Tag Archives: Desktop

Hardware & Drivers – Gaming

So recently someone came into the store and had a new laptop.  That is – new for them but pre-owned. Wanted to get drivers for the GPU so that they could play a new game they got, but after some checking and downloading on their part they finally came back and asked for help. Turns out the game they want to play requires a lot of power and their laptop just couldn’t do it. So we’ve decided to give a quick rundown of hardware and drivers.

HARDWARE

This is anything that you can physically touch. Even if it’s something inside your PC/laptop that you can’t see, as long as it’s physically there then it’s hardware.

SOFTWARE / FILES

This is the intangible stuff that you can’t physically touch. The zeros and ones that are usually magnetically stored on your machine. Software and files on your PC/laptop don’t have a physical form, but they’re stored on physical media. Drivers also fall into this category and we’re going to get right into that next.

DRIVERS

These are the things that make your hardware work. Basically. Drivers are software packages or files that are used by your operating system (Windows) to learn and know how to interact with your hardware. Let’s say for example your sound/audio. If you just installed Windows on your PC/laptop and no sound drivers are installed then nothing you do would make it work. You just wouldn’t be able to hear anything unless drivers are installed. Windows can’t talk to your sound card and while it may know that it’s there, it just can’t utilize it.

Some persons may argue that they’ve installed Windows and everything works without installing drivers, but that’s not really the case. As operating systems advance they also include a larger database of generic drivers for various types of hardware. There may be some differences in the generic driver included with Windows and the driver directly from the manufacturer however, and we’ll get into that shortly. First, let’s make it totally clear that some of the drivers that are included with Windows may work flawlessly, but some – depending on the hardware – may require additional files from the manufacturer to be installed to access other features.

Using the sound as an example again, some drivers may be installed with Windows that makes your sound work with no problems. If you have a desktop with RealTek audio for example, Windows will install drivers and you will get sound from both the front connectors and rear connectors. In some cases you cannot use both simultaneously as the generic driver only allows sound from one at a time. This is where the drivers from the manufacturer would come in.

So basically – your OS may come with drivers to let your hardware work, but for more features or performance you need the drivers from the manufacturer.

Why And How To Service Your Desktop

INTRODUCTION

“If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” – that’s a statement that I’ve heard used by individuals and companies alike when it comes to their IT equipment. Many of us believe that as long as the PC is working there is no need for any kind of maintenance, but this is a terrible approach and I’ll show you why. Let’s look at a heat sink for a CPU before and after servicing.

BEFORE
Heatsink Before1

Heatsink Before2

Both pictures above are taken of the same heat sink with the fan removed. Without the fan removed you wouldn’t see exactly how bad it is and you might think it’s not so bad.

AFTER
Heatsink After

While most users won’t see the insides of their PC some signs that servicing is required may include the system becoming noisy, slowing down, hanging up or shutting down during usage. Unfortunately most of these signs – especially the latter ones – don’t show up until the system is in dire need of servicing and some parts may have already been damaged as a result of the lack of care.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Well for one thing an excessive amount of dust/dirt is associated with static buildup. This means that there’s a chance of electronic parts dying due to static all because of a little dirt.

Another thing which most persons don’t realize is that dust and dirt in your PC will cause rust. Sounds unbelievable right? But this can be seen in a close-up of the AFTER picture above of the heat sink. Though it was cleaned it still has rust on some sections.

Static will literally kill PC parts and rust will cause extensive damage as it spreads. The really bad part is that when rusted areas on your circuits are covered by dust, cleaning can actually do more harm than good. Why? Because the dust and dirt get attached  to the rusted area, cause breaks in the circuitry, and then once cleaned the parts stop working because of all the breaks in the circuitry. This is one reason why some technicians will refuse to work on units that are either very old and/or dirty.

HOW TO PREVENT THIS?

So how to you clean your PC and keep it clean? You have two options:

First, if you’re comfortable with opening up the case, do so and blow it out periodically with compressed air.

  • MAKE SURE THE PC IS TURNED OFF AND PLUGGED OUT BEFORE PERFORMING THIS TASK.
  • CAREFULLY READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE COMPRESSED AIR CAN BEFORE USAGE.
  • DO NOT TILT THE CAN OR TURN IT UPSIDE-DOWN DURING USAGE SINCE DOING THAT CAN GET LIQUID ON THE PARTS AND RUIN THEM FOR GOOD.

Simply remove the side panel of the PC and blow it out using the compressed air. Even if you’re not comfortable with removing the fan to do a thorough blowout, a basic blowout will still keep the dust under some kind of control until you can get it done thoroughly.

Your next option  – and the recommended one – is to take the PC to a repair shop or call in a professional individual to have the PC serviced since – as mentioned before, some parts will require disassembly and cleaning versus just blowing out.

POWER SUPPLY FAN BEFORE CLEANING
PSU FAN - BEFORE

CPU FAN BEFORE CLEANING
CPU FAN - BEFORE

FANS AFTER CLEANING
FANS AFTER

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO THIS?

I can’t answer this question definitively as each situation is different. I would say however, that everyone should have their PC cleaned professionally at a BARE MINIMUM of twice per year.

Having your PC checked periodically will not only prolong the life of the unit by keeping it clean, it will also help with preventative maintenance since your technician might be able to see potential failures so you can nip them in the bud.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT PROFESSIONALLY?

You should expect a few things to be done when you have your PC cleaned professionally. On the hardware side you should expect that:

  • Cleaning should be done with compressed air.
    • If detailed cleaning is requested then brushes, cloths and cleaning solutions may be used.
  • Checks should be done on the internal cabling.
  • Visible checks on the boards should be done for failing or damaged parts.
  • Hardware checks using manufacturer or third party software tools should be done (if required).

Please bear in mind that professional service costs may vary depending on the degree of work expected. Basic servicing will be cheaper than detailed servicing for example. Other servicing such as virus removal, software configuration or networking may be at an additional cost.

Hopefully the information provided has shown you just how important it is to have your device serviced. Even if you don’t want to do it yourself at least try and get it done every now and again. It’s definitely cheaper than having to buy all new parts.