Here in Southern Illinois we went from a nice spring to a blistering summer seemingly over night. Temperatures jumped into the 90s with heat indexes well into the 100s and while this is not abnormal for summer here it hit so hard and fast I do not think most of us where prepared. This tied into the cost of cooling our homes and the various other economic factors of day can mean our poor PC could be getting pummeled. However a few easy tips can keep that PC from having a heat stroke.
First keep it clean, a PC is a huge electro-dust magnet. As it pulls air through it the dust in the air pulls down into the heat sinks and clogs them, restricting air flow. This is further aggravated by the fact that dust is a pretty good insulator, holding in heat that would otherwise dissipate.
Cleaning a PC is actually very simple, go to the local Wal-Mart and but a can of compressed air. Take the side panel off your PC after you have unplugged it. Use the compressed air to blow out the dust that has accumulated in the heat sinks and else where in the PC. Put the side panel back on and you should be ready to rock.
While you are cleaning your PC be sure to look at where it is located. Does the the PC have adequate air flow around it. You want at least 3” or 4” of clearance at the back of the PC, the front should be open with no obstructions and if you have a side vent you want it to have at least a 3” clearance as well thought it would be better if it was open.
To often I will work on a PC in a home where the desk has been designed to put the PC in this little box. This desk design is EVIL and will actually harm your PC, give it room to breathe.
Also make sure the room you have the PC in has adequate air flow. To often people will take a back room and create and “office”. This office however will be a smaller room off the main air flow path of the house. If you have a setup like this then at least put a fan so the room gets a good air flow to it.
Also consider a change in your computing habits. I personally leave my PC on all day. However if you are not going to be near your PC for the day consider shutting it down. At the very least change your energy management on the PC to allow for an S3 sleep mode or even Hybrid Sleep as introduced in Windows Vista. This drastically reduces the power draw of the PC and thus reduces the heat it generates.
If you are going to build your PC then you have the perfect opportunity to prepare for hot weather from the start. Smart case selection is a MUST for building a PC that will live in a potentially hot environment.
Antec a while back introduced the Nine Hundred which had at the time arguably the BEST air flow of any case on the market. Since then a lot of companies have copied the design concept but in my opinion Antec still rules. With three different price levels it is now possible to find the case that will fit your budget and still keep great cooling. For budget considerations the Antec Three Hundred is impossible to beat. At a price point of $60 or less there is no other case that provides the cooling potential of this case. The Nine Hundred Two is the second generation of the Antec Nine Hundred and is a nice evolution of this case design. The higher price point might push the build budget a bit more but you do get a little better cooling and of course there is the bling factor of all the lighting. Finally the Twelve Hundred is the bad boy of the line, a full tower case with enough fans to create a mini hurricane inside the case. The cost is a bit to the high side but it is arguably one of the best cooling cases on the market and the full size tower gives a lot of room to build in.
All three of these cases however come with a SUPER feature for keeping your PC cool, air filters. The filer system intercepts the air as it enters the case and catches most of the dust particles before they can get to the components. However you NEED to be sure and clean these filters. I personally suggest monthly. It does not take a lot of time and it keeps your PC free of dust and cool in operation.
Another way to cut the temperature while building is to put on a third party heat sink for your CPU cooler. While the stock heat sink and fan setups are adequate for the job sometimes we want to push the edge a bit. Good coolers from companies like Thermaltake, Zalman and Zigmatek can help reduce the CPU temperature by 5 to even 10 degrees centigrade. While it is really hard to burn up a CPU today due to new designs, the high heat can force them to slow down and this means your PC slows down. A little bit of extra cooling on a really hot day may be difference between your computer functioning normally or running like an old Pentium II.
Now there are of course other ways as well to cool the PC in a new build, as well as in an upgrade. Slot coolers allow you to either put an air intake in a specific location to help cool the PC or some designs work to give extra heat exhaust. Replacing case fans with higher speed fans will help as they move more air through the case, helping it cool better. However these come at the price is a big increase in system noise so be sure that the noise will not be an issue when considering this level of upgrade. A better solution might be multi-speed fans. This allows you to raise the speed when needed for extra cooling and lower the speed when you need quieter operation.
Last but not least is the PSU, yes the power supply can help cool your PC. Now most people consider this and instantly jump to the conclusion that the fan on the PSU will somehow help, WRONG. The key to your PSU helping with heat is to make it more efficient. 80Plus certified PSUs have less waste electricity and thus generate less heat. Not only do they save you a little money on your electric bill, they keep your PC a little cooler.
Now you may have noticed that in all these tips I have not mentioned liquid cooling. The reason is simple liquid cooling has a risk associated with it. You see if an air cooling system has a fan fail the computer might heat up but the odds are it will not be damaged and a simple fan replacement later all is fine. Liquid cooling systems are much more complex and if they fail there is the potential for a real mess, literally. It is not just the cooling fluid going every where however I am referring to. I have seen failed liquid systems actually burn up components. You see an air cooling system relies on the air. Even if the fan breaks the basics of the cooling is still functioning so while your cooling may be crap it is functional. A liquid cooling system relies on the movement of the liquid. If the liquid leaks out or the cooling pump fails the system has NO cooling at all and damage can ensue. Now I am NOT saying that air cooling will never damage a component if it fails but I am saying the chances of a failure in the cooling damaging a component is higher with liquid cooling.
At the end of the day however all the fancy parts and techniques for cooling your PC still comes down to rule number one, keep it clean.
So as you spend your time keeping yourself cool this summer, every couple of weeks be sure to check to make sure your PC is staying cool with you. because nothing can make YOU lose your cool faster than a PC that has lost it’s.
I posted on Sunday that you could download the new free version of AV software from Microsoft, however yesterday the demand for the beat out stripped what Microsoft had planned for and so they have stopped the downloads. I am not sure for how long the downloads I have linked will work but I am betting they go off line soon.
Microsoft is planning to release this in time for the Windows 7 release so people should not have to wait long for the final version. I will be doing a full review on the show this Sunday and will provide a write up here as well.
Greetings to the faithful from the great north of Illinois, no not Chicago, I am in Rockford enjoying a nice vacation with Lisa and her family. A personal note before I begin this weeks post, I asked Lisa on Wednesday to marry me and she said yes.
While sitting up here enjoying the lake and nature I still kept my connection to the tech world and have a few things to pass along.
Microsoft as released their first Beta of the Morro Antivirus application, or have they. I found a link to download it and will pass that along but have not yet found the “official” page from Microsoft for this.
I have been using this on the laptop for a few days and so far so good. It is very unobtrusive and the scanner on it is pretty quick. I will do a more thorough test when I get back and put it against the HD of Doom to see how it fairs. If you want to give it a try here are the download links.
Next up we have the mess that still seems to be the Euro Browser war. This is insane. I mean lets get serious why should Microsoft be forced to included products from other companies on a DVD they make at their own expense?
What’s worse is we are taking people to court because the software they give away free is used more than the software someone else gives away free! Call me crazy but is there such a thing as a harmful monopoly on FREE!?
Oh and please do not get me started and the whole ballot thing that Opera wants. Evidently the head of Opera feels the people of Europe are to stupid to know how to make a choice without a multiple choice question.
Seems however my call to boycott Opera on last weeks show was the only one. Whole sites have begun to spring up and Opera is taking a PR backlash that will pretty much destroy them. So we know what is coming next, Opera will ask the EU to demand that MS pays for a PR campaign for Opera.
I think the head of Opera needs to realize the fat lady has sung and go back to flipping burgers at McDonalds.
Speaking of the EU and suing, The Intel decision is coming down and it looks to be HUGE! Well they deserve it because they did perform acts that violated the trade laws. However people are getting a bit crazy about this.
I think anyone that reads this blog or listens to my show knows I am a big proponent of AMD and their current pricing solution. However lets be clear, in my opinion the reason AMD does not own a larger market share has more to do with the AMD PR Department than anything Intel has done.
I have said before and I will say again if AMD will let me have a stab at it’s marketing campaign I will raise it’s market share 2 points in 90 days! People that know me know that I do not make such a boast idly, I really think I can do this.
AMD needs to quick pushing the over clock and push the value that it’s platform offers and then target those ads at the right people. It is seriously that simple and yet AMD cannot seem to get this right. Come-on AMD I am waiting, you have my number, lets get this party started.
Finally speaking of suing. do you think the song Dude Looks Like A Lady by Aerosmith is worth $80,000.00? Well evidently the courts do and I sure hope Jammie Thomas-Rasset does. She has been fine $80,000 per incident in her trial with the record industry. Since she is being accused for 24 songs this is a but load of money, but it could have been worse as the record industry claimed they had proof to go after her for over 1,700 songs.
With free solutions now out there to find music you like there is NO reason to be doing illegal music downloads. In fact lets just call it as it is you are a theft. Parents need to also crack down as I see all the time computers where the kids are sharing the music and parents does not have a clue. Remember you are responsible legally for the monetary issues created by a minor.
This win by the record industry will spur them on to take more actions so if you are doing this STOP, if you thought about doing this don’t. If you kids are doing this then I have a suggestion.
Take their computer and internet away, make them live in a tent in the backyard for the next week and have to walk to the laundry mat to wash their close. Feed them only beans and rice and explain to them after a week that was the result of just one song. Do it again we will give you a month!
Eighty Grand for a song, come on I can listen to the commercials from radio before I will pay that and I like Aerosmith.
A while back I came on the show and raved about something neat I had found, I had discovered that FaceBook and MySpace allowed for a free gaming system. They offered games you could play with friends that where free, well actually a pay of incentive system but still very inexpensive.
I enjoyed some time there playing some Space Wars and Mafia Wars but grew bored as I realized they where all the same game with a different package and where repetitive to the point of nauseam. However THAT is not my reason for complaint against these sites.
Since Windows 98 I have never been hit with a virus, not even an alert. Now this could have been dumb luck but I like to think it was through careful effort of applying a good AV program and common sense techniques I have talked about before on the show. However once I started using MySpace I discovered I was seeing an alert that a virus had been stopped hit almost daily if not multiple times a day.
Now since the only thing I do on the site is play my little games I figured it had to be a flaw in the game and so contacted the game creators Zynga. However after trading a few emails with them I discovered that they where nothing but a marketing company and the game was purely run by the social network, in other words I was getting the Virus from FaceBook.
Now if it was just me getting this infection I would say it was a coincidence and throw it out as bad luck but over the course of the last 6 months I have seen a number of infected computers and ALL of them have one thing in common, FaceBook/MySpace or even other social networking sites.
Now let me be clear I am not saying nor do I think that Facebook or other social networking sites are trying to infect PCs. The truth is I feel sorry for them as they must face the brunt of this and know that their best efforts to stop it will never keep up. What what do I mean by that? Well big you have big obvious in the room, virus makers want a lot of targets, that is after all why they attack Windows so heavy. So if you want a lot of targets on a web site to infect what would you choose?
So does this mean we should stop using social networking sites, no. I think with a bit of common sense these can be okay to. But what it does mean is we should exercise more care on these sites. The very nature of these sites promotes some very strange behavior in my opinion. I mean my own kids have the bug.
My daughter the other day came to me so proud to show me she has over 1000 friends in Facebook. That’s great I told her you can never have to many friends but when did she get a chance to meet all these people. She rolled her eyes at me as 18 year olds do to us old people and I smiled. Oh I know these are internet friends by meet I mean actually have a conversation with via voice chat or even a text chat.
Well she began explaining to me she had not really chatted with 99% of them. They had asked her to be their friend or she had ask some of them to be hers because they just wanted to add more friends to their list. Why I asked? Because it is cool was her reply. So let me get this straight it is cool to have a group of people on a list that you know nothing about, have no clue who they are and are just there to say you have them? Again with the eye roll thing.
Do you see the point? The idea of social networking is great. I make a friend, he introduces me to his friends and while we not be friends I now know they and we share a common friend. This can be a handy thing to have, especially in business where it hooks you up with great contacts. However the concept of not even having a common real friend or real connection just saying look how many are on my list is silly for me. Well silly for me but is pure gold of spam marketers, pedophiles, virus writers, phishermen and more. The openness of the current social networking revolution is an open invitation to scam or attack me.
The main reason I hear from people of WHY they use these sites is to stay in touch with their friends. I know one friend uses his site to post pictures of himself and write little stories talking about events in his life. Oh wait, that sounds like a blog. Well it is but it is a blog with a friends list. In other words you know that a group of people know each time you update the post. Now this is great if you actually keep this to friends and family which he does. That is the key.
By simply actually using friends on the friends list we can cut down the attacks on our systems and persons when online. In fact the only reason to invite the unknown on our list, which millions do each day is to say look at me world. If that is something you want to do then by all means do it, but do so with your eyes open and realize that your computer has been opened to all sorts of potential nastiness.
In closing I will say that no I do not any longer use any of these sites. If I need to post thoughts I have a blog for that and make sure everyone knows where it is. If I need to get a more personal message out I use email or even better the phone since you are a fool if you have to pay for long distance calls. As for the number of friends I have I am content with just a few. I trust them with my life and I never have to worry if behind the online personae is really an old man hiding in mommies basement pretending to be a 20 something year old 110 pound blonde from Florida.
Here in Southern Illinois we have an interesting set of statistics. Of all the churchs that exist in the region close to 35% of them are Pentecostal. The really interesting statistic however is that only about 3% of the church going people of the region attend these churchs. Further that number equates to less than 1% of the entire area population.
Now I know what you are saying, what does that have to do with computers. Well lets take this strange statisitcal situation and compare it to the computer industry for a moment. Of websites that are geared to help people deal with there computers, close to 95% of these sites are primarily focused on the elite or enthusiast user. Yet in the market place the elite user accounts for only about 2% to 3% of the active market share.
Oh it gets better, lets look at gamers and those same sites. The enthusiast geared sites use FPS games as one of the primary ways to say if or not a part is worthy of purchase. YET FPS gaming accounts for the one of the lower percentages of computer gamers, around 10%.
What does this all mean? We have an elitist mentality that exists in MANY of the so called pundit sites on the internet today. They cater and focus to these small groups and yet those of us in the real world are left with limited resources. Until recently it was not just websites, even hardware companies did it.
Until about 2 years ago the industry was focused on how to keep the elitist happy. New processors where focused at the high end with lower end equipment coming along as an after thought. Video card makers would produce massive monster cards costing extreme amounts of money and they once those cards had all been “approved” by the enthusiast sites they would bring out lower priced varieties.
Luckily for us the hardware industry, led by AMD began to get the picture. AMD has shifted focus to the mainstream and this year with the Phenom II x3 and X2 as well as the 4770 GPU they have given the average joe a chance to get into the computing hobby fully without breaking his piggy bank.
However the web sites still tend to lag behind. Oh a few are making the move, a new site Hitechlegion has openly stated to have a more broad audience target that includes the enthusiast as well as the casual computer. A few of the “big” boys have even taken the time to do a few more articles geared toward the more mainstream computing hobbiest. However, overall the majority continue to focus on pure FPS rates and how high they can overclock their hardware.
Now the last time I did a piece like this a few web master got their panties in a bunch because they felt I was “attacking” their. Let me do some clarifying, I do not begrudge these sites. Over the years they have helped the enthusiast market move the industry forward and they should be applauded for their efforts. So what is this article railing against then?
I am not asking these sites to spend more time focusing on mainstream, I am however wondering why we do not see more mainstream sites? Not just websites, magazines tend to be going the same way. There used to be a great magazine called Family Computing, it was geared toward home PC use. It was a wonderful resource for the home user, but even it eventually went away.
It’s not just the websites or the magazines however, we now come full circle back to the hardware companies. Wait a second, did I not say earlier that AMD was leading a charge to a more mainstream approach? You bet they are, their hardware and pricing have made mainstream move forward greatly. However why are they not marketing it? I mean you see material about the Phenom II and all you hear about is the overclocking. Oh sure you get some mention of the great value but that si added as an after thought and it should be the primary message.
In the end I guess what I am getting at is the time has arrived for the web sites, magazines and tech companies to wake up. The majority of us do not play computer games to the extent we need to wear depends to get through a gaming session. We do not tweak our hardware to the point that we have to use liquid nitrogen and keep an AC running in the winter to cool the computer room. We do not run our systems on $800 monitors and pay as much for our computers as a good used car. So we do not need just websites geared toward that crowd, nor do we need hardware companies to put their major efforts or focus to those people.
The time has come for a wake up in the industry and the focus to shift. We need to see more websites that will focus on the computer “hobbiest”. We need to see hardware companies put ads that hit the mainstream where they live and focus on features the MAJORITY of us care about. I started down this road over 15 years ago, putting my focus and effort into the average joe in computing because I saw an industry that leaves him behind. I saw the average person forced to rely on the opinion of the people at Wal-Mart because the industry did not have time for them. I am one man and live in a relatively small community and yet I have taken this approach and vision and been able to move forward with it. Imagine what would happen if some of the bigger boys with the resources to do it put in the effort.