Technology is always evolving, fast. The computer that you bought last year is now obsolete and you are planning to get a new one. Before you walk into the store and pay big bucks to the retailers for the latest PC in town, check out this guide on how you can get a better computer, with more juice and power, without breaking the bank.
For those of us who are not geeky in nature, the easiest (and the most expensive) way of getting a computer is to walk into the retail store and pay for the computer on the shelf. The truth is that, the price of that computer is often twice (or more) its actual cost price. To make it worst, that expensive computer you are getting may not even be the latest model. By selling you an older model, the retailers are making sure that you will have to go back again the next year to upgrade your PC. If this sound familiar to you, stop for a while and think, how can I get a better computer with paying an extra dime for what it should cost?
Build Your Own Computer
It may sound like a complicated task meant only for the geek, but apparently, it is not. With a little research and effort, anyone can build their own computer. The biggest benefit of building your own computer is that you can pack a beast into the computer case for only a fraction of what you are going to pay in the retail store. To make it even better, you can mix and match the different hardware and customize the computer to suit your needs and not the other way round.
The difficult part of building your own computer lies in the sourcing of the various hardware. There are different brands and models of motherboard, CPU, RAMs, hard drive etc and they are all interdependent. Choosing the best combination will require you to do plenty of research. As usual, Google is your best friend. Make full use of it for your research. Once you overcome that, putting them together is just a piece of cake.
Buying the hardware
The essential parts that make up a computer are the motherboard, CPU (with cooling fan), Memory RAM, hard drive, computer case, power supply, keyboard, mouse and monitor. Optional parts include the graphics card, sound card, wireless adaptor (if your motherboard doesn’t come with it), DVD-ROM, extra cooling fans, speakers and various gaming controllers if you are into gaming.
You will want to invest in the motherboard, CPU and RAM. This is the backbone of your computer. The motherboard will determine which type of CPU and RAM you can use. The CPU will determine the speed of your computer and the RAM determines the response time of your applications. My order of preference: first choose the CPU, follow by the motherboard, and then the RAM.
Rule of thumb: don’t get the latest release of the CPU. They might boost the highest speed and latest technology, but they are often very expensive and most of the OS and software are not optimized to fully utilize it yet. Instead, go for the second (or third) best, but choose a motherboard that allows you to upgrade the CPU in the future.
As for the RAM, if possible, fill it up to the maximum that your motherboard can support. If not, try to get a minimum of 8GB RAM. You won’t regret on this.
Use Linux Rather Than Windows
If you are not looking to buy a new computer, but are thinking of boosting the performance of your existing PC, you might want to consider switching your primary OS to Linux (my recommendation is either Ubuntu or Linux Mint for middle to high end computer, and Lubuntu for low-end computer). In my experience of using both Linux and Windows, I have found that Linux has always outperformed Windows in terms of speed, stability and hardware compatibility. This is not to say that Linux is better than Windows, but just that the way that Linux is built makes it suitable for all type of hardware, particularly a low-end computer. If you are building your own computer, using Linux also means that you will save up money on getting a Windows license, so it is killing two birds with one stone.
However, switching to Linux is not as easy as it seems. You have to prepare to learn everything from scratch as the user interface and inner working of Linux is significantly different from Windows. Ubuntu has made it easy to use, but still, it is different from Windows. In addition, if you have a particular software that you need and it is only Windows compatible, switching to Linux is definitely not a good idea. In this case, the best solution you have is to optimize your Windows for the best performance.
Optimizing your OS and Regular Maintenance
Last but not least, your computer will work best if you maintain it regularly and optimize it for the best performance. In Windows, this means clearing the Recycle bin, un-installing unnecessary programs, cleaning up the registry and temporary folders, removing unnecessary services from startup etc. You will be surprised how much speed you can gain by cleaning up you computer regularly. If necessary, reformat your hard disk and re-install Windows again. That will clean up everything and give it a brand new life. The same applies to Linux as well.
Other than that, you should also clean up the internal of your computer (hardware). Open up the computer case and vacuum the internal clean. Keep it dust free and you will find that the fan is no longer as noisy and the CPU is no longer heating up as fast.
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