Windows is great at a lot of things. Handling its sound devices is not one of them. Despite the fact that most desktop PCs come with multiple sound output options (standard stereo, surround, front and rear, and so on), it’s still a pain to actually switch between them. Let’s see if we can change that.
Valve’s self-branded Steam Controller might just be the most exciting thing to emerge in video game inputs in a decade…but that doesn’t mean it’s intuitive to set up. Just as the double-touchpad design takes some getting used to, its software needs some serious tweaking by the end user.
When it comes to digital distribution for PC games, Steam is the undisputed champion, serving up approximately 2.4 billion total game sales as of March 2017. But just because it currently has a lead in the market doesn’t mean you need to curtail your choices for digital game purchases. Here are 10 alternatives to Steam for PC gamers, some of which offer Steam compatibility, and which often beat it on price as well.
Fraps is best known as an easy and lightweight way to see an active readout of your PC games’ frames per second—that’s where the name comes from. But it’s also a surprisingly flexible way to record game footage for posting to YouTube, Twitch, and other web video services. The relatively low resource usage and easy activation make it ideal for quickly starting and stopping the record function. Here’s how it’s done.
Most of the steps in building your own desktop PC are fairly self-explanatory: thanks to the modular nature of PC parts, it’s actually hard to mess up. But there’s one exception, and it can get messy.
In the immortal words of Jacobim Mugatu, mini-ITX gaming PCs are “so hot right now.” While home-assembled gaming computers have generally been focused on the larger mid-tower ATX standard for decades, a recent wellspring of tiny, powerful components have made more compact builds worth considering.
If you’ve spent the extra money for a 4K TV, monitor, or laptop, you’d probably like to have something to watch on it. Unfortunately, several years after the first sets came to the market, we’re still severely lacking in actual sources for ultra-high-def video content. Options are limited: as of early 2017, here are the online and pay TV services that offer 4K content.
Razer recently announced a new customer loyalty program: PC gamers can earn virtual currency, called “zSilver” and saved in a “zVault,” just for playing the games that they’re already enjoying. Games are launched from Razer’s Cortex desktop program—a bit like Steam without the built-in game store—and tracked minute-by-minute, earning zSilver that can be exchanged for Razer-branded hardware goodies.
Chrome is Chrome, right? You download Google’s browser—now the most popular in the world—and you’d think you have the same experience as everyone else. But like most large software vendors, Google releases Chrome in differing “channels,” testing out features in more unstable versions before they get to the release build that hundreds of millions of people use every day.
If you’ve been trained on Microsoft Word since you started using a computer, maybe you’ve never looked at those other writing options in Windows. Notepad and WordPad are both developed by Microsoft itself, and included in every copy of Windows. Don’t dismiss them out of hand—while neither are as powerful as paid software in the same niches, they might just do for you.
If you hear a distinct “clicking” or tapping coming from your PC, it’s probably worth investigating. Let’s take a look at some problems that can cause your PC to make a clicking noise.
If you’re using a desktop PC, you might have heard odd noises coming from your speakers or headphones at times. It may sound like a buzzing or whining when doing basic tasks, sometimes escalating with more intense use like games or streaming movies. To solve the problem, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing it.
You don’t need a gaming mouse to play PC games—just about any mouse with two buttons and a wheel will play anything you want it to. But that’s no reason to deny yourself the wonderful variety of gaming mouse designs on the market. A gaming mouse won’t make you a pro, but it can give you a slight competitive advantage and make some games much more comfy and convenient to play.
Modern PCs are ridiculously powerful, so creature comforts like low noise levels have become more important. Most noise comes from your cooling fans, spinning drives, and optical drives (if you still have one), though there’s one other lesser-known noise source: a phenomenon called “coil whine.” It’s a high-pitched electronic squeaking or scratching noise, and it’s really annoying.
Moviegoers already know the bliss of a good surround sound setup, but PC gamers have an even better reason to invest in a little audio immersion: beating the snot out of their online opponents. A good surround sound system can make a surprising amount of difference in fast-paced competitive games, helping you hear where other players are on the map.
Laptops, especially gaming laptops, are a study in compromises. Smaller machines are lighter and easier to travel with, but bigger, heavier boxes offer the dedicated graphics cards necessary for high-end gaming. An external graphics card let you have your cake (no lie) and eat it too.