PC Build Series: CPU

Building a new PC is an exciting experience. The custom PC market has exploded in recent years, allowing gamers to make their computers their own. However, the ability to customize and pick every component can be pretty overwhelming. In this series of articles, we will walk you through different things to consider when building a gaming computer. In today’s post, we start with the CPU.

Important Choice

We recommend spending a significant amount of time researching the right CPU for your purpose. At a high level, there are two manufacturers: Intel and AMD. Both brands have their benefits and limitations and can be better for specific tasks than the other.

AMD vs. Intel

In recent years AMD stepped up its game in processors. Previously, AMD was only a good option for budget and entry-level builds. With its Ryzen series of processors, AMD represents stiff competition for Intel across all price points. For gaming, processors can range between $200 to over $1,000 for both brands.

Additionally, different processors will support additional features. For example, Intel’s latest-generation CPUs better support Thunderbolt 3 ports. On the flip side, AMD CPUs allow overclocking on its cheaper B-series chipset. This benefits budget builds, enabling users to get the most performance out of their machines.

Each manufacturer has several processor models that all achieve different performance levels. To get a complete understanding of the ins and outs of performance for each brand, check out Tom’s Hardware extensive review of all of the processors available today.

What Fits Best For You

If you’re looking to stream Netflix or surfing the web, either brand will deliver right out of the box. If you’re looking for something with processor-intensive tasks like video editing or heavy multitasking, AMD is a better route for the best bang for your buck. The good news for you is there isn’t a bad option for a CPU. However, do your research before picking a CPU. We recommend reading several reviews before forming your opinion. Which CPU is better is highly debated with die-hard supporters in both camps.

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PC Build Series: Motherboard

Building a new PC is an exciting experience. The custom PC market has exploded in recent years, allowing gamers to make their computers their own. However, the ability to customize and pick every component can be pretty overwhelming. In this series of articles, we will walk you through different things to consider when building a gaming computer. In today’s post, we cover things to consider when selecting a motherboard.

Fundamentals of Motherboards

Now that you have selected your CPU, the next place to go is your motherboard. Motherboards come in an extensive range of shapes, sizes, and features. The first and most important to pay attention two is what CPU the motherboard is created for.

Firstly, Intel and AMD CPUs are designed differently. Intel CPUs have pins on their bottom, compared to AMD, which don’t. Motherboards compatible with Intel’s will have slots for these pins, and AMD compatible motherboards have pins on the board. If you purchase an incompatible motherboard and CPU, you risk damaging both, which will void any warranty.

Motherboard Sizes

Motherboards come in many different sizes. Smaller motherboards might not come with as many features as bigger ones, but the small motherboard is for you if you are looking to build a physically small PC. The standard options are ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini ATX, ITX, or Mini-ITX.

Overclock Capability

Not all motherboards can overclock the CPU, so if you are serious about getting as much performance out of your processor as you can, verify your motherboard is compatible with overclocking. In addition, look at the voltage regulator module or VRM. The VRM impacts the amount of voltage supplied to the CPU. The more VRM phases a motherboard can do, the cleaner power is provided to the CPU.

Features

This is where motherboards get customizable. Different boards can have additional features or more of a particular part. For example, some motherboards come with two RAM slots, whereas others come with four spaces. Both options might have the same RAM capacity, but the number of slots will dictate the RAM sticks you need. Another example is WiFi. Most motherboards come with built-in WiFi, but not all do.

Additionally, look at the USB port options. Some motherboards come with more USB-C ports than others. The last thing you should consider is whether the board supports NVMe solid-state drives, which plugin directly to the board.

Price

As with everything in building your computer, do your research for your motherboard. Several manufacturers produce a wide range of motherboards across the prices scale. Determine what features are important and are not important to you, and then you can find the board that best fits your situation (hint: it might not be the most expensive option).

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Twitter Blue

Twitter recently announced Twitter Blue, a subscription model that gives subscribers additional features to the popular social media platform. In today’s post, we discuss its feature so you can decide whether or not it’s worth the $3 per month subscription fee.

Additional Features With Twitter Blue

Undo Tweet

Nothing is more frustrating than sending a tweet only to notice a typo. Currently, the only way to fix it is for the user to delete and write out a new tweet. A customizable timer (up to 30 seconds) allows you to preview your tweet prior to it being sent with this new feature. Unfortunately, tweets can not be edited once posted; you will need to delete and repost in these situations.

Twitter Support

Subscribers of Twitter Blue get access to a dedicated support team. This means users will get problems resolved must faster than free users. However, this does not extend to harassment or abuse reports.

Bookmarks Folders

Twitter has a feature called Bookmarks that allows users to save tweets. For free users, this is on a giant collection that isn’t searchable. Twitter Blue adds folders to the Bookmarks section. The folders are color-coded, and when you save a tweet, you can select where it goes.

Reader Mode

Twitter Blue offers a Reader Mode which makes reading threads more manageable. Reader Mode removes the Twitter UI resulting in the thread appearing more like an article. Usernames, profile pictures, timestamps, retweet counts are removed. These removals help make the thread more readable.

Twitter Blue Pricing

Twitter Blue costs $3 per month. There is only one subscription option and no tiers to choose from like other subscription services. While it’s been launched in Australia and Canada, a timeline for availability in the US has not been announced at the time of this writing.

How To Sign Up For Twitter Blue

Signing up for Twitter Blue is easy. Open up the app from any device and tap the three-lined icon in the top left. In the side menu that appears, find and select the Twitter Blue option.

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Why Hardware Drivers Cause Crashes

If you are reading this and have ever experienced the Blue Screen of Death, a hardware driver might have been the cause. Hardware drivers are software that allows the operating system to interact with the hardware of the computer.

Translators For Your Computer

At its core, your computer is a combination of hardware and software. The hardware includes the keyboard, mouse, monitor, RAM, CPU, motherboard, and more. The software consists of your operating system (Windows 10, MacOS, etc.), programs, and applications. Without any other input, either group would not be able to talk to one another. Hardware drivers contain information to teach your software to work with your hardware, like a translator will help two people speaking different languages.

Hardware Drivers

The manufactures of the hardware in your machine create the drivers to help translate instructions with the operating system most of the time. The operating systems’ creators, like Microsoft, will generate and release universal drivers. An example of this is a keyboard and mouse. You can plug up just about any keyboard or mouse to your computer and start using it almost immediately. This is because most peripherals will use generic drivers.

Some things run with device-specific hardware drivers. An example of this would be an upgraded graphics card. If you have a higher end laptop or custom desktop, chances it will have a separate graphics card. It will be able to display with the universal drivers but to experience the more advanced features, you will need to install the drivers put out by NVIDIA or AMD. These products will come with a DVD or flash drive with the drivers, or you can find them on the manufacturer’s website.

Some software developers will piggyback on drivers that are already installed on the computer. An example of this would be a word processor or other application with a print feature. It will look to see what printers are already installed on the computer and give you the option to print from them.

Why Hardware Drivers Cause Crashes

When your operating system, drivers, and hardware work as intended, everything will be in harmony. On the flip side, when one has a problem, it can cause problems across the board. All the components may not always be perfect, and the software is ever changing. You may update your operating system, and that makes the driver you had installed incompatible, which could result in a system crash. Drivers may also have bugs in them, or if the hardware is failing the result will be the same.

What If My Drivers Are Bad?

There are several things you can do if you are concerned about your drivers not working correctly. Firstly, check to see if you have any available system updates and make sure your operating system is up to date. Next, go to the manufacturer’s website to see if there are any updated drivers available for download. You can check to see what driver you currently have installed in Device Manager. In addition, if the driver needs updating, you can download it from the manufacturer or update through Device Manager. In extreme examples, you can uninstall and reinstall them.

If all works properly, you shouldn’t have to worry about the drivers. Most of the time, they will not need updating, and if they do, the operating system will handle it for you. If you have any questions about drivers, feel free to give us a call.

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Where To Position Your Desktop

Clients have asked us about where the best place to position their desktop computers would be. Some people prefer it on their desk, but most people put it on the floor. Wherever you decide to position your desktop, you should consider the ventilation of the computer. Below are some things you should take into account when setting up your desk space.

Airflow

Most desktop cases are not flat on the bottom. Several have feet that will help keep the computer from sliding around and allow air to be sucked in through the bottom of the case. If you put your computer on the carpet, it can inhibit that airflow and allow heat to build up. This can lead to performance issues with your computer. If you have hardwood or tile flooring, you shouldn’t have any problem. If you have carpet, and you want to put the computer on the ground, consider getting a board or a stand to sit your computer on.

Dust

Since your computer’s fans will be pulling and pushing air around the case, it will inevitably suck in dust. However, placing your computer on the floor can increase the amount of dust that it sucks up and accelerate the buildup. Dusk will make your computer not cool itself as efficiently as it would without dust. It is always a good idea to clean out your desktop with compressed air to limit the buildup. If you place your desktop on the floor, check it every few months to see if it needs to be cleaned.

Other Considerations

If you can control the airflow and the dust, then having your desktop on the floor is fine. Overheating is ultimately what you want to avoid as your computer’s components can be damaged due to excessive heat. If your home is prone to flooding, the floor is not the most ideal position. On the flipside, some people are hesitant to place their desktop on their desk because they do not want it to get knocked over. Another reason the floor might be more desirable is the ability to hide cables easier, prevent cords from running all over the place. While there is no wrong way to set up your system, these are just some ways you can keep it running strong for years to come.

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What Is An Aspect Ratio?

When looking for a new computer monitor or searching for a movie on IMDB, you’ve probably come across the phrase “aspect ratio.” Aspect ratio is heavily used throughout the photography and video industry. But what does aspect ratio mean?

What Is Aspect Ratio?

Aspect ratio is a mathematical basis at its core. It is the ratio of the width and height of a four-sided shape. Like any ratio, the aspect ratio of a rectangle doesn’t relate to its physical dimensions. Instead, it describes how the width and length of an object to one another. For example, a perfect square must have equal width and height, so their aspect ratio would be 1:1. The aspect ratio gets displayed in whole or decimal numbers. For example, 3:2 or 1.5:1.

You can determine the height and width of an object by using the aspect ratio. For example, 16:9 refers to the width equaling 16 and the height equaling 9. The 16:9 aspect ratio is used for most television content, even though displays come in a variety of aspect ratios. For example, with movies, you’ll commonly see aspect ratios of 1.85:1 (widescreen) and 2.39:1.

Making Aspect Ratio Work For Device

If you want to fit an individual piece of content to a device, you can use an aspect ratio calculator. This can be helpful when trying to apply a wallpaper background to a phone or computer. Using this tool, you can make sure the wallpaper fits properly (correct resolution) and won’t stretch on the screen. (You can download most wallpapers in multiple resolutions).

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Taking A Screen Capture On A PC

Taking a screen capture of your screen has many benefits, especially if your computer is misbehaving and you want to show your tech support what is going on. It is also beneficial for saving things you find online or creating guides involving your computer. In today’s post, we want to show you the different ways to take a screen capture on a PC.

Find The Print Screen Key

The Print Screen key is going to be in the top row of keys on your keyboard. It usually is after the F keys; but also may be a secondary function to a key. It will read something like ‘PRT SCRN’ or ‘PrtSc.’ If it is a secondary function to a key, you will have to press the ‘Fn’ key to make it work.

Capture Your Whole Screen

This process will allow you to capture everything on your screen (if you have multiple monitors, it will capture these as well). First, press the Print Screen key (again, you may have to press the Fn key before you press the Print Screen key). If you have multiple monitors, and only want to capture the active one, add the ‘Alt’ key to the combination.

Once the screen has been captured, it will be moved to the clipboard, allowing you to paste it in another app. Next, open up the app you want to put the capture in like Paint 3D or another image editor. From here, you can save the picture.

Capturing Multiple Screenshots

If you must capture several screenshots in quick succession, the process mentioned above may take too much time. Windows has a way to capture screenshots rapidly, saving them to a location on your computer. Thus, avoiding having to paste the capture in another app.

Press and hold the Windows Key + Print Screen (add the ‘Alt’ key to capture the active screen if you have multiple monitors). Once you complete your screenshots, you can find them in your pictures folder. File Explorer > This PC > Pictures > Screenshots.

Capturing Part Of The Screen

If you want to be more precise with your capture, there are a few options. The most common is the Snipping Tool. If you type ‘Snipping Tool’ into your Windows 10 search bar, it will come up. Microsoft is replacing the Snipping Tool with the Snip & Sketch App which functions in the same way.

When you open either app, click new in the top left-hand corner. Next, your screen will darken, and you will have the ability to drag a box around what you want to capture. By clicking the dropdown arrow, you can add a time delay to this capture. Once the screenshot has been captured, you will have the ability to edit it in the app.

To quickly pull up the Snip & Sketch app, press Shift + Windows Key + S to open it immediately.

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Watch Out For Phishing Scams!

Cyber-attacks are becoming more common, affecting millions of people around the globe. The computers that connect us to the world can also expose our world. One of the most common threats that can expose our data is phishing attacks in the form of emails.

What is a Phishing Attack?

To start, what is a phishing attack? The definition of phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Scammers are getting more creative in executing their attacks. Their emails are looking more like legitimate emails sent from companies. Users must be vigilant before clicking on any links included in an email. Check the sender’s email address and hover over the link to see where it will send you.

Google Wants To Quiz You…

Jigsaw, a think tank created by Google, has created a quiz to help users identify phishing emails. The quiz will show you an email and give you the option to pick whether or not it is legitimate. Then it will explain why it is legitimate or fake. Jigsaw posted on Medium explaining the importance of spotting phishing emails and why they created the quiz.

Click here to test your skills!

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Moving Large Files

Getting an error saying that awesome video that you just spent a week making is too big to send to someone?  There are several ways to fix this issue. We compiled a list of the most effective, simplest, and most secure approaches to transferring large files.

Compress files before attaching

No matter how you decide to send a file, changing the size to make it start will only help; it takes up less storage. Compressing files is easy.  It will make the file smaller and transfer no matter what method you choose – email, cloud storage, or FPT.

Most operating systems have file compression software built into them, creating a ZIP file simple.  Here’s how it’s done on Windows and Mac operating systems.

WindowsMac
Find the file that is too big to sendFind the file that is too big to send
Right Click on it and select ‘Send to’ from the menuTwo fingers click or control-click on the file
Choose Compressed (zipped) folderSelect Compress

If you are trying to transfer a multimedia file, like a video or music, you may want to use RAR compression instead of ZIP. RAR will use a better compression algorithm. This will help limit data loss and corruption.  Several free and paid programs can be used for this conversion.

Upload to Cloud Storage

The most popular and most convenient option for transferring large files is using the cloud. The user can upload them to an online storage service or the cloud, and the recipient can download them. There are several options for cloud services to choose from. Below is a list of popular ones but does not include all the ones available.

Google Drive

If you already have a Gmail account, you will have access to Drive. Google Drive offers up to 15GB of free storage. It has backup and syncing options, which make sharing large files a snap. Drive also has an upgrade option for more storage, starting from 100GB for $2.00 per month to 1TB (1,000GB) for $10.00 per month.

Dropbox

Dropbox is very similar to Google Drive in terms of features. The basic account comes with 2GB of free space with several sharing options. An advantage to Dropbox is that it is more accessible than Drive.  It has an app for non-android or iOS devices like the Kindle. A $10.00 per month subscription can get you an additional 1TB (1,000GB) of storage, and $20.00 per month will give you other features and sharing controls like the ability to set passwords and create links that will expire after a period.

OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s in-house cloud service. It has done a lot of growing over the years and is one of the best solutions for storing files and folders. OneDrive will allow you to share anything where ever you are and will enable you to stop sharing with the ease of clicking your mouse. It comes with 5GB of free storage. A user can get 50GB for $2.00 per month; $7.00 per month will increase you to 1TB (1,000GB) of storage.  If you have Office365, you automatically receive 1TB of storage as part of your subscription.

iCloud

If you are an Apple user, the iCloud is a great option. It comes with 5GB of free storage; but also has upgrade packages. 50GB of storage will run $1.00 per month, 200GB for $3.00 per month, 2TB (2,000GB) for $10.00 per month. Any songs, videos, or movies downloaded from iTunes will not be included in your storage limit. However, it is important to mention that automatic iCloud backups can devour your limits quickly.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

FTP is losing popularity as cloud services gain favor by users. FTP is the best solution if you do not want to compress files before sending them. Using FTP can be a rather lengthy process, but it is the most reliable way to transfer large files for free.  FTP is also not the most secure way to move data. Popular programs are Cyberduck, Filezilla, or the sFTP extension for Google Chrome.

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Windows 7 Losing Support on January 14, 2020

Local news, WWAY News Chanel 3 did a report on Monday about Windows 7. This past Friday marks the six-month mark of remaining support for the operating system. It is estimated that 35% of computers still have Windows 7 installed. Windows 7, first introduced in 2009, will be losing official support from Microsoft on January 14th, 2020. This means the OS will not receive any updates or security features.

“Changes and upgrades in technology are inevitable,” said Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, in a blog post on January 14th, 2019. “And there’s never been a better time to start putting in motion the things you need to do to shift your organization to a modern desktop with Microsoft 365.”

What can you do?

We recommend updating to either Windows 8 or Windows 10. Windows 10 is the ideal option because it is the most current iteration of the Windows OS. This will keep your computer secure and up to date. There will be a final Windows 7 update that will take place this July.

Microsoft will offer extended coverage for businesses who do not want to upgrade, but they will have to pay for that privilege. It is estimated that millions of people still use Windows 7. You may begin seeing the pop up below as we get closer to January 14th, 2020.

Updating to Windows 10 can be intimidating, but Computer Warriors can make it a seamless transition. Some older Windows 7 machines may struggle to run Windows 10 effectively. Bring your computer in for an evaluation, and we can see what the best course of action is for you!

Check out WWAY’s full report here!

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