I have two older systems: an Asus A8V-VM board with an Athlon X2 4800+ at 2.5GHz, 4GB of OCZ Platinum DDR/400 RAM, and a GeForce 6200 in a PCI-E x16 slot; and an old OEM eMachines board with an Athlon X2 6000+ at 3.0GHz, 4GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2/800, and onboard GeForce 6100 graphics, with an empty PCI-E x8 slot.
I want to upgrade one of them with a Radeon 5000 series to hold me over until I can put together a Lynnfield system. My concern is that both of these boards only have a PCI-E 1.0a slot. Would I notice any real performance difference between the Radeon HD 5750 vs. the 5970? Or would I just be wasting my money on the higher-end card?
I want to know if 32-bit Windows 7 will limit how much system memory I can install. I know that 4GB is the maximum that 32-bit Windows XP will recognize. Is this the same for Windows 7? Do I need to buy 64-bit if I want to install more than 4GB memory?
Read the Doctor's answer for Anthony after the jump.
I’m in the process of piecing together an HTPC that will run Windows 7 Home Premium. I’d like to be able to connect the HTPC to my receiver via a single HDMI cable. Are there any videocards available that will send both video and TrueHD audio via an HDMI cable, or do I have to use the Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim that was reviewed in the November issue?
I have an Asus P5L-MX motherboard and have wanted to upgrade the CPU for some time. Right now, I have a single-core Intel Celeron D with a Prescott core. I’ve pretty much maxed out the overclocking possibilities (I’ve gone from a stock 2.66GHz clock to 3.47GHz) and now I want to replace it with something better.
I want to keep the motherboard, however, which slightly complicates matters. As I recall, multicore processors were just catching on around the time my mobo was made. The documentation says it can support dual-core CPUs, and it has an LGA775 socket. I’d like to know whether it can take a quad-core or higher CPU, and if so, which ones (or if not, which dual-core CPU)?
See the Doctor's answer for Andrew after the jump.
There are a few signature characteristics of Call of Duty games—at least, the ones developed by series-creator Infinity Ward. First, the games feel real. The story unfolds as you play through a conflict as a few normal soldiers—regular guys on the ground who find themselves thrust into extraordinary events. They aren’t supermen. The campaigns are plausible, even if they’re fictionalized or set in the near future, reinforcing the feeling that the experience could take place in the real world. The third characteristic is that there’s usually a deep, engaging multiplayer experience thrown in the game for free. Unfortunately, in this outing, Infinity Ward whiffed on all three counts, much to our dismay.
Let’s start with the seven-hour single-player campaign. Instead of playing as normal grunts in this year’s entry, you end up playing as junior varsity supermen—an American soldier who’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time and the protégé of one of the characters you played in the first Modern Warfare. While none of the characters you play are named Jor-El, they’re a long way from the untrained Russian conscript who was handed a single clip and chained to the guy with the rifle at Stalingrad in the first Call of Duty. This creates a sense of unreality that’s reinforced by the game’s ludicrous plot twists and completely unbelievable characters. (Warning, spoilers appear in the next paragraph!)
We hereby crown the new king of home-theater-PC remote controls. There have been many pretenders to the throne, including sticks and donuts (Gyration’s over-complicated Media Center Remote and Hillcrest Lab’s over-simplified Loop Pointer, respectively), miniature keyboards (Logitech’s stylish but imperfect diNovo Mini), and full-size keyboards and mice (Microsoft’s clumsy Wireless Entertainment Desktop), but from this day forward, GlideTV’s Navigator will hold court in our media room.
The Navigator is an odd-looking device, but the genius in its design becomes apparent the moment you pick it up. The bowl-shaped bottom fits perfectly in your cupped hand, and your thumb naturally curves over the top, putting it in the ideal position to stroke the trackpad or press any of the backlit buttons. You can use both hands if you prefer, and an ambidextrous design makes it suitable for both right- and left-handed people.
The Navigator avoids the mistake of trying to handle a PC’s every function in hardware, providing instead an easy means of accomplishing only the most common functions. You’ll find dedicated buttons for managing Windows Media Center (volume, channel up/down, live TV, recorded TV, and electronic program guide), and for controlling media-player software (play/pause, fast-forward/rewind, skip-forward, and skip-back), of course. But the designers also provided equivalents for the right mouse button and the Enter, Escape, Back, and arrow keys that are too-often forgotten with other devices. There’s also a search button and a button that calls up the GlideTV application itself (more on this later).
How often do you access Wikipedia? How often have you wished you could access that information goldmine but couldn’t because you were away from your computer and Internet connection? If the answer to both questions is “All the freakin’ time!” you’ll want to check out the WikiReader.
This wickedly simple device puts 3 million Wikipedia articles at your fingertips wherever you happen to be. While some would argue you can already do that with any smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection, you won’t get your answers anywhere as fast as the WikiReader can deliver them. That’s because a massive chunk of the Wikipedia is stored on a removable 8GB MicroSD card inside the device itself.
The WikiReader powers up in less than three seconds and delivers results even faster. It runs on two AA batteries, which the manufacturer (Openmoko) claims will power the gadget for a full year (based on 15 minutes of use each day). The device automatically powers itself off after two minutes of inactivity. Openmoko puts disposable alkaline batteries in the box, but environmentally conscious folk can replace these with the rechargeable variety.
With the original MinoHD, we were impressed with Flip Video’s ability to pack 720p video into a truly pocket-size cam. But we nonetheless wished the product offered a bit more, such as more recording time, HDMI support, and a bigger screen.
Those are three of the top improvements Flip Video made to its new MinoHD 8GB. Recording time has doubled from the original’s one hour, a mini HDMI connector lets you play your videos on a large high-def display, and the device’s screen now pushes two inches, up from the postage stamp–size 1.5 inches in the original MinoHD. The transflective screen isn’t just bigger, either; it also increases pixel count from the original’s 528x132 resolution to 960x240. Side by side, it’s obvious that the new screen is a major improvement.
The QNAP TS-239 Pro reminds us of nothing so much as an easier-to-use version of our home-rolled FreeNAS server (January 2010). Unlike most NAS boxes we’ve reviewed, with their little ARM embedded processors and 512MB of RAM, the TS-239 Pro packs a full gigabyte of RAM and a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor. Furthering the impression that it’s a mini computer is the VGA-out port, which, when combined with a USB keyboard, lets you configure the QNAP’s Linux OS directly. Essentially, the TS-239 Pro is a two-bay Linux home server, with all the features you’d expect from a home or SMB NAS box, from UPnP and iTunes streaming to FTP and web servers—and even some features you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like support for networked cameras.
Like most NAS boxes, the web GUI is the key to configuring and using the TS-239 Pro, and QNAP’s web interface is better than most. The first screen you see when you log in offers wizards for creating groups, users, and shares, and configuring FTP access and backups. A side menu tree offers status, disk and hardware management, and more. System logs and S.M.A.R.T. disk info are easy to find.
The TS-239 ships with several shares enabled by default—helpfully, these all start with Q: Qmultimedia for media, Qweb for websites the NAS is hosting, Qusb for USB devices plugged into its two ports, etc. Both the included iTunes and UPnP media servers scan Qmultimedia out of the box, but you can change this. User and group permissions are one of the QNAP NAS’s strengths; it’s easy to set per-user permissions for files and folders, unlike some similar NAS boxes.
Every new version of Windows promises faster booting, but PCs still take too long to boot. Despite faster processors, hard drives, memory, graphics, etc., we still waste a few minutes watching the machine come to life.
Indeed, many PCs seem to never stop booting. Years ago, we measured boot times by clicking a stopwatch while pressing the power button and waiting until the disk activity light stopped flickering. Nowadays, background tasks (antivirus scanners, software updaters, incremental defraggers, application preloaders, and various other daemons) awaken at startup and can stay busy for hours.
We might say the system has finished booting when the Windows desktop appears and we can launch apps and start working. But performance can be sluggish as the machine struggles to finish its startup chores.