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News Archives for May 2008

Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 04:48AM
Author: jammin

Thursday's hardware roundup gives you a few more reviews to read over, such as another look at NVIDIA's current top dog the 9800 GX2. If you want to see how that card compares spec wise to every other card out there, then TechARP's updated graphics card comparison guide can show you just that. Among the other reviews today are a 'Silent' CPU cooler from Glacialtech and we see how 8GB of OCZ memory fares. You know the drill, just click on what interests you.

Video
Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 @ TweakTown
Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
XFX 9800GTX Giveaway @ Bjorn3D

Cooling
Glacialtech Igloo 5750 Silent CPU Cooler @ Legit Reviews

Memory
OCZ Quad 2GB Memory Kit @ Madshrimps

Storage
OCZ Rally2 Turbo 4GB Flash Drive @ Virtual-Hideout

Displays
ASUS LS201 20" LCD Monitor @ HotHardware

Processors
Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
Mainstream AMD and Intel Quad-core Compared @ Madshrimps

Misc
Targus Travel Power Outlets @ ThinkComputers
VL System M-Play Blast Indicator & Remote Control @ 3DGameMan
Dell XPS 730 H2C @ HotHardware

 


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Stanford to Announce Parallel Computing Lab

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 09:23AM
Author: Nemo

Stanford University is partnering with some of the world's largest hardware and graphics processor manufacturers to research and develop new methods for parallel processing. Stanford is poised to announce the Pervasive Parallelism Lab with support from major companies such as Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and IBM. With multi-core processors now the norm and chips with even more processor cores on the horizon, software that makes use of all the extra processing power has not kept pace. The latest processors, both CPUs and GPUs, have largely abandoned the megahertz race and have instead turned to adding additional processor cores to improve performance. All of the companies supporting the lab have a major stake in improving the ease with which programmers can develop software to take advantage of the extra cores. Parallel programming is more difficult than the serial programming approach most programs use today. Stanford intends to address this issue by developing new programming languages designed for parallel computing as well as creating hardware for multi-core processors. Stanford has already down significant work with the Brook programming language designed for parallel computing and has been able to apply this work to their Folding@Home project in the form of a GPU software client. In addition Stanford has also developed SMP Folding@Home clients for both Linux and Windows to make use of multiple processor machines.


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Women's Voices Sexiest During Peak Fertility

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 11:13AM
Author: Nemo

According to a study conducted at SUNY Albany, women's voices are perceived to be more attractive or sexy when they are at their peak monthly fertility. Researchers recorded women voices at four periods during their menstrual cycle. The recordings were then replayed to students who were asked to rate the voices based on attractiveness. Males and females both rated the voices most attractive when recorded during the peak fertile period of the subject's cycle. The results can been interpreted as supporting the controversial view that human females indeed experience oestrus as do other female mammals, albeit in more subtle ways. Prior studies have also shown that women's attractiveness increases during peak fertility periods as one study showed female lap dancers earned greater tips during fertile days.


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NVIDIA Getting Proactive On Intel's Claimed DX10 Support

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 11:30AM
Author: jammin

Intel has been planning on releasing a driver that will allow DX10 on some of its integrated video solutions for a while now, with some people expressing frustration over the wait. It has been clear recently that NVIDIA has been taking the aggressive approach when commenting on the performance of Intel IGP products and today seems to be no different. In an email from NVIDIA doing the rounds they raise questions about DX10 support on Intel chipsets and cite some leaked beta drivers to show that performance won't be up to scratch for those interested in DX10 games titles. They quote rates below 5fps for games such as Crysis, Bioshock and World in Conflict at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 with no AA/AF. Obviously claims made by direct competition need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it seems as though NVIDIA isn't going to let up in the criticism of Intel's graphics performance (while offering you some alternative products of course). You can catch a full copy of the email here.


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Psystar Shipped A Computer...Really!

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 11:34AM
Author: razor

Well, it seems as though Mac clone upstart Psystar has done what many thought to be impossible - they've actually shipped some computers.  To people.  And judging by the reviews, the embattled company has managed to put together a pretty solid lower-midrange machine, featuring an Intel Core2Duo CPU @ 2.2GHz, 4GB DDR2 memory, and an Nvidia 8600 GT graphics card.  Truthfully, the only Mac-standard features absent from Psystar's Open Computer are Bluetooth connectivity and Wi-Fi - which, considering its bargain-basement price isn't really a big deal.  What is a big deal, however, is the disturbing reality that Psystar's Open Computer - when running Apple's OSX - will never be able to receive OS updates or patches.  Also troubling is that any "hacked" update software designed to bypass Apple's authentication process could realistically brick OSX, meaning users would have to purchase another full OS license, or switch to a Windows or Linux environment.  It's really nice that the guys at Psystar weathered the media storm and managed to produce what they've advertised, but I think that most would still consider the company's products to be more trouble than they're worth.


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GTA IV Already Causing A Major Ruckus

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 12:53PM
Author: razor

Less than two days after its release, vicariously cathartic violence-fest Grand Theft Auto IV has drawn the ire of Mothers Against Drunk Driving - a special-interest group whose name explains its mission, and attorney Jack Thompson - a Christian conservative who has vociferously condemned violence- and sex-filled video games like GTA.  MADD have called upon GTA developer Rockstar Games to cease distribution of the game, citing alleged irresponsibility on Rockstar's end by releasing a game that permits players to consume alcoholic beverages and get behind the wheel.  Thompson, who has long been a vocal adversary of the hit game series, is actively prodding a Florida U.S. attorney to sue Take-Two - Rockstar's parent company - and retailers who sell the game - including Wal-Mart, GameStop, and Best Buy - citing the pornographic and violent content as a mechanism for the destruction of traditional Christian values.  He even goes so far as to compare the Grand Theft Auto series to the Polio virus, saying "Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since Polio...It will make you sick."  Rockstar has politely declined MADD's demands, and no comment has been released in response to Thompson's assault.

I don't/won't do this often, but I'm gonna go Op-Ed here - as I feel this is an important enough topic to offer my own viewpoint.  It would be irresponsible and incorrect for me to say that America hasn't been experiencing a growing number of crimes committed by children or young adults. And, while it's fair to say that some of those kids may have been influenced by movies, TV, music, and video games, we are doing those same youngsters a disservice by heaping the greater part of the blame upon the media en masse, as MADD and Jack Thompson are doing.  The real problem is that these kids were never given the tools to properly work with traditionally "adult" content - and the blame for that can ONLY be foisted upon their parents.  It's true that a growing number of children grow up in single-parent households, but so did I.  I watched RoboCop and the WWF, played violent video games and certainly viewed more than my fair share of pornographic content - but I never stole a car, killed or raped anyone, or tried to emulate in any way the terrible behavior exhibited by the characters in the media.  Why?  Because I was taught from the very beginning about right and wrong - and the behaviors associated with those descriptors.  Raising their children is the most important job any parent will ever have, and it's very clear that many have not accepted the inherent responsibilities of parenthood.  Parents MUST resume teaching their children to exhibit respect for other people and their property, to think before acting, and to understand that "bad" behaviors can and will carry serious repercussions.  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - those words have never been more appropriate.


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Thermaltake Armor+ MX Chassis Launched

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 08:10PM
Author: Nemo

First there was the Armor chassis. Then Thermaltake announced the Armor+ at CES 2007. A year later they demoed the Armor+ MX at CES 2008, a mid-tower version of it's highly successful big brother. Today Thermaltake is officially announcing the availability of the Armor+ MX that sports many of the advanced features of the full-tower version. The smaller version retains the water-cooling capabilities with top door access to a reservoir along with tool-less installation of optical and hard drives. Even at its reduced size, the MX still offers four removable 3.5" HDD carriers along with five 5.25" external bays. The hard drives benefit from a front 120mm intake fan and the huge 230mm side fan works to keep your other electronics cool. Exhaust air is handled by a second 120mm fan in the rear. An optional liquid cooling module can be installed in two of the the 5.25" bays. Throw in the integrated cable management system and you have the makings of one cool case. You can expect the Armor+ MX to become available the first week of May 2008 at a suggested retail price of $139US.


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Idiot of the day

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 09:28PM
Author: Bosco

Now here is an intresting story out of Fort Worth Texas. A 21 Year old man decided that he was going to try and tell a bank that he was starting a record business which is all fine and dandy. Where it went wrong for him is when he handed the bank a cheque for 360 billion dollar's, yes that is what I just said 360 billion. Now I don't know about you but why on earth would you start a company like that when you might have access to that type of money. Being that he was only 21 we will chalk this to him just being a complete idiot.


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Blu-ray Sales Haven't Grown Since HD-DVD Dropped Out

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 10:43PM
Author: razor

If you thought - as I did - that HD-DVD waving the white flag meant that Blu-ray would see a big boost in sales, we'd both be wrong.  According to the NPD Group - a market research firm - Blu-ray hardware sales dropped a stunning 40% from January to February this year, and the February to March figures weren't much better, as sales only grew by 2%.  It seems as though the only good news coming out of the Blu-ray camp is that Playstation 3 consoles have been selling at a respectable rate, making up 85% of all Blu-ray players sold.  Among the top reasons that the next-gen DVD format hasn't exactly lit up cash registers are consumer satisfaction with current standard and upconverting DVD players, and the significant financial investment necessary to go Blu.  Also, there is a feeling that the quality difference between standard/upconverted DVD and Blu-ray isn't nearly as drastic as the difference between VHS and DVD - in short, people just don't think there's a good enough reason to switch.


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EVGA Set to Launch Overclocking Tool

Posted: May 1, 2008 @ time: 11:00PM
Author: razor

Mammoth graphics card manufacturer EVGA is very close to officially unveiling its stand-alone video card overclocking tool, dubbed Precision.  The latest in an already crowded Windows-based overclocking field, Precision does offer some neat attributes that should set itself apart from the pack, while also sporting standard features like GPU Core, Shader, and Memory Clock adjustments, and a fan speed controller.  One really cool feature will enable users to be able to view FPS, GPU temps, and GPU speeds in-game.  Precision will also come with support for Logitech keyboard LCD screens, which will display temperatures for up to four video cards, and GPU speeds.  The rumor mill indicates that EVGA seems set to unleash Precision in the very near future.


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 04:49AM
Author: jammin

Let's see what we have you in Friday's hardware roundup shall we. There is a look at the upcoming Foxconn P45 board, as well as a review of an XFX board featuring NVIDIA's top end 790i chipset. In the cooling department, there is a review of a CPU cooler from Sunbeam and [H]ard|OCP take a look at a couple of CPU coolers which feature interesting technology but come up short on performance compared to current high end offerings. As always, use the links below to read more.

Displays
Honeywell Arius 2216 LCD @ Bjorn3D

Motherboards
ECS A780GM-A Black Series Motherboard @ Motherboards.org
XFX nForce 790i Ultra @ Legit Reviews
Foxconn P45 Quantum Force "Avenger" Preview @ TweakTown

Cooling
Sumbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer Heatsink @ FrostyTech
Noise Limit SilentFlux CPU Coolers @ [H]ard|OCP

Misc
MSI GX600X Turbobook @ TweakTown
Akasa UV SATA Cable @ XSReviews
Spire SP332CB 3.5" Internal Card Reader @ RBMods

 


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Gaming News Binge

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 08:14AM
Author: razor

Man, oh man is there a TON of news coming out of Steam lately, and we’ve got all of it.  Tecmo Bowl is going to be reborn – and I might have to buy a DS because of it.  Also, we’ve got preliminary news on a wireless skateboard for the 360, and some cool screenies and info.  Plus, don’t miss the free TF2 trial this weekend from Steam!

PC Gaming
StarCraft 2 Screenshot and Info @ Shacknews
New Lost Planet Screenies and Info (PC, 360) @ Shacknews

Steam
Steam Client Update Available
Team Fortress 2 Update Available

TF2 Gold Rush Update Available

Company of Heroes Update Available

Garry’s Mod Update Available
Steamworks SDK Available for Free @ IGN
Free Team Fortress 2 Trial Begins Today at Noon @ Shacknews

Consoles
Skateboard Controller Coming Soon for 360 @ Shacknews
Tecmo Bowl Making a Comeback (DS, Wii) @ Kombo
Soul Calibur 4 Screenies (360, PS3) @ Shacknews

Miscellaneous
Blizzard Acquires Diablo 3 Domain Name @ GameSpot
Making GTA IV Cost $100 Million @ Kombo
Activision Won’t Attend E3 @ Kombo
Awesome Street Fighter 4 Screenies @ GameSpot


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Wal-Mart says Your Mom's Fat

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 09:29AM
Author: Nemo

OK, maybe they didn't say that in so many words, but starting this weekend, Walmart.com will be pushing Nintendo's Wii Fit video game as the ideal gift for Mother's Day. Wii Fit is a video game that uses a pressure-sensitive controller and is designed to appeal to women and older consumers. As part of the promotion, Walmart.com's home page will be devoted primarily to the Wii Fit game in an effort to encourage shoppers to pre-order the game. Wii Fit has proven extremely popular in Japan, selling over 1 million copies since its release. Let's just hope Wal-Mart doesn't include combat boots as part of its Mother's Day marketing efforts.


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Please Wash Your Hands Before Touching My Keyboard

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 11:33AM
Author: razor

Recent research, performed by a consumer group named Which?, found that one keyboard in its London office contained more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat.  Of 33 keyboards that were tested, four were found to contain enough bacteria to be labeled a public health hazard, and one of those was deemed so filthy that scientists demanded that it be removed from the scene and sanitized.  The researchers cited employees eating lunch at their desks as the most likely cause of the funk, as crumbs can easily fall into a keyboard and rot; also noted as prime offenders were employees who failed to wash their hands after using the bathroom.  Thankfully, the remedy is usually very simple - people just need to blow out the keys with some canned air and clean the keyboards' surface with a damp cloth, followed by a proper alcohol scrubbing.  This reporter has also been known to just toss his letter-typer into the dishwasher on occasion - although I must advise that anyone using a keyboard whose value is above $5 follow the cleaning instructions given by the science guys.


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Microsoft Finally Gets Blu

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 03:27PM
Author: razor

An Asustek Computer subsidiary has been contracted by Microsoft to produce its Xbox 360 gaming consoles complete with Blu-ray support, a move that mercifully ends Microsoft's transparent denials concerning its adoption of the only remaining high-def DVD format.  Expected to ship in Q3 2008, the Blu-ray enabled gaming systems should immediately ignite strong competition with Sony's Playstation 3 - not only in a gaming sense, but also in a battle for supremacy over a format that not many people care about.  Now, we can only hope that MS can get that Yahoo! merger over and done with...


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P45 Could Be Intel's Last Skt. 775 Chipset

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 05:50PM
Author: razor

With Nehalem clearly visible on the horizon, and true competition from AMD comfortably in the distance, at least one major motherboard manufacturer feels that the upcoming P45 chipset will spell the end of Intel's wildly successful Skt. 775.  Featuring FSB support up to 1600MHz, PCI-E 2.0 compatibility, and DDR3 memory speeds up to 1333MHz , P45 would certainly seem to be a fine note for 775 to end on, and it's also expected that P45 will enjoy a very long lifespan and a large market share.  As such, the source opines that motherboard manufacturers may go the extra mile in designing the boards, and the BIOS that commands them - meaning that P45 has every chance at becoming a chipset of legendary status among enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.


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Lighter more efficient cooling system for the PS3

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 06:08PM
Author: Andrewr05

Sony's newest gaming console, the Playstation 3, is getting lighter. I would imagine that since its inception that it has dropped quite a few pounds. This time around the weight loss is attributed to its new updated cooling system. Sony has decided that instead of using one massive overweight heatsink for the CPU and graphics chip that it will use two considerably lighter heatsinks that are just as capable if not better at cooling the Playstation 3's internal chips. Most of the weight loss is attributed to the fact that neither heatsink will use the heatpipes that the larger heatsink used. No words yet if these will cause a price decrease.


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If You Buy Movies on iTunes, Apple Loses Money

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 08:12PM
Author: razor

The announcement came yesterday that Apple would begin selling movies via iTunes on the same day they are released on DVD.  Today, news came down that Apple is apparently losing money on the deal - Team Fruit is paying around $16 per movie, and only charging customers $15 for new releases.  Yeah...let that sink in...  If this insane business practice is allowed to continue, Fruit will soon face a rather difficult decision - charge its customers more, or renegotiate with major movie distributors.  Option A is absolutely absurd, as any person can often walk into a Best Buy, Wal-Mart or other retailer and buy a new release for less than $15.  While Option B would seem most palatable to both Froot Loops and its customers, Toucan Steve will likely need to prove that iTunes can move product as well as a major retailer to convince studios to slice him a discount.


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Proposed Bill Aims to Prevent Corporate/International Internet Censorship

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 08:33PM
Author: razor

The U.S. government has, in recent years, made no bones about passing laws that on the surface seem to violate Americans' Constitutionally granted freedoms and rights, but a Republican from New Jersey is intent on fixing that image.  U.S. House Representative Chris Smith's proposed Global Online Freedom Act would severely penalize U.S. corporations who infringe upon a person's right to express themselves and their beliefs on the Internet - no matter what that person's country of origin.  The GOFA seems to be a direct response to Yahoo's reprehensible NARC-ing out of a group of Chinese dissidents, and subsequent lying about the extent of their knowledge of the Chinese investigation into the group's activities.  The only major drawbacks to GOFA are an allowance given to the President to waive its powers in the event of national security, and permitting the Dept. of Justice to give up details on individuals at the request of "legitimate International law enforcement" on a case-by-case basis.  This may turn out to be one of those "it's the thought that counts" things, but I think it looks good on paper, for the most part.


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CoolIT Launches PURE All-In-One CPU Cooler

Posted: May 2, 2008 @ time: 09:57PM
Author: razor

As computer enthusiasts and overclockers, we're always trying to push our gear to the next level - and because of that, we also find ourselves in a constant battle with our arch-nemesis, heat.  While there are many among our community who already employ a liquid loop - or something more extreme - to cool their most important components, there are others - me included - who aren't quite sure whether the hassles of alternative cooling are worth the extra performance.  CoolIT Systems, a well known and respected alternative cooling manufacturer, feel that they have the perfect answer in their all-in-one, maintenance free PURE CPU cooler that allows liquid n00bs to test the waters (Punny!) without the headaches common in building and maintaining a custom liquid cooling setup.  Right out of the box, the PURE is ready to roll; combining the best elements of air and liquid cooling,  the PURE system comes pre-assembled - tubes, waterblock, and radiator - and is filled with coolant and primed, making installation as easy as possible.  You should check out the OCC Review of the CoolIT PURE, it may make a believer out of you, too.


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Hardware Roundup: Saturday Edition

Posted: May 3, 2008 @ time: 02:04AM
Author: jammin

Another daily dose of hardware reviews to start your weekend. The guys at Madshrimps put an Intel Q9300 under phase change and see how high they can take it (a shade under 3.9GHz it turns out). Speaking of cooling, there are a trio of heatsink reviews for you to look at as well as a pre-built system from Smooth Creations with an impressive custom paint job. Check out the links below for more details.

CPUs
Q9300 Subzero Overclocking @ Madshrimps

Motherboards
DFI Lanparty LT X48-T2R @ TweakTown

Cooling
SilenX iXtrema IXC-120HA2 Heatsink @ FrostyTech
Nexus XiR-3500 Copper Edition @ TweakTown
Coolermaster Hyper Z600 Passive Heatsink @ FrostyTech

Cases
Hiper Anubis @ 3DGameMan

Misc
Smooth Creations Broodling Unboxed @ HotHardware
Spire Powerfuse S162 @ XSReviews

 


Complete Story


Massive LCDs coming to an event near you!

Posted: May 3, 2008 @ time: 06:18PM
Author: Andrewr05

BMP (Big Moving Pictures) in association with Strongbase USA are going to produce the worlds largest mobile high definition LCD display. BMP will be building several 40 foot by 22 foot hydraulically coupled truck mounted HD screens. BMP will truck them around to a number of events including concerts, product expos and other special events of all sorts. These screens aren't categorized as heavyweight just for their girth either, each 40' x 22' screen is expected to weigh in at 66,000 pounds. That screen size delivers a perfect 16:9 aspect ratio and displays perfect 720P high definition signals flawlessly.


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 04:57AM
Author: Nemo

It's been a busy weekend for our affiliates so let's check out what the roundup turned up today. Tech ARP updated its piece on Windows XP SP3 with some more information on the various flavors of XP. PC Perspective takes a look an the Aquaduct 360 XT external cooling system - definitely not your typical pre-built cooling setup. motherboards.org evaluates an AMD 790FX based motherboard. Our roundup also garnered a nice collection of graphics cards from both camps for you to look at. Refill that coffee cup and get reading.

Cases
NZXT Tempest Mid Tower Gaming Case @ Legit Reviews

Cooling
Aqua Computer Aquaduct 360 XT Water Cooling System @ PC Pespective

Motherboards
MSI K9A2 Platinum Motherboard @ motherboards.org
ASRock Penryn 1600SLIX3-WiFi 680i Motherboard @ ThinkComputers

Notebooks
HP Jornada 728 @ RBMods

Operating Systems
Windows XP SP3 RTM Confirmed @ Tech ARP

Speakers/Headphones
Razer Mako 2.1 Advanced THX Speaker System @ ExtremeMHz

Storage/Hard Drives
QNAP 409 Turbo @ 3D Velocity

Video
Diamond Radeon HD 3870 1GB Graphics Card @ PC Perspective
Diamond's Radeon HD 3870 1GB video card @ Tech Report
ASUS EN9600GT Silent 512MB @ Techgage
Foxconn 9800GTX Extreme OC @ Bjorn3D

Miscellany
Reducing The Power Consumption Of Overclocked PCs @ Tech ARP
Being Cut Off From The Outside World @ TweakTown


Complete Story


Microsoft Ends Pursuit of Yahoo

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 08:09AM
Author: Nemo

Microsoft announced over the weekend it was withdrawing its bid to buy Yahoo. Microsoft had been mulling a hostile bid to acquire Yahoo after its initial offer of $31 per share was rejected by Yahoo. This effectively puts an end to the months long saga that began January 31 when Microsoft originally disclosed its offer to buy the Internet services company. Yahoo all along maintained the offer was too low and that the company was worth more. Microsoft upped the bid to $33 per share during negotiations. Reports indicate Yahoo might have been willing to settle for $37 per share, a price Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, found unacceptable, especially in light of recent moves by Yahoo including a deal it struck with Google for outsourcing advertising. Apparently that type of 'poison pill' defense worked as Ballmer found that arrangement unpalatable. Some analysts are predictable a rash of shareholder lawsuits against Yahoo to start cropping up today.


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Porn Surfing Japanese Government Worker Racks up 780,000 Hits

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 10:15AM
Author: Nemo

A Japanese employee of the Kinokawa local government managed to total over 780,000 visits to, how shall we put this, non-work related web sites from his work computer. In all fairness to the individual, whose name has not been disclosed, some sites do register multiple hits per visit according to city officials. Apparently no one at his work place was aware of his extracurricular activities, which were conducted over a period of at least nine months. The worker was tripped up after his computer became infected with a virus, causing a review of is Internet activity. The worker was demoted and received a $190/month pay cut. I bet that will make his hobby a little more difficult to afford. 780,000 visits and he finally got a virus? Not a bad record.


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Geek Squad Will Steal Your Pr0n

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 01:49PM
Author: razor

It seems like our digital privacy is under increasing attack lately, whether it's the U.S. Border Patrol searching your electronic items for WMD's or the computer repair guys stealing your "adult entertainment".  A number of former Geek Squad employees have admitted to viewing and copying images and other digital content from computers brought in for service, after a lawsuit was filed against the company because an anonymous Geek Squad-er wrote to a consumer advocacy group bragging about similar activities.  Said that mystery employee - "If you have any interesting pictures of yourself or others on your computer, they -- will -- be -- found."  Actions and admissions like this can further damage the credibility of all computer repair shops, and may in fact push more consumers to explore the DIY market.

 


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Hynix Raises DRAM Prices 15 Percent

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 01:54PM
Author: Nemo

Korea's Hynix Semiconductor announced it has raised contract prices for DRAM chips by about 15 percent in April with further increases likely this month. Hynix is the second largest producer of memory chips behind Samsung Electronics. The price increases come after a long downturn in prices due to oversupply and reduced demand. As chip makers cut back on spending they are looking for an end to the downward price spiral ahead of the back-to-school and holiday spending seasons. Other makers such as Japan's Elpida have also recently raised prices. Flying n the face of this expected recovery is Samsung's announcement it expects to double DRAM shipments this year would could soften any expected recovery in prices and put further pressure on its rivals.


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OCZ Introduce High Density 2GHz DDR3

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 01:55PM
Author: jammin

The price of DDR3 memory may put some people off when considering using it for a new build, but that doesn't stop the release of new memory to the market. The latest DDR3 modules from OCZ manage to pack in 2GB per stick while maintaining a speed of 2GHz with timings of 9-9-9-28 at 1.9v and go by the name of the DDR3 PC3-16000 Platinum Edition. Of course, OCZ are targeting the performance user with these kits, with the marketing blurb mentioning they are ideal for "computer enthusiasts and professionals utilizing high-bandwidth video, music, and graphics applications, along with gamers experiencing the latest PC titles..". Slightly away from the bleeding edge, OCZ are also launching 4GB Platinum Series kits at 1.8GHz. You can check out the 2GHz modules on OCZ's product page and can expect to see them at retailers soon. No news on a MSRP.


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Microsoft Continues To Deny Blu-ray Xbox Rumors

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 02:36PM
Author: razor

On Friday, I reported that Microsoft had contracted an Asustek subsidiary to produce Xbox 360 units featuring Blu-ray support.  Today, MS refuted that report, reaffirming their contention that they have no plans to match a Blu-ray drive with their popular next-gen console - citing quality games as the main reason consumers continue to purchase gaming systems, presumably not advanced hardware.  To be honest, I'd really like to see Xbox 360 systems with integrated Blu-ray drives, as I feel the leveled battlefield would result in fierce pricing competition that would only benefit consumers.  Stay tuned, because this story isn't going away.


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Huge energy efficient LED wall in China

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 06:30PM
Author: Andrewr05

Built specifically for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 20,000 square foot wall of computer controlled LEDs will be completed in June. You may think that this is just your normal everyday 20,000 square foot LED wall, it is in fact powered completely from solar energy. errr... wait a minute this is the ONLY 20,000 square foot wall of LEDs so it being solar powered is just another notch on the designers belt. Anyone going to the 2008 Summer Olympics will be greeted by this beast and I'm sure anyone going to Beijing withing the next 50 years will be greeted by it as well.


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Noctua Unleashes Quiet, Powerful CPU Cooler

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 06:35PM
Author: razor

Noctua - a world-class manufacturer of quiet, high performance cooling solutions - has launched a powerful, near silent CPU cooler that's specifically designed to fit comfortably in many of today's smaller PC cases.  Whether you're building a new Home Theater PC, or a frag-tastic LAN box, Noctua's NH-C12P has you covered.  Sporting a six heatpipe design, this C-shaped cooler features a down-facing 120mm fan that'll easily blow the heat away from your CPU, but that's not all - taking advantage of Noctua's dual Airflow-Gap fin design, this small wonder will help cool down your hot motherboard components too!  The NH-C12P uses Noctua's SecuFirm mounting system, guaranteeing superior reliability and an evenly-pressured installation on all of today's most popular platforms - including Intel's Socket 775, and AMD's AM2 and AM2+. 


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New Solid States Drives from Super Talent

Posted: May 5, 2008 @ time: 07:10PM
Author: Nemo

Super Talent announced the launch of a new line of solid state disk (SSD) drives as part of their new MasterDrive series. Designed to be fully interchangeable with standard 2.5" drives, the new SSDs are built using a SATA-II 3GB/s interface to provide greater through put and maximum compatibility with current equipment. The MasterDrive series is composed of MX and DX drives. The MasterDrive MX drives make use multi-level cell NAND flash memory for higher densities and lower cost while achieving maximum sustained read/write speeds of 120 and 40 MB/sec and can be had in capacities of 20GB to 120 GB. The DX drives make use of single-level cell NAND  memory  that boast higher read/write speeds of 120 and 70 GB/s and are available in 30 and 60 GB sizes. Prices range from $299 to $1,299 US and are currently available from major e-tailers.


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Ultra Lawsuit: US Commision goes to investigate!

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 04:36AM
Author: kingdingeling

We have another update on the Ultra lawsuit for you (Original OCC news post, update)! Ultra sued its competitors because they were importing power supplies that were not licensed under its own patent, so the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has launched investigations. This gives the whole news post a more serious basis, as it was regarded as a joke by many! The patent in question (see the update post for more information on it) was originally issued to TigerDirect co-founder Carl Fiorentino in September 2004, but he assigned it to Ultra products in 2006. A target date for the completion of the investigation will be issued within 45 days, the ITC said. Watch for more news on this as the investigation commences!


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 04:57AM
Author: Nemo

It was another busy 24 hours for our affiliates and our roundup is full up today. Leading off we have two looks at the Thermolab Micro Silencer cooler (reviewed by OCC HERE). Next in a line is a trio of power supplies from Tuniq, Zalman and Cooler Master. We also get a first look at the Age of Conan beta from B1TT Daily. You can finish up by spending some time checking out the bevy of video card reviews today.

Cooling
Akasa AK-TT12-80 Thermal Adhesive Tape @ FrostyTech
Thermolab Micro Silencer TLI-S Heatsink @ FrostyTech
ThermoLab Micro Silencer CPU Cooler @ TweakTown

CPUs
AMD Phenom X3 processor family performance @ TechSpot

Gaming
Age of Conan Beta After 24 Hours @ BiTT Daily

Mobile
Honeywell Airlite 700 Wireless Bluetooth Headset @ 3dGameMan

Power Supplies
Tuniq Miniplant 950w Power Supply @ Virtual-Hideout
Zalman ZM850-HP 850W Modular Power Supply @ ThinkComputers
Cooler Master Real Power Pro 850 Watt Power Supply @ Tweaknews

Video
EVGA UV Plus+ External USB VGA Adapter @ PC Perspective
ECS N8800GT-256MX Video Card @ Legit Reviews
MSI GeForce 9600GT 1GB OC Graphics Card @ TweakTown
Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3650 1GB @ HotHardware
9800 GTX vs. SLI vs. 3-way SLI. vs. Quad SLI @ [H]ardocp


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Cubans Loving Post-Fidel Freedoms, For A Price

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 11:26AM
Author: razor

The people of Cuba must be absolutely elated at Fidel Castro's replacement by brother Raul, as they are - for the first time ever - enjoying the benefits of modern Western society.  From microwaves to cell phones, the bans Fidel placed on electronics are being lifted - and now comes word that computers are no longer off-limits, at least legally.  Unfortunately, many Cubans make very little money - sometimes lower than $20 per month - and the average desktop PC costs around $800, meaning many Cubans would have to save for years to be able to afford the technology.  To make matters worse, U.S. trade sanctions prohibit Cuba from accessing underwater fiber optic Internet cables - so the only Net access on the island comes via laggy, weather-sensitive satellite connections.  Here's hoping that Cuba's situation continues to improve, and that its citizens are soon able to take full advantage of their new-found freedoms.


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Big Chip Makers Preparing for Transition to 450-mm Wafer Production

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 12:15PM
Author: Nemo

Silicon wafers are the foundation upon which chips such as CPUs are based. These wafers start out as ingots that are manufactured in sizes ranging up to 300mm in diameter. Most major semiconductor firms today have standardized on the larger 300mm size and there are now plans under way to move to a larger 450mm wafer that would potentially allow manufacturers to double the number of processors that can be created on each wafer. Due to the enormous investment costs involved in building the fabs, or plants, that create these ingots, it is important that the industry develop standards for developing manufacturing and testing equipment. Intel and Samsung jointly announced plans to begin developing plans to transition to the larger ingot sizes with production slated to begin in 2012. Generally speaking, the industry changes standards about every ten years with the last move from 200mm to 300mm wafer sizes coming in 2001.


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Corsair - 4GB RAM Better Than 2GB

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 12:20PM
Author: razor

Cutting-edge DRAM and Flash memory manufacturer Corsair has just released the findings of a study it conducted to determine the real-world impact of running 2GB RAM vs. 4GB RAM in a gaming system, and the results may surprise you.  The 4GB system really put a beat-down on the system equipped with only 2GB memory, showing a 46% frames-per-second increase in many popular games - including Crysis, shortened application load times, and improved multi-tasking performance - and the vast overall performance increase can be irrefutably linked to higher user productivity and a better gaming experience.  This test was performed on a system running Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit, but I need to mention that I have 4GB RAM installed and am running Vista Ultimate 32-bit, and can say with confidence that the performance increase is equally noticeable.  Corsair offers 4GB kits of its Dominator and XMS memory at many e- and retail locations.


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Microsoft to Make Windows XP SP3 Available - Again

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 12:32PM
Author: Nemo

A week ago Microsoft pulled the Windows XP SP3 service pack from its automatic update service due to a glitch discovered with SP3 and Microsoft's electronic checkout system software. While the problem only affected a few customers, Microsoft made the decision to pull the updates until a filter could be put in place prevent users of the checkout software from downloading the service pack. While the filter is not a permanent fix, the resumption of the updates will now allow most users to get the service pack throw the Windows Update process. Microsoft indicated a fix has been identified and should be available later this month once testing is complete.


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Security Firm Finds Treasure Trove of Stolen Data on 'Crimeserver'

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 12:45PM
Author: Nemo

Security research firm Finjan announced it had discovered a virtual cornucopia of stolen business and personal data on a server on the Internet. The server had apparently only be active for about three weeks and yet had garnered more than 1.4GB of stolen information including personnel files, social security numbers, credit card and medical records as well as sensitive business information including details of an upcoming court case. Finjan has notified police agencies around the world including the FBI and more than 40 financial institutions in Europe, India and the United States. Researchers were not only amazed at the large amount of data collected in such a short period, but also by the fact that the server itself was not secured and could have been accessed by anyone over the Internet.


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Mushkin Announces Specially Cooled Ascent RAM Modules

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 01:02PM
Author: razor

Mushkin Inc., a world renowned - and personal favorite - manufacturer of enthusiast grade memory modules and power supplies, has teamed up with Celsia Technologies to provide hard-core gamers with the cool-running RAM modules they need to climb to the top of the heap.  Mushkin's new Ascent line is aimed at the power gamer - matching unparalleled DDR2 and DDR3 stability and speed with Celsia's eVCI cooling solution, which utilizes two aluminum encased, liquid filled, copper vapor chambers to deliver a heat dissipation solution that's 48% more effective than standard memory coolers.  eVCI's thin, low-profile design allows users to comfortably fill all four RAM slots on their motherboard with Redline- or XP-based memory modules, without having worry about the CPU cooler clearance issues that often plague other manufacturers' high-performance RAM kits.  Ascent XP series memory kits are available now through select retailers, and Ascent Redline kits will be on the market very soon.


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Crime And Coincidence In Chicago - GTA vs. CTA

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 04:56PM
Author: razor

Not long ago, I reported that the city I call home decided to pull all Grand Theft Auto IV advertisements from its buses and train depots.  I'm now going to report that GTA's parent-parent company, Take Two Interactive, is suing the city that I call home for breach of contract and freedom of speech violations - arguing that Chicago violated a $300,000 advertising contract it signed with Take Two.  According to the agreement, CTA buses and train depots were to display GTA IV advertisements from April to June - but the city pulled the posters just days after their deployment, citing a recent surge in gun violence that claimed the lives of nine people.  I'd also be willing to bet Super Bowl XX that Mayor Daley didn't want any more bad press that might deter the Olympic Committee from selecting Chicago as the home of the 2016 Games.


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Mine's Bigger Than Yours; Record Breaking Lego Tower

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 05:19PM
Author: jammin

I'm sure many of us are familiar, if not rather fond of Lego, the colourful little building blocks you played with as a child (or maybe still play with today). As world records go, the tallest Lego tower doesn't seem that out there compared to other attempts, with it simply being a question of who can build the highest. It also happens to be Lego's 50th anniversary this year so the tower, built at Legoland in Windsor, UK is a celebration of that milestone as well as being the tallest tower yet built. It gobbled up a staggering 500,00 bricks and reaches the giddy height of 100ft (over 30m). Children who visited Legoland over the weekend helped to complete the tower by making 20cm sections, which were added with the help of a crane. The record should be confirmed by Guiness World Records somtime soon.


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3G iPhone Coming In Late June?

Posted: May 6, 2008 @ time: 05:23PM
Author: jammin

I honestly don't know why Apple's product launches attract so much rumour and speculation, but it doesn't seem like it is a trend that will die out any time soon. Of course, when the product in question is the iPhone it only tends to make things worse, so here we go again. When the iPhone was originally launched last year some expressed disappointment that 3G compatibility wasn't included and have likely been waiting for an updated model ever since. A recently leaked AT&T memo suggests that they may not have to wait for too much longer, as it requests employees not take vacation time between 15th June and 15th July due to "an exciting Summer Promotional Launch". If it does happen to be a 3G iPhone, it would likely put the launch date close to the one year anniversary of the original release on the 29th June.


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 04:35AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup starts off with a couple of chassis reviews including another look at the In Win B2 Stealth Bomber case (read the OCC review HERE). As the popularity of media center/home theater PCs continues to grow  the need for unobtrusive ways to display information about media content increases and that's where LCD displays such as the one from VL Systems come in. Bjorn3D tests out the Wolfking Warrior XXtreme gaming keyboard (see the OCC review HERE). Continue on through the rest of the reviews and make sure you check out our NVIDIA 780a SLI roundup as well.

Cases
In Win B2 Stealth Bomber Case @ RBMods
NZXT Tempest ATX Mid Tower Enclosure @ TweakTown

Cooling
Thermolab Nano Silencer TLI-U Low-Profile Heatsink @ Frostytech

Displays
VL System M-Play Blast LCD Case Display & Remote Control @ Tweaknews

Input Devices
Wolfking Warrior XXtreme @ Bjorn3D

Memory
OCZ ReaperX HPC DDR3-1333 2GB Memory Kit @ ThinkComputers

Sound Cards
Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 Sound Card @ TweakTown

Storage/Hard Drives
Western Digital 320 GB Scorpio Notebook Hard Drive @ Tech ARP


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Hardware Roundup: NVIDIA 780a SLI Edition

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 04:38AM
Author: Nemo

When manufacturers' release product for review they are often held under non-disclosure agreements until a given release date. Once those NDAs expire the flurry of reviews makes for some interesting reading. Such is the case with the NVIDIA 780a SLI chipset. AMD has finally fixed the TLB erratum that affected early versions of it Phenom processors and have release quad-core versions of its 9x50 series of processors along with tri-core versions as well. Along with these processors came its 790FX platform and now NVIDIA is getting into the game with its own chipset offering SLI support for the AM2/AM2+ lineup.

ASUS M3N-HT 780a SLi @ OCC
ASUS M3N-HT Deluxe @ PC Persprective
Nvidia's nForce 780a SLI chipset @ Tech Report
NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI Motherboard Round-Up, Asus, MSI @ HotHardware
780a launch: Asus M3N-HT Deluxe @ Neoseeker
NVIDIA nForce 7 AMD Series - ASUS M3N-HT Deluxe Motherboard @ Legit Reviews


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Fake MP3 Files New Hiding Place for Trojan Adware

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 06:48AM
Author: Nemo

McAfee is reporting a large uptick in the number of Trojan adware installs via bogus MP3 files on file sharing networks. Masquerading as audio files with real-sounding names, the Trojans install adware on users' PCs. Once someone tries to open the files, they are asked to sign an end-user agreement and then the program installs two Trojan files - NetNucleus and Mirar. Once installed, the infected machines start serving up popup ads. Over the last 24 hours, McAfee reports that nearly one third of all McAfee clients reporting results back to the company have detected these files.


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Arctic Cooling Introduce Freezer 7 LP

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 02:06PM
Author: jammin

We have reviewed a couple of smaller CPU coolers designed to fit into tight spaces here at OCC recently, and if those interested you then so will Arctic Cooling's latest release. The Freezer 7 LP (LP = low profile) is much like many other coolers from Arctic Cooling, aiming to provide better than stock cooling at low noise levels. Coming in at only 53mm in height (with fan installed) the Freezer 7 LP is clearly meant for cases where space it at a premium, such as your average HTPC. It makes use of 40 aluminium fins mated with two heatpipes, topped off with a quiet 80mm fan to cool your CPU (up to 90 Watts). Arctic Cooling are claiming a 15% performance increase over generic low profile coolers, while remaining 66% quieter than Intel's low profile solution. You should see the Freezer 7 LP at retailers around mid-May with an MSRP of $27.95.


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OCZ Keep Rolling Out The DDR3

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 02:23PM
Author: jammin

OCZ certainly appear to be trying to encourage you to take the plunge and upgrade to DDR3, as it further fleshed out its product lines today with the addition of two new memory kits. The new modules pop up in its 'Reaper' branded line and are available in PC3-14400 (1800MHz) and PC3-12800 (1600MHz) flavours. Available as single 2GB modules or 4GB kits, they come with timings of 8-8-8-27 and 7-7-7-24 respectively (both at 1.9v) as well as the Reaper heat pipe cooling system. With DDR2 still at rock bottom prices (which we may see starting to recover soon), DDR3 still has a tough job when pitched to consumers. At least OCZ are giving you plenty of choice if you do go down the cutting edge path.


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Full size Warthog anyone?

Posted: May 7, 2008 @ time: 06:43PM
Author: Andrewr05

Many, many people are into Microsoft's Halo video games, and most of them would LOVE to own one of the in-game vehicles called the "Warthog". A few chaps from New Zealand for the purpose of an announced Halo movie have built a fully functional Warthog (minus the guns). The vehicle is built completely to scale and looks incredible. It looks like they put an immense amount of effort into as it looks just like the in-game machine!


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: May 8, 2008 @ time: 04:03AM
Author: Nemo

Our round contains some interesting reviews and editorials today. Microsoft have finally gotten its ducks in a row and added the Windows XP SP3 back to the Windows update and Tech ARP offers updated information. BiTT Daily offers additional game play details on Age of Conan. In the video department we have some analysis of where the market is today along with more information on NVIDIA's Hybrid SLI. Dig in and enjoy!

Cases
NZXT Tempest Case @ 3dGameMan

Cooling
Noiseblocker Coolscraper 3.0 @ XSReviews
Intel FCLGA4-S Core 2 Extreme Reference Heatsink @ FrostyTech

Gaming
Age of Conan Beta 48 hours in @ BiTT Daily

Motherboards
ASUS P5E3 Premium WiFi-AP @n @ Techgage

Mouse Pads
Razer Destructor Professional Gaming Mat @ ThinkComputers

Operating Systems
Windows XP SP3 RTM Confirmed Rev. 1.3 @ Tech ARP
Microsoft Silently Rolls Out Anti-Hack Update For Windows Vista @ Tech ARP

Video
Today's graphics cards: the value angle @ Tech Report
S3 Chrome 430 GT Graphics Card @ TweakTown
NVIDIA Hybrid SLI and HybridPower Benchmarked and Explained @ Legit Reviews

Miscellany
Podcast #29 - 3DMark Vantage, EVGA USB VGA adapter, 780a SLI chipset ... @ PCP Perspective


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