PC Build Series: PSU

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. Today’s post covers things to consider when selecting a power supply unit (PSU).

The Power Source

Arguably one of the most critical components of your PC, all of the cool hardware you purchase won’t matter without the proper power supply. Each component uses a certain amount of power, and if your PSU isn’t powerful enough, your PC will not work to its full potential. With an insufficient PSU, in the middle situation, the PC will become unstable and shut down. In more challenging situations, the various components of your PC can get damaged due to this instability.

Wattage

Every PSU will have a wattage that it puts out. A good rule of thumb is to overshoot your wattage usage by about 25% to give you some wiggle room. So if your expected output is 400 watts, a 500W or 550W, this will also give you some room for new components in the future. There are plenty of calculators online to determine your estimated output, but the best option is PC Part Picker. Not only will it help plan out all of the components and make sure they are compatible, but it will also tally estimated wattage.

PSU Ratings

When comparing PSUs, you’ll see that they come with an 80 Plus rating, naming different metals like Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. These ratings indicate the efficiency and reliability ratings. 80 Plus means the PSU is 80% efficient or higher at loads of 20%, 50%, and 100% at 115 and 230 volts. The efficiency requirement changes depending on the capacity and voltage. The rating helps indicate the efficiency of the PSU.

Other Considerations

PSUs come with different features. For example, you can get a nonmodular, semi-modular, or fully modular PSU. Nonmodular PSUs come with a certain number of set connections compared to a fully modular PSU allows you to add the connections you need and take away the ones you don’t. The benefit to a fully modular PSU is a cleaner PC with easier cable management.

We also recommend not going generic with the PSU. Stick with companies like Corsair, EVGA, Cooler Master, and others when purchasing a power supply. Cheap, knock-off PSUs can be disastrous for your computer if they don’t work as advertised.

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PC Build Series: RAM

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 RAM.

What is RAM?

Random Access Memory or RAM is usually one of the first features highlighted when purchasing a new computer. Mostly, RAM comes in the form of sticks. Desktop RAM sticks can come with heat spreaders or LEDs. Laptops come with more basic RAM sticks due to the need to conserve space.

What Does RAM Do?

RAM acts as short-term memory for your computer. When you open a document, it requires accessing the data contained in that file. That document is then transferred to your RAM during your working on it. Once you click save, the file is then moved back to your hard drive for long-term storage. RAM doesn’t just stop at spreadsheets and documents; it also stores programs or OS files to keep everything running smoothly.

DDR

The most common form of RAM currently is DDR. This is the fourth iteration of Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. That’s just a fancy way of saying that data can be transferred twice per clock cycle compared to once. This means you can quickly transfer data to and from the RAM.

RAM Speed & Capacity

RAM comes in various speeds such as 2,400, 3,000, or 3,200MHz. It comes in sizes ranging from 4GB to 16GB per stick. While you can mix and match RAM, we recommend getting the same type of RAM for your computer. If you get RAM kits of different voltages, it could lead to technical issues down the road.

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PC Build Series: GPU

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 graphic processing unit (GPU).

What Does The GPU Do?

If you’re using your computer for the basics, the GPU is responsible for creating the onscreen images on your monitor. The CPU can handle most of these tasks for the basics, but you will need a lot more power if you are gaming. (Note: Not all CPUs have integrated graphics.) In order to get it, you will need a graphics card.

Video games are complex mathematical calculations, happening all at once to create the images on the screen. The GPU gets all the instructions for creating the onscreen images and then executes them. It starts creating the 3D graphic by creating a polygon (more specifically triangles, almost everything in video games are massive collections of triangles).

These basic shapes, in addition to lines and points, are known as primitives. They are then built up to create recognizable objects. The more polygons included, the more detailed the object will be. The GPU also has instructions on where these objects should be in a scene via a set of coordinates. This gets more complicated in dynamic environments. For example, a street will look different if you are standing on it vs. standing on a building looking down on it.

The GPU is designed to do all of the calculations at a light-speed pace, which is why gamers often need a separate GPU than what is integrated into the CPU. While you could rely on the CPU, it doesn’t have enough resources to handle all the tasks required, resulting in a poor experience.

Picking Your GPU

There are several models and types of GPUs on marketing. Determining which one you need can be challenging if you are new to gaming. Start with finding out your monitor resolution and picking the appropriate card to match that (1080P, 1440P, 4K, etc.). Additionally, all games will post the minimum hardware requirements in order to play the game successfully. Make sure your GPU is capable of displaying your favorite games.

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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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Difference Between WiFi & Ethernet Connections

How come your blazing-fast internet works on your desktop, but your laptop or phone seems to take longer for pages to load? After running a speed test, you find that your desktop’s connection is much faster than your phone or laptop. The difference between the two examples is how the devices connect to the Internet.

Truth About Signal Strength

Wired connections are always going to be faster than wireless connections. While signals move faster than electrical currents, other factors come into play. One of these factors is due to the signal range. An ethernet cable can carry a signal up to 100 meters without any signal deterioration. WiFi signals get blasted everywhere. The signal can be interrupted by walls, microwaves, distance, or even other network signals. There are only so many frequencies that can be broadcasted on. Chances are, your signal is being broadcasted on the same frequencies as the people around you. This is especially true if you live in an apartment or condo where your neighbors are very close to you.

Packet Loss – Why It Matters

Both means have different ways of handling packet loss. This is when a chunk or packet of data does not reach its destination. This can happen when two devices try to transmit at the same time. After this collision, the packet needs to be resent. Ethernet connections avoid collisions by making sure that the path is clear before sending out the packet. A WiFi signal will issue a delay before sending out a packet. This will reduce the chance of collision.

However, this delay can lead to latency with the transmission. WiFi antennas are also half-duplex, which means they can only be sending or receiving but not both at the same time. Full-duplex is in the works but is still an experiment and has its own set of challenges. Ethernet has been full-duplex for some time because the can be one wire for sending and one wire for receiving.

As technology continues to develop and improve, there may be a time when wireless networks are as fast or faster than wired connections. Until then, make sure your computer is hooked directly into your router-modem for the best network performance.

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Memory Vs Storage

There is a common misconception in the tech field about what the definition of memory is. Most people think it’s the amount of drive or disk space they have available for storage. For example, someone may tell you their cellphone has 64GB of memory when they mean to say 64GB of storage space. It may seem trivial, but in today’s post, we want to explain why the distinction of memory vs. storage is important.

Storage = Hard Drive, Memory = RAM

Disk space, hard drive space, and storage all refer to the amount of space that data can be stored on a device long term. For the remainder of this article, we will refer to this as storage. Devices store apps and personal information in this space until it is needed later. Memory, aka RAM, is short term storage. Devices will load information into memory when it is actively being worked on.

Why It’s Important?

You may be thinking, who cares they both hold information, but the distinction is important when describing or comparing devices. For example, the iPhone 8 has 64GB or 256GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. Some may describe their iPhone 8 as having 64GB of memory, which is not correct. It should be characterized as having 64GB of storage and 3GB of memory or RAM.

Some Android-based phones come with varying sizes of memory. For example, the Samsung S9 has 4GB of memory, and the S10 series comes with 6GB to 12GB of memory depending on the configuration.

In Terms of Computers…

The distinction between storage and memory is also important when describing computers. For example, say you have a Chromebook style laptop, that has 16GB of storage. If you were to describe your computer as having 16GB of memory, it would imply that you have a high-end machine. 16GB of memory is a lot for the average user. Chromebooks come with 2GB or 4GB of memory.

If you are trying to troubleshoot over the phone with a technician, the difference is huge. Your computer might be running slow, and you may need to add more memory, but if the tech doesn’t have the correct information, it could lead to a misdiagnosis.

It’s Confusing, We Know

The tech gods haven’t made remembering which term goes where easy, primarily if you don’t deal with them every day. Technically, both are storage, and both are measured in gigabytes (GB). Having two pieces of hardware with similar functions and similar names doesn’t make remembering them easy. The thing to remember is your storage is your hard drive or solid state drive used for long term storage. Your memory is your computer’s short term RAM.

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Are Macs Safer Than PCs?

Are Macs safer than PCs? Apple has long portrayed their devices safer since PCs only get viruses. They went so far to create a commercial insinuating that Macs didn’t get infections.

During 2012-2013, a study showed that an estimated one-third of all computers were infected with malware. If you isolated Macs, the number of infections was only 3%.

What Does ‘Safer’ Mean?

The reason that there are fewer threats designed to attack the Mac might surprise you. Worldwide three-quarters of all computers run some form of the Windows-based operating system. Computers running the Mac OSX only made up about 12% of the market.

As a result, cybercriminals are more likely to go after PCs because they make up a larger share of the market, and thus are more valuable. Macs will not get a PC virus because the virus or malware must be coded differently. However, this does not mean they are any more secure.

Does It Matter?

The claim that Macs are safer may sway some users into purchasing a Mac device. However, just because there are fewer threats out there for Mac, the user still needs to be vigilant. Cybercriminals are employing social engineering techniques to help steal information. At that point, the user becomes the weakest cog in the system, not the computer. It would be like turning off your alarm, unlocking your door, and welcoming a thief into your home.

By paying attention and not clicking unfamiliar links, the user can reduce the chances of being infected. Apple and Microsoft are continuing to develop built-in defenses in their operating systems.

Staying vigilant and installing a robust third-party anti-malware program is the best way for every user to keep their device safe. Contact your local Computer Warriors to consult with one of our technicians about our memberships plans that can help keep you safe!

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Protecting Your Kids Online

In the digital age we live in, it can feel impossible to protect your kids. The Internet moves very fast and while its a place of limitless information, it can also be a dangerous place for our kids. Smartphones are one of the great products of our time, but some applications can put your kids at risk.

Firstly, talk to your kids about cellphone safety. Ensure that they know despite what an application will say, once post, picture, or text goes digital; there is no such thing as removing it entirely. In addition, add your kids to your iCloud or Google account. You will be able to see what applications they download.

Lastly, here are some applications that you should keep an eye out for on your kid’s devices.

Hot or Not

Encourages other Hot or Not users to rate your profile, check out people in the area, and chat with strangers. The purpose of this app is to facilitate hookups.

Calculator%

Calculator% and other apps like it require a pin to access. It was designed to hide in plain sight. Once the pin gets entered, the app contains hidden pictures, videos, files, and browser histories.

Ask.fm

This app is known for cyberbullying. It encourages anonymous users to ask users questions.

Live.me

A live-streaming app that uses geolocation to share videos. As a result, people can find the broadcasters exact location. Users can earn ‘coins’ to pay minors for photos.

Holla

Holla is a video chat app that allows users to connect with people all over the world. Users have reported explicit content, racial slurs, and more.

Whisper

An anonymous social media network that promotes users to share their secrets. It also has a feature that reveals a user’s location so they can meet.

Bumble

Bumble is like ‘Tinder’ but encourages women to make the first contact. Kids have used this app to create fake accounts and lie about their age.

SnapChat

You have probably heard of this one. After content is viewed, the app ‘deletes’ the picture or video. Consequently, it has been used to spread explicit content in the past. In addition to those features, it shares a users location. It will map the surrounding area and show users where their friends are (this can be turned off in the settings).

Kik

This app allows anyone to direct message and contact your children. Kik can result in unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a popular messaging app used around the world. It is slowly starting to make its way in the US. The app allows users to send text, photos, video chats, phone calls, and voicemails. WhatsApp uses an internet connection, so when connected to WiFi, high usage will not show up on your phone bill.

TikTok

A popular new app among kids who create and share short videos. There are minimal privacy controls, and cyberbullying is rampant on TikTok.

Badoo

Badoo is a dating app where users can chat, share photos, and videos. While designed for adults, accounts created by teenagers were discovered in the past.

Meetme

Another social media dating app. It will connect users based on their geographic location. The app encourages face to face meetings.

Skout

A location-based dating app. Like other apps, users can share pictures and additional personal information.

Vora

A dieting app that allows users to track their fasting activity. It has a social media component that will connect users with other people on the app. Kids with eating disorders may abuse the app, even though the intent is for health benefits.

Furthermore, new apps are coming out all the time that can expose our kids to things they shouldn’t be. Most of these apps will allow access to explicit materials, cyberbullying, and even predators. Most of these apps do not have parental controls. It is just as important to know where your kids are hanging out online, as is it to know where they are in the real world.

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Router Placement

The age of wireless has allowed us to be blessed with the Internet in any room in our homes. But, some places in your home will get a slower connection than others. Checking your network speed is a great way to see how your network performs through your home. If you experience slowdowns in certain areas, a booster or MESH system may help secure a better signal. However, sometimes, the best solutions are the easiest. In today’s post, we want to discuss router placement.

Does Where My Router Is Matter?

Yes, your router placement can directly impact the quality of signal you have. WiFi doesn’t travel far, especially when concrete and metal are added to the mix. Even if you have standard walls, bookshelves, dressers, and other furniture can disrupt the signal. If you find that one end of your house has an excellent signal, but the opposite end doesn’t, your router might not be located in the ideal place.

Optimal Placement

You may have read that placing your router in the center of your home is the most optimal position for it. If you’re you live in a single floor home, placing your router in the middle of the house may provide more coverage in your garage, instead of an area where you need it. This is because the broadcast will be in the shape of a circle, with your router in the middle. If your router is near certain appliances like microwaves, you may also experience signal interference. Consider what devices require a WiFi signal, where you use them, and center the router to that location.

Multiple Floors

If you live in a multi-story home, another important consideration is what floor requires a reliable connection. Think of the WiFi signal as a sphere, with the router in the center. If you have equal demands on both floors, there are two efficient placement options: the floor or ceiling. By mounting the router on the ceiling of the first floor or the floor on the second, you will have the best coverage throughout your home. Remember not to block your router by furniture.

Separate Your Router & Modem

Now you might be thinking, you have limited cable connections in your home, and as a result, your router might not be optimally placed. This can be especially true if you are using your ISPs equipment. Most of the time, the ISPs equipment will be a modem/ router combination. By purchasing a separate WiFi router, you will have more flexibility in your router placement. You will need a longer ethernet cable for this to work.

Purchasing a third party router has other benefits. Firstly, newer routers will broadcast a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz signal. 5GHz broadcasts are more concentrated but don’t go as far. Additionally, third party routers often are packed with features that your ISP equipment will not have, like connection geofencing, the ability to see what devices are on the network, and more.

If you have questions about your network and getting the most out of it, give Computer Warriors a call! We have onsite technicians who can come out and complete a full network evaluation. Once complete, we can identify ways to improve your connection throughout your home.

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