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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Sun Oct 20, 2002 10:06 am 
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PCs are a-changing

Remember, I’m writing about a factory PC like a Dell or a Gateway, and NOT one that you build. The type that you can build are even fancier, but that post failed to generate interest nor did it generate discussion, possibly no one’s into building PCs.

However, while looking around to try to find a suitable replacement for my old stuff, I noticed that the shape, size, and what one can do with a regular commercial PC are changing drastically.

First, there's the LCD monitor. <OL TYPE=1>

<LI>They are much easier on the eyes because they are flicker free.
<LI>Less danger of getting cancer because there are no EMI emissions.
<LI>The listed size is truly representative of their size. A 15” LCD monitor is comparable to a 17” CRT monitor, an 18” LCD is comparable to a 21” CRT monitor
<LI>prices of LCD monitors have finally dropped to a reasonable level.
</OL>
Second, the shrinking case. While a year ago, this was a disadvantage. Today, however because of other advances, a smaller box-size is often highly desirous and often ergonometry designed so that they can sit right on top of the desktop rather than being hidden either underneath or on the side. Smaller size means much quieter operation, especially when using the Pentium 4 as opposed to the AMD Athlon.



A small case, in terms of the smaller ones, are designed to hold one hard drive, one floppy, and has external slot to hold either one CD/DVD drive or an adaptor to enable you to remove and replace hard drives.



These small cases often are loaded with the latest USB ports (get the PC with USB2.0), both on the back, and on the front as well. Some of the PCs also have the sound connectors on the front, and the most modern PC may find itself with Firewire built right in as well as a connector on the front panel.



USB, and especially firewire means hot-swap, plug and play. This means that you can, while the pc is on and running, unplug the hard drive or CD/DVD writer and plug it into another PC while it is still running. I tend to favor Firewire because, at least in the Firewire components I use, drivers are not required. The new USB 2.0 is FAST, comparable to Firewire, and ATA 100/133.

The new hard drives are jumbo and they are super fast as well. Winchester Digital offers their “SE” models which are much, much quicker than any other IDE drive under the sun with their 8 meg buffer. They are HUGE. The 200 GB, that’s 200 Giga Byte model was just released, but the 120 GB hard drive gets the most bang for the buck.



External CD writers have come way down in price, with the less expensive ones being not necessarily the cheapest. They are so fast that a full CD can be written to in a matter of only a few minutes. I like the tray-less variety. It has a slot in it like the CD player in your auto. Which one? Well, PCs for everyone has that.’





In CD writers, the new format to look for is the “Mt. Ranier” format. That’s the one to get. It is an attempt at standardizing all formats.



DVD is the in thing these days, and they come in both internal and external. For my money with the external version I’d go Firewire, but that is a personal selection. I like the idea that one can plug up to 63 devices together on Firewire.



The myriad of choices of DVD writers is mind-boggling, not to say at least confusing. The packages they come in, plus many salesman provide no clue of what’s inside nor which one to get. I never noticed the “+” or the “-“ sign in the description of writers before I was interested in in the DVD class of peripherals. Buy one and you may have purchased the wrong type. To sum it up [pun of course], there is a single DVD writer that outshines the rest of them, I believe it’s and internal Sony DVD in a red-to-white box, but what jumped off the page is that it is both “+” AND “-“ which means it can read and write most formats and plays in television DVD players after you burn your favorite video onto it.



Whoops!!! I’m just starting to get going on this and could spend all day writing on the new excitement in the PC world, but realized a few minutes ago that it was close to 5am. I’ve got to go to work so will have to cut this short, like right now.



Happy hunting for those in the market for a new PC.





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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2002 11:30 am 
Good post Allen. I'm probably going to buy a new machine come income tax time.


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2002 10:25 pm 
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Thanks for the reply, Tony. I'll finish the above shortly when I'm in the mood for writing again.

While surfing the net the other night, I found some desktop pcs that claim to be smaller than laptops. There was a cube one, no squarer than a CD-rom drive and only about twice as tall.

I'm finding in my searches that there is a rage going on right now for smaller sizes in PCs, both in the seller and consumer ends. Micro boards are entering the market with the CPU chips soldered right into the board. A trend among some groups is to put neon lights inside the cases and purchase see-through or opaque panels to show the colored lights through.

A few months ago I put together a "Shuttle," a barebones thing to replace something slower and much larger. The entire 6.5” x 6.5” rear panel is filled with connectors and wires. Sooner or later I'll take some pix and post them.

Dennis took a relatively large pc to school, and in the meantime. For him I selected a 4.5G Pentium 4 with fast DDR memory, a micro-ATX motherboard, and a micro desktop case that can barely fit a floppy and a CD burner on the front panel. Audio, video, LAN, and I think a modem is also built in.


I gathered a lot of spare "Junk” I have accumulated through the years, assembled them into two PCs with parts leftover. I packed the two PCs plus the leftover parts to trade in toward his new PC. The amount out of pocket was what it cost me for the two memory stix. The pieces should arrive tomorrow.

I need 2 PCs for my usage, so I’m going to take his old one, some more parts, and with the change purchase a new case and install a water-cooled system to eliminate the fan noise.

But for youse guys that buy and don’t build, really keep your eyes peeled for new exciting technologies.

This is the case I want:


http://www.exoticpc.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=EPC&Product_Code=AHA-DIGN&Category_Code=F-CASES-ALX

And the water-cooled system:


http://www.exoticpc.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen= PROD&Store_Code=EPC&Product_Code=AHA-ICEI&Category_Code=O-HSF-BINTEL


Trust me, Tony, I’d rather have a bike and be riding it....

<font color=red>


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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>

[This message has been edited by s f b (edited October 23, 2002).]


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 2:59 am 
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
I believe it’s and internal Sony DVD in a red-to-white box, but what jumped off the page is that it is both “+” AND “-“ which means it can read and write most formats and plays in television DVD players after you burn your favorite video onto it.


Could the Sony DRU-500Abe the one you're referring to?

Gene


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2002 8:36 pm 
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That particular one, Gene, has been recalled by Sony because it doesn't work too well. The word is it couldn't do all the formats properlu so it went back into the shop for a hardware and software retrofit. They should be ready again for public consumption by Thanksgiving.
<hr>
Tony,

keep your eyes peeled for the new serial ATAs. Seagate pioneered them, they are out, but I haven't heard word on their performance.

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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2002 6:59 pm 
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While we are on the subject of new PCs, I have two USB-type ??s.

(1) Is there an easy way to tell if USB ports are 1.1 or 2? The ECS motherboard's manual with my new computer is sketchy on the subject. The ECS website isn't much help, either.

(2) There is a port in the back of my computer, that is on top of the USB ports. It looks like a phone jack on steriods. The manual doesn't even have it on the diagrams that explain the layout of the I/O ports on the backplane. But, curiously, of the diagrams that explain how to connect the hard drive, the port is illustrated. Any ideas?

Gracias,
Gene

[This message has been edited by Gene DeMambro (edited November 08, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Gene DeMambro (edited November 08, 2002).]


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2002 11:24 pm 
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(1) I Go to My Computer/Properties/Hardare/Device Manager/Universal Serial Bus Controllers to find the version. If yours is a year or so old, you propb don't have 2.0. Many of the new machines come with 2.0 and Firewire.

(2) The Steriodal is your Ethernet comnnection.

(3) What kind of a computer do you have that has such crappy manuals?? Who is ECS?? What is their URL?? Most everything comes well equipped with manuals, drivers, and instructions.

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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2002 11:47 pm 
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Hi Allen,

After doing mucho research last Spring and most of the Summer, I decided on one of two courses of action:

(1) Build my own computer or (2) Have a local shop build one to my specs.

I was intimidated with building my own 'casue many of the things involved I;ve never done before, and I have never built a sysytem from scratch (one day, though...) So I went to a computer show in Taunton in August and had a local shop put one together. It uses an ECS model P4VXAD motherboard. ECS is the American affiliate of a Taiwan company called PCCHips. PCHips is actually banned from doing business in the US for selling motherboards without the L2 cache without telling anyone (saving money in production and screwing the American consumer). But ECS, actually, is producing good, low-end motherboards. THese boards aren't good for overclocking, for example, but they do the job.

The manual isn't all that bad. But it's printed for the three different incarnations of this particular model board, and only gives general info about features, etc. For example, it tells of the two different VIA chipsets possible, but doesn't tell you how to tell which one you have.

On the whole, though, I'm happy. I'd be much happier when I find out I've got USB 2.

These no mentionof Ethernet anywhere in the manual. Maybe a phone call is in order...

One other ?:

Is the CNR slot useful for anything, other than befuddling most other people I talk to?

Gene

PS- ECS - http://www.ecsusa.com I also find http://www.motherboards.org somewhat useful.

[This message has been edited by Gene DeMambro (edited November 08, 2002).]


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2002 9:49 am 
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I'm glad you made the step to building your own. It can be real simple or complicated, depending upon your mindset.

I'm disappointed you didn't talk to me first. I've probably made all the mistakes you've made and many more you hope to never make building PCs since the 70s, and you could have drawn from that expertise, saving a number of hair roots and micro-inches of stomach lining.

I took a quick glimpse at ECS, and right away notices SiS, Intel, VIA, and a few other buzz words that raise my eyebrows to capture my interest to take it to the next step. The motherboard with a KT prefix is a MSI motherboard. I've had a lot of good luck with them. MSI also makes some pretty nifty small-sized barebones PCs that pack some real punch. Go to their website. All their dimensions are in millimeters, but you can mentaly multiply their numbers in your head by 4 and divide by 100 to arrive at the inch-equivalent if you're not into the metric system.

<hr>
I see, on one of the URLs as I'm writing this in another window, a PVX motherboard with two PCI slots and think "Micro ATX board -- built real small PC," although I can't find the number you wrote. Getting ready for work so don't have time to explore. But the board displayed has all th eright stuff.

Don't worry about overclocking with a Pentium. I've given up on AMD, primarily because of the noise factor, power consumption, and heat generation. A Pentuim these days is the better choice. Next year it may flop around again -- If AMD is still in business.

<hr>
Gene, Let me know more about your chip, memory, hard drive, OS, etc. Then I can tell you more about your selection.

Is your manual ONLINE??

What does the CNR relate to?? Help bring me in a little closer.

<hr>
Hello All.

Right now, if anyone is considering even thinking about building a new PC, I highly recommend one called "The Shuttle SS51G" The British REALLY did something right this time when they came up with the Shuttle in many more ways than the following. They patented a super-quiet cooling system, which is actually an air-cooled radiator using three-speed temperature-controlled fan. Another is you can use the fastest P4 533 FSB chips available -- which means state-of-the-art technology easily for at least several years to come.


I purchased my second barebone from <a href="http://www.pcsforeveryone.com">pcsforeveryone</a> yesterday. I selected the "red" one so I can tell it apart from the "blue" one. Built a working pc out of it including installing all the hardware and all the software in about a little over 1 hour. Running in economy mode, I then picked up a neat little switch from Micro Center. This switch controls two pcs from one monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Just connected it up at 4am Sunday. That works way-cool too.


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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>

[This message has been edited by s f b (edited November 10, 2002).]


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 1:08 am 
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HI Allen,

After much digging, I found out that this particular m-board comes in two versions: v1.X and v3.x (mine is v3.1). Besides all the normal bells and whistles low-end m-boards have today, this one also has: 533MHz Front-Side Bus, the Via VT8233A Southbridge chip (giving ATA133), Via VT6202 USB 2.0 support, PROMISE PDC20265R IDE RAID controller (this will come in handy when I add the 2nd hard drive for digital video) and the RealTek 8100/B LAN controller (I think it's 10/100). V1.x only has ATA100, a 400MHz FSB, USB 1.1 (but gives support for 6 ports vs. 4 for mine) and no RAID or LAN.

My specs are:

P4VXAD M-Board (with on-baord RAID)
1.9G P-4 Socket 478 (The vendor was out of 2 GHz)
512Mb DDR RAM (I don't know if buffered or un-buffered)
64Mb eVGA MX-200 AGP 4X Video Board
80Gb HDD (IBM)
Lite-On-It 163D 16X DVD-ROM
AOpen 32X-12X-48X CD-RW
Windows XP Home
19" Flat Screen LCD Monitor

There's a problem with heat generation with the video card, and I'm going to add a blowhole/cooling fan into the cover, to blow cool air onto the video card/PCI cards. Any suggestions for a quiet fan, Allen?

The CD-Burner makes a real loud sound when in use. The sound isn't a malfunction, but the burner is sort-of a "no name" burner and I think I might replace it. For right now, I play the music CDs through the DVD player.
I'm using the on-board AC'97 sound system, because having an extra PCI slot to play with is more preferable than the premo SB card, and I'm not really a hard-core sound guy anyhow. Eventually, I think I might put in a new sound system.

I also found out that the CNR Port stands for "Communications and Network Riser". It's Intel's attempt to create a dedicated port solely for communications cards. There are a few modems and network interface cards available, but no one uses them unless they absolutely have to when other expansions slots/ports are used. It really hasn't caught on. The only problem is it leaves the board with only 5 PCI slots, vs. 6.

Company specs on the m-board can be found here

The online manual (which is confusing in some respects and leaves out all mention to LAN support) can be found here. Click on "p4vxad31aeng.zip" for the Acrobat file.

In the future, I'll add more memory, a more robust video card (nothing wrong with this one for now) and a second HDD. I'm currently reviewing options for adding a video capture board, which will be the next addition. I really want to try to convert my multiple hours of video to digital files, and see what happens. When the whole DVD-R/RW vs. DVD+R/RW vs. DVD-RAM battle is settled, then I'll look at a DVD burner too. I'll need to up the power supply as well. I have my eye on a 400W from PC Power and Cooling, which might happen soon, when I add the cooling fan.

Don't feel bad, Allen. I've been pulling apart computers and putting them back together (with varying degrees of success) since my first Timex Sinclair 1000, circa 1984. So that's where the ulcer came from....

I've had good success doing a lot of my own upgrades over the years: Sound cards, modems, CD burners, memory, video capture boards, second printer ports and new hard drives when they fry. Most of the usual stuff.

I'm just having fun, learning the ins and outs of a new computer, and with WIndoze XP.

Thanx for the advice. You'll be the first one I look to the next time I try to do something crazy! Image

Gene

PS - I just saw an ASUS m-board with no legacy ports at all, just a chit-load of USB, a couple of Firewire, on-board stereo sound and a LAN. PCs are a-changing, indeed!


[This message has been edited by Gene DeMambro (edited November 11, 2002).]


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 1:17 am 
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Al:
Can you tell me a little more about the "switch"?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Quote:
then picked up a neat little switch from Micro Center. This switch controls two pcs from one monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Just connected it up at 4am Sunday. That works way-cool too.


I have a second (old) computer that I would like to use for video editing, but don't have a monitor. Sounds like I might be able to use that switch.

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GEM


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:49 pm 
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Ok, Gene. You’ve got a slick top-notch computer, especially with the 533FSB. When you want more speed all you have to do is plug in a 2,8G P4 and that pc’ll really scream. You made the smart move by not going AMD. Their glory-time has passed out of the limelight – at least for now.

When you start processing video you may want to kick the memory up a little. If you don’t use the RAID as RAID, it’ll give you a place to hang another 4 independent hard drives. For your second hard drive, look into the Western Digital ones that have an eight-meg buffer. Plus get one much bigger than you think you’ll need because Moore’s law really works.

Most LAN controllers incorporated into motherboards are 10/100. USB 2.0 is 40x faster than USB 1.1

You DON’T have a fan on your video card???

Quiet Fan did you say?? Back to mathematics: FAN = NOISE! If you want low noise, you have to either go water-cooled or get a Shuttle. I have an extra fan, actually blower, kicking around that mounts like a PCI card does. Micro-Center in Cambridge has the last word in cooling fans. Make sure it’s one with ball bearings for quiet. Also larger lower rotational speed fans make less noise.

Think twice before deciding to blow air onto the card. You want to draw air away from it to cool it properly. One way to improve cooling on the card is to get a fan/heat sink kit. They make them expressly for Video cards. If you lowered the overall case temperature then the video card will cool down. When I had my AMD’s, I made ductwork out of manila folders with one end fastened to openings on the case and fir the other end right over the CPU fan to draw much cooler air from outside the case. I didn’t contradict what I wrote above. The CPU cooling systems are meant to blow air through the fins of the heat sink. Instead off re-circulating hot air inside the case, causing the temp to continue to climb to threaten much of the electronics, the cool air lowered the internal temperature between 5 and 10 deg. C.

The CD-Burner makes a real loud sound when in use… The last time I had something of the sort, I dropped it on the floor then reinstalled it. Much quieter afterwards.

Built-in sound systems on today’s motherboards are really, REALLY good. Try different speakers. If you use your monitor’s speakers your ears will get sore after a while.

The only problem is it leaves the board with only 5 PCI slots, vs. 6. Man! You’ve got bunched of PCI slots, more than enough.

When the whole DVD-R/RW vs. DVD+R/RW vs. DVD-RAM battle is settled, then I'll look at a DVD burner too Give PcsForEveryone a call. They have a solution for you. They came in when I went to pick up my latest Shuttle and I had to say no.

PS - I just saw an ASUS m-board with no legacy ports at all, just a chit-load of USB, a couple of Firewire, on-board stereo sound and a LAN. PCs are a-changing, indeed! ASUS is the best. They always have been. Watch for motherboards with the CPUs already soldered in.


<hr>Hello George!

The Linksys switch is the coolest Gizmo going. Tony suggested I get a switch to control three hard drives (which Micro center carries the one Tony described) I decided to really keep my data separate. There is also a 4-way switch. Several companies manufacture them, and they can get pretty fancy. I applied the KISS principle and purchased the Linksys ProConnect 2-Port Compact KVM Switch Kit, model PS2KVMSK. One of the economical attributes is that is comes packaged with the extra cables to go to the computers. It STILL is “way cool.”


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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Tue Nov 12, 2002 11:55 pm 
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Working at my job for 30 or so consecutive days leaves me less than overwhelming with ambition to fix the above typos. I wrote this because I know what they are but just don't feel like fixing them.

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Allen Moulton at Uechi-ryu Etcetera loves email at <A HREF="mailto:uechi@ixpres.com">uechi@ixpres.com</A>


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 12:34 am 
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Thanks Alan. I'll look up the switch and give it a try.

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GEM


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 Post subject: PCs are a-changing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:59 am 
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The video card is an "older" card, and only has a heat sink, not a cooling fan. The heat sink gets real hot. It makes me nervous b/c the second parallel port PCI card I added myself is next to the video card. Maybe I'll move it to the far end, and work my over when I expand.

Maximum PC magazineis pretty high on Thermaltake fans.

I've already outgrown two hard drives in six years, and both were way larger than I thought I needed. I'm personally partial to Maxtor drives, mostly out of brand loyalty than anything else. That can easily change.

I'll look into the Shuttle, gracias. I've got a PCI slot blower in my Micron. I just might go get another one for the new system. But my m-board only has one fan header (besides the one for the CPU cooler) and currently only ONE extra power port from the power supply. If I want to add anything else, I'm going to need a new PS, for the added wattage and more power outlets.

It's too bad about AMD. Their core architecture is more advanced than Intel. It kinda reminds me of how M-SOft/IBM pushed competitors out of the market in the early/mid-eighties.

Gene


[This message has been edited by Gene DeMambro (edited November 12, 2002).]


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