PC Buying Guide
Before buying your new PC you want to be sure that it will do the job you need it to, hence our website allows you to configure a system so you get what you need and leave or downgrade the parts that are not so important. Feel free to contact us for any advice or assistance.
This guide is designed to acquaint yourself with the technology and components that are used inside our PCs. Below you will find an explanation of the purpose of every component and how it can benefit the performance of a PC.
We will examine the various crucial components that make up a desktop computer:
|RAM||Hard drive||Optical drive|
|Graphics card||Internet||Operating system|
The motherboard is the main board inside the case where all the other components connect to. It determines the type of components that can be supported by the system and the overall performance of the system. Things to consider are:
Chipset - This is the central controller that controls all the communication between the various components inside the PC. These are the various chipsets that the latest motherboards have:
|Intel H110||Affordable performance, supporting latest Intel CPUs|
|Intel H170/Z170||Latest platform for 5th generation Intel i5/i7 CPUs|
|Intel X99||Designed for the top-end performance systems|
|AMD 760G||Entry level model supporting latest AMD CPUs|
|AMD 970||Mid range chipset with loads of features and power|
|AMD 990X/990FX||Designed for high-spec gaming and performance machines|
Memory slots - For maximum upgradeability you should look out for a board that has four memory slots or more.
USB3.1 - This is the latest high-speed USB interface that takes over from USB3.0, with super fast transfer speeds and a new plug design that is not backward compatible.
Onboard Video - Some motherboards have built-in video connection, such as HDMI, VGA or DVI. Higher spec boards often do not have an onboard video connection as a dedicated graphics card is usually installed to make for a balanced performance system.
PCI and PCI-E connections - Check how many slots the motherboard has in case you wish to fit add-on cards later.
Rear connections - Check the motherboard spec to confirm the connections that can be found at the rear of the machine.
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The processor, commonly known as CPU, is the beating heart of a PC.Unlike other components (such as memory), upgrading a processor at a later stage can be difficult and expensive. Consider your current and future performance requirements when choosing.
AMD vs. Intel - This is a common question that we are asked on a daily basis. Intel currently has the advantage over AMD in terms of top performance with its excellent "Skylake" platform, the latest i5 and i7 models are highly overclockable and achieve remarkable performance for the money.
CPU frequency - The frequency of the CPU, usually measured in Ghz, shows the speed of the internal core of the CPU. This isn't the main performance indicator, you should also look at the cache and the amount of cores the CPU has.
Cache - Used by the central processing unit of a computer to reduce the average time to access memory. The cache is a smaller, faster memory which stores copies of the data from the most frequently used main memory locations.
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The CPU cooler is essential in maintaining a stable, cool and quiet system. A good cooler also improves the circulation of air inside the case and cools the surrounding components as well the CPU itself.
For systems intended to be used for intensive tasks and systems that are specified with high-end components, we recommend upgrading the CPU cooler.
Benefits of upgrading CPU cooler:
- Lower CPU temperature results in a more reliable and stable CPU
- Improves ventilation throughout the case and lowers running temperature of surrounding components
- Reduces noise compared to standard CPU cooler supplied by manufacturer
- Improves the looks of your system internally
The memory, commonly known as RAM, is a crucial component used to store data temporarily for fast access. It is one of the most important components as it will give you an instant noticeable performance increase, you will be able to have more programs loaded at the same time, and switching between them would be instantaneous.
How much RAM? Usually the more RAM used the better, we would recommend 4GB for a basic system and 8GB for an everyday multimedia and gaming system. If you really want to get the best multi-tasking performance than 16GB or even 32GB will be perfect for you. One thing you don't want is your computer slowing down when you have too many browser tabs loaded or too many large images loaded on Photoshop, with more RAM you don't need to worry about that.
Corsair RAM - On our gaming systems we offer Corsair RAM kits, these are high-performance memory modules that are designed for overclocking with higher speeds and lower latencies. The kits have matching memory modules that are tested together by Corsair before leaving their factory. Corsair are renowned in the gaming community, If you want a gaming system to shout about, Corsair memory is the best way to show you know your stuff.
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The hard drives inside a system are responsible for storing all your data, but their performance can also affect the loading times of software and files. Here are a number of things to consider when deciding on your ideal hard drive set up:
Amount of space required - The most basic computers now ship with at least 500GB HDDs, we would recommend specifying 1TB as the price has dropped right down and this capacity would be plenty for most.
Amount of drives - It is a good idea to specify at least 2x HDDs, so that Operating System can be installed on one and data on the other. This would keep your data safe in the event that the Operating System needs to be re-installed. It is also a good idea to have 2x HDDs so that a RAID Array can be set up, the benefits of which are outlined below.
RAID Array - When running 2x HDDs of the same size a RAID array can be configured to increase performance or improve safety of data.
RAID 0 - Distributes data across several discs in a way which gives improved speed and full capacity, but all data on all disks is lost if any one disk fails.
RAID 1 - Constantly mirrors contents of one drive on the other drive, so that data is not lost so long as one disk survives. Total capacity of the array is just the capacity of a single disk.
SSD drives - These offer the ultimate in loading times for your Operating System and games. They contain no moving parts, therefore are less susceptible to physical shock and run much quieter. The price per GB is much higher compared to a regular S-ATA HDD, but a 120GB SSD is more affordable nowadays and would be ideal as the main drive where the OS and software are installed.
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The latest type of optical drive is the Blu-ray drive which brings the next generation of optical drive format to your PC. With a Blu-ray disc drive you get the following benefits:
- Large storage capacity: With a maximum storage capacity of 50GB on one dual layer Blu-ray disc
- High Definition picture quality: Full High Definition Progressive (1920x1080p) capabilities
- Uncompressed surround sound (better than theatre-quality sound)
- New breakthroughs in hard coating technologies - stronger resistances to scratches and finger prints
- Backwards compatible with DVDs and CD ROMS
|DVDRW||Blu-ray Combo||Blu-ray RW|
There are two brands of graphics cards, NVIDIA and AMD (formarly ATI), both of which offer separate platforms that allow multiple graphics cards to run on one system. With NVIDIA graphics cards, SLI platform is used, providing users with the option to link multiple graphics cards (two or three) to provide up to a 300% performance increase in certain games. With AMD graphics cards, Crossfire platform is used, providing users with the option to link multiple graphics cards to provide up to a 200% performance increase in certain games.
You may not be experiencing games the way developers intended if you are running them on low resolutions. Being able to ramp up the resolution and quality settings whilst still pumping out high frame rates can completely transform your gaming experience, so the right GPU is crucial. The latest graphics cards all support DirectX 12, which is natively supported by Windows 10. If you are a keen gamer or you're looking for a future-proof system that will last for some time you should invest in the best graphics card, as these products change regularly and a mid-range model would offer lacklustre performance within one year.
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Ethernet connection - Every PC comes with at least a Gigabit LAN connection. This allows you to connect your broadband router/modem to the PC and access high-speed broadband internet.
Wireless internet - To create a wireless home/office network you need a wireless router/modem, this would spread a wireless signal round the house/office. To access the internet you would need a wireless PCI internal card or a USB dongle. These are available in different speeds, ranging from 54Mbps to 300Mbps. With a 300Mbps PCI internal card you will have a number of aerials for faster broadband speed.
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This is the main piece of software that controls the components of a computer system and facilitates the operation of applications. The latest Operating System is Windows 10, it features a sleek design and runs very smoothly with minimum glitches or stutters unlike some of the previous versions.
One of the things to be aware of is that Windows 7 Home Premium can only use up to 16GB of RAM. If selecting over 16GB of RAM we recommend an alternative OS is selected.
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Here are some of the things to consider when choosing a monitor:
Resolution - Majority of monitors that are 22" or larger have a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080. This is the ideal resolution for watching full-HD Bluray movies. It will also allow you to fit a lot of content on to the screen and view large photos. The next-generation of monitors feature 4K resolution, which has 4x times the amount of pixels compared to full-HD monitors, with a resolution of 3840x2160, delivering much sharper images that are pretty much true to life thanks to incredibly high pixel density.
Size - The popular size is 22", however 24" and 27" monitors are also popular as the price difference is not much more. With a larger monitor you will be able to see everything clearly with the monitor positioned a few feet away, allowing you lean back and watch a movie in comfort.
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The case houses all the components, it's design and size are an important consideration, not just from an aesthetic point of view. The case has an important part to play in terms of ventilation and the overall temperature of the inside of the system. High-end cases have large dimensions and plenty of internal case fans for maximum air flow, and that's the case you should consider if opting for a high-spec SLI or Crossfire system. The more basic cases only have one internal case fan and much smaller dimensions, they are ideal for more basic systems that do not require as much heat to be dispelled.
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The PSU feeds power to the system's components, ensuring a reliable and stable system. The most power-hungry components are graphics cards. It is a good idea to opt for a slightly higher PSU than you require to allow for future upgrades. If you order a system we will advise you if you if the PSU ordered is not suitable.
We currently offer PSUs mostly from Corsair, a renowned high quality brand to ensure longevity for your PC. We also offer a cheaper 500W PSU as a cheaper option, but we recommend a Corsair option as it would be quieter, more efficient and more reliable.
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Something to consider when buying a new PC is the hassle and costs involved when one of the components becomes faulty. A major nuisance can be an intermittent fault that occurs infrequently and can cost a lot of money in terms of labour hours to diagnose and remedy. As part of the standard support we offer 5 year warranty that covers parts and labour for the first year, and labour for the remaining period.
It is a well known fact that the mortality rate of computers is high during the first month and after the first year. We provide full cover against hardware failure for the first 2 years and provide you with free labour for the remaining period. This takes away the hassle and headache if anything goes wrong with the PC for 5 years. Whilst most computers are sold with 1 year warranty, this isn't the ideal solution as majority of problems arise after the 1st year, and that's when you will be left stranded.
Please note that our warranty applies to the PC itself and any peripherals are covered by separate warranty from the manufacturer. Below is a breakdown of the different warranty packages currently offered:
|Warranty||Parts covered||Labour covered||Carriage covered|
|Bronze||2 year||5 years||6 months|
|Silver||2 years||5 years||1 year|
|Gold||3 years||5 years||2 year|
|Platinum||4 years||5 years||3 years|