email.

-Join us - Beginners Q and A in the PCstats Forums
Asus P4R800-V Deluxe Motherboard Review
Read it Now!

There are many reasons why system integrators love motherboards built with nVIDIA's nForce2 chipset as much as they do; it's an extremely powerful and totally loaded core logic, and it boasts many features too. Until recently though, there wasn't a Pentium 4 chipset that offered a similar level of versatility, that is until ATi released their Radeon 9100 IGP Northbridge. The Asus P4R800-V Deluxe motherboard is nicely affordable, and when you're ready to install that new videocard sometime in the future, the 8x AGP port is ready to rock and roll. Until then, the Asus' integrated graphics should serve quite capable.Continue Here>>

Beginners Guides: 99 Performance Tips for WindowsXP
Read it Now!

From faster boot times, to speeding up your current hardware, PCstats has 99 Tips to make your computer run quicker, better, and more efficiently. Welcome to PCStats' second massive Tips and Tweaks Guide! This time around, our focus is on making your Windows XP computer perform faster, and better! Whether this means booting and shutting down quicker, achieving better 3D gaming performance, or just making your PC feel more 'snappy,' chances are there's a tip or two in here to help you speed things up. We'll also cover the basics of overclocking the processor, memory and video card, so as not to miss out on this important area of extra performance potential. Please pay special attention to our 'Tweak Insurance' tips at the beginning of this guide to help you prepare your system against any potential mishaps. Now let's get into the 99 Performance Tips for WindowsXP... but first, click on this link to bookmark this awesome PCstat Guide. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips NTFS and Windows
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Having the OS prefetch data is great but if your system is a bit old it can actually slow down the system! I know on my dad's old P3 disabling the feature boosts WindowsXP performance nicely. To disable prefetching first load up regedit (Start -> Run then type regedit and press the ok button) and follow this path HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControlSet -> Control -> Session Manager -> Memory management -> PrefetchParameters and find the EnablePrefetcher binary value. >From there change its value to 0 then save and reboot.

Once that's done Windows will no longer prefetch data before you use it, it should make everyday computing faster but applications might take a bit longer to load. If you find that performance is worse than before simply change the EnablePrefetcher binary value back to 3. Have you participated in the new PCStats Forums yet!? PCstats built a new server, loaded it with new software, and so the PCstats Forums are faster and more lively then ever before!


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Industry Insights

DDR2 has only just begun its life as a system memory component. Yet, it isn't receiving the enthusiasm normally afforded new technology. Perhaps that is because it currently costs two times more than DDR400. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that DDR2 at 533MHz performs comparably to DDR at 400MHz. Either way, the benefits of DDR2 memory today are admittedly limited, especially in the face of exorbitant prices.

The situation should improve for DDR2, though. Not only is the memory technology expected to rapidly ramp up in performance, but it also can be expected to drop somewhat in latency, currently the biggest detriment to performance. As soon as a week from now, expect to see DDR2-667 products from one of the most respected module manufacturers. According to a representative of the company, both ASUS and ABIT 925X motherboards support overclocking with 667MHz memory, and given a 3GHz LGA775 Pentium 4, there should be plenty of headroom for more performance. Some boards, he said, were reaching up to 733MHz without problems.

Down the road, he also anticipates modules with CAS3 latencies instead of CAS4. Thus, if you were disappointed with the benchmark results from Intel's latest platform announcement, expect that the best is yet to come.
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