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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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).

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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).

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!

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.

If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!