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April 2016

Tips on How to Build a Quiet PC

If you’re a computer enthusiast who’s ready to mod your current computer with the latest and greatest computer hardware, or if you’re someone who just can’t stand the noise your computer is constantly making, you’re in luck. Below are the top five tips on building a quiet pc.

1.) Power Supply – This is the device that produces the power for your computer. Unfortunately, this is almost always the noisiest part your computer includes. It usually contains one or two fans which are used to cool the device down. Fortunately, with today’s technology, you can now buy power supplies which only use their fans when the temperature reaches a set point. This will both reduce noise, and save energy.

2.) Case Fans – The reasons for having case fans are obvious, to create proper airflow. Unfortunately, for some computers, they’re only there to create obnoxious noise. If your computer is mainly used for documents, internet, and e-mail, chances are you don’t need more than one case fan. A system used for the latest computer games on the other hand, will need proper airflow to bring internal temperatures down to a safe operating level.

3.) Disk Drives – If this is your noise issue, there isn’t too much you can do, except invest in a CD or DVD drive known for being a quieter model, or insert acoustic padding around them. If you’re having issues with floppy drive noises, I’ll just tell you now, you’re way behind in technology. A memory card reader is far faster, and is completely silent.

4.) Hard Drives – Hard drive noises are often difficult to suppress as well. The common hard drive noises are heard when the device is in use, opening a program, installing software, etc. Often the noises are the vibrations between your hard drive, and your hard drives mount. Cushioning your device with padding like silica gel can often reduce some of the noise. If you’re hard drive is making unusual and highly noticeable noises while not in use, there’s a chance it could be failing. Please consult a service technician if this is the case.

5.) Computer Case – This is often forgotten about. There are many types of cases engineered in all sorts of ways. You can even purchase a case with sound padding materials included in it. Consider the material of the case itself. An aluminum case can by flimsy, and can increase noise levels from its vibrations. A steel case however, is more solid, and is less prone to creating vibrations. The down side of a steel case would be its weight. Whichever case you decide to use, adding acoustic sound padding, silica gel, and foam blocks, will significantly reduce vibrations.

Building a quiet pc isn’t for everyone. If you own a brand name computer, you’ll likely have a hard time following the tips shown above. Modifications to a brand name computer could potentially void a warranty. I would suggest researching this first before using my tips. You must also remember that your computer must run at safe operating temperature to avoid any device malfunctions, or even failure. Testing and research is always recommended.

Batteries Are Not Created Equal

Once in the air of a long flight, the attendant informs the passengers that the “use of electronic devices is no longer prohibited”. To pass the time, I decide to pull out my laptop to finish off some work. Normally, I like to use flights for catching up on some sleep, but today I wasn’t feeling very tired. Relying on my laptop battery, that was fully charged the night before, I proceed to catch up on some overdue business. In this midst of one of my many thoughts, something far more tragic than an oxygen mask falling down happens… or at least more tragic at that moment… my laptop battery dies.

My first reaction was to look around for the nearest outlet, only to remember that I am on an airplane and airplanes do not have outlets. I try to reboot, hoping that it was simply a glitch of some sort, but no such luck. Now what? I am left staring at a blank screen with a powerless laptop. As I browse about the cabin, I notice that there are many other businessmen continuing to work on their laptops. One man in particular is using a similar laptop — a model close to the powerless thing sitting in front of me. Why has his battery lasted longer than mine? Surely we have the same brand of battery, and I am pretty sure that mine is practically new. I sit there for a moment looking around with a baffled and confused look on my face. Now, I am left to endure the rest of this flight thinking of how I could have prevented this.

Of course I do realize that it was not the end of the world. My battery dying did not cause any serious damage. None the less, I was reminded of an important lesson. Always be prepared! One never knows what could happen next, so it is always good to have some types of back-up plan. When it comes to batteries, not all batteries are created equal. Some batteries will simply last longer than others. I have a few friends that like to store extra batteries in their refrigerator. I personally find this a bit extreme and silly, but they will swear that their batteries last longer. I don’t know if this type of storage truly aids in longer life for the batteries, but I do know this. Life is unexpected and so are electronics. Next time, whether is it having extra batteries or not, I am going to do my best to be better prepared.

When is Professional Computer Repair Advisable?

There are many computer repairs that the average person can perform without much problem. Things like installing CD-ROM drives, sound cards and other expansion cards don’t take much computer knowledge. How can you know though when you are over your head and need professional computer help?

Some computer repairs are difficult for the average person to do without causing damage to their computer or a peripheral. There are some repairs I’d classify as beginner level, some as intermediate and others as advanced. I’ve already mentioned some repairs I would call beginner level. Some intermediate repairs include replacing your hard drive and installing an operating system. There was a time when something like this was advanced but with modern Microsoft operating systems like Windows XP and Windows Vista, operating system installations are not as advanced as they used to be.

So what repairs should a beginner not attempt? I would suggest some things like replacing your motherboard. The need to replace your motherboard can come either when you are ready to upgrade your motherboard to something newer or when your computer case power supply kicks the bucket.

Another repair I would caution against is based in software. That’s when you need to clean out a nasty virus or spyware program. It is very easy to cause you much grief if you don’t do it right. You could lose access to the data on your hard drive if you mess up your operating system. Now if you don’t care about the data on your hard drive, simply re-installing your operating system while making sure to format your hard drive can usually solve a software problem. Kind of like killing a fly with a large shovel. It works but it is overkill. A professional computer repair technician can help you keep your data while ridding you of a virus infection.

Hard Disks: FireWire Vs. USB

These two technologies are competing to be the best way to connect electronics together. They both began as a connection to your PC or Mac, but they have grown to be a form of data transfer between almost any electrical data storage device. See who is the winner in one of the biggest technological races of this century.

USB first showed up on the map to solve the problem of Plug N’ Play devices. Most devices were, at that time, connected to a computer via a serial port. Serial ports were not intended for such a wide application of uses and it is a relatively slow port. What USB set out to do was to create a standardized plug that can be duplicated easily with adapters and hubs. The result was the same standard port you see today. It is much faster now than its original version, but it has remained as unchanged as a wall socket. When it was introduced, you actually create 144 USB ports from just one source by duplicating it with hubs. Of course, the PC needs to able to handle the software load. USB started popping up on all types of devices from digital cameras to MP3 players. It is now used to even connect devices together with out even using a computer.

Firewire came about shortly after the release of USB. This severely hurt the spread of its use because USB had quickly become a standard for personal computers. It was developed by Apple and released in 1995 on its G3 Power Mac. Apple had the advantage of being the standard computer in the artistic community, so this was the edge that they had on USB. It took a couple of years, but consumer electronics began using Firewire to appeal to the industry that connected video and sound equipment to their Macs. It was also praised for its speed of data transfer. It was nearly impossible to transfer digitized video via USB because it was too slow. Firewire affected the entertainment industry in such a way it won the 2001 Primetime Emmy Engineering Award.

Which technology is better? With the release of USB 2.0, USB has dominated Firewire and almost made it disappear in the PC industry. Mac still embraces it; even cell phones have USB ports on them. USB is now fast, universal and you can actually charge devices like cell phones and iPods through a USB port. Firewire started out with the speed, but USB has pulled ahead in a dominating way.