I need to back up my files in anticipation of upgrading my rig from 32-bit Windows XP to 64-bit Windows 7. I don’t own an external hard drive and can’t afford to buy one (being a poor college student). I do, however, have a rig with two hard drives. If I were to transfer my files onto one drive and reformat the other with Windows 7, would the new OS be able to recognize the old drive and give me access to my files?
Read the Doctor's answer to Rhys's question after the jump.
To say that netbooks have historically been hobbled by Intel’s integrated graphics is to unfairly ignore their slow single-core CPUs, 1GB RAM maximum, miniscule keyboards, and awkward screen resolutions. It’s an unfair assertion, of course—netbooks came into existence to be cheap, portable, low-powered machines. But the definition of netbook has been stretched, to the point where HP’s new Mini 311, while still considered a netbook, has an 11.6-inch 1366x768 screen, Nvidia integrated graphics, a large keyboard, and can support up to 3GB of DDR3 RAM, for less than $500.
At first, the Mini 311 looks a lot like any other 11.6-inch netbook on the market: Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 3 USB ports, and a somewhat squashed keyboard. But the RAM is DDR3/1333, not the typical DDR2/667, and it’s soldered to the mainboard, leaving a SODIMM slot free for an additional 2GB of RAM. The screen has a maximum resolution of 1366x768, significantly better than the standard 1024x600—for one thing, websites and programs built for 1024x768 won’t break. And thanks to the Ion platform, the Mini 311 can display 720p HD video, and output 1080p over the HDMI port—that’s right, a netbook with an HDMI port.
My 5-year-old computer—Windows XP, 2.4GHz Pentium 4, Antec server case, 430-watt PSU, Seagate HD, and two 256MB Corsair DIMMs in an Asus P4P 800 Deluxe motherboard—no longer boots. It was fine until the day my son used it without opening the door to the cabinet that it’s stored in. Now when I try to start it, I get an error saying “CPU Test Failed” and the machine won’t boot. I’ve switched the CPU out with a known good 2.8GHz Pentium 4 (tested in a second PC), to no effect. I have no way of checking the RAM as the second machine we have uses different RAM. Is there a way to check the motherboard? Or is there a way to check the power supply with a multimeter? I’m on a very tight budget so I’m going as cheap as possible.
Read the Doctor's advice for Harry after the jump.
The performance of an LCD monitor ultimately depends on how its liquid crystals are manipulated to channel light. We’ll examine the three most common technologies: Twisted Nematic (TN), In-plane Switching (IPS), and Vertical Alignment (VA).
Each of these three technologies creates a pixel using a cell of liquid-crystal molecules controlled by a thin-film transistor. Liquid crystals are used because they’re capable of effecting light as though they’re a solid, while exhibiting the malleability of a fluid. In a color LCD, each pixel is subdivided into three cells, or subpixels, which are colored red, green, and blue, respectively, by additional filters. These cells are arranged in a matrix of rows and columns sandwiched between two panes of glass, with a polarizing film on the exterior side of each pane.
A light source, such as a cold cathode fluorescent lamp or an LED grid, is placed behind the first glass panel. Light waves from the backlight follow the alignment of the liquid-crystal molecules, but they must pass through the two polarizing filters before reaching the surface of the display. Light waves must be oriented perfectly parallel to the first filter to pass, but since the second filter is oriented perpendicular to the first, no light will pass unless it’s reoriented first.
Last year, HP impressed us with its MediaSmart EX487 (February 2009), a Windows Home Server that shipped with proprietary software we actually found useful. The EX495, this year’s follow-up, is focused on improving accessibility and addressing user requests. This third-generation Windows Home Server isn’t so much an overhaul of last year’s machine as it is a calculated iteration; the same unassuming case packs significant hardware and software upgrades that are the most compelling reasons yet to adopt the Home Server platform.
First, the hardware in this box looks more like a desktop PC than a bare-bones backup device. Instead of an Atom or Celeron processor, the EX495 is powered by a Pentium Dual Core CPU running at 2.5GHz—an upgrade that speeds up video processing and opens the door to real-time transcoding. Even with the increased horsepower, the machine maintained low power consumption during backups and idle states, and pulled far less than 100W during heavy load.
The older I get, the more I appreciate elegance, simplicity, and concision in game design. Sure, there are still times I want a game that piles on the detail like a rococo basilica. It’s possible to just fall into a giant hunk of gaming like Hearts of Iron III or Fallout 3 and roll around like a pig in… well, you know.
But a game that takes the most appealing bits and distills them to their essence has a powerful draw. This is what’s so wonderful about Torchlight, which boils the Diablo experience down to its essentials and skims off all the fat. This is a brisk and entertaining bit of action RPG, with a light touch and a set of simple game mechanics that conceal hidden depths.
For a $20 title, the skill of the design is almost shocking, at least until you check the credits. Designer Travis Baldee gave us the strikingly similar Fate series, and codesigners Max and Erich Schaefer gave us… Diablo.
When we reviewed Asus’s Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim in November 2009, we described it as a necessary evil for home-theater enthusiasts because of its unique ability to send Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bit streams from a PC’s Blu-ray drive to an A/V receiver over HDMI. By the time you read this review, you should be able to do the same thing with any videocard equipped with a Radeon HD 5000-series GPU. How much value will Auzentech’s premium-priced X-Fi Home Theater HD retain under those circumstances?
The answer depends on how fanatical you are about audio quality. Auzentech’s PCI Express card features Creative’s awesome 20K2 audio processor and all the great software features that go with it, including the X-Fi Crystalizer for music playback, ASIO 2.0 support for audio recording, and EAX 5.0 and OpenAL support for gaming. The onboard Cirrus Logic CS4382 DAC boasts dynamic range of 114dB, and the stereo operational amplifier plugs into a socket, so you can swap out the stock National Semiconductor model for something stronger. There’s an onboard headphone amplifier, and a combo TOSLINK and S/PDIF connector on the mounting bracket, so you can use either optical or coaxial cables for digital audio connections.
Analog audio connections are handled by a D-Sub connector on the mounting bracket. This connector mates to a proprietary analog audio I/O cable with four 1/8-inch stereo line-level outputs, one 1/8-inch MIC input, and one 1/8-inch line input. There’s a 1/8-inch headphone jack on the mounting bracket, too. Internally, the board has an Intel HD Audio–compatible front-panel audio header, plus the proprietary connections to accommodate Creative’s X-Fi Titanium I/O Drive.
High-definition video files were meant to be seen on big-screen televisions, not your 19-inch PC monitor. But getting these files—either personally ripped from high-def sources or downloaded from the Internet—from your desktop to the living room has always been a cumbersome process. Users previously had the option of streaming over a network to devices like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, which have restrictive file compatibility, or they could use a dedicated video player like Western Digital’s WD TV, which could only play back files from attached USB drives. The new WD TV Live, however, comes with a much-needed Ethernet port, and along with the addition of other new hardware and software features, is the best video streamer we’ve tested yet.
Like its predecessor, the WD TV Live doesn’t actually store any media. Plug portable hard drives filled with your movies, music, and photos into the player’s two USB ports and it’ll output the content to your home theater via either an HDMI, composite, or component video connection (also added since the original design). And while the first WD TV supported a host of popular file types, format compatibility on this successor is even more impressive. In our tests, high-bitrate 1080p videos encoded with MPEG, Xvid, H.264, or WMV codecs played without a hitch, even when housed in a variety of file containers, like Matroska MKVs. You can also play videos with multiple audio tracks, soft subtitles, and even DTS audio—a big omission in the last iteration. We only ran into problems on a few occasions, most notably with WMV 9–encoded files that wouldn’t play audio, and raw video recorded from high-end digital cameras.
I’m planning my next build, and I’m having a hard time deciding between a motherboard with the X58 chipset or one with P55. Is triple-channel RAM worth paying extra for? I plan to keep this PC for three years (until the motherboard warranty expires) and I’m worried that in three years there’ll be 9x-channel RAM or something crazy like that. I’m a heavy gamer but I don’t do anything else that requires a ton of memory—I don’t use AutoDesk or Maya.
I just bought and installed Windows 7 Pro. Previously, I was dual-booting Windows 7 RC and Windows XP on a 500GB split-partitioned drive. Windows 7 Pro is on a new 320GB HDD.
How do I remove Windows XP and 7 RC from the boot selection screen and just have the computer boot straight into Win7 Pro with no selection screen?
Once I take care of that, I want to remove the partition and use the 500GB HD as data backup. All my data stored on the partitioned drive has been moved over to either the C: drive (7 Pro) or another 320GB HD installed or an external HD.