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Easy Upgrades (part 2)


Last time we spoke about upgrading your RAM, this time we shall upgrade your graphics card.  As far as improvements to an old PC go upgrading your graphics card is one of the most obvious and most cost effective ways to achieve more performance.

Lets get started. How do you choose a graphics card? First determine whether your computer uses a PCI Express interface or the older AGP variety. PCI Express is white while AGP is brown.

Once you know the interface then it is onto who makes them.  Well there are two types of graphics card producers – nVidia and ATI. Both do similar graphics cards and the difference in price is marginal . My advice is to set a budget, take a look at their products and then choose which card offers the performance you are looking for. Here at ComTech we use www.novotech.co.uk to source the majority of our products and graphics cards are no exception.

Before you install your new shiny graphics card you will need to uninstall the software for your existing card, and in most cases remove the existing card from inside the case. On a windows machine use the Control Panel>Add/Remove Programs (XP) or Control Panel>Programs and Features (Windows 7 / Vista). On a linux machine use the package manager which came with your distribution or the uninstall instructions which came with the source code.

Next we have to physically install the card. First thing is to unplug the computers power cable. Then you need to discharge your static electricity by either wearing an anti static wristband or by touching a piece of metal prior to touching ANYTHING inside the case. Failure to do so could result in damage to components inside the case.  Open up the case locate the grapphics card and switch it for your new one.

All that is left is to install the drivers.  The graphics card should come with windows drivers on a CD.  Just insert it and follow the instructions.  On a linux system you will probably have to go to the venders website and download the drivers as source code.  This brings me to a good point.  To get the most out of your graphics card you should go to your venders website (www.ati.amd.com for ATI amd www.nvidia.co.uk for Nvidia) look for the support or download section of the site and follow the links to the latest software for your card.  Then you just download and install.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Easy upgrades (part 1)


Last time we discussed refreshing your windows PC using software.  If you are still looking for more performance then you have two choices – upgrades or buy a new system. Before you decide ask yourself this question – what exactly do I want my system to do?  If you just use word processing and some internet browsing then maybe installing some more RAM would be enough for you.  If however you are into your gaming then we are talking graphics cards, RAM and maybe even your processor.  Be warned however that upgrading your system in some cases can be as expensive as buying a new system.  Way up the cost v performance prior to starting out.

OK lets talk about upgrading RAM.  RAM is your memory, the more you have the faster your computer can access resources on your system.  So we just install as much RAM as possible right?  Not quite, your motherboard will support a maximum amount of RAM.  After this point is reached any more you install is a waste because the motherboard will not be able to use it.  Check your motherboard documentation first.  If you don’t have the documents then check on the internet.

First thing to check is to see which type of RAM you have and how much.  This is where a screwdriver will come in handy as we are going inside the case. WARNING Never touch any component inside the case until you have discharged your static electricity or you will fry the components!!!  Best way to do this is to wear an anti-static wristband or if you don’t have one touch a piece of metal prior to going inside the box.

Always touch the two ends of the RAM module and never the middle.  The RAM module will be identified by something similiar to PC133-333-520 512Mb 133MHz CL3.  The CL3 stands for the latency and goes from CL1 -3 where 1 is fastest and 3 is slowest. You can’t use CL3 in a system which requires CL1 for instance.  The 512MB is the amount of RAM installed on the system but the most important information however is the PC133.  The 133 stands for 133 MHz and is the bus speed of your motherboard – essentially how fast your motherboard operates.    Therefore this system requires RAM which can operate at that speed so it uses PC133 and you have 512Mb of it.  RAM modules come in different sizes from 64Mb (very old) to the newer 2Gb varieties but always replace your RAM with the same type or your system will have problems.

Once you have identified what type and how much you have it is time to go shopping.  One of the best places is ebay.  Brand new memory can be found at very reasonable prices – approx £20 for £1Gb is not unheard of.  Then it is time to switch them over.  There should be two slots for your RAM to sit into.  You release the clips either side of the RAM module and slip it out, doing the reverse when placing in the new RAM.

And that is it!! More performance for not a lot of work or money.  Next time graphics cards.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

 

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