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Buying a Computer Motherboard.

What is a motherboard / mainboard ?

The motherboard or mainboard is the heart of your computer. It is the ‘brain’ where all the processing is handled for running applications, browsing the internet or sending and receiving emails.

How do I know what is the best Motherboard to buy ?

There is a plethora of motherbards available in the marketplace today, ranging in price from a few tens of pounds up to several hundred pounds for some top-end models. All motherboards will have the same set of basic features, connections for USB and SATA devices, Networking, Memory and in some cases the newer M.2 devices. Video and Sound may or may not be included. Computer Solutions will be happy to advise on what is best for your particular requirements.

Popular Makes

Motherboard manufacturers are constantly bringing out new models to support the latest range of processors and memory. Basically motherboards fall into two broad categories. These are Intel motherboards that support Intel’s range of processors and AMD which support AMD’s range of processors. The two are not interchangeable. You cannot use an Intel processor in an AMD motherboard and vice-versa. Popular makes to look out for are ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI. ASUS and MSI are particularly popular with the gaming community. For the budget conscious Asrock do some less expensive premium motherboards, with a good all-round feature set.

Motherboard Features

Almost all motherboards today should have sockets for the DDR4 memory type. This has now superceeded the DDR3 memory type popular 3 or 4 years ago. Your motherboard should also have at least two SATA hard drive sockets as these have also superceeded the older IDE hard drive sockets. Budget motherboards tend to have built in sound and video as standard.

For those motherboards that do not have a built in video socket the standard is now PCie, which looks like a jumbo PCI socket. Most manufacturers are now ONLY providing PCIe sockets, with the older PCI sockets now becoming hard to come by. Some budget, motherboards do still have a built in VGA video socket, although the trend now is towards HDMI as the de-facto standard This is the connector to which your monitor is attached.

As a minimum your motherboard should at least be capable of normal stereo sound output usually via a 3.5mm mini jack socket, as well as a microphone input and a line output socket too. Many motherboards today should be capable of 2.1, 3.1, 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound features as standard.

Higher end motherboards will usually have built in HDMI and DVI sockets for multiple monitors or multiple networking LAN ports, which can be used together. Sometimes on-board wireless adapters are also included. Expect to pay more for these features though.

Buying A Processor & Motherboard Together

This is undoubtedly one of the best options buying both the processor, motherboard and sometimes the memory as a bundle can result in a saving and you know that everything is going to work together as intended. But beware of extremely cheap deals as these are usually based on stock that the retailer is finding it difficult to sell. The shelf life of a motherboard can be very short. There are new ones coming out all the time.

Cost & budget

With all motherboards it really comes down to which features you would like and what budget you have available to spend. For most people who are browsing the Internet or working from home, the basic motherboards will suffice. However if you are a “die-hard” gamer or software developer then a more expensive motherboard, with some degree of “future-proofing” or “overclocking”, where the processor can be made to run faster than the manufacturer intended might be suitable. We are always happy to advise you in this respect.

Computer Services from Computer Solutions

Computer Services start with Kenilworth Computer Repairs the home of Computer Solutions. They provide a P.C, Laptop and Computer maintenance and repair service, that is second to none, for Kenilworth Warwick, Rugby, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Stratford Solihull and the surrounding environs.

Their fully fitted retail and workshop is available from Monday to Saturday and is baed at 3 Park Street, Leamington Spa CV32 4QN. One of their experienced Computer Repair technicians will be pleased to assist you with all your I.T. requirements.

They also offer a free collection and delivery service, of your computer equipment within Warwickshire.

Computer Solutions have been establised in Warwickshire since 1988 and they aim for complete customer satisfaction and they always work to the highest standards.

Workshop contact hours are from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, but we will take general enquiries until 9:00pm.

So whether you are an individual or business user, Computer Solutions are the only people you’ll need to solve your PC or network problems.

Choosing a Graphics Card

 

Graphics cards have come a long way in recent years.

There are basically two types of graphics card or video hardware. There are the ‘on board’ video cards, built into the motherboard and often used as a selling point for the motherboard itself. then there is the ‘add in’ video card, which will occupy one or more PCie sockets on the motherboard. Many motherboards support the option to install two or more graphics cards, which are designed to work in tandem with each other.

Depending on whether you choose AMD graphics cards or NVidia graphics cards will determine whether they are connected using SLi (Scalable Link interface – nVidia) or Crossfire, the not too dissimilar AMD platform. Essentially they both achieve the same thing, in different ways.

On-board video cards are generally for everyday use, Web Surfing, You Tube and the like. Generally they may have up to about 1Gb of video memory, which may or may not be shared with the system memory.

For the average user who may just be surfing the Internet or doing a bit of Word Processing, a built in video card will suffice. Motherboards of this design sometimes but not always use some of the main system memory as graphics memory.

The advantage of this design is that no extra memory chips are required on the motherboard thereby reducing the cost of manufacture.

The disadvantage of this design is that you might not be able to use all of the memory that is available. Generally normal memory runs more slowly than dedicated graphics memory, so don’t expect blistering, gaming performance graphics performance from an on-board video card.

Power computer users, designers and hardened gaming addicts will almost always opt for one or more add on video cards and there really are a multitude to choose from. A graphics card can range from a few tens to several hundreds of pounds.

For example the one built into our demonstration machine here in the shop was in the region of £680.00 plus an additional £150 for the liquid cooling system. That’s a total of £830 just for the graphics system alone.

Graphics processors and graphics memory has evolved at a much faster rate than normal memory. Each new generation of graphics memory doubles the data rate of the previous one.

Currently we are on GDDR5 for graphics memory speed, while normal system memory is at DDR4. The more graphics memory available to a system and the faster the graphics processor, the better results it will produce. This takes advantage of the growth in the gaming market and the ever increasing complexity in gaming software.

Nearly all add in video cards will feature an HDMI, DVI and/or a VGA socket and/or an adapter for backward compatibility. Some of the higher end cards will also include High Definition HDMI sockets too.

What on Earth is RAID ?

Not so long ago we had an interesting on site repair. A Dell XPS PC system was refusing to boot properly. After having checked all the obvious stuff we realized that this had a 2Tb RAID (redundant array of independent disks) hard drive array arranged as 2 X 1Tb hard drives. This was where the problem was.

There are seven main varities of RAID, labelled RAID(n) where n is a number between 0-6, with RAID (0) and RAID (1) being the most popular on smaller systems. Each have their own distinct advantages and disavantages.

RAID (0) provides improved performance and additional storage but no fault tolerance. Any drive failure destroys the array, and the likelihood of failure increases with more drives in the array.

RAID (1) allows multiple copies of the same data to be written to more than one physical hard drive, such that if one fails there is less chance of data loss.

One of the hard drives in this particular system had completely failed, to the point where the hard drive was not even spinning up.

We were able to rebuild the machine, with the remaining working hard drive and Windows 7, however it was not possible to recover any of the customer data.

This highlights one of the disadvantages of this particular RAID (0) hard drive system. They will give great performance and data access times providing one of the hard drives does not fail.

If one hard drive does fail as in this case, all of your data is probably NOT going to be recoverable, since a RAID system like this needs a minimum of two drives

RAID (1) would be a better choice as data is written identically to multiple drives, thereby producing a “mirrored set”; at least 2 drives are required to constitute such an array. This allows complete system recovery should one of the hard drives fail.

The “No-Fix No-Fee” Myth

Several computer repair companies offer something called a “No-Fix No-Fee” service. This is supposed to mean that if they cannot fix it then you won’t be charged. This is generally true but it really depends on how you define the word “Fix”.

Professional computer repair companies will generally charge an “inspection fee” and this will be detailed in their booking procedure and usually deducted from the final job cost. There are many different problems that can occur with a laptop or P.C. These can be caused by a multitude of different things. Most people would expect to pay for diagnosis and / or  repair.

If you have had your computer for some time, the chances are you will have it looking and running exactly the way you want it. To the customer the word “Fix” means that they want their computer exactly as it was previously. They want their emails and documents in the right place and they want all their installed software working.

To a lot of PC engineers the word “Fix” means ‘Can this computer boot Windows and does the customer still have their data ?’ This does not necessarily resolve the problem that caused the error initially. The error will therefore most likely happen again at some random point in the future.

A good competent PC engineer will do a couple of simple checks to try and eliminate this possibility. First they will check the date stamp on the hard drive. If it is more than about 5 years old then it is probably time for it to be replaced as hard drives being mechanical do wear out with age. They should advise the customer of this and also advise on whether repair is economically viable.

If the problem is motherboard related then these can sometimes be repaired, although it can be expensive. This is particularly the case with laptops. This sort of repair will never usually be carried out on site, as the machine will require specialist attention.

So no-fix no-fee is really dependent on how you define the word “fix” and can the suggested repair be proven for long enough to call it a “fix”.

In short be careful with “No-Fix No Fee” as your definition of a fix may be wildly different from the service you actually receive.

Bluetooth Keyboard for Tablets

Some people do not like the fiddly on-screen keyboard aspect of Tablets. To that end Computer Solutions have sourced a range of small but beautiful portable Bluetooth Keyboards, to get around this problem.

Powered from two AAA batteries they have all of the functionality of their larger counterparts and are finished in stylish white and silver.

Designed for people on the go they work well with most Android and Windows based Tablets, with an astonishing battery life.

Measuring just 11.25″ X 4.75″ X 5mm thick, they are small enough and light enough to fit in a bag, laptop case or sleeve and are the ideal companion for any Tablet user.

For a demonstration call at the shop at 3 Park Street, Leamington Spa and we’ll be happy to show you how they work.

 

 

Computer Solutions – Cables for every occasion

So you have moved house 5 times and have built up of a box of cables that no longer seem to fit anything.

You need not worry at Computer Solutions we might just have the cable you are looking for. We have most types of Monitor, USB or network cable available from stock. We even carry some of the newer MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) cables which allow you to use your phone with an external monitor.

Call in today we might just have what you are looking for.

 

 

New in at Computer Solutions from Terra Computers

Two new brand new machines just in from the German company Terra Computers. First we have the Terra Pad 1061, ideal if you are on the move and want the best in portable computing.

With a weight of only 600 grams, it features the intel Atom Z3735 processor running at an impressive 1.33 – 1.83 Ghz. It has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity and can run for up to 9 hours on one battery charge.

2Gb of RAM 64Gb of storage are complimented with the Windows 10 32 bit Operating System, together with Intel HD Graphics and an integrated camera.

Available for pre-order now. Reserve yours today.

Next we have the Terra 1514 Laptop, a thin and yet very light Laptop Computer. This machine features a 128Gb SSD (Solid State Drive), for quick starting, a 15.6″ Full HD AHVA non-glare display, 4Gb RAM and Intel HD Graphics.

It has Wireless LAN & Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity together with USB 3.0, HDMI, 2 USB 2.0 ports, card reader and headset connectivity.

Featuring the Core I3-6006U processor, it requires only 45 Watts at 19 Volts. Pop in for a demonstration today.

Available for pre-order now. Reserve yours today.

Computer Solutions Does Gaming !

The Computer Solutions team recently built a full on Gaming System. We know how all you people love to game. The system is on display here in the shop and was built by Steve  Major. Featuring the following :

  • MSI Titanium Motherboard
  • I7 Processor 6700K
  • 1080 Founders Edition Water Cooled Graphics Card
  • Hard Line Fluid Cooling
  • 24Gb, Corsair Vengeance RAM
  • M.2 Boot Drive
  • Dual 1.0Tb WD Red Hard Drives
  • 2 X Radiators
  • 6 X Vardar Fans
  • Super Flower 750 Watt PSU

Come and have a look at this amazing system if you are passing. We’re currently running a number of benchmarks on it and have had in excess of 100+ FPS

 

 

 

 

 

Computer Solutions Providing Computer Repair, Sales & Services In Leamington Spa

From December the 20th 2013 Computer Solutions of Kenilworth will be the ONLY people with a drop off workshop and mobile service capable of providing service in Leamington Spa.

After more than 25 years GSS Systems of Park St. will no longer be trading and their workshops will close.

The company owned by Mr Mike Smith and Mr Peter Deverill has been sold to Maple I.T in Coventry. A condition of the sale is that the Leamington shop will cease trading and cannot be operated as a computer shop.

With the owner of Spa Computers on Clarendon St, Leamington Spa also set to retire shortly, and the recent demise of Jade Computers in Warwick, this means that Computer Solutions of Kenilworth, also known as Kenilworth Computer Repairs, are the only people left servicing the majority of Leamington Spa.

Over the years we have had a good relationship with both companies often providing much needed cover in the GSS Workshop. We are in the process of purchasing much of their test equipment and hope to be able to offer the same service to the people of Leamington Spa.

Computer Solutions would like to take this opportunity to wish all at GSS-Maple in Coventry well for the future.

Computer Solutions can offer a comprehensive repair service to desktops and laptops as well as new PC Systems and Networks in Leamington Spa

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