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Electronic Design

Bevy Of Computer Parts Adds Up To A Banner Year

The sum can be more than the parts when they're designed to work together. This is definitely the case with a gamer's desktop PC.

Desktop systems are moving to more compact form factors, thanks to laptop technologies. Integration of features like networking and audio onto the motherboard continue. Still, high-performance systems and workstations are retaining board expansion and larger cases for peripherals like video.

No component has remained static. Disk drives, displays, and other parts continue to improve from power and price perspectives. Check out "Best Computer Of 2005" at EiED Online 11574 at to see how these components mesh in a real system.

Hewlett-Packard's HP 740i DVD combines dual-layer read-write capabilities with LightScribe labeling technology. The battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD may be over next year, but for now, DVD reigns supreme. The HP 740i drive even handles double-layer 8x DVD+R disks. Flip the disk and print a label when using LightScribe media.

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AMD's Dual Core Athlon delivers 30% to 86% more performance than a single processor. Athlon 64 X2 product line manager Jonathan Seckler notes that AMD's DirectConnect technology, which ties together integrated memory controllers, HyperTransport, and the crossbar System Request Queue, is key to these performance improvements. AMD led the 64-bit x86 enhancement. Now it's leading in the dual-core, 64-bit x86 race.

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By exploiting PCI Express, nVidia's GeForce 7800 graphics adapter can deliver the bandwidth needed for the latest games. Intellisample technology for ultra-realistic visuals with no jagged edges, 64-bit floating-point texture filtering and blending, and highdefinition support are just a few of its features. Double your power with a pair of 7800s using SLI (Scan Line Interleave), but you will need the right motherboard to take advantage of SLI.

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The ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe pushes technology across the board, from dual-core Athlon support to dual-x16 PCI Express video card slots. Two PCI slots in between handle wide video cards like nVidia's 7800 with SLI support. The motherboard's unique cooling heat pipe allows fanless operation even with the fastest chip around. Everything on this board pushes the limit, from its dual Gigabit Ethernet to internal and external 3-Gbit/s SATA-II interfaces. There's even an on-board RAID controller. Four DDR400 sockets feed memoryhungry games through a dual-channel memory subsystem. This board also lets gamers tweak the clock to run on the cutting edge. It's really cool.

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Seagate's Barracuda 7200.9 SATA-II drive comes with a 16-Mbyte cache and delivers 500-Gbyte capacity and 3-Gbit/s performance— just the features for gamers and power users. It pushes the limit of longitudinal magnetic recording with 160 Gbytes/disk. The 7200.9 packs in four disks. The RoHS-compliant drive handles SATA-II native command queuing (NCQ). It has an ultra-quiet 7200-rpm motor and a rugged g-force shock-protection system to keep data safe.

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Push processor and video performance and images come fast and furious, requiring displays like Viewsonic's VX922. Its 2-ms pixel response gets rid of the tears and fuzziness normally associated with an LCD display. The 19-in. display is very bright, with a 650:1 contrast ratio. It's perfect for demanding video chores like gaming and movies.

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