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Newsletter Contents

.Nvidia Drivers
.Intel P4 3GHz
.Springdale Mobo
.Shoppinglist
.USB Audio Device
.510W Powersupply
.Colin's Weekly Tips

Meet The New 3GHz Pentium 4

Hello,
Last week I was off running around Toronto as part of the wildly successful NXNE 2003 Music Festival and Conference - and no, there wasn't an N95 SARS mask in sight! After a little more than 8 days away from a computer I returned to over 2600 waiting emails - not bad for a week. About 1800 of those emails were either Viruses or EvilSpam. For the network admins in the crowd this translated into roughly 80MB of good and garbage email on the mail server.

There isn't much one can do about the viruses that flood in other than sit behind a nice wall of virus protection software. Seriously, when it comes to Spam, how much Viagra do we really need in the world?

Now there is a difference in the world of junkmail between Opt-in's (stuff you actually subscribed to at one point and can unsubscribe from), Spam (stuff you can unsbscribe from but don't know how on earth you ended up on that list in the first place) and what I call EvilSpam. This is the nasty stuff that is part of a scam, or international fraud, or who knows what. EvilSpam doesn't follow any unsubscribe rules, and I have to wonder why some of the junkmail even pretends to include "unsubscribe" links to Hotmail or Yahoo (hint; they don't do a thing).

My personal favorites in the world of EvilSpam include the $20 Million Nigerian Bank scam where you are supposed to help some deposed government official steal millions of dollars from their country in exchange for a hefty cut. Rumour has it that scams of this nature have been used to fund more than a few dirty Wars in Africa and the Balkans - but no one really knows for certain. Other EvilSpam will try to trick you into confirming your credit card number and expiration date for a seemingly legitimate company. Email is NOT a place to ever be typing in credit card information, and legitimate websites who do require this information will only ever request it on secure webpages (look for the little closed lock icon at the bottom right corner of the IE browser) - and most certainly not by a random email message to you.

When it comes to viruses and email, there is one golden rule I think everyone should be aware of - if you get an attachment from someone, and don't know what it is, don't open it. :-)

Now on to this weeks assortment of tasty hardware reviews! First up is the brand spanking new 800MHz FSB 3.0GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor. Right after that we have MSI's answer to Springdale - the 865PE Neo2 (can anyone say Matrix spinoff?). After that bright red board we have June's ShoppingList all primed and ready to go - but if you're cash strapped you may want to skip ahead to an interesting little USB audio device. I won't tell you much about the device here, so to find out if its the next best thing since sliced bread you'll have to read the review.

Lastly, Colin goes head over heels for a powersupply from Thermaltake.... nope, Enermax.... nope, Vantec.... nope - rather a powersupply from PC Power and Cooling. I highly recommend you read this review to see what sets the standard in the world of powersupplies. The 510-PFC looks deceptively plain from the outside, but once the cover is cracked open the differences that make this unit stand out are immediately obvious. Thanks for reading this weeks PCstats.com Newsletter!


Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz 800MHZ FSB Processor Review

It's quite amazing how far the Pentium 4 has come in the last three years. I still remember a time when the original Williamette Socket 423 Pentium 4 1.5 GHz processor made its first debut. Despite all the "large numbers", performance of the CPU was actually pretty absymal when compared to AMD's solutions at the time. My oh my how times have changed. We're up past 3GHz, a number which is pretty phenomenal considering the first computer many of us used in the 486 days was clocked at just 33MHz. In any event, a history of the Intel processor is not what we're about to embark upon. Instead we are going to be testing out the newest chip, the hottest thing since sliced bread if you listen to Intel in fact - enter the 800MHz FSB Intel Pentium 4 3GHz Northwood Socket 478 processor. pentium 4's were originally clocked at 1.5 GHz with 256KB L2 cache and running on a 400 MHz FSB, now the top of the line CPU from the men in blue runs at 3 GHz and comes packing 512KB of L2 cache. Based on the same Northwood core that was released way back in January of 2002, the P4 3.0C (as it is known in the geek circles) is a force to be reckoned with. While the AthlonXP 3200+ gives the P4 3.0C a good run for its money, the P4 is slightly faster in the end as you'll see. Other then running at a higher FSB and supporting HyperThreading (which is disabled on some slower Northwood P4's), there are no physical or architectural differences between the P4 3.0C or older Northwood based Pentium 4's. Read the Rest...



MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R i865PE motherboard Review
Read Article Now!

The Intel i865 Springdale chipset is the next "big" thing for the Pentium 4.... right after the i875 Canterwood of course. Springdale is gaining in popularity primarily because the little chip which gets soldered onto the motherboard offers something on the order of around 97% of the performance of the flagship Intel i875P, for about three-quarters of the price. So what you say? If you're currently working with an i850E (RDRAM) pentium 4 system and long ago made the decision to pass on the DDR-based i845PE's which has been wooing consumers for the last six months, you should still take note. Boards which are based on the i850E were faster and more powerfull than their i845PE counterparts, but the i865 tops both. Hey, it is a new chipset after all! Today we're going to be weighing the pros and cons of MSI's first entry into the mainstream Springdale (i865PE) desktop mainboard market - the wickedly red MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R. This is the top of the line model with all the bells and whistles on board - so if you want to save a few dollars and don't need all the little extras you can shoot for the 'vanilla' 865PE Neo2 version. Read the Rest...

PCstats.com ShoppingList

It's that time of the month again; time for an updated PCstats.com ShoppingList. We know how confusing it can be choosing the right components for a new computer system, or an upgrade to an existing one. That's why every month we assemble the PCstats.com ShoppingList as a guide to help you get good gear. We cover the basic components needed to assemble a full system, with monitor, and list the average $USD price each part retails for so you can print it out and take it with you. Use the ShoppingList as a guide to build a better "white box" system, or follow our recommendations to the letter - it's totally up to you.

Visit the PCstats.com ShoppingList Page for the June 2003 Budget $599, Mainstream $1500, and Performance $2500 System hardware recommendations!!

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Burning Blue Audio USB Headphone Amplifier Review Colins Weekly Tech Tips 2002 Roundup

As someone who spends a majority of the working day under the warm grip of a pair of Grado SR-80 headphones, it's safe to say I put a lot of importance in how the music I listen to sounds. T he USB Headphone Amplifier is actually a little aluminum box about the size of a package of mints, and draws all power from the USB cable itself. From a distance the unit does have the appearance of an MP3 player, but it is definitely not one. The amplifier simply takes a digital signal from a USB connection and translates that into an analog signal regular everyday headphones can pump out as sound. Read the Rest...

If you're a PCstats.com newsletter subscriber, you most certainly know what an integral part Colin's Weekly Tech Tips is. I have always prided myself as a "tweak master" and I love helping my readers improve their computing performance and experience. While all the tech tips are stored in an archive in the forums, I often get requests by the readers to put together a quicky article with all the tips. I guess this is much easier to read then 20 odd forum threads! =) Read the Rest...

Colin's Weekly Tech Tips



By:
Colin Sun
Today: So ya, I'm the Computer Guy
Since I'm the "computer guy" in the family and among my circle of friends, I'm often asked to remove virus's from infected computers. As a more educated computer user (ahem!) I can honestly say that I haven't just had a virus since the 486 days (when I was a newbie) and don't really understand how one can get a virus. All that's needed is a bit of common sense and you should be ok.
The easiest way for one to get a virus is through e-mail and I'm sure all of you get virus's sent to you (I get about 200-400 a day!) If you get an e-mail with an executable file extension (.pif, .bat, .com, .exe, .cmd, .hlp, etc) do not open it! If you don't know who sent you the file just delete it. If you unexpectedly get sent a file from someone you know, e-mail them back and ask what they e-mailed you. Sure this can be a hassle, but it can certainly save a lot of frustration.
An up to date Anti virus program is a definite must as many virus's can be caught before they do damage. Because new virus's come out weekly, if not daily, update your virus definitions every week, make it routine so you don't forget.
A little foresight and common sense can go a long way in protecting your computer, and your data!
Colin's Tips Archives | PCStats.com Forums

Power supplies are often the most overlooked component in any computer system. I'm always amazed to see people spend thousands of dollars on a computer yet equip it with a generic 300W PSU. Computers these days require not just more power, they're now also much more picky on the type of power it receives. Unfortunately a bad power supply can masquerade itself as an entirely different problems so trouble shooting a bad PSU or inadequate power source can be very difficult. The more experienced/hardcore overclocker out there knows well how important a good PSU is when it comes to overclocking and pushing the hardware to its absolute limits. Enter PC Power & Cooling... While PC Power & Cooling is not as well known to the average PC user as say Enermax or Antec, they have been producing computer power supplies since 1985.

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PCstats Issue
No.90

Circulation: 253,643

The High Tech Low Down

By: Chris Angelini


Is optimizing drivers cheating or merely optimizing? Well, when the optimizing occurs solely to boost the score in a synthetic benchmark, the writing is on the wall. For those who haven't caught the story, NVIDIA was recently accused of modifying its drivers; in short, the graphics company made changes to the way its driver handled each game test in 3D Mark 2003, artificially inflating scores. The tests have been run and the results, published. In fact, I've even heard from an inside source that Dell knew about NVIDIA's optimizations before the accusations even started to fly. But at the end of the day, the question remains: should it be considered valid for a company to optimize its drivers on an application-level basis to enhance performance?

To me, the answer lies in what can be called "the grey area." If a manufacturer is able to enhance performance and maintain mathematically comparable quality, the optimization should be deemed acceptable. If, however, the manufacturer deliberately "cooks" its driver by delivering what it considered imperceptible degradations or special clip planes (as in this case), that manufacturer should be called out, just as NVIDIA has. At the same time, the situation emphasizes a need for reliable, consistent benchmarks. You know the old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

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