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  PCChips EZ-Watcher EZW-3060 Mini-PC 
  Nov 10, 2003, 09:30am EST 


By: Dan Mepham

Strange as it may seem for those with access to such state-of-the-art products, we editors generally keep fairly modest desktop systems of our own. Just like a hairdresser rarely cuts his own hair, or a dentist rarely does his own bridgework, we sometimes lack the time and energy to upgrade our own desktops. In fact, despite a huge abundance of newer hardware lying around the office, in the last three years, Iíve updated the machine on which Iím writing this very article only twice.

Iíll talk about the most recent upgrade in a moment. The second to last upgrade was about three years ago, and saw the retirement of my old 500 MHz Coppermine Pentium III in favor of an Athlon Thunderbird 900 MHz. This wasnít just any Athlon 900 - no, it was hand-picked, and ran at over 1450 MHz all day long. It was a screamer, but at 1.85 Volts, it was also a furnace, so much so that a massive Swiftech MC-370 heatsink and Papst 6000 RPM fan were necessary to keep its thermals in check.

At first, I didnít so much mind the computer-turned-Hoover in my office. But I found myself slowly becoming increasingly sensitive to the noise, to the point where I could hardly stand it anymore. Finally, about a year an a half ago, I broke down, and swapped the Thunderbird for a 2.4 GHz Pentium IV, which I promptly de-volted and de-clocked to 1.8 GHz so as to produce so little heat that it barely needed a fan at all. Eighteen months later, Iím as happy as a clam. Sure, I miss the peak performance of a highly-tuned machine, but I can sleep at night now! I traded in my Dodge Viper on a nice, soft Cadillac. Perhaps Iím getting old.

In retrospect, it wasnít that the noise bothered me while gaming, or while hard-at-work with the music on. It was when I was trying to do anything else that the Papstís shrill whine drove me up the wall. It occurred to me then that the perfect setup would be one that I could keep at default clock speed (or even underclocked!) when not in use, but then crank up easily when I felt the need for some quick gaming action.

Sure, you can do that easily just by rebooting and changing the clockspeed in the BIOS. Granted - but that takes time, requires you to close all your applications, and so on. No, the perfect solution would be if I could just turn the speed up quickly and easily, with the push of a button, or the turn of a dial. Looks as if I may not have been the only one thinking that.

1. Introduction
2. Meet PCChips' EZ-Watcher
3. A Look at the Exterior
4. Under the Hood
5. The Heart of the Beast
6. Performance
7. Summary

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