3 Strategies to Select Your Next Gaming PC

Get Your Game On

If you just want to check your email and social media, and maybe write on a word processor, you probably don’t need to be too picky about your computer. If you are one of the 2.5 Billion people who play video games though, you need a machine that can handle the games you like to play. Here are three strategies for making sure that your next gaming PC will be up to the challenge.

3 Strategies to Select Your Next Gaming PC

Strategy 1: Throw Giant Wads of Cash at the Problem

If you have $10,000 to throw around, you can get the new Maingear F131 with all the bells and whistles. This beast is VR ready, with an Intel Core i9 7980XE processor, 64GB of RAM, Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Graphics card, and a 4TB SSD. Whatever your game, the F131 will probably be more than adequate. Maybe even overkill.

Strategy 2: Find a Computer Suited to Your Play Style

There are a lot of different types of games in the world, so just because a computer is marketed as a “gaming computer” doesn’t mean it is ideally suited for your application. If you are into online first-person shooters or real-time RPGs, the last thing you want is for some 9-year-old punk to pwn you with a lag death. Connectivity is key for those games, which means you will want to invest in connectivity hardware to avoid ping lag, and the latest and greatest graphics card to avoid graphics lag. Of course, those elements aren’t as vital to single-player turn-based strategy games.

If you want to play VR games, then it is essential that you get a computer that is VR Ready. If you aren’t planning to play VR games, though, why pay extra for features that you aren’t going to use?

Strategy 3: Get the Right Tool for the Right Job

If it is tricky to find a computer that does everything you need, without paying for a bunch of features that you don’t, it’s probably because you are a unique person, with unique tastes. Accordingly, the perfect gaming computer would be a unique computer, tailored to your needs. You don’t have to be an expert on the optimal hardware for each game that you like to play, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on features that you won’t use either. Just contact us and tell us what kind of games you want to play, and our experts will build you a computer with everything you need, and nothing that you don’t.

Windows Upgades and That Old Computer

A lot of us have an old computer sitting around the house. You know the one I mean. You were running Vista or Windows 7 on it and never upgraded to Windows 10.  So that old computer has been gathering dust while you explored a new one or maybe the latest smartphone. What can be done with that old computer?

Windows Upgades and That Old Computer

Upgrades

Running old systems, like Vista or Windows 7, that are no longer supported by updates from Microsoft isn’t secure. Hackers love to exploit vulnerabilities in applications and systems that are out of date. You could upgrade that computer to Windows 10 yourself.  Windows 10 is sold in numerous places. There is even a site on the internet where the Windows 10 update is rumored to be still free, even if Microsoft long ago officially ended the free upgrades. But there are numerous system requirements for Windows 10 that old computers often can’t meet.

Linux Distributions

One alternative is to remove the Windows operating system and replace it with a Linux Distribution. These operating systems are lighter, requiring less memory and CPU processing power to run than Windows 10. Not to mention, Linux is open source software and you can download it free. Linux’s light footprint means it is often ideal to run on an older machine. Linux is a bit more hands-on and so is not for everyone. But it is an option to explore.

Other Options

You might not have the time or temperament to fix up that old computer yourself. Quite possibly, if there is a problem with it, the computer can be repaired. Whatever the situation, PC Geeks can assess your old computer. If it’s repairable, we’ll make it work. If it’s possible to upgrade to Windows 10 or put another system like Linux on it, we can do that too. So don’t throw that old machine out. Give us a call today at PC Geeks. We may be able to give it renewed life! And if we can’t, we can build you the new computer that exactly fits your needs.

Guidelines for Desktop Computer Start-up Problems

When the power button is pressed on any type of modern, common, personal computing device, the system goes through various stages in order to arrive at what is commonly called the desktop  or home  screen of the computer — where programs or “apps” may be accessed including but not limited to Microsoft Office or Apple Safari. This is typically called the boot-up process.  At any stage of the boot process, something can go wrong, rendering the computer frozen if it does not outright shut down due to faulty hardware. The culprit component of a boot-up problem, although occasionally multiple problems, can be isolated with some time and patience, although it’s generally recommended seeking professional support due to the possibility of enlarging the problem by way of faulty tips, instructions, or general unfamiliarity with computer troubleshooting.

Guidelines for Desktop Computer Start-up Problems

Assuming a working monitor, keyboard, and mouse, common places to check when troubleshooting start-up issues with a desktop computer are the power supply, motherboard, RAM, HDD/SDD (where software is installed), and corrupted operating system files. Swapping the current computer power supply out with one that is known to be both in working order and sufficient for the power needs of the computer can be done to see if it fixes the issue. A faulty computer motherboard can also be troubleshot by swapping out the power supply — if all other components are in working order and a new power supply is installed without fixing the issue, then the culprit is likely the computer motherboard — in some cases, they are not worth fixing although in others, could and should be repaired/replaced due to the high cost of replacing an entire system.  Checking for faulty RAM memory modules can be done by swapping out old ones for new ones — if the problem goes away then the culprit was evidently the RAM modules, although sometimes merely pulling the old modules out and carefully, correctly reseating them fixes problems — if two or more RAM modules are being used, removing the faulty one can fix the issue, although that could cause problems with the program or app being used if it requires a certain amount of RAM to operate.  If the hard drive storage (where the operating system is installed) is suspected as the culprit, there are a number of troubleshooting steps and approaches that can be taken to isolate it, but a common first step includes swapping it out with one that is known to be working and attempting to reinstall the operating system, although this is a relatively lengthy and sometimes complicated task and best left to somebody with experience. With all the hardware ruled out, checking for corrupted operating system (software) files would be the last and final step — a convenient and common way this can be done is by booting up a disc or USB drive, typically with the operating system’s files on it, after which running certain commands will scan and repair the files needed (on the hard drive) to bring the system to working order.

Please contact us for a consultation.

Troubleshooting MacBooks

Computers tend to be like tacos and hamburgers. They all consist of the same ingredients or components assembled together in different configurations and quality. The Apple MacBooks are no exception. For example, a PC (personal computer) that has Microsoft Windows installed has a motherboard, CPU, RAM, a permanent storage device such as a hard drive, a monitor (screen), and a mouse, or trackpad — plus various office-related programs such as word-processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software, for starters. The MacBook also consists of those things, the only difference being the file system type it uses and the operating system design under the hood — at the forefront, the MacBook operating system has most, if not all the same functions and features as Microsoft Windows — they just look a little different on the screen.

Troubleshooting MacBooks

Therefore, when troubleshooting any given problem in a MacBook, the process will more or less be the same as that of a PC laptop.  If, for example, a user is in the home using a Wi-Fi connection for the internet and the connection is lost, the order of troubleshooting would look like the following whether using a PC laptop or a MacBook — although these rules may be broken depending on the experience level of the user and the situation: 1. Reboot the modem. 2. Once the modem is rebooted, reboot the Wi-Fi router. 3. After the Wi-Fi router is rebooted, reboot the computer. This tends to restore the connection in most cases although each case is unique which should be taken into consideration. Other steps and considerations should be taken if the initial attempt to resolve the connection problem does not work, such as adjusting operating system network settings or application (app) settings — the point being made here is that troubleshooting the MacBook is generally the same as troubleshooting a PC laptop.

Another problem arising in the MacBook having a similar troubleshooting process as that of a Windows laptop is problems with performance — particularly sluggishness. For example, ask the following:  Is there enough RAM (memory) installed for the task or application being used on the computer? Is everything on the computer slow or is it only certain functions, e.g., is Apple Safari (internet browser) running slow only or is the entire computer running slow? Are there several “start-up” programs running? These are programs that are set to run as soon as the computer is switched on — if too many programs are running when the computer is switched on, they will use up a lot of RAM which could cause sluggishness while using other programs — the MacBook has a function for disabling programs that are not needed to run at start-up. Another common question to ask is whether there were any changes made to the computer before the sluggishness began — undoing the change, if possible, could resolve the issue.

Making incorrect changes to a computer while trying to resolve an issue could augment the problem. Consulting professionals should be done if not comfortable and familiar with troubleshooting processes. Please, contact us.

Time To Throw Out That Laptop With The Busted Screen?

No!

Accidents happen. Sometimes, they can’t be avoided. Accidents can happen to you, to others, or to your mission critical laptop! And since your trusty laptop is rife with important information like emails, contacts, documents — essentially the keys to your castle — you have just kept on dealing with it. It’s not too bad, after all: it’s just a busted screen in the top right corner. At least you can still read your emails, although, the text has to be at the bottom of the screen. And hey, you’re pretty adept with Windows shortcuts, so it’s no problem to switch back to your spreadsheets with a simple ALT+TAB keystroke.

Time To Throw Out That Laptop With The Busted Screen?

Appearances Are Everything

But even though it’s not THAT big of a deal for you, your busted laptop is not exactly something you’d want others to see. It is a reflection of you, after all. Remember that lunchtime meeting you had where you almost got that client? Too bad that client doesn’t want to work with someone who is seen as clumsy. Did the client say that’s why they didn’t choose you? No. But they didn’t have to; your busted laptop screen said that for them.

On The Fence About It?

“I would love to get a new laptop, but I don’t want to have to copy all my files over, reinstall my programs… Plus, it’s not in the budget.” This may be a common thought process for many, but getting a new laptop is not the only solution. While it is true that many laptops are not easily upgraded, many laptops can easily have their components replaced, including busted screens. When a new laptop may cost several hundred dollars, a screen replacement will save you money.

“But I’m not a computer person, I can’t even change the batteries in my remote control.”

Not a tech person? No Problem! We are computer people! Contact us for your laptop screen replacement consultation.

Never Buy an Off-The-Shelf Computer Again

Take Control of Your PC

We’ve all done it, walking through the electronics department and a gleam catches your eye. You hurry over to a display housing the newest, shiniest mainstream PC available. Your current computer only has 8GB of RAM, so you’re drooling over the 16GB this beast is packing. The latest iteration of Intel’s Quad-Core i5 processor is proudly touted on the case badges. Do I need to go on? Shake yourself from this fantasy and glance down at the price tag. That’s right, it’s probably around $1500 for tech that’s at least two generations behind what’s available to anyone brave enough to build their own computer. Here’s what you need to know to never buy an off-the-shelf computer again.

Never Buy an Off-The-Shelf Computer Again

Where to Put Your Money

There are three parts that should get the lion’s share of your budget. The CPU (central processing unit), GPU (video card), and the motherboard. If you’re planning on doing a lot of graphics-heavy gaming, you’ll want your video card to be the priority. However, a hefty CPU would be a better focus in a work-at-home computer for any kind of content creation. Before you start looking at cases and cool, flashy parts like LED lighting, be sure your main functional components are up to the level you need them to be.

Do Some Research

There’s a ton of information out there on how to assemble a custom PC. Watch videos and read product reviews. If you don’t know what something means in the specs of one of your components, look it up so you can be as informed as possible when picking out your parts. NewEgg.com has some great information (and great products) to help you along. When you’re shopping for parts, keep compatibility in mind, and make sure they’re made to work together. This is especially important for the CPU and motherboard. Each motherboard out there is designed to fit a specific size, or socket, of CPU.

Just Breathe and Have Fun

Going on this journey for the first time can feel overwhelming because you can’t exactly call Dell and yell at them that your computer crashed, but there is support out there for home-built PC’s. If you buy your parts from a reputable retailer, they’ll usually have some sort of support department you can call to help you troubleshoot, not to mention there are countless PC building forums where you can get questions answered and look for ideas. As always, you can also contact us for more ideas or information.

Don’t panic if things don’t work right the first time, there’s help for you, all you have to do is reach out. Once you’ve got it put together and working though, it’s a feeling like no other and will be well worth the headache of getting things running. Your rig will be exponentially better for the same, or sometimes less, money than you’d spend on a pre-built PC.

Rejuvenate Your PC with a Windows Upgrade

Running an older Windows operating system (OS) is a bit like driving your car with the engine light on.  Sure, everything is running smoothly at the moment, but the voice in the back of your head reminds you that things can start to degrade or fail at any time.  You’ll never regret paying early attention to your car’s warning light, and you won’t regret keeping your operating system current by doing a Windows upgrade, especially with our experts to ensure a smooth transition.

Rejuvenate Your PC with a Windows Upgrade

Is a new operating system enough?

It is always tempting to start fresh with a new computer when it’s time to upgrade.  After all, an older operating system is most likely running on older hardware.  There are plenty of cases where simply upgrading your Windows installation makes more sense.

  •  You need to run new software that isn’t compatible with your older OS.
  • Upgrading software AND hardware right now is just too expensive.
  • Your hardware is plenty fast and stable, so you just need a software upgrade to stay flexible, secure and supported.

Can I do it myself?

There are three main areas where an OS upgrade can go wrong, or even result in data loss or the loss of functionality:

  • An older program may no longer run on the new operating system, which may require an additional update or extra configuration to correct.  Prior to any major PC surgery, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst.  This link from Microsoft Answers points to several backup and restore strategies that can help you recover if an upgrade goes wrong.
  • Imperfect or missing support for your existing hardware.  Like your old programs, this may require a driver upgrade to correct, or in some cases, new hardware.  Check with Microsoft to make sure your existing hardware is supported.
  • Your old computer is a storage location for all of your old data, much of which is stored in user profiles.  These profiles contain preferences, history and other data unique to each user on your computer, and it is common for user accounts to become corrupt during Windows upgrades.

Just like you can fix your own car, you can upgrade your own PC.  In both cases, you should have significant experience before you try.  You won’t know you’re in over your head until, well, you’re already in over your head!  Our experts have seen it all.  Contact us for an upgrade, or to talk about what’s best for your situation.

Should You Get Integrated or Dedicated Graphics for Your Custom PC?

One of the biggest questions you’ll ask yourself when building a custom computer is which graphics processor you should use in your machine. The main choice is between integrated graphics and dedicated graphics processors. The decision mainly rests on what you intend to do with your computer.

Should You Get Integrated or Dedicated Graphics for Your Custom PC?

Integrated Graphics

Integrated graphics are where the graphics processing hardware is integrated directly into the main CPU itself. Examples of integrated graphics include Intel Iris and AMD Ryzen with Radeon Graphics. On the AMD processor, the CPU and GPU are on the same die, marketed as an “Accelerated Processing Unit,” or APU.

Integrated graphics are popular on laptops because they allow manufacturers to build smaller machines without the bulk of a separate graphics chip. They also use less power, enabling users to run off the battery for longer.

The downside is that they’re not as powerful as the dedicated GPUs you’ll find in gaming desktop PCs and laptops. If you play a lot of modern 3D games, you’ll likely be disappointed in the performance of an integrated chip, but they’ve been steadily getting better over the years. If you use your computer for basic tasks, you’ll be able to get by with integrated graphics.

Dedicated Graphics

A dedicated graphics chip is a graphics processor that is separate from the CPU. On a desktop machine, it’s usually on a PCI-X card. On a laptop, it’ll usually be soldered onto the motherboard. The main advantage of dedicated graphics is raw performance, whether in gaming, modeling, or video editing.

External GPUs have become more common in recent years and offer a compromise between the two solutions. The GPU is housed in a box that connects to the computer and to electric power. Some enclosures can accept desktop graphics cards, similar to a how a hard drive enclosure accepts ordinary hard drives. This allows for the portability of a laptop but the raw power of a dedicated GPU when higher performance is needed.

Conclusion

If you need advice about what kind of graphics solution is best for your custom computer, please feel free to get in touch.

 

 

 

How to tell when your Computer needs Fixing

Modern computers are quite the resilient beast and many of them can bounce back from any potential damage or particularly hard knocks with relative ease. However, there will inevitably come a time when your computer needs the repair person’s touch. The problem can come in with the fact that it isn’t always obvious when you have a repair-worthy problem and when it’s something you can fix by just pressing the restart button. Here are a few things to keep in mind to try and make it clearer when repair is needed for your computer.

How to tell when your Computer needs Fixing

Unusually Loud Noises

While loud noises aren’t necessarily a sign of the technological apocalypse, if your computer goes from operating fine to making loud noises then it’s time to take note. If nothing else, then this can be a warning sign to check that there aren’t any other problems that need your attention. Anything that sounds like something caught in a fan is also a warning sign to make sure there isn’t a fan with a poorly routed cable causing issues.

Hard Drive Disconnection

If your PC has multiple hard drives then it is important to keep an eye on their connection status. If, one day, the secondary drive starts randomly disconnecting and reconnecting then there are two main possible issues. First is that you could have a bad SATA cable or hard drive power cable. Second is that your motherboard may potentially be failing. Either way, a repair shop consultation is likely a necessity.

Files gone from your Hard Drive

There is no surer sign of a corrupt hard drive (and one that should be replaced ASAP) than when one turns on their computer to continue a major project only to find that a significant number of important files are now gone without a trace. Hopefully there is a backup to restore the files in question. Either way, this is a sign that a new hard drive is in order.

In conclusion, there are times when your computer starts having problems you can fix with a quick restart or by running an antivirus and times when it is seemingly half broken for no well-explained reason. If a problem has no clear cause then a repair technician is your best friend. If you think your PC needs fixing or it just has been acting strangely, contact us. Our friendly and experienced staff are always ready to help.

New Computer? Don’t Forget About the Monitor

There are many things to consider and budget for when planning a custom PC build. At the heart of this process is the usage scenario. What exactly will your PC be doing most of the time? If you’re gaming, what kinds of games will you be playing? Besides the internal hardware of your PC, you must also carefully consider the display that you will use. Computer monitors vary greatly, and just like the PC itself, the monitor you will need depends primarily on the usage scenario.

New Computer? Don't Forget About the Monitor

When looking at a monitor, the two most impactful factors on the viewing experience are a) the refresh rate and b) the screen resolution. The refresh rate is the rate at which the pixels refresh to display an image, and the higher that rate is, the smoother the viewing experience. This is especially beneficial for faster paced games that require lightning reflexes. The screen resolution of a monitor is the density of the pixels in a length times width format. Some common resolutions are 1080p (1920 x 1080), 2k (2560 x 1440), and 4k (3840 x 2160). A higher screen resolution means the display image will be more crisp and exact.

The most important quality to remember is balance. What monitor you purchase will be determined by the hardware in your PC, primarily between the processor and graphics card components. The expectations that you have for a monitor should match the power of the hardware in your PC. For example, you shouldn’t expect a budget gaming computer build to run modern games at 4k with a smooth 60 fps. Understanding the components in a computer will help you to choose the correct monitor for your new build.

Ready to plan your new setup? By consulting with experienced builders, you can be sure to balance your computer with your display monitor, making your overall gaming experience more enjoyable and maximizing the use of your budget as efficiently as possible. Be sure to contact us for information about any current or future PC builds.