Inter-Tech Overload

Choosing a Good Computer Configuration for your Business

June 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

No matter what kind of business you’re in, you will most probably need to buy a computer to run it. Choosing a computer for your business is a bit different than choosing a home PC. Although computer prices are continuing to fall, ¡t is still important to strike the proper balance between low cost and true value.

Review Available Systems and List Your Needs

Look through the sales fliers for your local big box stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Also check with warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco if your business has a membership.

Make a list of the components you need in your business computer, including memory, hard drive space, processor speed and networking capabilities. When shopping for a business computer, avoid value and entry-level computers. These PCs are designed primarily for home users, not for businesses. Check that the computer you are considering has at least 1 to 2 gigabytes of RAM, the more the better. Additional memory will help the computer run more quickly and help your business avoid wasted time.

Think About Security

Consider the security implications of removable media when deciding whether to purchase a computer with a CD or DVD writer or just a reader. Giving front line workers the ability to burn CDs and DVDs could inadvertently cause the loss of proprietary information if that media is lost or stolen. Locking down the USB drives with a physical or software lock is a good idea as well.

Plenty of Space

Select computers with a large hard drive, but do not focus too much on storage capacity if you will be using a network. Business users should keep their files on the network for backup and security purposes, so a computer with a 60-80GB hard drive should be sufficient.

Dual Monitors

Consider choosing a computer with a video card that supports dual monitors, or buying an add-on card for the computer you choose. Having two monitors available can boost productivity and make the screens easier to read.

Network Capable

Choose a computer with a wired network card, even if you plan to use a wireless network in your business. Having a wired network card in place provides additional flexibility and makes it easier to share information. When choosing a network card, be sure the card supports 1Gbit communications, even if your existing network is limited to 100 Mbit. This gives you more capacity for growth without the expense of replacing equipment down the road.

Shop Around

Enter your specifications into the website of a major computer manufacturer like Dell or HP. Make sure all of the specs are correct, then price the PC you have just built. Keep in mind that you might be able to negotiate a lower price on each unit if you plan to purchase multiple computers.

By using the above checklist, you can ensure that you get the best possible computer for the least amount of money. Chances are that money is tight in your new small business, so finding the best deal on a computer will leave you with more money to invest in your new enterprise.


Getting the most out of your Laptop

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Laptop computers rarely perform up to the levels of their desktop counterparts. A complete desktop replacement laptop will typically cost 2-3 times more than a desktop with similar specifications. Fortunately, there are some ways of improving the performance of a laptop which cost little or no money. Upgrading a laptop is far more complicated than upgrading a desktop. This is because most of the components are integrated.

In most laptops, the only upgradeable part tends to be the memory. In many laptops it is also possible to upgrade the CPU or even the graphics card (providing it is not an integrated model). Beyond upgrading the memory, laptop upgrades tend to be prohibitively expensive and hard to come by. The process is often too complicated for the average user. The following tips will help you to improve the performance of your computer easily and cheaply.

1. Adding More Memory. Upgrading the memory in a laptop is often the only practical option for improving the performance. While laptop memory is more expensive than desktop memory, it is not drastically so. Most laptops can handle at least four gigabytes of memory and, provided you have a 64-bit operating system installed, this is often worth doing.

The process is much the same as installing new memory in a desktop computer. You will need to have exactly the same type of memory as your existing memory if you are upgrading. If, however, you are replacing the memory entirely, you will have more options at your disposal. There are many online retailers which specialize in laptop memory. They can help you to find the perfect memory upgrade for your specific machine.

2. Increasing Graphics Memory. To get a little extra performance in video games on laptops with integrated graphics processors (IGPs), increasing the amount of RAM to be used for video processing can be done easily. You can normally do this by entering the BIOS when you turn on the computer. On most laptops, the BIOS can be accessed by pressing the F2 key at startup. The option to increase the available graphics memory can usually be found in the ‘Integrated Peripherals’ page of the BIOS, under a setting called ‘AGP aperture size’. On newer computers, you should find a setting called ‘UMA Frame Buffer Size’ or something similar to ‘Shared Video Memory’.

Do not set this too high, since the available RAM for your computer will be used for video processing. On machines with 2GB of RAM or more, 256 MB of allocated video graphics is often ideal. If you don’t use your laptop to play games, setting this to the minimum amount of memory is fine. Increasing available graphics memory only applies to integrated graphics processors rather than those which have dedicated memory.

3. Overclocking a Laptop. Overclocking a laptop is riskier than overclocking a desktop. Laptops tend to run hotter than desktop computers due to the cramped space into which the components are installed. Overclocking will also void your warranty. If you still want to try overclocking, you should ideally have a decent laptop cooler, which can reduce the temperature of your laptop. There are a lot of tools for overclocking, which you can find on Google and specialized websites. Sometimes, this can be done within the BIOS as well. You should only overclock with small increments and make sure to test everything so that it works well (no overheating, lockups, blue screens, etc).

The above steps are practically the only things you can to do to get the most performance out of your laptop – anything else is not possible or practical. The good news is that you can get a considerable increase in performance, so it’s worth trying, especially if you have an older laptop.