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In This Issue...

- AOpen Mini PC MP945
- DFI LanParty UT Mobo
- Asus P5B-E Moboo
- ABIT AN9 32X Mobo
- PCstats Weekly Tips

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Ultra Mini PC From AOpen: Big Punch Small Package?

AOpen's Mini PC MP945-VX is an ultra compact barebones system only slightly larger than a stack of CD cases. The small size of this system allows for creative applications; like mounting onto the rear of a plasma screen for example... Up next is PCSTATS' test report on the DFI LanParty UT NF590 SLi - an enthusiast grade AMD Athlon64 (AM2) motherboard with punch. The board is built for overclocking, and has the finite controls to match. On a more economical front, the ASUS P5B-E motherboard could be the basis of an affordable Intel Core 2 Duo platform. It eschews a lot of the frills, but delivers good performance in the benchmarks with the right hardware. The ABIT Fatal1ty AN9 32X motherboard is a great gaming board, with several extra's for the tweaker at heart.

In the side column, the third installment of Dan's discussion on e-waste focuses on the reduction in hazardous materials brought forth by WEEE and RoHS. This weeks PCSTATS Tech Tip is an answer to a specific request we received, and if you need a tip on something please let us know.

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

AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX Ultra Small Formfactor PC Review

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-esque 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>>

DFI LANParty UT NF590 SLI-M2R/G Motherboard Review

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, eight 3GB/s Serial ATA II ports (with RAID), six USB2.0 jacks at the rear I/O, an 8 channel Intel Azalia High Definition audio controller, Firewire, and much more. Every major "must have" feature for enthusiast grade motherboards is ticked off the list.Continue Here>>

Asus P5B-E P965 motherboard Review

Asus has a large selection of Intel motherboards to choose from, and its P5B-E looks pretty good for a no fuss Core 2 Duo motherboard. With the Intel P965 Express Northbridge and Intel ICH8R Southbridge, the motherboard supports all current Socket 775 processors. From the Celeron D to the Pentium 4/D series and the Intel Core 2 Duo/Extreme processors (FSBs from 533-1066 MHz) theAsus P5B-E makes upgrading for current Socket 775 owners a breeze. The Asus P5B-E motherboard sports four DDR2 memory channels which can be installed with a maximum of 8GB of non-ECC unbuffered DDR2-400 to DDR2-800 memory. Onboard goodies include an PCI Express x1 Gigabit network card, an Intel Azalia compatible 7.1 audio controller, IEEE 1394a and of course an IDE controller since Intel removed IDE from the ICH8 series Southbridges.Continue Here>>

ABIT FATAL1TY AN9 32X nForce 590 SLI Motherboard Review

Scanning through ABIT's product lineup of late is like reading the menu at an enthusiasts restaurant! The ABIT FATAL1TY AN9 32X is built on the flagship nVIDIA nForce 590 SLI 'C51XE' chipset and MCP55PXE Southbridge. The board supports socket AM2 AMD Athlon64/FX/X2 and Sempron processors, and thus 64-bit and 32-bit operating systems. There are four DDR2 memory slots which accommodate up to 8GB of DDR2-800 RAM. On board goodies offer nothing less than dual PCI Express x16 slots and nVidia SLI compatibility at a full 16 PCI Express lanes apiece, dual GigABIT Ethernet network jacks, an Intel Azalia High Definition 7.1 channel audio controller, IEEE 1394a 400Mpbs Firewire, and six 3GB/s SATA 2 jacks for storage devices! An audio daughter card provides every imaginable option for truly mind-blowing multi-channel speaker systems, leaving the rear I/O largely free of ports.Continue Here>>

PCstats Weekly Tech Tips: Disabling Hibernation in Vista

With previous Microsoft operating systems, disabling hibernation is easy. With Windows Vista, you can probably guess that it's a little trickier. If you don't ever use the hibernation feature, you might as well disable it and save some space (the size of your system memory) on your hard drive, or to get rid of that laggy delay due to hibernation start up. With Windows Vista you'll need to jump through loops before you can disable its hibernation feature though.

To disable the hibernation feature in Microsoft Vista, press the Windows key and type "cmd" into the "Start Search box" however do not press the "ENTER" key. Right click on the letters "cmd" and select "Run As Administrator" Continue through the UAC prompt then type "powercfg -h off" and press the "ENTER" key.

That will disable Windows Vista's hibernation so you won't have to worry about putting your system to sleep.

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

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Circulation: 156,285

What Do You Do With Old Computers? - Part III

Reconnecting: Fewer Hazardous Electronics - RoHS and WEEE

Given the growing awareness of our environment, a number of governments around the world have begun to adopt regulations restricting all aspects of a product's "life cycle". Europe appears to be leading the way with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) which severely restricts what is allowed into landfills, and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), designed to keep hazardous waste from ever entering the market in the first place. As a result of these new laws, many companies have sought out alternatives to lead based solder, and arsenic in their electronic components, as well as initiate take-back programs to keep their products out of the waste cycle when they are finally ready to be disposed of.

Obviously, such dramatic shifts in what can and cannot be used causes challenges. We are, after all questioning the validity of decades of engineering development. Materials like lead and arsenic were not chosen for their fresh minty flavour, no we use this stuff because it fulfills a technical role well. Companies are re-inventing tried-and-true techniques to conform to new standards, and the results are predictably unstable at first. As a result of the unavoidable learning curve, some industries remain exempt from the new environmental regulations. Most notable of these are the medical, aviation and military sectors, but exemptions are available to other industries as well. Exemptions are not however, meant to be permanent. As the technology develops and using more environmentally friendly materials becomes more commonplace, stability will improve and the exceptions will become fewer in number. The end goal is an abolishment of harmful waste entering the ecosystem.

Despite some shortcomings, legislation like RoHS and WEEE are an excellent step in the right direction toward a true product sustainability. The next step in terms of what the government can do is making companies responsible for their products from cradle to grave, thereby moving toward a "zero-waste" system. Or at least, a product cycle not dependent on a primary industry (mining for example). Some companies like Mercedes-Benz are ahead of the curve and have begun designing their products to be easily dismantled, with each piece bar coded to reflect the materials used in it's composition. In the long run, as legislation is refined, and acquisition of raw materials more expensive, business should begin to see post-consumer material as a valuable resource rather than a hassle to be externalized.

Stay tuned for Part 4 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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