Monthly Archives: April 2017

How to Open Computer BIOS Setup

What happens when you turn on your PC? Lights come on the keyboard and monitor, the computer’s brand logo may appear on the screen, then the operating system loading message appears. This is all occurring on screen, but in the background, your computer is actually powering on and preparing its external and internal parts. Many assume the Operating System (OS) is the first program a computer loads and operates on but the actual start-up program is the BIOS.

BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, which is inbuilt in every PC during manufacturing and is loaded, run and executed when you press the power ON button of your PC. The BIOS is a sort of firmware interface for a computer. Different components, such as pen drives, graphics card, keyboard and mouse and disc drives attached to a computer, need to be initialized and identified to the computer. The BIOS does this in the form of a check-list (“turn USB ports on”, done) and this procedure is known as POST (power-on self-test). The operating system itself is a program, which needs to be loaded and executed. This too is performed by the BIOS, which locates the OS program on the computer’s hard disk and runs the program. One needs to enter the BIOS interface to change various system-level settings, such as changing the system clock, changing the boot up drive and managing memory. Listed below are the steps on how to access the computer’s BIOS setup.

How to Get Into Your Computer’s BIOS?

Step 1: Start your PC or restart it. When the computer starts up, usually the manufacturer’s logo or the brand name of the PC is displayed on a black screen. In some cases, the screen turns into the logo of the operating system and a “loading” or “starting” message appears on the screen. At such booting screens, a small message is displayed, which has the combination of access keys needed to enter the BIOS. Examples of such messages are:

  • Press “key” to enter BIOS
  • “key” = Setup
  • To enter the BIOS setup, press “key” + “key”
  • Press “key” to access system configuration
  • Press “key” to enter the Setup menu

In some computers, the manufacturer’s logo or brand name shows up and no message for entering the browser occurs. So try pressing the Tab or the Esc key to remove it. You can either note the key down or if the screen changes too fast for you to enter the BIOS, press the Pause/Break key on your keyboard. This key will pause the booting screen, so you can understand which keys are needed to access the BIOS. To unpause such a screen, press any key.

Step 2: Once you know the access key combinations, then press that key or press the combination of keys during the booting screen to enter the BIOS interface. In some computers, just one press of the key is enough, with others, you may need to tap it repeatedly. Do not press and hold down the key with force or press it too many times. The system may hang or an error code will show up on screen and you will need to restart your PC. With certain machines, pressing the DEL key repeatedly at the boot up screen, before the OS loading screen appears, can bring up the BIOS screen. Other common BIOS keys are F1, F2, F10, F12 and ESC.

Step 3: The BIOS is not dependent in any way on the operating system. So whether you are running Windows 7 or Mac OS X, the OS has nothing to do with your BIOS and hence different operating systems does not mean different BIOS access keys. Instead, your computer’s BIOS depends on the manufacturer of the motherboard, like Acer or ASUS. So there are proprietary access keys to enter the BIOS screen, based on the brand of the computer. Some computer systems and their BIOS access shortcuts are:

Manufacturer

  • Acer
  • Compaq
  • Dell 400
  • Dell 4400
  • Dell Inspiron
  • Dell Latitude
  • Gateway 2000
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP)
  • IBM
  • Micron
  • Packard Bell
  • Sharp
  • Sony VAIO
  • Toshiba 335CDS
  • Toshiba Portégé
  • Toshiba Satellite
  • Toshiba

Access Keys

  • F1, F2, CTRL+ALT+ESC
  • F10 (newer), F1, F2, DEL (older models)
  • F3, F1
  • F12
  • F2
  • Fn+F1, Fn+ESC
  • F1
  • F1, F2, ESC (for laptops)
  • F1, F2 (E-pro laptop)
  • F1, F2, DEL
  • F1, F2, DEL
  • F2
  • F2
  • ESC
  • ESC
  • F1
  • Tecra F1 or ESC

Warning: The above-mentioned access keys may differ from computer to computer, so always verify the information prior to usage. The correct access keys are provided as a part of the computer’s documentation. This site does not assume any responsibility for any issues that could occur by using the above information.

The BIOS is a rather sensitive part of your computer’s internal makeup, so pressing a lot of keys at the boot up screen is not a good idea, unless you know what you are doing. So do not press any or all keys in tandem or with force to enter your computer’s BIOS. Instead, refer to your computer’s manual and look for System Settings or similar headings to find the correct BIOS key. You can even search online using your computer’s model number and make.

Once you have actually accessed the BIOS and are facing the lovely light blue screen, here’s a word of caution; fiddling with BIOS settings is not for novices or the ill-informed. If you know what you are doing, then only change settings and to be safe, write down what you are changing, in case you need to go back and re-change it. Use the arrow keys and function keys to navigate and select options within the menu. Accessing the BIOS of a computer’s system can be done to change certain basic computer settings and workings, but should be carried out with caution.

Types of Networking Devices

A computer network is not made up of one machine or even one type of machine. It is a carefully designed system of different hardware components (networking devices) working in tandem with various rules and communication protocols. From the network scenario in a household, to a medium scale network in a school or mall to a large, border-crossing network of a corporation or service, a computer network is made up of various hardware parts, some standard and some rare and more complex. So, what are the different types of network hardware? Read on for a listing of such devices and a brief explanation of each.

Types of Network Hardware

Cables & Wires
Everything may be turning wireless nowadays but at least 2-3 wired connections have to exist somewhere in a computer network. Connecting a desktop to a router or the router to the modem, such connections are always wired and the common cable type used is CAT5 RJ-45. Wiring is typically thought of as being a Layer 1 (physical layer) device as raw data or signals are transferred from one end to the other.

NIC
Network interface cards is easily one of the most important components of a computer network. It is a hardware part that allows the computer to be identified amongst others in a network and allows the computer to connect to a network. It works in the physical and data link layer of the OSI model. This card provides the circuitry required to implement a networking standard. The most common NIC form used is Ethernet. Recent computers, both desktops and laptops have their NIC built on the motherboard, earlier computers needed an internal or external NIC to be added. Laptops with built-in Wi-Fi have wired and wireless NIC capability, but most desktops have only wired connection capabilities and will require a wireless adapter to connect wirelessly.

Hubs
Connecting more than one computer to a higher layer networking device like a router can be difficult, if you do not have a hub. A hub collects various devices through a wired connection and groups them into a segment. So, the network recognizes all devices connected to the hub, as one segment. Typical hubs allow Ethernet wired connections and have at least 4-5 ports on them and can have 8, 12 or even more ports. They are very simple devices, they do not manage or filter or function in any other manner, other than to act as a collection point. They operate in the physical layer of the OSI model.

Modems
A modem acts as a sort of converter or translator. It allows digital data or information to be transmitted over traditionally analog lines of transmission such as a telephone line. The word “modem” is a mix of two transmission terms, “modulate” and “demodulate”, which are the two main operations performed. The digital signal from a computer is converted into analog form, sent over the analog medium and then decoded back into its digital form at the receiving end.

Routers
Routers can be thought of as the mailroom of a network. They receive incoming data packets, decipher their addressing information (where did they come from, where do they have to go) and send them accordingly. Routers are essentially used for traffic management. They function in Layer 3 (network layer) of the OSI model. Routers are much smarter than hubs, they can implement security protocols, assign IP addresses, both static and dynamic and can function in both the wired and wireless transmission band. There are different router types based on their area of use, such as home or small-use routers to enterprise routers, which are used for complex routing functions in large corporations.

Gateways
A gateway acts as the meeting point or go between point between 2 different networks, using different protocols. e.g. Network A uses one protocol, Network B uses another. A computer from A wants to communicate with a machine from B but due to the difference in protocols, it does not know how to communicate. It can adopt or add B’s protocol but this is a tasking process and is not really efficient. Instead, a gateway will translate the request from the computer in A’s network, into B’s language and then translate the reply from B’s language into A’s. So, the 2 machines can communicate without any change in protocol. Gateways function in all layers of the OSI model, since they perform conversion or translation functions.

Wireless Access Points
An access point acts as a middle station for a network and helps in adding more users to it. They are connected to the network but act as a transmitter and receiver for the network signals, so other devices can connect to the access point and in turn will be connected to the main network. The best example for an access point scenario is a large house, where the router is located in the basement. So, the ground floor can receive the wireless signal but the first floor cannot, due to the network’s limited range. An access point connected on the ground floor will receive the router’s wireless signal and emit it to reach the first floor, enabling users on that floor to access the original network.

With advances in technology, the features and specifications of such devices may change or the device itself may become obsolete. But for now, this collection of network hardware remains constant; and at least one or two of the above devices can be found in any computer network.

Nvidia’s GeForce 1080 Ti Raises Graphics Chip Bar Yet Again

The first reviews of the newly released Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti came out on Thursday, and by all accounts this card has performed beyond expectations.

Nvidia’s new GPU can perform 35 percent faster than its GTX 1080, the company has claimed.

Based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, this flagship gaming GPU includes next-gen 11-Gbps GDDR5X memory, and an 11-GB frame buffer.

The GTX 1080 Ti, which will be available soon for US$699, is even faster and more powerful than the more expensive Titan X Pascal, reviewers have noted. Released two years ago, the Tital X Pascal is priced at $1,100 or more online.

The Founders Edition of the new GTX 1080 Ti card is crafted with premium materials and components that include a die-cast aluminum body and 7-phase dual FET power supply. To keep this high-speed card cool, there’s a radial fan along with an advanced vapor chamber designed to provide consistent performance even in what Nvidia describes as “thermally challenging” environments.

The GTX 1080 Ti features Nvidia Ansel, which allows gamers to capture as well as create in-game screenshots that can be viewed in 360 degrees.

Power to the Gamer

With a price point of nearly $700, the GTX 1080 Ti is clearly aimed at the power gamer, and it will give those who invest in this hardware serious gaming power, according to the reviews.

“Nvidia’s new card offers over a thousand more CUDA cores than its cousin — 3,584 versus 2,560 — as well as 24 additional ROPs and 40 percent more texture units,” wrote Brad Chacos for PCWorld.

“The vanilla GTX 1080 was the most badass graphics card ever created when it launched less than a year ago and the GTX 1080 Ti blows it away on paper,” he added.

The card also delivers — mostly — in actual performance, but doesn’t quite meet the hype of the specs, reported GameSpot’s Jimmy Thang.

“The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performs 30 percent better than the GTX 1080 in this synthetic DirectX 11 test,” Thang noted in his review.

“While this represents the largest lead that the Ti has over the GTX 1080 at 1080p, it falls short of Nvidia’s 35 percent improvement claim,” he pointed out.

The Gee-Whiz Factor

The reviews generally seem positive, but early testers discovered a few issues.

“In all but memory capacity, which sits at an odd 11GB, the GTX 1080 Ti is a carbon copy of the Titan XP with a slightly higher clock speed,” wrote reviewer Mark Walton for Ars Technica.

While the card is indeed faster and more powerful, it hasn’t advanced graphics power by leaps or bounds, game testing also revealed — and the testing did include games in which characters do plenty of leaping.

“In the Tomb Raider benchmark at 1080p, the Ti outperforms the GTX 1080 by three percent, which is underwhelming,” wrote Gamespot’s Thang.

However, Nvidia could emerge as the winner of the graphics war with rival AMD — at least, for now — and this card actually is less expensive, so it could benefit gamers who want to take graphics to the next level.

“With competition at this end of the market some months away — AMD has pencilled in a Q2 2017 release for Vega — there’s little to stop Nvidia continuing to charge a premium for its top-of-the-range graphics cards,” added Ars‘ Walton.

The Fast and the Affordable

What could be a bigger factor for the success of the GTX 1080 Ti than its slight improvement in performance is the fact that it is a lot more affordable — and thus potentially accessible to a larger market than the previous flagship card.

“These days, when you have virtually unlimited choice in graphic cards, aggressive prices can be a key differentiator as customers are increasingly value-minded,” said Scott Steinberg, principal analyst at TechSavvy Global.

“There is a segment of the gaming market that will always step up to pay premium, but far and away the trend is getting the best value for the dollar,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The really good thing about the GTX 1080 Ti is that it improves on the Titan X performance and yet is a fraction of the cost,” noted Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“This moves the price point down significantly — and while it is not yet a mainstream product, it’s positioning top end cards to be more accessible,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It makes everyone who paid a premium for the Titan X to look silly, as now [GTX 1080 Ti users] have more capability and at less money,” Entner explained. “The pace of advances and falling price point is accelerating and is actually becoming staggering.”

High Speed Ahead

It seems likely that GPUs could be the next segment of the computer ecosystem to follow with improved performance at ever-lower price points, in part as a way to reach more mainstream audiences. There likely will remain a high end, but the trickle down to the mass market GPUs could accelerate.

The question will be whether Nvidia will be able to get enough of these premium cards out to meet demand, as the Titan X was in relatively short supply until recently, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

The lower price and supply could be as crucial as a jump in performance, since few games actually demand the highest-end hardware. Yet even as advanced features in the hardware are becoming commonplace, this card could be a solid way to future-proof a high-end gaming machine.

“Most of the cards in this generation handle 4K, so that isn’t really a differentiator anymore. It is pure performance — and up until now, the very expensive Titan X was king,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld.

“Well, the king is dead. We have a new more affordable king — at least until they refresh the Titan X,” he added. “This card would be a great way to get ahead of the performance curve and ensure your new gaming rig doesn’t go obsolete prematurely.”

How to install an Intel or AMD CPU in your computer

The beating heart of any PC is its central processing unit.

Since the dawn of the Internet era, having a fast CPU has been a point of pride for many enthusiasts—and a must have for anybody looking to get intensive work done. In recent years, upgrading to a bleeding-edge CPUs has become less important in light of ever-faster graphics cards and theexperience-altering goodness of SSDs, mixed with slowing CPU performance gains generation-to-generation. But don’t let that fool you: The CPU remains one of the most important parts of your PC.

With so much on the line, you want to get it right. Here’s a quick overview to picking the right CPU for you, and instructions on how to actually install a processor in your PC.

Choosing a new CPU

Choosing the right CPU for your PC can be complex process, but if you start with a solid idea of what your budget is and what your goals are then you can make a decision pretty quickly. Let’s start at the high-end and work our way down.

Intel’s Core i7-5820K is a $390 six-core “Haswell-E” chip that’s based off of Intel’s Xeon server chips and uses the high-end LGA 2011-v3 socket. Spending more money will get you a CPU that’s only marginally faster; thus this chip represents our most expensive recommendation for people without very specific needs that require additional computing firepower.

Moving to the next step down, there’s Intel’s Core i7-4790K at $340. This chip has only four cores but it also has an extra 500MHz of clock speed over the i7-5820K and will occasionally outperform the more expensive chip in games and apps because of it. At $240, we have Intel’s Core i5-4690K which loses a bit of clock speed and hyper threading compared to the i7-4790K. The Core i5-4690K is the best compromise between price and performance on the market, and the chip gamers should pick up if they can afford it.

But if you can’t quite fit that chip into your budget you can step down to AMD’s FX-8320 which is a very capable chip at $140. Stepping all the way down to the bottom of the bin we have AMD’s $75 Athlon X4 860K, which is essentially one of AMD’s APUs, minus the graphics bits.

We recommend going with AMD’s chips if you have less than $200 to spend on a CPU because of the plethora of inexpensive but well-featured motherboards on designed for those chips. Additionally, AMD’s chips retain many of the features—like cryptographic acceleration and virtualization—that Intel disables on its cheaper Core i3 and Pentium chips.

There are many more processors available that what we’ve covered here; this was just an overview of some best picks at various price points. In general, Intel’s Core i7 chips are their most powerful, and best for multimedia editing; Core i5 chips lack hyperthreading and are thus less powerful than Core i7 chips, but should be plenty potent for gamers and most other users; and Core i3 chips are the weakest Core chips, but just fine for people who don’t push their systems too hard.

Other buying considerations

Don’t forget to buy a motherboard that’s compatible with your new CPU, as selecting mismatched parts is a common PC building mistake you’ll want to avoid.

While you’re considering the information above it’s important to remember that you probably want to spend more on some other components in modern PCs. If you’re presented with a choice between spending an extra $100 on your CPU or repurposing that money for a better graphics card or SSD, you should usually choose invest in a better GPU or SSD over a faster CPU if you’re buying anything beyond a bargain-basement chip. For builders on an even tighter budget remember to always prioritize purchasing an SSD over all else. (Yes, mechanical hard drives are that bad for your primary drive.)

Another wrinkle to consider is cooling. All of the CPUs on this list come with basic heatsinks that will provide absolutely adequate cooling for the life of your CPU; but many enthusiasts chose to spend money on bigger tower coolers or on water cooling. If you want a really quiet system, plan to overclock your processor, or you care about aesthetics, then investing in an aftermarket CPU cooler is probably the right decision for you. On the other hand, if a light humming noise and a boring looking heatsink don’t bother you than you can skip out on this purchase.

How to install an Intel CPU

With all of those purchasing considerations out of the way it time to install your new CPU. First we’ll look at installing Intel’s CPUs, and then AMD’s chips.

Start with your motherboard outside of your PC’s case, on a flat surface. Release the small metal lever holding the CPU retention bracket to Intel’s LGA socket in the motherboard.

Now you can insert your chip. Make sure that you line up the two guiding notches on the socket with the notches along the edge of your chip. These notches are designed to prevent you from seating the CPU in the socket in an improper manner. With the chip seated in the socket, you can lower the retention bracket back into place. Make sure that you slip the notch at the end of the bracket around the single screw at the base of the socket before you use the metal lever to lock the CPU into place.

When the CPU’s installed, it’s time to attach the cooler. If you’re using the stock Intel cooler there will already be thermal grease on the underside of the heatsink. If you’re using an aftermarket cooler, then you’ll need to apply a small rice-grain-sized dot of thermal grease—your cooler likely came with a small syringe of it—to the center of the CPU before you set the heatsink on top of it.

One of the nice things about Intel’s stock heatsink is that it uses push pins to attach itself to the motherboard. Simply place the cooler on top of your CPU and then press the push pins into the holes at each corner of the socket. Once the pins have been pushed through to the other side of the motherboard, press the black locking tab down into the mounting pin and twist it toward the center of the CPU, following the arrow engraved into the push pin, to lock the heatsink into place.

The final step is to connect the fan header wire leading from your CPU to the CPU fan header on your motherboard.

For aftermarket coolers this process can be more complex and potentially involve custom heatsink retention brackets and mounting solutions. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and refer to the relevant YouTube videos for guidance with those products.

How to install an AMD CPU

AMD’s chips have both a different kind of socket and a different method of mounting heatsinks compared to Intel’s system.

Looking at a fresh socket FM2+ motherboard, you’ll see that there are no metal pins on AMD’s socket. Rather, the pins that connect the CPU to the motherboard are on the underside of the CPU with AMD’s chips.

Start by flipping the CPU locking lever up from the socket. Then you can place your AMD CPU in the socket in such a way that the gold triangle on the corner of your chip matches up with the engraved triangle on the corner of the CPU socket. A light press should then seat your CPU firmly in the socket. Lower the retention lever on the side of the socket to lock your chip into place.

As with Intel’s stock cooler, AMD’s cooler will also come with thermal material on its underside from the factory. The big difference between Intel’s and AMD’s stock cooling solutions is that while Intel’s mounts with push-pins, AMD’s mounts with a more traditional notch-and-lever combination.

Start by hooking the mounting bracket on the cooler on to the plastic notch at the top end of the CPU socket. Then hook the bracket onto the notch at the opposite end of the socket. From here you can toggle the locking lever to press the heatsink up against the CPU and hold the heatsink firmly to the motherboard. Hooking both of the plastic notches with the heatsink mounting bracket is the most difficult part of this installation process.

 Now you’ve successfully picked out the right CPU for your PC build andyou’ve correctly installed it into your motherboard. Your computer’s not done yet, but you’ve taken a big step on the road to computing nirvana.