If you’ve owned a computer for quite some time now, what have you noticed? You’ve probably noticed that your computer is not as snappy as it once was. You might find that you experience lags or slowdowns, especially when performing demanding tasks.
There are so many reasons why a computer would start to slow down but that is mainly because some people rarely do enough maintenance on their PCs or laptops.
In today’s article, I will talk about computer maintenance tips for 2020.
1.Get Rid of Dust
The first thing that you’d want to do if you start experiencing slowdowns is to clean your computer. When was the last time you did that?
The reason why you want to remove the dust that may have built up inside your PC is that it can actually impede ample airflow inside the system. This will result in a rise in temperatures and if the PC is hot, it will start to throttle down to prevent it from damaging its internals.
You can start clearing the dust by using a small vacuum cleaner (found in electronics stores), a brush, or even a can of compressed air.
2.Always Update Your Operating System
Whether you are running Windows 10 or macOS, it is important that your computer or laptop is patched with the latest updates.
Operating system updates not only provide you with the latest security patches but they might also bring performance improvements as well.
3.Use a Robust Antivirus Program
People would usually say that you just have to use common sense to prevent viruses and other malware from invading your computer, but that actually will not cut it.
It is still vital that you install a good antivirus program because hackers and people with malicious intent are so adept at employing scripts and programs that you may not notice.
If you can, buy an internet security suite so that you can also have firewall protection, though the built-in Windows Firewall should do the job.
4.Uninstall Old Programs
Another big reason why your computer starts to slow down is that old programs might still be running in the background.
You see, there are some applications that would run background processes so that they can still provide you with the features that they purport to give.
However, if you install a lot of programs and you let them run in the background, that may deplete your PC’s resources, resulting in slowdowns.
Go to Add/Remove programs and uninstall any old applications that you no longer need and purge your system of them.
5.Stay Away from Malicious Sites
Do you remember why you need to install an antivirus program? Even if you use common sense, there might be some pop-ups that will direct you to malicious websites that could inject malicious code into your system.
If you cannot stay away from malicious sites, having an antivirus program will ensure that you stay protected.
6.Only Install Programs from Known Sources
You have to be wary about where you got your computer programs in the first place. If you just install a similarly named program, it might turn out to be malicious software.
Only download programs from trusted sources.
7.Employ Two-Factor Authentication
Even if you are using a strong password, it might not thwart any hacker from getting your sensitive information.
It is best that you use two-factor authentication to ensure that even if hackers were to penetrate your first line of defense, you still have another layer of protection.
8.Keep an Eye on Your Disk Space
Whether you are using an SSD or you are still using the now archaic Hard Disk Drive, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your disk space. This is especially true if you have an SSD.
You see, as your disk drives’ space gets depleted, their performance slows down considerably. If you have an SSD, make sure that you always reserve at least 10% of its total storage space to ensure optimal performance.
Delete old files and programs to free up some space.
9. Always Backup Your Data
Always keep in mind that your data is precious and that all hardware may fail at some point; usually without prior notice.
For that reason, it is a good idea to backup your data regularly. There are many ways you can backup your data. There are a lot of cloud storage solutions that you can use to automate the process, but you can also save your data using an external storage device.
10.Update Your Software Whenever Possible
Just like updating your computer’s operating system, program updates not only provide new features but they may also include patches and security updates that will protect your computer from unwanted access.
Most programs will alert you if there is a new update and it is best that you comply if that happens.
11.Keep Your Device Drivers Updated
You might think that just because your computer ‘seems’ fine that you do not need to update your device’s drivers; you’re wrong.
It is wise that you keep your computer’s drivers updated to ensure that you get the best performance possible.
This is especially true if you are using a graphics card or audio solution. There are, however, some drivers that do not need any updates, but for the most part, update them whenever possible.
12.Conduct Virus Scans
Even if you’ve employed the best practices when browsing the internet, there might still be some malicious programs that are running behind the scenes.
Make it a habit to conduct virus scans regularly. Once a week should be fine, but if you feel that there is something wrong, do a full scan of your PC immediately.
13.Defragment Your Hard Drive
Now, if you are using a hard disk drive, you should try and defragment it from time to time, especially if you are experiencing slowdowns. This is even more so if you are still using it as your primary operating system drive.
That being said, Windows 10 has a built defragmenter within the operating system, but you are free to use any program that you want.
However, keep in mind that although HDDs would require some defragmenting from time to time, you should NEVER defragment SSDs. Why? Well, let’s just say that they work much differently than traditional HDDs.
14.Keep Your Startup Programs to a Minimum
What are Startup programs? Well, these are programs that will launch automatically once you start your computer from a cold boot (or from a complete shutdown).
Most programs nowadays come with such a feature, especially if you are talking about some essential apps like antivirus programs, peripherals software, and so on.
While it may be convenient to have some programs running immediately after you start your computer, this may result in huge slowdowns (even if you are using an SSD).
As a measure, keep your startup programs only to the essentials.
15.Check the Task Manager
You should get acquainted with Windows Task Manager, especially if you want to get the best possible performance.
Now, for people that are not used to seeing it, it might be pretty daunting. However, all you really need to look at are the processes that take up so much of your computer’s resources.
If you are not running a demanding application or game and you still find that your computer is doing the best it can to operate, then look at the task manager.
The moment that you find that there are some malicious programs or applications that you didn’t execute (or run), then end its process immediately.
16.Monitor the Temps
As a safety feature, your PC, as well as your graphics card, will throttle down its performance whenever it runs too hot. This is to avoid the components from destroying itself.
Now, if you haven’t removed the dust from your system, that might be the likely cause, but if you have and you are still experiencing slowdowns, look at the task manager for any dubious programs or processes.
I also recommend that you download a temperature monitoring tool like HWMonitor or HWInfo (though I recommend the UI of HWMonitor for beginners, HWInfo provides more information).
17.Upgrade Your RAM
RAM stands for Random Access Memory and anything that you do on your computer will be placed inside the RAM for quick access.
For example, if you are running a program and you close the program after using it, and suppose that you want to run the same application again, it will load up so much faster than before.
Of course, RAM is limited and some programs might use more of it than others. For that reason, it is a great idea that you upgrade your RAM.
If you can, increase your RAM to at least 16GB to ensure optimal performance.
18.Upgrade to an SSD
SSD stands for Solid State Drive and it is so much better than an HDD when it comes to raw performance. That is because data is stored digitally in blocks and SSDs do not have mechanical moving parts unlike the HDD.
That being said, you will definitely feel a huge improvement in performance after you upgrade to an SSD. It is also a good idea to install your computer’s operating system on it.
As an example, a computer that is running on an HDD might boot up and go to the desktop about 45 seconds or more. A computer with an SSD? Well, let’s just say that it can (potentially) boot up below 20 seconds.
19. Use Disk Cleanup
If you are running Windows 10, temporary and unnecessary files might pile up the longer you’ve used your system. It is, then, crucial to run the disk cleanup utility to get rid of them.
Using a Windows 10 machine, right-click your C drive-> Properties->then Disk Cleanup.
20.Delete Old System Restore Points
Your computer, by default, will create what is known as a system restore point. When there are problems with your computer after installing a program, for example, you can easily revert back to a previous state using one of those restore points. Well, there’s just one problem.
You see, system restore points would require storage space and so long as you do not set the maximum number of restore points, it will eat up some precious storage space.
Ideally, you will need only 3-5 system restore points. What you can do is type ‘system restore’ on the search bar on windows 10 and the first entry called ‘Create a System Restore Point’ should pop-up.
There, you can set how much maximum storage space you want to allot specifically for those restore points. Any old entries will be deleted if it creates new ones based on the threshold that you have set.
Acer Nitro XV340CK Review- A Greatly Competitive Ultrawide Gaming Monitor Under $500
Ultrawide monitors used to be a niche display in that the only people who work on productivity tasks and creative workloads usually buy them.
Fortunately, the display technology has evolved and gamers, too, can enjoy a much wider screen.
Today, I am going to review the Acer Nitro XV340CK which is a 34-inch ultrawide gaming monitor that is priced competitively.
Even though this is marketed as a gaming monitor, the Acer Nitro XV340CK actually doesn’t look like it. It looks simple and I love the aesthetics, especially if you want to place this in your office.
The only thing that might make you think that this is a gaming display is that red accent that you can find on the base of the monitor but that’s about it.
Anyway, let’s start with the stand. Aside from the aforementioned red accent, the stand provides good ergonomics.
It gives you the ability to swivel the monitor a complete 360 degrees, you can tilt it to 35 degrees back and you can adjust the height up to 5.9 inches. Because this is an ultrawide monitor, you cannot put this thing in portrait mode.
I love the fact that this monitor has slim bezels. At only 0.4 inches, you can place another monitor right beside it and it wouldn’t really take a lot of screen real estate at all.
The overall build quality is good. Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel premium, at least when compared to the best gaming monitors out there, it still feels sturdy nevertheless.
For the ports, you get two Displayport 1.4 ports, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. Due to the wealth of ports on offer, you can use this for your PC or your game console.
The only thing that might be cumbersome for some users is that the OSD controls are situated at the back of the monitor- particularly on the bottom right side. The buttons are also a bit smaller than usual, so you may have a hard time pressing the right ones.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK has a 34-inch IPS display with a resolution of 3440 x 1440 and an aspect ratio of 21:9. It is the same as other ultrawide gaming monitors that you can find on the market so there is no problem with that.
You do have the option to enable the picture-in-picture mode so that you can divide the display in two if you wish to fire up two different programs at the same time. This is why it is not only a handy gaming monitor, but it can also be used for office work as well.
Its contrast and brightness leave much to be desired. With a native contrast ratio of 1048:1 and peak SDR brightness of only 247 nits, it is not the best display when it comes to these things.
However, its redeeming quality is that its colors are accurate. After calibration, I got 95% sRGB, 82% AdobeRGB, and 81% DCI-P3. It is relatively color accurate and it would have been nice for creative workloads, but its peak brightness just falls short of making it an ideal display for such use-cases.
It is also worth noting that if you are in a well-lit room that the brightness could be a huge issue. The good thing is that the display’s matte finish can help reduce glare significantly, though you will still find that it is not bright enough in some situations.
I am surprised by the fact that there is literally no color bleed on the Acer Nitro XV340CK. This is unheard of, especially since ultrawide monitors are notorious for this.
Sure, its peak brightness and contrast could have improved, but gamers are not especially focused on those things. If anything, it is the performance of the display that usually takes the cake and I am happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with the Nitro XV340CK.
Normally, with IPS panels, they tend to not have a good response time, but that is actually not the case here. At just 5.3ms, it is definitely one of the best out there even when compared to other, more premium models.
How about input lag? This is a speed monitor and as expected, input lag is minimal. At just 4.2ms, I am really blown away by the performance of this thing. Every keypress on your gaming keyboard will register almost immediately and that is really great from a competitive standpoint.
It is also worth noting that its 144Hz refresh rate is ideal, especially since most gamers are clamoring for high refresh rate displays anyway.
This is a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can enable this variable refresh rate feature in both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
To get a hold of the said features, it is important for you to know that you should use the DisplayPort cable that is included in the box. There is also an included HDMI cable if you want to use this display for your Xbox or Playstation consoles.
With all of those things being said, if I were to ask you how much this thing costs, what will be your guess? If you’ve guessed around $700, you’re wrong.
The Acer Nitro XV340CK is priced at just $450! At that price, you are getting a relatively color-accurate monitor, a really fast display with minimal input lag, and a vast number of ports that you can use for your PC or game consoles.
Sure, its contrast and peak brightness could have been improved, but if you are talking about raw gaming performance, the Acer Nitro XV340CK blows other ultrawide gaming monitors out of the way.
Just make sure that you have a nice gaming PC for this thing to work nicely. Other than that, I highly recommend the Acer Nitro XV340CK for its price and performance.
HyperX Cloud Stinger S- A Comfortable 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset
As an audiophile, I’ve always loved HyperX’s gaming audio solution. They are inexpensive and for the price, you are actually getting sound quality that you normally would only hear from expensive products.
In today’s article, I am going to review the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. This is a budget offering that aims to improve upon the original Cloud Stinger with the inclusion of a 7.1 surround sound option.
Do I recommend this headset? Find out later on in the article.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger S is actually quite similar to the original version. It has the same pleather ear cups that envelope your ears quite nicely and the clamping force of the headset itself is actually quite okay.
I’ve been receiving reports that there are some people that have problems with the tightness or, shall I say, how loose this thing can be. But that will probably be a result of the size of your head and not the actual product itself. For me, the fit was okay, but your mileage may vary.
Although this thing is predominantly made in plastic, the overall build quality is good, though I would advise you not to throw this headset when you lose a round in a MOBA game or first-person shooter.
There is a microphone on this headset and just like the original, it is not removable. It would have been nice if you could remove it when you are not using it because even if you fold the microphone (which also acts as a way of muting it), you will still see it which can be annoying at times.
This thing is quite simple and all you have for the controls is the volume slider that is located on the right ear cup.
While other HyperX gaming headsets come with a carrying pouch, I am sad to say that the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t have one.
All you get in the box aside from the headset is a USB dongle that is attached to a relatively long cable and some documentation. And, since you use this thing completely wired, it can also be used in your Playstation or other game consoles as well.
The 3.5mm analog cable should be inserted in the USB dongle if you wish to use its 7.1 surround sound implementation, but if you are just going to watch movies or play non-competitive games, I suggest that you do not use it.
There are two modes that you can utilize if you are going to use the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. You can use its 3.5mm headphone jack and enjoy stereo sound or you could insert that into the included USB dongle and use the 7.1 surround sound feature.
Keep in mind that if you are going to use the 7.1 output that it is only supported on the PC since you will need the NGENUITY software to enable it.
That being said, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S’ sound signature leans more toward being bright and with a little emphasis on the bass. This seems to be the preference of the majority of gamers since lower frequencies can make those in-game sounds pop-out more.
I also love the mid frequencies as it is quite balanced as well. I’ve had no problems listening to in-game dialog and when I am using the microphone, it just works really well.
Although the high frequencies are okay, I would say that it is the weakest of the bunch, though not so much as to diminish the overall sound quality. You will still hear the sibilance of the cymbals and lead guitars, but it is not as pronounced as the lower and mid frequencies.
As for the 7.1 surround sound, you should enable it in the companion software and it is only available when you are on the PC.
Anyway, its surround sound is okay but I say this because it is a budget gaming headset. If you compare it to the more premium ones, this is subpar at best. Still, you could enable it in your favorite games but I will advise against it if you are just listening to music or watching movies.
Despite a relatively good clamping force, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S doesn’t do so well in terms of sound isolation. People around me can still hear what I was listening to, so this might not be ideal if you are playing at night and there are people sleeping.
There is usually this notion that budget headsets have horrible microphones but not the HyperX Cloud Stinger S. In fact, I would go on to say that it has one of the better ones on the market.
Instead of sounding tinny, the microphone quality of the Cloud Stinger S is full-bodied and my teammates can hear every word I said without any problems.
The volume of the microphone is also quite good as well. Normally, with budget offerings, you tend to sound a bit ‘too far’ but that is not the case here.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the microphone. The only thing that I do not like is that the flippable microphone may impede your vision sometimes, but I think that you can adjust to this.
For a budget headset, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is definitely one of the better sounding ones. I also love the fact that the microphone’s quality is top-notch and it can even go head-to-head against its more premium counterparts.
I am just a bit disappointed that you do not get a carrying pouch with this one because other HyperX gaming headsets have them. But, this is a minor inconvenience.
I did not feel the need to talk about the NGENUITY software mainly because it is pretty barebones and all you can do with it is to enable the 7.1 surround sound, adjust the volume and microphone, and that’s about it. There is no equalizer present which is quite odd.
Still, for what it is giving you, the HyperX Cloud Stinger S is highly recommended. This thing costs $60.
Best VR Headsets in 2020- Experience the Thrill of Virtual Reality Gaming
A lot of people have said that the interest in virtual reality gaming has waned and although there is some truth to that, I think that the interest in this industry is just going to get better for the years to come.
Today, I am going to go over some of the best VR headsets in 2020. So, if you’re interested to feel the thrill of virtual reality gaming, then read ahead to find out my recommendations.
Back then, there was a huge interest in VR. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be immersed in the games that you play?
Unfortunately, it was quite challenging to make virtual reality work, at least, for the hardware that was available at the time.
The good thing is that the components that you can get today are so powerful that I think the interest in virtual reality, as a whole, will just increase further and further.
Keep in mind that not all VR headsets are created equal. There are standalone VR headsets that do not require any cables to be plugged into a game console or a computer, while there are those that would need to be tethered to a machine to get things started.
It is also worth noting that while there are so many inexpensive options out there, if you want the best possible experience, you will need to prepare yourself to spend quite a lot of money as those that are considered worthwhile investments are, well, investments.
They may not be cheap but rest assured that the headsets that I am going to be recommending to you are all worth it.
Best VR Headsets in 2020
If you want the best of the best without taking into consideration the cost, the Valve Index is one VR headset that is considered a worthwhile investment.
It has got everything that you can ask for in a virtual reality headset. It has a pretty nice AMOLED display with a resolution of 2880 x 1600. It has a refresh rate of 120Hz for a smooth and immersive gaming experience. And, it can be connected using a Displayport to your gaming PC as well.
The headset is also quite comfortable thanks to the choice of materials that are used in the construction of this product. I have to say that the weight distribution is also superb since you will never feel that the VR headset is on your noggin even if you are using it for hours and hours.
This thing has excellent per-finger tracking and its audio output is definitely something that is worth noting as well.
Seriously, the only issue here is that the price is over $1,500. If you are willing to spend this much, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed with the Valve Index.
2.HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
The second iteration of products usually fix the issues that were present in the first version and that is what the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is trying to achieve.
In this new version, you are getting a much higher resolution display at 2880 x 1700 and the screen has a refresh rate of 90Hz as well.
You could say that it is nearly identical to the original version except that the different faceplate means that you are sacrificing inside-out tracking for a much-improved accuracy across the board.
This headset was introduced mainly as a means for people to enjoy Half-Life: Alyx, but with the free annual subscription to the HTC Viveport, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is one that you should consider getting, especially now since the price has dropped considerably.
3.Oculus Rift S
The Oculus Rift S is certainly one of the best VR headsets on the market mainly because it is one of the most comfortable out there and its vast library of games (via the Oculus Store) makes it even more appealing to the average consumer.
I love the fact that its touch controllers provide an even more immersive experience thanks to its touch response and haptic feedback.
Its display resolution is 1280 x 1440 and while it is lower than the previous VR headsets, it is quite okay in most of the games that you can play in Oculus’ portfolio. And oh, the screen also has an 80Hz refresh rate as well.
One of the things that will really entice people to get this one is its impressive library of games. Some of the most popular titles include Job Simulator, Beat Saber, and a whole host of others.
The only thing that you need to take note of here is that you will need to have a pretty powerful PC for this one to work flawlessly. I suggest that you start investing in a powerful processor, as well as a high-end graphics card that can handle the graphical load.
To me, this is the one to get for most people, especially considering that its price won’t break the bank.
Considered as one of Windows’ Mixed Reality headsets, do not be fooled as this is still a bonafide VR headset at the end of the day. The only reason why it is included in the product stack is that Microsoft originally wanted to incorporate the HoloLens into this thing, but the project was canceled at the last minute.
Anyway, this headset has an AMOLED display with a rich pixel density and a resolution of 2880 x 1600 and a screen refresh rate of 90Hz.
If you do not want to experience the dreaded ‘screen-door’ effect that is usually present in most VR headsets, then this is the one that you should get. The reason why it can prevent such a thing is that Samsung makes use of a proprietary technology that will make the screen-door effect virtually non-existent.
It should also go without saying that the Samsung Odyssey+ also has excellent inside-out tracking as well.
If you just want to experience virtual reality gaming and you do not want to spend hundreds of dollars just to get a really good headset, then the Oculus Go is for you.
Unlike other VR headsets that require you to have them connected either to the PC or on game consoles, the Oculus Go is actually a standalone product, which means that it can handle things on its own.
It is equipped with a Snapdragon 821 chipset and its 2560 x 1440 resolution LCD display is quite good enough in most cases.
Since Facebook has bought the rights to Oculus, that means that you can virtually use the headset in any VR application that you can find. Perhaps getting immersed inside the Oculus Rooms app is a good start?
If you own a Playstation console and you want to use that as a means of experiencing virtual reality gaming, then I highly recommend that you check the Playstation VR headset out.
It currently supports the Playstation 4 and Playstation 4 Pro, but according to Sony’s representatives, this particular headset will also support the new Playstation 5 as well.
Anyway, you have a fairly massive library of games to choose from. Some of the most notable ones are Batman: Arkham VR, Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing Mission, and so much more.
It doesn’t quite deliver the experience much the same as the Valve Index or Oculus Rift S mentioned above, but in most cases, it should be more than adequate for most users.
The good thing is that you not only have the ability to use this thing in games but if you want to get an immersive experience while watching some Blu-ray content, then you are okay to do that too.
I think that Sony will be releasing the second version of this headset a few months after the release of its upcoming game console, but if you cannot wait, then the Playstation VR headset is really good, especially for the price.
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