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In This Issue...

- Foxconn G9657MA Mobo
- Zalman ZM600-HP
- Epox EP-5P945 Mobo
- IcyDock eSATA Box
- Aopen miniPC System
- DFI LanParty UT Mobo
- PCstats Weekly Tips

Newsletter Archives
Newsletter Archives
Intel Motherboards and Windows Vista

Hello,
Will you be upgrading to Windows Vista? According to PCSTATS' weekly poll, 60% of you are saying no, 7% have tried out Vista before going back to WinXP and only 32% said they would upgrade to one version of Vista or another. In the PCSTATS labs, we're running a test PC with Windows Vista Ultimate - the top of the line OS version. With 2GB of memory, a 3.2GHz CPU, and a 6800GT videocard, Vista runs well and looks fantastic. The first impression? Vista has many clever features, and just as many "security" measures which are exceedingly annoying to experienced users.

In fact the first security "feature" we toasted was User Account Control (UAC), it pops up confirmation boxes so frequently it might as week be a desktop background! You can disable UAC by: Control Panel > User Accounts > "Turn User Accounts Control On/Off". Then, to get rid of that little red "X" in the Task Bar: Control Panel > Security > Security Center > "change the way security center alerts me" and toggle off "don't notify me and don't display icon". If you're not a very experienced user, it might be best to leave both of these settings as is.

With that in mind, I'd like to ask you what your top 10 initial tweaks to Windows Vista were? Drop us a line right here.

A motherboard is foundation on which all computers are built, so choosing the right board is an important decision. Today PCSTATS tests the Foxconn G9657MA and Epox EP-P945 Pro motherboards, both of which offer good mainstream features. The Foxconn G9657MA in particular has an integrated Intel GMA X3000 graphics card, a step up from the GMA950. Zalman's low noise 600W power supply contains several innovative features to improve cooling, cable management, and reduce noise output. In terms of storage space expansion, IcyDock's MB452 external eSATA/USB2.0 enclosure offers a quick way to add a hard drive to a PC or notebook. It has the added benefit of a removable drive tray that is compatible with PC-mounted systems. The DFI Lanparty UT NF590 SLI motherboard is back for a second time, as is AOpen's diminutive MiniPC MP945VX ultra small formfactor PC.

In the side column, the fourth installment of Dan's discussion on e-waste touches on possibilities of reusing old computers for new tasks - like schools or community centers. This weeks PCSTATS Tech Tip deals with two Windows Vista related tweaks.

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

Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H G965 Express Motherboard Review
READ

The Foxconn G9657MA-8KS2H motherboard is a prime example of what Foxconn can do. Based on the Intel G965 Express and ICH8R chipsets, the board supports a 533/800/1066MHz Front Side Bus (FSB). It features 3GB/s SATA II RAID (0, 1, 5, 0+1), 8GB of PC2-800/667/533 dual channel DDR-II RAM, a PCI Express x16 slot for a stand alone videocard, the PCI Express x1 and two 32-bit PCI slots for legacy hardware. The G9657MA-8KS2H features the Intel G965 Express GMA3000 integrated videocard, so a PCI Express x16 videocard really isn't even required if all you intended on using the system for is Microsoft Office, the internet, or email. Continue Here>>

Zalman ZM600-HP 600W Heatpipe Cooled Modular Power Supply Review
READ

Zalman has launched a low noise power supply of its own, and no surprise then that the 600W unit packs in components from a standard heatsink to augment its cooling capabilities. Instead of building its own power supply outright, Zalman teamed up with SPI (Sparkle Power Inc) to introduce the ZM600-HP power supply to the world. Sparkle are in the same league as PC Power & Cooling and Seasonic in terms of quality, and heck the ZM600-HP has already received both nVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire certification! At the heart of the Zalman ZM600-HP is a short length of heatpipe that connects part of the power supplies' power circuitry to a compact aluminum heatsink fin array. The aluminum fins take the place of a second fan, and those horribly inefficient power supply heatsinks... well for the most part.Continue Here>>

Epox EP-5P945 Pro Express Motherboard Review
READ

The Epox EP-5P945 Pro is a budget performance motherboard is an affordable Intel platform of complementary technologies for consumers on a budget. The EP-5P945's system bus runs at 1066/800/533MHz FSB, so you can use high end Intel Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processors as well. The list of features here is a short one, but all the major must have's for a modern day computer are ticked off: USB2.0, multi-channel audio, 3GB/s Serial ATA support and Gigabit networking. This is a good no frills motherboard, inexpensive and ideal for office workstation environments where PCs are used for simple tasks like email, the internet, and running office applications.Continue Here>>

IcyDock MB452 eSATA/USB2.0 External Hard Drive Enclosure Review
READ

To be honest, I can't recall many good experiences using removable hard drive racks, particularly the single slot kind. Well, lucky for us Icy Dock have introduced the MB452, an external eSATA and USB2.0 hard drive enclosure whose removable drive caddy is compatible with the companies PC mounted MB122SKGF system. The removable serial ATA hard drive caddy's are interchangeable with each product family, allowing internal and external drives to be swapped in a few moments. The unit is black in colour with some nice aluminum detailing and vibration reducing rubber feet; multiple units can be stacked one atop the next, or it can be stood on its edge on rubber feet. Continue Here>>

DFI LANParty UT NF590 SLI-M2R/G Motherboard Review
READ

The latest gear from the tweakers at DFI is the LANPartyUT NF590 SLI-M2R/G motherboard, and it's looking like a real gem too. The Socket AM2 motherboard supports single and dual core AMD Athlon64, X2 and FX as well as budget Sempron processors. DFI have based the LanpartyUT NF590 SLI on nVIDIA's extremely competent nForce 590 SLI and MCP55PXE southbridge chipsets. The list of features reads like a must have novel for building a killer motherboard. The most important of which are dual Gigabit network cards, twin SLI compatible PCI Express x16 videocard slots, and every major "must have" feature for enthusiast grade motherboards is also ticked off the list.Continue Here>>

AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX Ultra Small Formfactor PC Review
READ

In the world of computers, compact PCs always finish first. AOpen has employed an unorthodox method of building its super small, super compact, super quiet miniPC MP945-VX small formfactor system. It has essentially turned a laptop (minus the LCD display) into a uber-compact macMini desktop computer. Albeit one that is barely larger than a stack of six CD cases. Laptop components definitely allow smaller and more energy efficient systems to be built, but such luxuries come at a financial and performance cost. The high level of miniaturization with laptop parts tends to dictate a higher price than an equivalent desktop small formfactor box. Even with a small price premium, AOpen has succeeded in creating a rather nice Mini system here.Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Vista's Missing Menu Bar and Installing Vista


Tip #1.
Windows Vista's new Aeroglass interface is supposed to make things easier on users. One of the new "features" was to remove the familiar old menu bar from the browser window to keep clutter down. For more advanced users who want the menu bar back, open up Windows Explorer in Vista, and press the "ALT" key. Once the "alt" key is hit, it will toggle the menu bar to reappear (hit it again, and it disappears). From there go to "Tools" -> Folder options and check the "Always Show the Menubar" option to force it to display all the time. From now on you'll have the menu bar no matter which window you open.

This tip is brought to you by the Sony VAIO TX notebook. Born to travel at just 2.8 pounds. www.sony.com/vaio-tx

Tip #2. So you've just picked up a shiny new copy of Microsoft Windows Vista but are wondering about the other versions? Well there's a way you can get a taste without buying. When you're installing Windows Vista it will prompt you for a CD key, instead of entering that information, click the "Next" button. The installer will prompt you to enter a key, here click "No". That will bring you to new window which give you the following options.

Windows Vista BUSINESS
Windows Vista HOMEBASIC
Windows Vista HOMEPREMIUM
Windows Vista ULTIMATE
Windows Vista HOMEBASICN
Windows Vista BUSINESSN
Windows Vista STARTER

From this list you can install any version that you want (all versions of Vista are on the same DVD) although you should take note of a few things. HOMEBASICN and BUSINESSN are exclusively for the European market where Windows Media player is not included in the operating system, Windows Vista STARTER is designed for emerging markets such as third world countries. From there select the OS you want to try, and follow through on the installation process.

This allows you to try all the various different versions of Windows Vista without having to buy before hand (other than the version you have bought, at least). Best of all you can try each version of Windows Vista for 30 days before the Windows activation feature kicks in and locks down the operating system. Once it locks, you will need to activate it by purchasing a key for that version, if you wish to continue, or format and reinstall.

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.234
Circulation: 156,285

What Do You Do With Old Computers? - Part IV

Reconnecting with Local E-Waste Options

So now that you're stepping away from the garbage can, what can you do with that old computer?

The best option for disposal of anything is always reuse rather than recycling. Recycling requires much more energy, and the end product may be of a lower quality. So with that in mind, your best option for that old desktop machine is going to be a company that will refurbish it for resale or donation like Computers For Schools. Some companies might even pay for what you thought initially of as garbage!

If there doesn't appear to be any resellers in your area, there are numerous non-profit groups that will take your electronic donations and refurbish the stuff for charities. Reboot is pretty popular, and Charity Village has a long list of alternatives as well. There's also The National Christina Foundation in Connecticut and Share the Technology in New Jersey. Try Googling for "computer refurbish [city name]" for options available to you locally.

Some companies like IBM, HP and Apple have implemented "take-back" programs. These companies will arrange to dismantle and recycle your computer once you're finished with it. Programs like this are the direct result of new, stricter legislation in Europe and elsewhere in the world regarding the harmful chemicals found in virtually all electronic products to one degree or another.

The broken-beyond-repair things are a tougher sell with refurbishing companies, so it's always best to contact them in advance to see what they can use. In cases where your old junked computer really is just junk, what are your options?

Stay tuned for Part 5 next week.
- Daniel Quinn

"Get the 'Stats and Stay Informed!"

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