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.Intel goes 64-bit
.Slipstream XP
.Ballistix DDR2
.MSI K8T Neo2
.WinXP SP2 Updated
.PCX5900 GFX
.PCstats Weekly Tips

Slipstreaming WinXP and SP2

A while back some IT administrators wrote in to let me know they wanted the PCstats Newsletter cover tougher technical topics. Sure the Beginners Guides are good refreshers for experts, the Weekly Tech Tips invaluable... but what about more complex issues in the day-to-day grind of keeping office PCs up and running?

Well you may not realize it, but some of's best Guides have come from our collaboration with IT staff facing ugly "get it fixed, or get a new job" situations. The Hard Drive Data Recovery guide being a prime example. [Hint: never format the boss's notebook before backing it up!] So whether you work for MTV or NASA, if you're facing a difficult problem in your IT department, or even a mundane one you wish someone had the answer to, write in and let us know the details.

Slipstreaming WindowsXP with Service Pack 2 is an advanced guide, and one that could save you and your IT department a ton of time installing new PCs. In "A Reader Asks..." we also cover how to prevent SP2 from being automatically installed onto PCs if you are concerned about SP2 bugs. An updated look at Windows XP SP2 is here for reference. Next up is our review of Crucial's Ballistix PC5300 DDR-2 RAM, the award winning MSI K8T Neo2 Socket 939 Athlon64 motherboard, and Albatron's PCX5900-based video card. PCstats Industry Insights has a few words on 64-bit Intel CPU's, and last but not least is our Weekly Tech Tip! Enjoy :-)

Slipstreaming: Creating a WindowsXP Install CD with Service Pack 2

Slipstreaming is the technique for combining an installation CD like WindowsXP, with the latest Service Pack. This drastically cuts down on the time it takes to install a PC, because the patches and OS are installed together. Slipstreaming is the IT Departments secret weapon against lengthy reinstalls.
With XP Service Pack 2 just released, users and IT departments across the world are scrambling to test and update their Microsoft-based PCs with its new features. Unfortunately, updating to service pack 2 (SP2) is a time consuming process, especially if you have more than one PC to upgrade. In this guide, PCstats will detail how to create a bootable Windows XP CD with Service Pack 2 included. We will also cover the steps for creating a network installable file with the same modifications for use by a large IT department, as well as a Windows 2000 bootable CD with the latest Service Pack 4 included. Continue Here>>

Crucial Ballistix PC5300 DDR2 Memory Review
Since Crucial's inception, the company has never catered towards the enthusiast market... Yet, now that Crucial has released the Ballistix line especially for enthusiasts. Each heatspreader encapsulated DDR2 module is 512MB each in size, and features sleek black PCB shielded by orange aluminum heatspreaders!Continue Here>>

MSI K8T Neo2-FIR K8T800 Pro Motherboard Review
The motherboard PCstats is testing today is made by MSI Computer, and based on the second generation VIA K8T800 Pro chipset. The K8T Neo2 motherboard supports Socket 939 AMD Athlon64/FX processors, comes equipped with four DDR RAM DIMM slots that accommodate up to 4GB of dual channel PC3200 memory, and packs in a long list of features. Continue Here>>

A Reader Asks...

Q:I'm a bit concerned about Microsoft's automatic distribution plans for XP Service Pack 2. I've read your article, but I've also been hearing horror stories about installation problems, crashed out PCs, etc. I use my system for a home business and I really can't afford to have it develop a glitch due to this new service pack. I'm perfectly satisfied with the way my XP Professional install runs now. Is there some way I can prevent the upgrade?

A: Yes there is, at least temporarily. To allay business concerns about the new Service Pack (I had heard that many corporate IT departments were testing SP2 not as a patch but rather as a whole new version of Windows due to the massive changes it makes) Microsoft made a registry tool available that will prevent the automatic download of the service pack for 120 days.

The tool is available here and is a very small download. The automatic download of Service Pack 2 will be prevented, while allowing automatic update to grab essential patches and hotfixes.

As for the future after the next 120 days, at least SP2 will be a known quantity by that point. It's been far from a smooth rollout for Microsoft, so I'm assuming they are going to take steps to rectify some of the problems we're seeing over the next few weeks. Many people have had no problems at all, like me (phew). I'd use the tool and watch the news for the next couple of months and you should have no reason to worry (just backup before you upgrade).

Windows XP Service Pack 2

Waiting for the next Windows Service Pack has become a way of life for Windows users, especially professional ones. Microsoft's irregular barrages of bug fixes, new features and changes to the institution that Windows has become are viewed with a mixture of expectation and trepidation by home users (and with outright fear by business IT departments). Microsoft's newly released Service Pack 2 for Windows XP is a big event for the XP user community. In this article, we will look at the new features Windows XP Service Pack 2 offers, as well as why the average user should bother with it. Continue Here>>

Albatron Trinity PC5900 PCI Express Videocard Review

With high end PCI Express videocards in short supply, those of you looking for the best performance may want to cast an eye towards nVIDIA's GeForcePCX 5900 series. The PCX 5900 core itself is architecturally identical to its AGP counterpart, the GeForceFX 5900, but nVIDIA engineers have placed a HSI chip between the GPU and PCI Express which allows them to communicate together. The Albatron Trinity PC5900 videocard is powered with 128MB of DDR RAM, and supports both analog and DVI monitors. Continue Here>>

The Relationship Between Overclocking and Cooling

This is an article for overclockers which explores the age old question; "How does cooling affect Overclocking?" In an enthusiasts attempt to reach higher clock speeds, there will eventually come a time when the temperature of the processor, memory, or some other electrical component becomes the limiting factor. Luckily, overclocking has become so mainstream that it has spawned an entire market to provide it with the necessary hardware. Yet, heatsinks are not the only method of coaxing a toasty processor into giving up an extra GHz of speed. Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips Home PCs
Search Dealtime
Super Micro

One feature of Windows I can't live without is the context menu (brought up by right clicking on the mouse). Just imagine what you would do if you lost this service all of a sudden because a mouse died for some reason... Luckily this function can be done with the keyboard too - as long as you know the trick. ;-)

It's pretty easy to bring up the context menu on the keyboard, all you have to press is Shift + F10 and you're set. Use the directional keys on the keyboard to scroll through the different options and you should be set. This tip is great for those of you who are more the keyboard type, and would prefer not to use the mouse as much.

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Industry Insights

A few weeks ago, I reported that Intel was quietly shipping some of its processor with 64-bit extensions enabled. It had already made an official announcement that the Xeon family would fully support the technology, but there was no word on the 90nm Pentium 4. After all, Intel has maintained that it wouldn't unveil the technology until Microsoft laid the groundwork with a compatible version of Windows XP.

I recently confirmed with Intel, however, that there are a number of OEM workstations shipping with 64-bit Pentium 4 processors and motherboards based on the 925X chipset, including two from Dell. Intel's web site currently claims that the 925X is the only desktop chipset validated for use in a 64-bit platform, however the Intel representative to whom I spoke also suggested that 915P motherboards could be made compatible with the proper BIOS update. It also shouldn't come as much surprise that Microsoft is hustling to support Intel's EMT64 technology. The latest beta build of Windows XP 64-bit Edition, released on August 18th, will properly install on enabled Pentium 4 platforms - something it wouldn't do previously.

All the while, Intel continues down playing the importance of EMT64. "There still aren't any mainstream 64-bit operating systems or games that take advantage of the technology," said the rep. Right, but isn't the hardware infrastructure necessary before developers start writing their applications?
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