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.

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.

I’m still on Windows 7 – what should I do?

Need help to upgrade from Windows 7 to the latest Windows 10? Local Computer Help can assist. Simply call 1300 883 831 to book in a time to get up to date.

Microsoft Windows 7 – launched in 2009 – came to the end of its supported life on Tuesday. Despite Microsoft’s repeated warnings to Windows 7 users, there may still be a couple of hundred million users, many of them in businesses. What should people do next?

To begin with, Windows 7 will not stop working, it will just stop receiving security updates. Users will therefore be more vulnerable to malware attacks, particularly from “ransomware”. We saw how dangerous that can be when WannaCry took over unpatched PCs in the NHS and other places. It was so bad that Microsoft released a patch for XP, even though it was out of support.

There are reasons to be fearful, because of the way the malware industry works.

On the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft releases security patches that should be installed automatically by Windows Update. The malware industry analyses these patches to find the holes, and then looks for ways to exploit them. A lot of the code in Windows 10 goes back to Windows 7 and earlier versions. As a result, some of the security holes in Windows 10 will also be present in Windows 7, but they won’t be patched.

Malware writers don’t normally target out-of-date operating systems, because they don’t usually have many users. In this case, as with XP, there could be millions of relatively easy targets.

The British government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told the BBC: “We would urge those using the software after the deadline to replace unsupported devices as soon as possible, to move sensitive data to a supported device and not to use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts.” That’s good advice.

You can read more about this topic with the full article at The Guardian.

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.

Top 5 FREE Antivirus Software in 2020

There are so many choices with antivirus software on the market – which one do you choose?! Here’s a great article from Robert Bateman at Safety Detectives reviewing some of your best, and free, choices for antivirus in 2020.

Need more help? Local Computer Help can assist with choosing the right free or paid antivirus for your needs.

Some free antiviruses out there are actually malware designed to steal your private information. This is especially true for Windows because with so many users around the world, it’s the most popular target for viruses and other dangerous malware. That’s why it’s important that you don’t fall victim to one of these common scams and only download legitimate programs with a history of high-quality performance.

But with cybercrime rates on the rise, there are only a few free Windows antivirus applications available which actually offer decent PC protection. I’ve tested over 80 antivirus solutions to bring you a handful of free Windows antiviruses that are better than the rest.

While there is no such thing as a “free antivirus” with zero limitations, these 5 brands each offer a free plan which will help protect your PC. They are often pretty basic, but many are worth trying, and some are much better than Windows Defender — the default protection included with Windows.

Here’s a summary of best free Windows antiviruses for 2020:

  1. Avira: Overall #1 free antivirus for Windows for most users in 2020. Great technology which provides reliable antivirus and anti-malware protection.
  2. Panda: Exceptional antivirus technology, there are some nice extra features, and it comes with a free VPN!
  3. Sophos: The best free plan for families. Great interface with parental controls (up to 3 devices).
  4. AVG: Decent antivirus protection with a safe browsing extension.
  5. Avast: Comes with many extra features. But it has a lot of ads.

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.

5 Online Security Tips for Secure Remote Working

The world was already shifting to remote working before COVID-19, but the pandemic significantly sped this process up. Now that so many people are working from home, it’s more important than ever to practice good online security. Here are some simple tips to keep remote workers and businesses safe, from our computer repair team.

Tip #1 – Have a Cyber Security Policy

A cyber security policy is a set of guidelines that every employee needs to follow while they are remote working. It should include which security programs need to be implemented on the devices that employees use for work (laptops, desktops, etc.), how to backup data, and how to identify and report security incidents.

Tip #2 – Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Home networks should be properly secured as a breach from an unsecured home Wi-Fi network can affect business as well as personal data. Send out a memo instructing all remote workers on how to secure their home Wi-Fi, including password best practices and installing firmware updates.

Tip #3 – Consider Using a VPN

A VPN is a virtual private network and it encrypts all your internet traffic, keeping business data protected and private. Use a reputable VPN service provider like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access VPN or IPVanish.

Tip #4 – Make Software Updates Compulsory

Ensure that updates to your data security software are carried out as routine maintenance. These can be tedious and annoying for remote workers, but they contain the most up-to-date patches to security vulnerabilities. Hackers are always looking for new ways to get into data systems and security providers constantly send out new updates to counteract these. Many security breaches are the result of individuals and organisations failing to keep their security software updated, so it’s worth the effort!

Tip #5 – Keep Remote Workers Informed

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a significant rise in phishing and other cyber-attacks around the world. These malicious attacks are focusing on business data, personal data and especially any financial data. This makes it critical for your business security as well as your employee’s financial security that everyone is kept well-informed and aware of these attacks. Share information regularly on how to spot an attack, how to avoid downloading malware, and how to recognise a phishing email, text or phone call.

Tip #6 – Backup Your Data

No security policy is 100% effective, so ensure you automate business data backups securely to the Cloud. This ensures that your business is covered in the event of a cyber security attack or something as simple as a work laptop being stolen or damaged. Regular data backups help your business recover faster as well as minimise damage and downtime, so they are worth investing in!

Need Computer Repairs? Our Team can Assist You Today!

At Local Computer Help, our experienced team is ready to deliver expert, affordable computer repairs and IT support. We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you get the friendly, fast assistance you need exactly when you need it. With over 15 years of industry experience, we have you covered!

Can you save a computer or electrical device from water damage?

Oh no! You just spilled water all over your laptop, or console. Don’t panic, some quick thinking and taking a few initial steps may help prevent immediate permanent damage. It allows time for a repair centre to potentially save your device.


Water and electricals don’t mix, for several reasons.


First, water conducts electricity due to the dissolved ions in the water. An example is a salt as in saltwater. Electrical devices contain specific channels of safe passage for power to flow through, i.e. wires and circuit boards. Water making contact with these elements can allow electricity to short cut these paths to find the path of least resistance via the ions in the water. Hence the term short circuit. It can lead to damage to your electronics, or yourself if you are part of that path of least resistance, in this case to the ground. Both outcomes are harmful and dangerous and can lead to fire, injury or even death.


Second, water will corrode most metal elements that are in electronics. There are some exceptions, but they are few. While this will not show damage immediately, there is a chance that components exposed to water will corrode. This corrosion will increase the electrical conductive resistance, potentially stopping the flow of electricity altogether and resulting in a non-functioning component or device.


So, what should you do to try and save a device that is exposed to water?

  1. You can, if safe to do so, shut it off. If it is a plugged-in device, turn the power switch to off at the wall outlet, assuming it is dry.
  2. Pull the plug from the wall outlet.
  3. Wait at least 10 seconds or until the device’s lights have died, whichever is longer.
  4. Unplug the external transformer or power bank, if equipt.
  5. Depress the power button switch if dry a few times to discharge any power in the capacitors.
  6. Pull the plug from the device, if dry and able to do so.

If it has a battery, ensure the device if off and not plugged by following the above steps but skipping step 5 in and then remove the battery if safe and easy.


Once you remove power, the device is safe to touch again. You may try to dry it.

  1. Remove excess spillage from outer casings and around the device by letting absorbent towels or paper towels absorb the excess water.
  2. Pat dry it with more dry absorbent towels or paper towels.If your towels leave particulates, try to remove them or use towels that will not leave any in the process.
  3. Try to allow the water to drain out if any has entered into the device. If the electrical components are exposed, be careful with making contact with them as the act of drying can damage these components either from rough treatment or the generation of static electricity.


At this point, you should consider taking the device to a repair centre, where they may be able to save the device. Or, if it is a computer or other device with saved, they may be able to save at least the data you need to keep. Neither guaranteed successful due to luck as to how much damage occurs.

For DIYers…


Below are suggestions that you may have found on the internet, I have added them here for clarity but not recommended. Always proceed with caution when taking advice from an internet source

You may, at your discretion, expose the device to air currents and gentle heat. However, if the device can not vent the vapour, it is not recommended. It may increase the amount of exposure of water to components that may not have been in initial contact with water. Also, heating the device or its components too high or too aggressively can cause damage.
Isopropyl alcohol is effective in decreasing the evaporation times of water when mixed due to its hydrophilic nature and lower boiling temperature, reducing the chance of damage over time.


Agitating a device around in an attempt to remove the water should be avoided. Again, to minimise water contacting more components. Shaking the device can cause damage to the device itself.


There are also suggestions to bury the device in the sand or dry uncooked rice. Reputable, professional repairs do not practice it nor recommend it. There is a high risk of just introducing more contaminants that can damage the components further.


Opening up the device is done on your own volition. The recommendation is always to take the device to a repair centre to be diagnosed as it is a controlled environment with qualified and experienced technicians.


By these steps, you can give yourself options to decide your next course of action. It is always possible to save the device by taking the device to a repair centre, or at least to collect your essential data and memorabilia.

Are you Steam Powered? Free and paid PC gaming.

No, we aren’t being paid to write this article. We just want to share with you this great platform to get gaming online!

Need a new gaming PC or upgrades to your existing one? Local Computer Help can assist with a custom gaming rig built.

Steam is the ultimate destination for playing, discussing, and creating games.

Looking for something to do while social distancing and following all pandemic guidelines? Look no further than Steam. Steam offers a great range of free to play games along with premium paid PC gaming titles at your fingertips. Check it out here >

Join the Community

Meet new people, join groups, form clans, chat in-game and more! With over 100 million potential friends (or enemies), the fun never stops.

Experience Steam Hardware

We created the Steam Controller and the VR technologies that power the HTC Vive to making gaming on the PC even better.

Release your Game

Steamworks is the set of tools and services that help game developers and publishers get the most out of distributing games on Steam.

Features

We are constantly working to bring new updates and features to Steam, such as: Steam Chat Talk with friends or groups via text or voice without leaving Steam. Videos, Tweets, GIFs and more are supported; use wisely. Game Hubs Everything about your game, all in one place. Join discussions, upload content, and be the first to know about new updates. Steam Broadcast Stream your gameplay live with the click of a button, and share your game with friends or the rest of the community. Steam Workshop Create, discover, and download player-created mods and cosmetics for nearly 1,000 supported games. Available on Mobile Access Steam anywhere from your iOS or Android device with the Steam mobile app. Early Access to Games Discover, play, and get involved with games as they evolve. Be the first to see what’s coming and become part of the process. Learn More

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Creating a global community is important to us, that’s why our client supports 28 languages and counting.

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Our storefront supports 100+ payment methods across over 35 currencies, giving you the flexibility to pay how you want.

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Steam encourages developers to include controller support in their games including PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo controllers.

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Earn achievements, read reviews, explore custom recommendations, and more.

How to enable Dark mode for Windows 10 on your Computer.

With many people working from home in this climate of Covid restrictions throughout Australia, it is easy to lose sight of work life balance. We are finding many people are neglecting breaks simply as there is no one around to have that simple coffee break together with.

Apart from the obvious health implications of less body activity and muscle atrophy, there is also the harm that staring at a computer screen for hours on end can do to your eyes being over tired from the bright glare of white most of Microsoft’s software is draped in.

However there is a slight reprieve for your eyes on Windows 10 in the form of dark mode.

To enable, elect the Windows logo Start button > Settings Gear-shaped icon > Personalization > Themes. Select Color and under “Choose your default Windows mode select the dark button. If you choose to do so repeat with the “Choose your default app mode”

Selecting a dark windows color along with checking the “show accent color on the following surfaces” and checking both boxes will help complete the look.

You can follow suit with browsers but as this is still in beta, your mileage may vary.

To implement on Windows Edge simply select the three dot icon under the close button, >Settings > and select Dark on “Choose a theme”.

With Chrome, again select the three dot icon > Settings > Appearance > Themes. Here you will be able to select and download a variety of different themes to use with chrome. For now select a dark style that suits your tastes and add to chrome.

For all web pages to follow suit, this is where the beta part comes in. settings here if changed can dramatically affect your browsing experience so use caution when in this area. In the address bar type in the “browser name”://flags, so for edge you type edge://flags and chrome type chrome://flags.

There are a lot of items you can change here. However, there is a search bar to assist. In the search bar type “dark” and enter.

 You will see a “Force Dark mode for Web Contents”. Simply selecting the Enable from the drop down menu and closing the tab will enable that.

It is a beta so have a look at the content you browse, if you are not happy with the look simply change back.

Of course there are other strategies to reduce strain and fatigue, like buying a new monitor that will filter blue light, as well as buying more ergonomic peripherals to reduce muscle strains. We can assist you in acquiring such items or with other IT matters. Again, taking 15 minute breaks from the screen and stretching and light exercise to get blood circulating helps. Our health is important.