What size storage do I need?

Types of storage devices

A storage device commonly referred to as a hard drive stores the operating system, applications and personal files you have. They come in a few forms, and can be seen with terms attached to them like HDD, SDD, M.2 and in the Intel specific builds optane memory.

With these the speed and therefore cost per GB increases with the HDD option being as low as a few cents per GB and some optane options approaching $10 per GB, due to the storage mediums age. typical, cost effective configurations will utilize a combination of a low capacity SSD and a high capacity HDD.

Why use a SDD?

The main advantage of SSDs are the read and write speeds of the drive. This translates to faster load and save times of files. A PC on the latest NVME SSD can see boot times of less than 10 seconds vs. a load time on a HDD typically hovering around 1 minute. That speed also is noticeable in applications when they are starting up or as you save your work.

Why use a HDD?

A HDDs biggest advantage is the low cost of storage. Therefore you can store more without breaking the budget. The best user scenario for HDDs is to store applications that you sporadically use and personal files, such has photos, music and videos. These don’t require high speed access, unless you find yourself constantly accessing some of the files, then it is best to move them to an SSD while working on them and transfer them back to HDD once completed. You can also choose to keep your system back up on this drive or supplant it with an external HDD.

Optimal Combination

Therefore, a common thought process of what size hard drive becomes more of how much fast disk space do I need and how much slow disk space do I want. Builds nowadays will feature a SSD of at minimum 240GB, around 80GB is used for a Windows 10 OS. IF all you use your PC for is a simple internet browsing and light email, maybe a little word processing, this is sufficient for your needs.

If you consider creating personal folder, such as albums of images and videos, you may want to consider also utilizing at minimum a 1TB HDD to store these on. This separation of personal files and OS allows for easy retrieval of personal files if you primary drive becomes corrupted. It also keeps the files that will be randomly saved at different times from forcing the computer to pull information from different section of the drive, slowing down the speed it reads.

This bare minimum amount will help with providing enough headroom for the accumulation of data.

For larger applications that you need to use constantly and need faster access to, the more you should leverage onto an SSD. The rule to keep in mind is “need to use on SSD, want to keep on HDD”.

As you budget increases, you can shift to a like to need/like to use SSD. Examples in gaming can typically half loading times of the start-up of a game or even game levels. It can also increase your Frame rate as the data is more readily accessible to be utilized by the CPU and GPU. It is a great quality of life upgrade.

When should I Upgrade?

If you find yourself at you capacity limit, it is probably a good time to consider either replacing or, if you have additional slots, installing a secondary drive.

How to identify a good case and PSU

Computer cases and PSUs are often the last considered parts of a computer build and usually suffer in the budget allocation. But both are essential components in a system. One, houses, isolates and insulates the delicate computer components from the environment, the other provides stable power supply while protecting the system from errant power fluctuations and surges.

How to choose a computer case.

When choosing a case, you should consider:

Ease of access into the working area of the case

The case needs enough room to be able to work inside and add/change the components as necessary.

The size of the case is a suitable size for the motherboard, AICs and Cooling

Along with space to work in, it needs clearance between the components and the inside of the case to allow for air movement and the ability to plug cables correctly without causing crimping or the cable coming into unnecessary contact with other parts and rub.

Cable management solutions

Best case, cables are allowed to run through channels along the backside of the motherboard where it will not interfere with the components and airflow. It also looks neater when hidden from view.

Placement for computer cooling solutions

The case should have enough fan slots to allow you to add fans as necessary. If you intend to liquid cool your system, ensure the case will allow enough clearance for your radiator, pump and reservoir and it has the anchor points to secure these in place.

Drive slots

Ensure the case has enough drive slots/bays for the types of drivers that you intend to use on your system. Builds these days do not typically have optical drives, as such, case makers are starting to remove support for these drives in some of their cases. If you intend to use a DVD or Bluray drive, ensure your case allows one to be fitted and it has easy access to the loading tray.

The systems ability to ventilate

Airflow is crucial for a system to dissipate waste heat. If the case is too restrictive, it may cause not enough ventilation through the case’s intake and exhaust ports. Likewise, if the internal layout is restrictive of airflow in a section where heat can build up the heated air can stagnate in an area heating the components around it.

Size of the case compared to the area it is intended to be located.

A computer, like any electrical device, needs clearance around it to allow for airflow into and out of the case. It is recommended for any electrical equipment to have at least 5cm clearance along the side edges. The more powerful the computer is, the more consideration you need to ensure the placement of the computer allows for cool air to be drawn in and hot air is exhausted out and away from the computer to dissipate. Having a liquid-cooled PC in a wooden box with no ventilation will still cause it to overheat once the temperature inside the box equalises and rises with the computer’s temperatures.

Choosing a PSU

The ATX standards and 80+ certification make choosing the PSU as simple, quality-wise.

Watt rating

A PSU has a watt rating attached to it. This is the maximum load the PSU can supply at any given point. Much like any device, it is not designed to spend a significant portion of its useful life at this maximum, and when choosing a PSU, you should consider a buffer between the max load that your system can draw of 10%.

Also choosing higher is ultimately just wastage of the budget that could be spent on other items that can actually improve performance.

 Efficiency

Most PSUs come with an industry voluntary 80+ certification. This certification stipulates that is at a minimum of 80% efficiency at any power load. There are different levels of certification with the higher tier ones offering better efficiency. The highest tier 80+ titanium offers a minimum 90% efficiency certification at any load. The best choice is to choose the most efficient PSU in your wattage range and budget as this will help with running costs.

Modular, semi-modular and not-modular

PSU can be non-modular, semi-modular or fully modular. This indicates if the PSUs cables are fixed in the PSU or can be detached and swapped or added to.

A non-modular PSU will have cables and connectors for a set number of devices. Ensure that the PSU you choose has enough connection types for all the devices that you are running. This can be exemplified in GPUs. A GPU PCIe card can have no power cable needed, 4-pin, 6-pin, 8-pin, 2 x 6-pin or 2 x 8-pin connectors to run. So ensure your PSU has the number of specified connectors for your components.

Modular will have ports for cables to be connected to the PSU. In this configuration; you can choose to only connect the cables you need or connect all cables for easy modifications and upgrades later.

A semi-modular PSU has a combination of fixed cables and ports.

Case and PSU combination

Some computer cases come with a PSU as one package. These options are fine, but you have to make sure the combination of both the PSU and case is suitable for your system narrowing the number of Case with PSU options that would be right for your build.

Other cases come without PSUs allowing for flexibility when choosing a PSU as long as the PSU bay is the correct size for the PSU you want. Also the cable management options should provision for the number of Cables you plan to run through your system.

Is Windows 10 the only OS option

For many PC users, the software ecosystem revolves around Microsoft and Apple. As macOS is designed and intended only for use with Mac branded computers, you may be forgiven if you believe that the only option left is to run a Windows 10 OS, Microsofts latest version of the Windows OS franchise spanning 34 years.

However, windows are not the only option you have for OS. A popular alternative is the Linux OS, derived from the Unix OS that is one of the most utilised Server OS on the internet. It is free and open-source software that allows for changes to its operating system to meet the users’ needs.

Oracle is a significant OS in corporate environments due to its virtualisation, cloud support and flexibility to be customised to the client’s requirements.  

Android OS is coming into popularity; it leverages low power  ARM processors you can find examples of this on Chromebooks.

There are many proprietary OS available, but these tend to be enterprise only and are not open to the public. IBM Provides business OS solutions to the clients it builds the IT architecture for, as part of the package and ongoing support.  

Why choose Windows 10 OS?

There are numerous reasons to choose windows 10 OS. Most hardware designed with windows compatibility support in mind, through continually updated driver catalogues.

Most software, you can not buy software for windows and run it on Linux or macOS. As windows have the most extensive software and app marketplace, it is more likely that you will be able to find a software solution for your needs running on Windows with better ongoing support than on other OS.

Typically, you want to stick the OS that most people use as it ensures the developers will continue providing support for the system. Some versions of Windows OS has enjoyed 20+ years of support before its end of life was announced.

How to maintain your computer so it runs faster

There are some simple steps that you can regularly take to keep a computer running quickly.

Keep windows OS, programs and drivers up to date

Using windows update periodically will keep your OS update while checking the websites of your driver providers and software will let you know when new versions of these drivers and programs are available.

Run disk clean up

As you use your computer, your internet browsing is saved; your install and update files are put in temporary folders for when they are to be installed. This data accumulates and clogs up your storage device—windows as a disk cleanup utility that removes these files, freeing up space.

Run disk defrag

Windows also has a disk defrag utility that will restructure the data on the device so that is can be all allocated logically for when reading all pertinent data to the program accessed is more readily accessible.  

Get old files off your primary drive, remove unnecessary apps

Personal files don’t need to be on your primary drive. If you are storing them for safe-keeping, consider keeping them on an external drive with your other personal documents.

For programs you use sparodically, have these installed on a secondary drive, your primary drive should contain your OS, the programs you use reguarly and a Hidden folder call AppData which stores cached files of your programs for quicker access and loading times. The more data on your primary drive the larger the haystack the computer has to sift through to fine the needle.

Many PC manufacturers pack new computers with programs you didn’t order and might not want. These often include trial editions of software partner companies want you to buy. They tend to include utilities that may start in background and continue to run and use resources without your awareness. Feel free to remove these if you do not utilise any of them.

Use antivirus

An antivirus will scan for any potential threats on your system and remove them.

Turn off your computer when not in use, or restart regularly

This will clear your RAM, and clear any errors that may have started to accumilate is your proccesses.

Shut down programs as you finish using them

Again. This will clear your RAM of the program so it can be used for other tasks.

Why more memory in a computer is better.

RAM on a computer works as a buffer for the computer as it works on information while not having to pull it from your storage to make these changes. In comparison to the storage, it is a lot faster read/write speeds. However, RAM is volatile memory, as in it is not persistent. Once the computer how powered down, RAM modules will forget their states and therefore what stored on them.

So, how much RAM do you need? It depends on your workload. What your programs recommend is a good healthy number. But why is it better to increase your RAM? For one, your buffer increases, allowing more headroom so that resources are allocated freely across all your tasks. This increase can be one of the more significant upgrades to the performance of your system.

DIMM slots and channel bandwidth scaling.

A CPU has a memory controller which controls the communication between the RAM and the rest of the computer. The Memory controller can allow for a single channel of data transfer up to eight channels on servers. A channel can host more than one RAM DIMM slot, depending on the CPU and Motherboard support, known as DIMMs per channel or DPC.

Typically a consumer CPU will have either single, dual,  or quad-channel with either 1 DPC or 2 DPC. As a channel has a maximum bandwidth, you will find populating all channels with at least one DIMM of RAM will increase RAM efficiency. The same in reverse is true as well. Too many DIMMs of RAM in one channel will negatively impact the performance of the system as the Memory Controller becomes bottlenecked at that specific channel.

What benefits are there for more memory?

There is a slew of benefits for more memory, but it all boils down to speed and responsiveness of the system. As other system components also leverage RAM, they can see a marked improvement in their performance as well, allowing them to operate closer to their maximum potential.

Typically you will notice

  • More multitasking
  • Quicker load times
  • Faster web browsing, with multiple tabs
  • Faster photo and video processing
  • Faster gaming experience
  • Faster OS response
  • More reliable and efficient workflow.

These are all with limitations. They depend on external factors. Such as internet browsing. Your connection speed also dictates your pages load limit. But if the connection speed is fast enough, you will be able to enjoy the faster loading times. Same with gaming, your improvement is dictated by the GPU/CPU combination as well. But an increase in RAM typically allows the CPU and GPU to use the increases data buffer capacity to call data instantly reducing the bottlenecking potential from having to collect the information from a storage device. Having more RAM on a system is a sensible and cost-effective quality of life improvement for a system. If you need help deciding the right amount of RAM for your build, or are ready to build a new system, we can help.

How to choose a motherboard and CPU


A motherboard and CPU combination can dictate the native support that you can find in a computer build. Incorrect setups can lead to under-performance. It can lead to a system with little headroom in upgradability to allow for the system to be viable in the future.
While a CPU will dictate compute power, a motherboard provides the support for onboard and add on components and the feature level of these components.

What to look for in a motherboard?

Typical motherboard features and configurations will differ in:

  • Form factor
  • CPU socket and Chipset
  • Power delivery RAM Dimm slots
  • PCIe expansion slots number and configurations
  • SATA, and M.2 slots
  • Onboard audio and graphics throughput
  • Network support (LAN, wifi)
  • Bluetooth support
  • Cooling support (fan connectors, thermal sensors)
  • USB 2, 3 and thunderbolt support
  • Legacy device backwards compatibility

Budget considerations

Low budget motherboards will have a minimum 2 x ram slots, 1 x 16 lane PCIe slot, LAN support, USB 2 & 3 support, legacy i/o device. This configuration can lead to a decent computer, that can handle most daily office tasks and, depending on the components fitted, some medium-load duties.

What if I need more power?

For more demanding workloads or higher specification components, a motherboard with a more advanced chipset. As the motherboard’s form factors increase in size, they can feature as many as 8 RAM DIMM slots, and 4 x 16 PCIe expansion slots for monster builds.
Unfortunately, your system, in whatever you configuration you set it up will be only as good as its specifications. 3D CAD, video editing, AI software engineering and other fields will need high spec systems with matching motherboards and CPUs to effectively.
There have been times where I have heard complaints of a video 3-minute video rendered taking 3 hours. It may be okay once in a blue moon, but if your daily work necessitates this type of workload, a weak system can lead to a loss in productivity.

Computer Bottle-necking

Computer Bottle-necking occurs when a component is not able to handle the throughput of data processing compared to the rest of the system. common areas of bottle-necking are in memory, CPU, GPU and finally, storage.

Until recently the biggest bottleneck came from storage. then SSDs and namely PCIe SSDs removed that issue. Moreover, with the introductions of PCIe 4.0 and DDR5 RAM support coming in 2021, the bottle-necking is squarely in the CPU and GPU side of the equation.

You can find examples of this in gaming. On conventional systems running at 1080p, you will mainly find that the content framerate is CPU bound. However, with 4k gaming, the systems end up GPU bound. Understanding where the scale starts to slide can help you find a cost-effective balance in parts that will not lead to one component feeling like it is overkill.

WOW Factor

Fisrtly, I would like to point out that WOW factor items DO NOT improve performance. RGB does not make your computer faster, much like red does not make your car faster. Secondly, they create a markup in pricing that is unjustifiable. But people like it.

I find that I am stuck with RGB elements on a build because it ends up bundled with features on a motherboard that I need. For instance, I would be happy with the same power delivery elements, on a motherboard with no RGB, as it could make the motherboard as much as 20-30% cheaper.

Tips for choosing a motherboard and CPU?

Look at you most relevant, current software package that you use every day. With that software, you can find something called recommended specifications. Using that as a build list will cover you for most everyday tasks. If you find your budget is too low for this setup, I would recommend increasing your budget, especially if you need this system for work.

If you use things occasionally like Photoshop, video editing or gaming, use the recommended settings on the most demanding package you use as the basis of the build. In these cases, if they are hobbies, you can consider the minimum specification to use as a build guide if you are finding the budget stretched thin. However, the quality will be low.

If you are unsure of how to start creating your ideal build, we can help. Just fill out a simple questionnaire, and we can help design a system to suit your needs. Or, you can call us on 1300 883 831 today.

Broken Laptop Screen? Here’s How to Fix it!

A broken laptop screen can make your entire computer unusable, putting you behind on projects, making video meetings impossible and making it challenging to get any work done at all. Here’s some insight into this issue and how to fix it as quickly and affordably as possible.

How Do I Know If My Laptop Screen is Broken?

Let’s start at the beginning because sometimes it can be a bit tricky to determine if your laptop screen is broken or if there is actually something else wrong with your computer.

A clearly broken screen is one with cracked glass or physical damage, or is showing blacked-out portions on the display (a lot like ink). Laptop screens are delicate and complex tech, and can be broken if the device is dropped, if something impacts the screen, or even if it was improperly closed or opened by tugging on one corner. This is an especially common issue in those very stylish, ultra-thin models.

Your screen can also be defective. This means that it’s not working properly or at all, but there’s isn’t a clear reason why. It hasn’t been dropped or damaged, but it’s displaying problems like distorting images or showing poor colouration, is pixelating images, or is showing lines down the screen (resolution lines). A blank or poorly backlit screen can also be a defective one. You can test this easily by hooking your laptop up to a screen with a VGA or HDMI cable – if the screen image loads fine on another device, your laptop screen is defective.  If the image on the new screen shows the same issue, however, this indicates a likely issue with the hardware, graphics card, processor or even (in some cases) the software.

How Can I Affordably and Quickly Fix a Laptop Screen?

Please do not try and do this yourself. You can void the warranty, irreparably damage the laptop, or make the situation much worse.

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy solution you can use instead of your own elbow grease and ingenuity – a professional door-to-door pickup, repair and return service for repairing broken laptop screens and defective laptop screens, as well as any software or hardware issues that are affecting your laptop’s usability or performance.

This is ideal for anyone working from home who needs affordable laptop screen repair in a hurry, all without leaving the comfort of your home. Contact Local Computer Help today and find out how our door-to-door services for broken laptops can help you out quickly, affordably and safely, with minimal hassle!

Intel VS AMD

So you are on the hunt for a new computer and you are trying to decide on the components that you want to put together for you build. One of the first fundamental questions is what CPU to get?

This leads to an inevitable question of “should I buy ‘Intel’ or ‘AMD’. For the most part, unless you are looking at certain features or support, it does not matter. Low budget builds do not get influenced much in terms of the performance you would expect on thing like emailing and web browsing.

However at high-end or specific build considerations it can matter and there are some features that do give more bang for your buck.

PCIe 3.0  vs PCIe4.0

This is a little contentious at the moment, as current gen AIC do not use up all the bandwidth in PCIe 3.0 lanes. However there is a case scenario where 4.0 can give a larger performance increase. And that is in crossfire or SLI configurations. At the moment Intel CPU supports up to 16 PCIe lanes of consumer level CPUs. A single GPU utilises the maximum 16 lanes available. So when adding and additional GPU the bandwidth is split between the two devices. This can happen on other AIC cards as well. Such as a sound card which may use 1 PCIe Lane however if paired with the GPU, the GPU would be limited to 8 PCIe lanes to use.

The drop down to 8 lanes on a GPU can lead to bottlenecking as communication between the CPU and GPU becomes more congested.

With PCIE 4.0 the throughput is doubled per lane in comparison to PCIe 3.0. This can enable little more flexibility. As a dual PCIe 4.0 compatible GPU setup can still make use of the throughput each would enjoy if it was a single card utilising the full 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

Winner AMD

PCIe lanes

A simpler consideration is the number of lanes made available by the CPU and how many can be used by AICs. As mentioned Intel has 16 PCIe 3.0 Lanes. Their competitor AMD, offers 24 Lanes. Simple Math, more lanes means more devices can be added without risking bottleneck any of the components added.

On an note, it is quite odd that Intel chose this route, as their product line up offers one unique feature. That is native support for their Optane SSD AICs.

Winner AMD

Core count

For multithreaded applications, the more cores you have the faster the computer can complete tasks that are assigned to it. Intel’s consumer level CPU the 10990K comes with a 10 core configuration. AMD offers 3 CPUs the 3900X and 3900XT which feature 12 cores and the 3950XT with a 16 core count.

Winner AMD

Cost

With the example of the 10990k from Intel, the RRP currently stands at $999 AUD it was released Q2/2020 while the AMD offerings are slightly older they have the 3900XT available at around the $850 mark and the 3900X around $100 less. These are serious value propositions. Especially considering that they out class the Intel counterpart at every key point.

Winner AMD

In the current market AMD has an edge in performance and value for money in the consumer market.

I offer no opinions; this is just a stats comparison to simply to help guide you to what you look for. this should also just be the beginning of your discussion into a CPU and which would be best for your needs. For Further discussions on builds using either an Intel or AMD CPU visit us and we can help you narrow down choices for your user scenario.

5 Ways to protect against ransomware.

What is Ransomware?

Recently there has been a spate of ransomware releases affecting both the Mac and Windows Operating Systems. This type of attack comes in the form of malicious code that functions much like a virus. However, there is an additional component in which the data found on your computer is also encrypted. The owner of the computer is then notified of such actions, and their data is held hostage for a ransom to be paid to decrypt the information.

The reason for the uptrend in ransomware is that it creates potential instant cash flow for the hackers of the attack in the form of the removal service they solicit payment.

It makes ransomware one of the more dramatic forms of cyber attacks but is not the only component of such an attack. Usually, it is also coupled with keyloggers and methods to steal data for identity theft. Additionally, some will attempt to spread to other computers using yours as a host. Different versions of ransomware will also give the hacker full remote access of your computer.

How to prevent Ransomware attack

As the data is encrypted recovery while is possible is unlikely. With all this in mind, prevention is always better than the cure. Here are five measures you can take to help reduce the risk and damage of ransomware.

  1. Back up your data, preferably off the computer such as an external storage device. Lost of any data is restored then after the removal of any malicious code.
  2. Use a reputable antivirus.
  3. Keep your OS up to date.
  4. Keep up to date with current delivery methods of any potential ransomware.
  5. Consider keeping sensitive financial data on an air-gapped device. Examples include cryptocurrency wallets, bank and credit card details.

Currently, there is a ransomware that has been released called TheifQuest or EvilQuest. It targets Mac OS and uses update patches of apps to allow it to be delivered to the computer via Appstore updates. Another delivery method of this new ransomware is to be embedded into pirated copies of security software that the would-be user would download and install.

More typical methods of delivery include suspicious emails and torrents.

While no antivirus can offer 100% protection, using a reputable antivirus can help detect and remove any potential threats before they are activated.

What to do if you are infected with Ransomware?

If you are attacked, the type of attack will determine the extent of the damage. But most times, the safest method is to reformat the hard drive. However, some attacks can target vulnerabilities in other hardware components. Intel has had a history of a few exploits in their CPUs for a few generations, that seems to have been rectified in current generation CPUs. Luckily this vulnerability would require local access to the computer. But theoretically, if a computer is infected with malicious code, a computer can be destroyed.

Repair of data is sometimes possible, depending on the level of encryption. Recover-ability can only be assessed individually due to the complex nature of the attack. We can help evaluate and potentially repair damage from ransomware or other cyber attacks. If you have queries or concerns feel free to call us on 1300 883 831 and we can help address your security concerns.

Why Computer Fans Are Important.

Computer fans may not be the coolest (no pun intended) part of a computer. However, they are essential for the daily function of your computer and helps ensure its longevity.

What do fans do exactly?

The computer fan is there to do one job. Push air around, ideally, hot air from inside the case out to allow for cooler to replace it. As electrical items are powered on and used, they create heat. The higher the workload, the more heat generated. This heat, if allowed to build, can severely damage your computer components, shortening their life span or even instantaneous death of a component.

So we have established that fans are a good thing. However, when looking at branded made desktops, typical loadout is two fans, one exhaust and one intake fan. This setup can get you through primary minimum workloads, such as checking emails or watching YouTube. For things like gaming, CAD, and rendering, you may find the two fan load out falling short.

A common symptom is a loss of a graphic process unit GPU. One of the most expensive outlays and biggest workhorses in a computer. They are responsible for the display information that is output onto your screen. A CPU can also suffer from overheating. Both would require a replacement to rectify.

While the GPU and CPU are costly to replace, they are not the worst victim.

NVME m.2 SSDs are a new form factor for SSDs they are about the size of a USB drive, and the thickness of a few credit cards. When they are working, they get pretty warm. But the placement of these SSDs is usually right under the GPU. As there are two sources of heat nearby, this is a real potential for catastrophic damage due to heat soak. The SSD will be your primary storage device in most cases, so the Loss of your m.2 SSD is a loss of your data.

So is there a solution? Luckily yes. Most cases have provisions for up to 5 fans in the case. So the easy solution is to add more fans. Next, you want to have the fans positioned so you can draw cold air in from the low while pushing hot air up and out the back.

If configured correctly, the fans can keep your computer cooler while also running quieter as they can run at a lower RPM. But that is dependent on the fans and Motherboard on the computer.

Clean your computer

Also, as you clean your house and rooms clean your computer. Dust impedes airflow, stopping heat from escaping your computer. So clean the case to reduce dust build-up. Using the brush accessory from your vacuum cleaner or compressed air around the vents can help loosen some of the dust to assist with clean up.

If you need help with installing fans or any other component in your computer, we can help. Call us on 1300 883 831 to book a time or come in with your pc and parts for us to install.