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In This Issue...


- Foxconn 975X Mobo
- Asus Crossfire Mobo
- Seasonic M12 700W PSU
- HP Laserjet 2420DN
- Gigabyte 7600GT Silent
- Geforce 7950GX2 VGA
- PCstats Weekly Tips

Newsletter Archives

Swapfile Tweak and Core 2 Duo Hardware Tested

Hello,
The release of the ATI Radeon X1950pro videocard with its native CrossFire capabilities has produced a fair bit of anticipation these past weeks in gaming circles. It will be interesting to see how the ATI dual videocard solution stands up against nVidia's well entrenched SLI platform, both in the benchmarks and commercially. What do you think? Are twin videocards from ATI or nVidia in the cards for you?

This issue of the PCSTATS newsletter starts off with a great potential tweak for putting retired hard drives back to use, as dedicated repositories for temp and swap files. Look to the column at right for that. A little further down, PCSTATS Weekly TechTip touches upon the topic of keyboards and germs in flu season. Look at your keyboard right now - if there's grime on those keys you'll want to read this TechTip!

The hardware test reports in this PCSTATS Newsletter begin with the quick and capable 975X Express based Foxconn 975X7AB motherboard, the competitive Asus M2R3-MVP Crossfire Xpress 3200 motherboard, and Gigabyte's NX7600GT silent videocard. Gigabyte has made a handful of these completely silent videocards, which are particularly well suited to media PCs. After this we take another look back at the massive Geforce 7950GX2 videocard - it's twin GPU's purring away like two cylinders in a finely tuned rotary engine.

Printers come, and printers go, and there are some so cheap that you have to wonder if they're bundled in with new PCs just to sell toner... The HP LaserJet 2420DN on the other hand is a very good, mid-sized office laser printer, as this review illustrates.

Thanks for reading!
Max Page
Editor-in-Chief - PCSTATS

Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H 975X Express Motherboard Review

READ

The flagship Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H motherboard is a prime example of what Foxconn can do. Based on the Intel 975X Express and ICH7R chipsets, the board supports all Socket 775 Intel CPUs like the Core 2 Duo. The 975X Express chipset operates with a 800/1066MHz FSB. It features 3GB/s SATA II RAID so you can hook up as many as four SATA hard drives like the Western Digital WD740 Raptor together for data redundancy in RAID 1, or the pure speed of RAID 0. A 'JMB361' controller brings a secondary IDE channel into the fold, so along with the one Intel's core logic has graciously provided, up to four IDE devices are supported. PCSTATS will be using 2GB of Corsair Twin2X2048-6400C4 in the Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H test system today, and with Microsoft Windows Vista on the horizon I wouldn't recommend building a new system with any less than 1GB RAM.Continue Here>>

Asus M2R32-MVP CrossFire Xpress 3200 Motherboard Review
READ

A year ago we would have never expected to say this, but ATi's CrossFire Xpress 3200 (aka the ATi RD580) Northbridge and SB600 Southbridge combo are as strong as the equivalent chipsets from nVidia. The Asus M2R32-MVP motherboard is moderately priced for a socket AM2 platform, accommodating as much as 8GB Of DDR2-800 memory, two PCI Express x16 slots for Crossfire Edition videocard and includes a bunch of integrated goodies. An overview of what the ATI Crossfire Xpress 3200 brings to the socket AM2 table is next, does it stack up?Continue Here>>

HP LaserJet 2420-DN Network Laser Printer Review
READ

Laser printers have considerably lower CPP (Cost Per Page) values due to their large reservoirs of toner and more efficient printing process than inkjet printers do over the long-haul. Here at PCSTATS, we consider business computing equipment to be as important as the latest 'enthusiast' computer gear; we work in an office ourselves after all. The Hewlett-Packard Laserjet 2420dn model that we're looking at is a networked monochrome laser printer with a 1200x1200 maximum resolution, 64MB of onboard memory (expandable to 320MB), 350 sheet paper capacity, a built-in HP JetDirect Ethernet print server, and automatic duplex printing. Continue Here>>

Gigabyte GV-NX76T256D-RH Silent Geforce 7600GT Videocard Review
READ

Gigabyte has produced a completely silent GeForce 7600GT videocard that offers gamers who are sensitive to noise a decent 3D rendering packages. It keeps up with the latest games yet and is easy on the wallet. The Gigabyte GV-NX76T256D-RH GeForce 7600GT GPU is backed up by 256MB of DDR3 memory and runs through the PCI Express x16 bus. Should you need a bit more 3D rendering power, this videocard is SLI compatible for dual videocard rendering goodness.Continue Here>>

MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE Geforce 7950GX2 Videocard Review
READ

The GeForce 7950GX2 is nVIDIA's flagship graphics card du jour, and the first true dual core, dual slot PCI Express videocard from nVidia. In this review PCSTATS has the pleasure of testing out a MSI NX7950GX2-T2D1GE videocard. MSI's NX7950GX2-T2D1GE slips delicately into a single PCI Express x16 slot, but occupies two case bracket spaces. It has two DVI connectors (HDMI compliant), is HDCP enabled, and offers HDTV outputs via component out even. Best of all it run in SLI mode in any motherboard with at least one PCI Express x16 slot... makes you wonder what this all means when it comes to the gaming benchmarks doesn't it?Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Keyboards and Germ Killing in Flu Season

With winter approaching in the Northern hemisphere, the sniffly, lime green drippy embrace of cold and flu season is quickly approaching. Keyboards and mice are a haven for bacteria and germs, so now is an excellent time to talk about hygiene, and how what you are doing right now is probably going to get you the sniffles. If you're an enthusiast or work in an office environment, you probably make things worse by eating at your computer... As you can imagine with all the gunk stuck to those QWERTY keys, it's only a matter of time before someone catches a cold and passes it on via a computer keyboard, mouse or a phone handset.

Luckily there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of germs.

First and foremost clean your keyboard and mouse with one of the following; a damp soapy sponge (not soaking wet, that may damage the keyboard), mild window cleaner containing ammonia & a soft cloth, or an anti-bacterial wipe. That will do an excellent job at removing the dirt and germs stuck to plastic surfaces like buttons and keys. If there's a lot of grime, use a soft nylon brush and a can of compressed air to help remove the debris between keys. If your desktop keyboard is really dirty, use a vacuum to get at all that stuff under the keys. Once the keyboard and mouse have been given a good cleaning, carefully go over all surfaces with another clean dry cloth. While you're at it, give your phone handset a wipe-down too.

This will take less than 3 minutes to do, but if you follow these suggestions once or twice a winter season, it can go along way to preventing colds and the flu - especially in the office.

Let PCSTATS know what you think about this Tech Tip, and be sure to stop by PCSTATS Forums and post your comments or questions.

Join the PCSTATS Forums Today @ forum.PCstats.com!

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PCstats Issue
No.227
Circulation: 176,194
Putting Retired Hard Drives Back To Work

Don't throw out that old hard drive out just yet... it can be used to make your PC run a little quicker when slugging through intensive applications that spawn big and bulky swap or temp files.

Hard drive technology has advanced in both speed and capacity significantly, but the task of handling reads and writes from the operating system and software applications can still bog down a speedy HDD like the Western Digital Raptor. To help boost system performance during intensive applications, we need to free the main OS hard drive from fussing with all the little mundane tasks it typically deals with. Temporary data stored in a pagefile, swapfile, scratch disk or in temp directory is constantly accessed by WindowsXP and programs like Photoshop. Relocating these temp files from the main OS hard drive onto a completely separate HDD (not just a partition) can reduce certain bottlenecks that occur when temp files become very large, or are written to and read from constantly.

The first step is to dig out an old working hard drive of at least 20-40GB in size, and install it into the PC. Then go to system properties (right click on the 'My Computer' and go to 'Properties') and click the 'Advanced' tab. From the 'Performance' section, click the 'Settings' button, that will bring up the 'Performance Options' section. Click the 'Advanced' tab and in the 'Virtual memory' area hit the 'Change' button. To move WindowsXP's pagefile to a different hard drive, select the drive letter of the HDD you've just installed and change the option to 'Custom size:'. Input the pagefile size (general rule is to set the pagefile to the same size as your system memory). Don't forget to change your initial pagefile option on the default drive to 'No paging file'. After that's done press the 'OK' twice and the pagefile will now be relocated to the new hard drive.

Changing WindowsXP's temp file location is even easier; back in the 'Advanced' tab of the 'System Properties' window, click on 'Environment Variables'. From the 'User variables for xxx' section, change the TEMP and TMP paths to the new HDD you've just installed. You might want to make a dedicated folder for each, by the way. Once that's done, in the 'System variables' section again change the TEMP and TMP file locations to the appropriate drive letter. When both changes are done, press the 'OK' button twice and reboot the computer.

After the PC has restarted, WindowsXP's pagefile and tempfiles will be stored on the separate hard drive you've just installed. This change can help to speed up overall system performance as there will be less reads and writes to the main operating system hard drive. Next you'll want to adjust all the intensive programs that have page/temp/swapfile options, to use the new HDD instead of C:/. In Photoshop this is done by going to 'Edit' > 'Preferences' > 'Plug-ins & Scratch Disk' and changing the first 'Scratch Disk' to the drive letter of the new HDD you've just installed. Once done, restart Photoshop to make the changes stick. You'll find that the next time you're working on a high-res 300dpi 150MB PSD image file the 1.5GB in temp data that accumulates will be stored out of the way on your dedicated scratch disk instead of fighting for attention on the C:/ drive.

"Get the 'Stats and Stay Informed!"

This Issue By
Editor-in-Chief. Max P.
Weekly Tips. Colin S.
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