Performance Video Cards

  • Powercolor Radeon X800 GT. A leading manufacturer of video cards, Powercolor has come up with the Powercolor Radeon X800 GT card. It is PCI Express based, runs on 256MB of DDR3 memory and a maximum resolution of 2048 X 1536. Cheaper than many of the cards in this list, but still gives extremely good 3D performance. Great value for money.
  • BFG GeForce 7800 GTX. Another PCI Express graphics card, the BFG GeForce 7800 GTX runs on 256MB of DDR3 video memory and a maximum resolution of 2048 X 1536. BFG produces quality video cards and the GeForce 7800 GTX is no exception. Its price may scare off the casual user though.
  • ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. The ATI Radeon 9800 Pro is still one of the hottest selling high-end video cards in the market. The Radeon 9800 Pro graphics processor scores very high on most benchmark tests. With an AGP 8X interface, 128 MB of DDR video memory and a maximum screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, this card is highly recommended.
  • Connect 3D Radeon X850 XT Platinum. Built on the Radeon X850 XT graphics processor, the Connect 3D Radeon X850 XT Platinum is a PCI Express card that runs on 256MB of DDR3 memory and a maximum resolution of 2048 X 1536. Highly recommended for spectacular 3D performance, and gives the GeForce video cards a run for their money.

Buying a good performance video card will reap many benefits – you’ll be able to play the latest 3D games in full screen glory, as well as edit video and graphics with ease.

However, please take note that having a good video card does not necessarily translate to great video performance. Factors like your CPU, motherboard and system RAM will come into play. For example, having a BFG GeForce 7800 GTX installed in a old AMD Duron or Intel Pentium Celeron system will definitely not give you the desired video performance you seek.

Buying Inkjet Catridges

The warning that your printer is almost out of ink can signal stress in some people. Figuring out which inkjet cartridge is best can seem like an impossible task. The best place to start is taking a look at the cartridge in your printer. Check what type it is and try to buy the same one. In some cases, though, the cartridge may not be available or for some reason the same cartridge can not be found. In that case the following tips may help.

  • Avoid generic cartridges. The ink used in these cartridges may damage your printers nozzles.
  • Figure out the printing quality you need. Ink cartridges made by the same manufacturer as the printer will produce the best results. These cartridges are also the most pricey.
  • Take a look at the printer warranty. Some manufacturer’s warranties are void if an ink cartridge is used that is made by a different manufacturer.
  • Look at the page yield of the ink cartridge you are buying. This will tell you how much printing the cartridge will do.

To prolong their life of your inkjet cartridge and save money on refills you can also take a few steps. Do not let the cartridge dry up as this can burn out the printer making it unable to print even with a new cartridge. Do not run one cartridge when the other is out because this will also ruin the jets and cause future issues. You can also lightly shake a cartridge side to side to help the printer use the remaining small amount of ink.

About Uninterruptible Power Supplies

When power failures occur, your appliances or any other electronic devices are the things that suffer most from the damaging. Your computer unit is featured with a power supply, a device that is used in generating electricity to keep it operational. The switcher technology of this device will convert the alternating current line into direct current input. This enables the computer to start functioning. However, once a power outage occurs it will stop producing power. As a result, the computer will end its operation. As mentioned, this occurrence is detrimental to your computer. If this incident continues to occur, it will suffer serious damage and require extensive repairs that could run into a lot of money.

Fortunately though, there is a device that counters the situation in the form of Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS. A UPS is a device used to protect computers and electronic equipment from the damaging effects of power outage incidents. It is a battery-driven power supply that is active even whenever sudden loss of power has occurred. There are certain types of uninterruptible power supplies with variety of capacities. There is a small unit type that can service a single computer in a home or office. There is also the kind that can provide protection to a business environment that runs with a big computer network.

Uninterruptible power supplies are necessary tools both in large business establishments with a wide network of computers and in a home/office with individual computers.

Choose a CPU

Obsolete Processors

These would refer to those processors which were around 5 or more years ago. They will typically come with older refurnished or budget computer systems. Be very careful if you are purchasing such CPUs as your system’s speed will definitely slow to a crawl. Worse still, some software on the market today simply cannot be run using older processors.

The Windows XP operating system, for example, needs the newer crops of CPUs to function. Overall, I’d only recommend buying these processors if you want to do extremely simple tasks with your PC – like word processing or general web browsing. Some examples of processors in this category would be: the older AMD Athlon CPUs and Intel Celeron CPUs, AMD Duron CPUs, and Intel Pentium III CPUs.

Budget Processors

Strapped for cash? Consider purchasing CPUs in this category – which include yesterday’s top-of-the-line CPUs which have been discontinued or the newer budget CPUs. While you may not get extremely good performance, these CPUs will give you the best bang for your buck.

While you’re not going to get super-duper performance for more CPU intensive activities like gaming and video editing, the speed provided by these CPUs will be more than enough for general applications. Under this category, you’d be looking at processors like the AMD Athlon XP, AMD Sempron, Intel Celeron (2.4 GHz and higher), as well as the Intel Pentium 4 (2.6 GHz and lower).

Mid-Range Processors

The CPUs in this category would have been king of the hill just 6 months ago. Due to the entry of newer, faster CPUs, processors will drop in price and become more affordable. These processors will still scream in performance and are very popular among current PC owners.

Whenever I upgrade my computer, I always go for CPUs in this category. To sum up: thes CPUs here give slightly outdated but extremely powerful performance. Examples include the AMD Athlon XP (2800+ to 3500+) and the Intel Pentium 4 (2.8GHz and higher) CPUs.

High-End Processors

Want drop-dead performance? The CPUs in this category will scream even if you run the most demanding gaming or video editing applications in the market today. Of course, be prepared to fork out serious cash. If you absolutely want no less than the best, be an early adopter and go for one of these CPUs.

Personally, I tend to avoid buying top-of-the-line CPUs for two reasons – the high prices and stability. These CPUs are not only expensive, they are also unproven – I’ve heard cases of extremely new CPUs crashing or overheating. CPUs like the AMD Athlon 64 FX and the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition fall into this category.

Purchasing an Inexpensive PC

On-Line Retailers

There are many excellent on-line retailers such as TigerDirect (www.TigerDirect.com) and TechDepot (www.TechDepot.com) who can provide substantial savings on PCs, peripherals, and accessories. On-line retailers also typically have huge inventories including components, and consumer electronic items such as digital cameras, PDAs, and MP3 players. The lowest cost PCs may be factory close-outs (PCs being replaced by more current technology) or reconditioned/refurbished (good as new, but not new). They will work fine and be more than adequate for most average home-computing needs.

On-Line Refurbished Equipment and Outlet Stores

Many computer vendors and retailers also have factory outlet stores and/or refurbished equipment outlets. Again, although not the latest technology, or even brand new, these PCs will meet most computing needs and will be much less expensive. Refurbished equipment/outlet retailers include:

  • Amazon.com – Amazon.com has an “Outlet, Used & Refurbished” store that can be found under the “Computers” category. Here they offer both clearance items and refurbished items at substantial savings.
  • Dell Outlet – Dell has an outlet store that offers savings on Dell desktop and laptop computers, as well as other Dell accessories and electronics, including monitors, printers, handhelds, and TVs. Select “Home & Office” on the main page of the Dell Site (www.Dell.com) and then scroll down to find “Dell Outlet”.
  • Gateway Remanufactured Products – Gateway offers outlet prices on remanufactured Gateway desktops and laptops. Select “Remanufactured” on the Gateway site (www.gateway.com).
  • HP Outlet Store – Hewlett-Packard offers outlet pricing on HP desktops, laptops/notebooks, monitors, printers, cameras, and televisions. Select “Outlet” on the main page of the HPShopping site (www.shopping.hp.com) to find their offering of products.
  • IBM – IBM offers IBM Certified Used Equipment that has been refurbished and tested to IBM specifications. Offered items include desktop PCs, notebooks, printers, monitors, and parts and accessories. Enter “refurbished PC” into the search bar of the IBM site (www.IBM.com) to find what they have to offer.
  • Iomega – The Iomega factory outlet offers excellent prices on Iomega removable disk drives, portable disk drives, internal and external disk drives, flash drives, DVD, and CDRW drives. Select “Outlet” off of the main page on the Iomega site (www.iomega.com).
  • TechDepot – TechDepot offers both clearance items and refurbished items off of their site (www.TechDepot.com). Select either the “Clearance” or the “Refurbished” tabs on their home page to find what they have to offer.

On-Line Auctions

Perhaps requiring the most patience and persistence are the on-line auction sites. For those with the right temperament, good deals on PCs and related products can be found at eBay and at CompUSA Auctions.

Creating a Wireless Desktop

The Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

This is the first device that you will probably buy for your wireless desktop. This is the basic starting point and probably the most effective. The keyboard and mouse wires cannot be hidden away from sight as they have to be straight in front of you. plus limiting the mouse wire can mean limiting the mouse movement as well. So A wireless keyboard and mouse will give you a better looking desktop as well as freedom to move your keyboard where you want it. You can have it on your lap or anywhere else in range. Having a wireless mouse will also help in gaming. Most wireless mice are just as responsive as corded ones and your wire wont snag at that vital moment when online gaming.

Wireless Printers

While printers are not being produced as wireless as yet. The idea is very much being worked on. Currently what you can by for your USB connected printers is a two small connecters that plug into your printer and USB port which connect together like a wireless network. Its almost a wireless USB connection if you like. I doubt that is how it will be described though. The advantages of the wireless printer as well as the lack of wires behind your PC is the range can be increased as well as you being able to place your printer in a place where a USB cable would be unsuitable to travel. A second advantage would be that connecting your printer to a wireless network for sharing will be much easier.

Wireless Networking

I think the biggest advantage of wireless technology has to be Wireless Networking. While Bluetooth technology is does not have the range in which to be affective at networking computers together. RF technology is still used however and is very easy to setup. For a simple network (peer to peer) on two computers all you need is two wireless networking cards setup to the same channel. More complex networks can also be setup using a server and workstations. Anything you can do with a wired network you can do with wireless technology.

While we keep saying that the main advantage of wireless technology is that you don’t have wires lying around everywhere, this is more true than ever when we are talking about wireless networking. When your computers are likely to be located in different room, the last thing you want is for wires to be laid around your home or office being an eyesore. Plus should you wish to move your computer at anytime, you don’t have to re-route the wires connecting your network together.
Security on Wireless networks is set by adding a name for your network which all computers on that network must be assigned to connect to, plus then you can add a password to keep unwanted intruders out from your files. Software firewalls are also recommended on wireless connections (as well as wired) just for added security against unwanted virus’ or Adware/Spyware.

Wireless Headphones / Microphone

Wireless headphones are readily available from many manufacturers. These are really one of the most practical uses of wireless technology behind the networking. Wireless headphones allow you to freely listen to your music, game or whatever noise your PC is making anywhere in your room without the restriction of wires. Even if your wires are long enough they will still be a little dangerous stretched across the room. And we all know you like to dance around your room listening to your favourite tracks. A set of wireless headphones could save you a few quid on broken items that your headphone wires have snagged on and brought crashing down to the floor :).

Wireless Speakers

Wireless speakers are poking out of the woodwork and those of you that have a 5.1 or above sound system will just how many wires are involved in that setup. Not only do you have connection to the computer but each speaker is connected to the sub / power box and and you also have the volume control to deal with. At time of writing this the US seem to have a decent supply of wireless speakers where as only a few can be found in the UK. I am very sure that wireless speakers will become a lot more popular in the UK over the next couple of months. Wireless speakers will remove loads of wires from the back of your computer. Using a 5.1 wireless system will allow you to place your speakers in the perfect position without any restrictions or ugly wires running along your walls or floor.

Choose a PC Case

External Space

The first factor to consider is how much space your PC case is going to take up. Are you placing it on a tight, crammed desk? Or on a large desk? If you have the space, tower PC cases are a good choice. If you’re short of space, you may wish to consider smaller mini PC cases which are getting more popular these days.

Internal Space

Another factor to consider is how many components you wish to fit in your PC case. If you’re a computer nut like me, you’ll want to fit in a good motherboard, CPU, a couple of hard drives, video card, LAN card, cooling fans, a CD-ROM drive and a DVD writer. That’s a lot of components to be cramming into a PC case! Again, a good choice would be a tower PC case. However, with so many components, you have to watch out for overheating problems – make sure you deck out the system with a couple of good fans.

Motherboard Support

One thing you must absolutely remember – check that your motherboard can fit into the case! Some cases are flexible enough to support AT, ATX and Baby-AT boards, but others only support one of these sizes. Even then, you need to be careful – some cheaper ‘ATX’ cases don’t really fit ATX motherboards. I remember buying a wonderful ATX motherboard and it couldn’t fit into my PC case! Imagine my frustration!

Power Supply

Most PC cases come with power supplies. With more and more components being fitted into a PC, you will certainly need enough juice to power them. My advice is to go for at least a 400W power supply. Also make sure the unit is ATX 2.01 compliant to avoid motherboard compatibility issues.

Cooling

If you’re a overclocker or have many system components, you’ll need to ensure you’ve got enough fans in that case to cool the system. Good PC cases allow multiple (4 or more) cooling fans to be installed, ensuring good ventilation.

Looks

Just a few years back, PC cases were boring white boxes. These days, you can find a plethora of colorful PC cases – if you’re concerned about your PC’s ‘look’. Many PC enthusiasts I know go for good looking PC cases that come in a variety of colors – red, black, green, blue and what not.

Coaxial Cable

Coaxial cables are used as transmission lines and are constructed to provide protection against outside signal interference.

Coaxial cables are used primarily for CATV and other wide band and video application. Coaxial cable is called “coaxial” because it includes one physical channel that carries the signal surrounded (after a layer of insulation) by another concentric physical channel, both running along the same axis. The outer channel serves as a ground. Many of these cables or pairs of coaxial tubes can be placed in a single outer sheathing and, with repeaters, can carry information for a great distance.

Coaxial cabling is the primary type of cabling used by the cable television industry and is also widely used for computer networks such as Ethernet. Although more expensive than standard telephone wire, it is much less susceptible to interference and can carry much more data.

Most common coaxial cable impedances in use in various applications are 50 ohms and 75 ohms.

50 ohms cable is used in radio transmitter antenna connections, many measurement devices and in data communications (Ethernet).

75 ohms coaxial cable is used to carry video signals, TV antenna signals and digital audio signals.

There are also other impedances in use in some special applications (for example 93 ohms).

It is possible to build cables at other impedances, but those mentioned earlier are the standard ones that are easy to get. Different impedances have different characteristics. For maximum power handling, somewhere between 30 and 44 Ohms is the optimum. Impedance somewhere around 77 Ohms gives the lowest loss in a dielectric filled line. 93 Ohms cable gives low capacitance per foot.

Info of Printer Calibration

The fundamental action in printer calibration is to calibrate the monitor. The correct driver for the printer has to be simultaneously ensured. The printer driver gives the necessary assistance through controls for fine-tuning the general color from the printer.

This is adequate for the type of color one wants, based on one’s requirements. Two common means for further printer calibration are visual and mechanical. At times a more exclusive and precise choice is to utilize a hardware device that can read the output from the printer and make the desired modifications. For most normal users, visual calibration or the application of generic color profiles for the hardware is enough.

The basic visual calibration process entails the use of test images with an extensive variety of tonal values. Tonal values comprise a number of color bars, photographs, and blocks of colors. They can be visually corrected with onscreen and print colors. Preferably, one should print a test image, then contrast and modify the grayscale and color outputs in the controls a printer offers.

In both the cases of visual and color management software, target images offer a variety of color and grayscale for the purpose of calibrating monitors, printers, scanners, and digital cameras. ICC profiles are a suitable means of confirming coherent color. These files are particular to each device on the system.

They provide information on how the device generates color. With printers, the perfect job is to generate detached profiles established on numerous arrangements of ink and paper. This impacts the manifestation of the printed substance. For more accurate color management requirements, one can use color management software to expand routine ICC profiles for any device.

Toner Cartridges

In 1938, the first invention that would lead to the laser printer and toner cartridge was patented. The process, knows as “electro photography”, used a dry printing method, not that different than today’s laser printer. It was 1948, however, before the commercial application of electro photography because available.

In 1959, the first automatic reproduction machine, the Xerox 914, which used a dry printing process. In 1978, the fine tuned technology was applied to the computer printing needs of business and private citizens. Physically large and with a large price tag as well, the Xerox 9700 laser printer that used a toner cartridge wasn’t affordable by individuals except the wealthy.

Everything changed in 1984 when Hewlett Packard began to market the “LaserJet” printer. This printer came with a replaceable toner cartridge that was not difficult to change, although it could sometimes bit a little messy. The really problematic part was that people who used the LaserJet had stacks of expensive but empty toners stacked in the storage room or wherever they could find to store the toner cartridges.

This problem was quickly resolved by environmentally aware designers by re-manufacturing the laser toner cartridge. This significantly reduced the cost of using laser printers.

Nowadays we have the luxury of having a laser printer on our desk at home if we want that type of printing. The as well as the initial outlay for the printer has become quite affordable and provides a unique, very professional looking print out.

Today, laser printers are manufactured by many companies and the price tag is only slightly more than the common ink printer (though colour laser printers are still quite expensive the gap is getting smaller). The laser toner cartridge costs have been reduced so that it is reasonable to use the laser printer at home as well as at the office. In fact the toners are usually much cheaper when you take into account the larger number of pages you get for the amount you pay (the industry uses the terminology ‘cents per page’ or CPP)

Basically there are 2 types of cartridges, originals and non-originals and there are 2 types of non-originals being compatibles and remanufactured (this goes for inks also as does the information below). Otherwise known as non genuine, after market this is how they work:-

  • Compatibles are actually a brand new cartridge manufactured to work in the same way (without breaking the trademark, copy protection laws) as the same original cartridge with the same machines. The benefit you gain from these is obviously cost savings with at times massive savings up to around 50%. The downside is they are not as environmentally friendly as remanufactured toners and there are the occasional failures and complaints about lower quality (though failure rates for the top companies making these are within industry norms and not significantly higher than those of the original manufacturers themselves)
  • Remanufactured toners however are a little different as they take an empty original (it should have only been used ONCE) and fill it with toner. As long as you buy from a reputable retailer it will have also been checked to determine if parts need to be replaced as well as toner refilled. You also get good cost savings as you do with compatibles but the environment wins out big time as you helping ‘close the loop’ by reusing an empty original. Once again the same applies as above with quality and failures (both negligible in my experience as a retailer in this industry).

NOTE: Its worth making a special note here that disposing of empty toners is a problem worldwide as the plastic they’re made of takes so long to break down and the toxicity of the toner inside. In many countries today there are programs available where you can get rid of your empties without just throwing them in the bin. In fact if you hunt around you’ll probably find a company will pay you for them as they need a constant stream of empties coming through so they can remanufacture them.

When purchasing a re-manufactured laser toner cartridge, be sure to read the box carefully and ensure you are selecting the right toner cartridge. The first time you purchase a re-manufactured toner cartridge, the box may look entirely different or very plain because these inexpensive toners are often not packaged in fancy, colourful boxes like the name brands. But then they don’t cost what the name brand toners do, either.

If you use a reputable retailer for your home/office supplies they should have a clear policy in place not only about faulty toners but what happens if a cartridge has somehow caused damage to your machine (this would be very unusual by the way). Under these circumstances this policy should give you a full warranty to have the equipment repaired ASAP at no cost to you.

With my clients when they ask what I suggest I always recommend they try a non-original to see for themselves the quality etc. In any case the trick is to be able to make an informed choice with someone you trust so at least if something goes wrong the people you bought from haven’t skipped the country.