Is your CPU dying?

processor

A CPU is one of those PC components that is both the subject of immense awe (wow! It’s 3.8Ghz monster with that much cache?!) and hair-pulling frustration (why does my darn PC always restart and make that alarming beeping sound!).One of the biggest risks of buying a processor is that there is a chance that you may actually purchase a lemon. The worst thing about this though is that a CPU, once it is found to be broken, cannot be fixed. You will have no choice but to replace it. It won’t be a problem if the processor is still within its warranty period. But if it’s not then you can kiss the money you paid for it goodbye and prepare to bleed while you buy a new one.

If you do get a dead processor you basically have two choices, replace it with a processor of the same “model” or get a new system. Of course, getting a replacement for the processor is more cost effective but with the fast turnaround of technology, the processor in your motherboard may be obsolete now, which will make it nigh impossible for you to get a replacement. Because of this getting a new system is usually the option that is generally taken.

One good thing that comes out of this situation though is that when you replace your bad processor, the replacement is not only cheaper but also faster than your buster component. Because of the steadily falling prices and ever increasing speeds, this is a natural inevitability.

The not so good news though is that if your motherboard does not support the new processor then you will have no choice but to also buy a new motherboard. One way of determining if your present motherboard supports the new processor is by checking with the mobo manufacturer regarding CPU upgrade information.

Defragmenting your Hard Drive

defragmentation

As a PC owner, it is your responsibility to take care of the precious (and likely expensive) hardware that you have bought. Taking care of it not only means wiping dust off the CPU case and on the monitor. You also need to do periodic maintenance on important parts of your PC. One of these very important tasks is to defragment your hard drive.Why is there a need to defragment the hard drive? Well to answer that, we must first explain what happens in a hard drive. When a computer uses a file or files it puts them into various parts of the hard drive. If a certain file is too big to fit in a particularly space then it is cut into many pieces and placed in different places all over the hard drive. As your hard drive becomes filled with more and more disjointed files it gets longer and longer for the computer to find the files that you need. The process of defragmentation will organize the files so that it will be able locate any file more easily.

When defragmenting you should really schedule enough time for this particular chore because it really takes a lot of time to defragment drives especially now when the capacity of hard drives have really dramatically increased.

When defragmenting your hard drive with a disk defragmenter program always remember not to use your computer when the actual process is being performed. Defragmentation is a time intensive process so it would really be best if you allocate a schedule when you will not be using your computer. If you religiously maintain your hard drive by defragmenting frequently, then the processing time of the hard drive will also be lessened because the level of fragmentation is kept low.

Speed up your hard drive the cost effective way

hard drive

Most casual computer users do not know this but keeping a “clean” hard drive is the most cost effective and easiest way of speeding up their computer. By optimizing their hard drive, seek times are cut short resulting in a more robust computer system. Don’t you think that it is harder to find what you are looking for in a file cabinet that is full of junk and unimportant or unnecessary files? That is the same case with hard drives. The CPU has a harder time accessing the files that it needs if there are so much junk in a hard drive. As a big improvement to your system’s performance you should remove all of the files that are obsolete or you do not need anymore. It will not only speed up your system it will also free up valuable disk space.One of the first things you should do when spring cleaning your hard drive is to look at your applications and documents. First, open System Tools and use Disk Cleanup to remove the unwanted files in your hard drive. You should then open all of your document folders and delete all of the documents that you do not need anymore. If you have important documents that you want to keep but will not access that often, copy it in a diskette or burn it to a CD or DVD, then delete the files from your hard drive after you’ve made the back-up.

You should then uninstall all of the unwanted applications in your system. Use a good uninstaller program to more thoroughly remove all of the program components from your system.

The Science of Overclocking

Processor

When you buy a computer’s processor, that processor’s core speed is usually preset at a certain level. But for many PC enthusiasts, the preset core speed will not stop them from determining the upper limits of a processor’s capabilities so they overclock these processors.Overclocking is a process in which a processor’s stated speed is pushed to its upper limits is a way for PC enthusiasts to exploit and get more speed from their existing PC components, most frequently the processor. For example, an AMD AthlonXP 2500+, a processor that was quite famous for its high overclockability, has been tweaked by many enthusiasts and after overclocking its frequencies was able to make it run up to a speed that is similar to an AthlonXP 2800+. That is a decent bump in speed that does not require buying anything else.

This concept of buying a processor and then bumping up its performance to approximate the speeds of more expensive variants is the reason why overclocking is very popular. In fact, there are small groups of PC “geeks” that make it some sort of bragging rights to be able to increase the speed of a computer part (say a processor) to its most upper limit and past the previously recorded overclocked speed.

But before you do it though, be aware that overclocking, although it sounds like fun, has its own dangers. First of all, overclocking a computer part basically voids its warranty. So if something happens to the particular part then you can’t have it replaced even if it is still under warranty. Which leads me to my second warning. Overclocked computer parts run significantly hotter than when it is running at stock speeds. Overheated parts can cause crashes and even general system failures.

Increase RAM by minimizing applications

RAM

A computer’s RAM plays a big role in how fast a system will respond. This is because information or data that is already in the RAM makes accessing that data faster than getting it from the hard drive. Of course, the more RAM is used by other applications, the smaller the amount of available RAM that a processor will use for other functions – and this will generally result in a general system slowdown.One way to make a system run faster is to get more RAM for your system. But this is an expensive solution. A far simpler and more cost effective method is by more conscientiously using the available RAM in your system.

In order to illustrate this, try to start any application. For example, Word. Open a few documents and then press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to access the Windows Task Manager. Go to Processes and then sort the list in a descending order based on Memory Usage. You will see that winword.exe (the executable file for Word) is near the top using a significant amount of RAM.

Now go to Word and then minimize the application. After doing this go back to Windows Task Manager and look for winword.exe again. You will immediately notice that the amount of used RAM by Word has drastically gone down.

So in order for you to maximize the usage of your computer’s RAM you should minimize each and every application that is not in use so that you can free up RAM space and thus result in a better performing system.

Choosing a video card: Different Slot Types

Video card

A video card is one of the most crucial parts of your computer. Without it, you will not be able to see anything on your monitor – and what good is a computer where you can’t see anything right?With the advent of PC gaming, video cards have become caught in a constant cycle of improvements to bring the most realistic level of graphics to gamers and even casual computer users.

So what if you are a gamer, what should you be looking for a video card in order to get the most gaming goodness out of this PC peripheral?

First of all, you must decide what kind of connection the video card will be using in your motherboard. Currently, there are three video card slot types that are used by mother boards.

PCI or Peripheral Component Interconnect is considered as the old standard and was quite popular in computer systems years ago. PCI video cards are relatively faster than integrated video options (a built in video card on the motherboard) but is the slowest among the dedicated graphics slot types. This option is actually considered as obsolete.

AGP or Accelerated Graphics Port is the acknowledged standard for graphics and only one AGP port can exist in a motherboard. The current AGP standard is called AGP 3.0 or otherwise known as AGP 8x. AGP is much faster than PCI because it has a dedicated connection.

The newest kid on the block is called PCI-Express or PCI-E. This is the fastest among three video slot types. More and more motherboards are now offering PCI-E slots for video cards. Each lane in PCI-E is clocked at 2.5Gigabits per second. Most high end video cards usually come in PCI-E variants to showcase its high-quality graphics capabilities.