Mechanical keyboards are all the rage among gamers and writers. Most people who try them love the increased response and tactility of mechanical switches… and some people really, really like them. Communities like Reddit’s /r/MechanicalKeyboards board and the GeekHack forum are great places to really dig into the myriad options and technologies available to enthusiasts—but they’re not very easy to understand for beginners.
Windows is the home of PC gaming, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a little bit of remodeling. Here are some handy tools to make your gaming life a little easier.
RAM is one of the most essential parts of your desktop computer, and it’s also one of the quickest and easiest parts to upgrade. Modern RAM modules are incredibly simple to use, so it’s rare that something goes wrong in installation…but then when something does go wrong, it gets frustrating quickly. If your computer or operating system doesn’t recognize the RAM you’re using, here’s what you need to do to find the problem.
Back in the days of the iPod, the future of digital music looked like a more convenient, a la carte version of the past: customers could buy single tracks for relatively little money, but the paradigm was still about owning music that you then managed yourself. With the advent of smartphones and always-on connections, the streaming service reigns supreme. Now you can pay a monthly fee (or listen to advertising) for an all-you-can-eat selection of millions of songs.
Photoshop is a fantastically complicated raster image editor, and it’s possible to lose yourself in hours of work when you’re editing photos. But if you do a lot of little tasks and then later realize you’d rather go back, you can only hit Crtl+Alt+Z so many times before you hit the limit in Photoshop’s history panel. Fortunately, it’s really easy to add extra states for history, so you can go back and forth through your artistic progress to your heart’s content.
When you’re assembling a new computer (or upgrading an old one), the motherboard and CPU have a few extra considerations that you need to keep in mind. First, they’re the most restrictive parts to pair: only a relative few processors will fit with your motherboard’s specific socket type. And second, the motherboard selection itself is going to determine a lot of the core capability and direction of your PC build.
PC gaming is experiencing something of a renaissance at the moment, but most people still use their machines as utilitarian web and email access points rather than a platform for video games. But even if your computer has all the graphical power of a sedated hamster, there are plenty of great options for gaming.
If those incredibly masculine pickup truck commercials seem tame to you, if you work at a job with more OSHA inspectors than actual employees, and if you’ve broken more smartphone screens than human bones at your local half pipe, you might be in the market for a rugged phone. These toughened-up models come with extra protection from impacts, water damage, and other otherwise lethal threats to more mortal smartphones.
Annoying as they might be, it’s important to keep Windows updated…just ask the victims of the latest ransomware attack. If you haven’t used your PC for a while or you just want to make sure you’re updated with the latest software, it’s easy to manually check and make sure in Windows.
Part of the appeal of assembling your own desktop PC is saving a lot of money versus the same parts in a pre-built machine. That kind of thrifty attitude can extend to buying refurbished parts…which is where things tend to get a little iffy. Some parts can be had for less with relative safety, and others not so much.
Solid state drives are the future! Actually, they’re the present. While SSDs were a luxury for computer buyers a few years ago, now they’re more or less standard unless you’re going super-cheap or storing multiple terabytes of data, where conventional hard drives still rule. But if you’re looking to update to a super-speedy flash storage drive, is right now a good time?
The Nintendo 64 was the first home game console that featured a mini-joystick, or “thumbstick,” on the controller for 3D motion. But the console is now over two decades old, and while the cartridge-based hardware is practically indestructible compared to modern consoles, the same can’t be said for that thumbstick. Even with Nintendo’s generally high-quality materials, the N64 analog stick is prone to loosening and drifting.
Whenever you plan a new purchase, you want to make sure you’re buying it at an ideal time—nobody wants to be the sucker who put a down payment on that brand new sports car a month before it was replaced with a new model. So it is with PC monitors…albeit on a slightly smaller scale. So, is now (summer 2017) a good time to purchase one or more for that perfect desktop setup?
We’re currently experiencing a renaissance of laptops, with both incredible specifications and some really amazing design work adorning the latest models. As part of these next-generation designs, we’re also seeing a lot of new materials going into laptops as well. Aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, even the super-tough tempered Gorilla Glass—it seems that if you want to make a new high-end laptop or tablet, old-fashioned plastic just isn’t an option anymore.
It’s every little kid’s dream: getting someone to pay you to play the games you already enjoy. And like most dreams, the reality is somewhat underwhelming. A career as a game tester boils down to being an elaborate quality control worker. But there are other ways you can make extra money by gaming at home. Here are a few.
Multiple monitors are awesome. They really are—ask anyone who’s used a two- or three-screen setup for their desktop, and they’ll tell you that they have a hard time going back to just one. Laptops have a built-in advantage here, since they have one screen: to boost productivity, just add a monitor.
Google has carefully designed its account system so that it can be at the center of your digital life. But if you need to use multiple Google accounts (say, if you have a personal Gmail and a work Gmail), things get tricky quickly. Fortunately, Google’s login system has been updated with this in mind, so it can take multiple accounts into, well, account.
RGB lighting in computer hardware, especially gaming-branded gear, is a divisive subject. Either you think it’s really cool and you want it in all your stuff, or you have good taste. (I kid, I kid.) But despite the rather flashy nature of LED-soaked “battlestation” gaming setups, there’s actually a surprising amount of utility to be found deep in all that rainbow-colored extravagance. Even if you aren’t a fan of the aesthetic, it’s worth considering the next time you’re assembling a gaming PC.
Steam has a built-in system for making a backup of its game files, so you don’t have to re-download a full game every time you uninstall it and want to play again later. But like a lot of Steam’s features, it hasn’t been updated in quite a while, and frankly it often manages to break the game restoration process anyway. On top of that, it’s slow, it’s clunky, and you can do better on your own.
As one of its earliest services, Gmail remains the cornerstone of Google’s online presence. So when you forget your Gmail password, and I don’t want to overstate things here, it’s basically like you’re an Internet ghost haunting the halls of your former life.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that we had only one reliable way to connect a computer to an external monitor. Now the good old VGA port, may it rest in peace, is only found on designated “business” machines and adapters. In its place, we have a variety of alternatives, all of which seem to be fighting each other for the limited space on your laptop or graphics card. Let’s break down the options for your next PC purchase.
Firefox isn’t the go-to alternative browser that it used to be, but it’s still a favorite among power users and open source advocates. Here’s a brief guide on how to find out what version of Firefox you’re using…and what the different versions actually mean.
Google knows quite a lot about you based on your search history. That’s kind of the point of search, to learn about people and serve them relevant advertising. But fortunately, the company’s user-facing tools allow you to remove that knowledge at your leisure.
So you’ve just unpacked that spiffy new monitor, and it sits fresh and new on your desk putting your other little displays to shame. Now you have to give it some sartorial splendor: a kick-ass wallpaper from the online repository of your choice. But now comes the conundrum—what if you want to use different images on different screens?
For most of its long history, Microsoft Word has used a proprietary format for its saved files, DOC. Starting in 2007 with the updated version of Word (and Microsoft Office), the default save format was changed to DOCX. This wasn’t simply a belated 1990s “extreme” version of the format—that extra X stands for the Office Open XML standard. What’s the difference, and which one should you use?