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View Full Version : Overlooked PC upgrades



djbriandamage
15-06-2012, 07:38 PM
I thought I'd create a thread for people to make recommendations on ways to make your PC run better overall. Bonus points for inexpensive or free recommendations.

I'll start by recommending a good mouse pad. Any good mouse pad. A $15 gaming surface will make your mouse glide like a curling rock and relieves some strain on your wrist. Don't be afraid to recalibrate your sensitivity, though, because you will probably want to decrease it to retain precision.

I use a Steelseries mouse pad of some sort. It's a little bigger than I wish it was but with the occasional once-over with a washcloth it basically turns every mouse into mag-lev.

LaunchJC
15-06-2012, 07:47 PM
I recently upgraded from a cheapy obtained (free) uni IT lab mouse mat to a basic steelseries surface, definitely worth the 10.

kalniel
15-06-2012, 09:42 PM
Pledge. Free if you have it hanging around anyway, couple of quid if not. Makes your desk at least as good as a mouse pad.

Alex Bakke
15-06-2012, 11:33 PM
A sound card. I've seen quite a few people scoff at the very notion of getting one, because of the advances in onboard sound nowadays. It's come a long way, sure, but I recently bought a pair of very nice headphones, and the sound quality was awful! Loads of background noise, found it hard to distinguish between instruments during some complicated parts of songs. I purchased a Xonar DS (Around 40, you can get a cheaper - but still great - Xonar DS for 20) and the improvement in sound quality has been incredible.

Feldspar
15-06-2012, 11:39 PM
A Decent chair, trust me, your back will thank you.

soldant
16-06-2012, 05:21 AM
I want a Steelseries pad but even the smaller ones are still a bit too much than I can justify spending the money on.

For me one of the biggest upgrades in recent times has been to get a mechanical keyboard. I'll never go back to rubber domes or chiclet!

Heliocentric
16-06-2012, 10:39 AM
The ultimate mousepad is a frosted toughened glass office desk.

Keeps clean easy, low friction and inherently massive.
Wear a wrist band to avoid a wrist callus ^_^

Benny
16-06-2012, 01:45 PM
A non-stock CPU heatsink, even if you're not intending to overclock.

I picked up an Arctic Freezer 7 for about 15. Easy to fit and the overall PC temp dropped by about 5-10C (be careful transporting once it's fitted though, as it's a weighty piece of metal and only held on by a plastic bracket).

Colonel J
16-06-2012, 02:29 PM
A sound card. I've seen quite a few people scoff at the very notion of getting one, because of the advances in onboard sound nowadays. It's come a long way, sure, but I recently bought a pair of very nice headphones, and the sound quality was awful! Loads of background noise, found it hard to distinguish between instruments during some complicated parts of songs. I purchased a Xonar DS (Around 40, you can get a cheaper - but still great - Xonar DS for 20) and the improvement in sound quality has been incredible.

Definitely worth it, I'd thought soundcards were only worth it for driving 5.1 & 7.1 speaker set-ups, but I paid 20 for a Asus Xonar DG and the improvement in sound quality over onboard sound in games and music is very noticeable and I only use headphones. And happily these Asus cards seem to have none of the instability issues with sound drivers in the shite Creative cards I've had in the past.

Kamikaze-X
17-06-2012, 11:47 AM
Definitely worth it, I'd thought soundcards were only worth it for driving 5.1 & 7.1 speaker set-ups, but I paid 20 for a Asus Xonar DG and the improvement in sound quality over onboard sound in games and music is very noticeable and I only use headphones. And happily these Asus cards seem to have none of the instability issues with sound drivers in the shite Creative cards I've had in the past.

I have the exact same soundcard, and using it with a pair of Denons, gaming is lovely.

for 20 I heartily recommend it.

Moraven
18-06-2012, 06:14 AM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817114183

Got for $19.99 from newegg in 2006. Either had a basic pad or clear wood desk. Very good improvement.


Eyestrain:
Either a do it yourself light behind your monitor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7bPrDCwbu8
Seen a good guide before, can not find it. Inexpensive.

Other option is f.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/)


Can of Air
Just remembering to keep one on hand and give your case a good cleaning once a month (at least). Dust can trap a lot of heat along with being a threat to create static.

FriendlyFire
19-06-2012, 04:15 AM
One more recommendation for a good heatsink. Saw excellent drops in temperature after installing my Noctua, though beware when buying oversized coolers: they may not fit in your case! Even in my rather roomy case, the cooler is a few centimeters away from the side panel. It's also so heavy I'm sometimes worried about my motherboard, but I guess it's built to handle such things.

Otherwise, a good screen. You have no idea how much of a difference you can get with a solid IPS screen, even the cheaper e-IPS ones. It's night and day compared to TN panels, and if you're worried about delays, don't be, it's really blown out of proportion. The image quality is well worth nigh unperceivable slowdowns.

sinomatic
19-06-2012, 08:13 AM
Eyestrain:
Either a do it yourself light behind your monitor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7bPrDCwbu8
Seen a good guide before, can not find it. Inexpensive.

Other option is f.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/)


Can of Air
Just remembering to keep one on hand and give your case a good cleaning once a month (at least). Dust can trap a lot of heat along with being a threat to create static.

I thoroughly recommend f.lux, I honestly don't know how I managed without it.

Do you really need to clean your computer with compressed air as often as once a month? I've left mine for a few months at a time and even then there's still not much dust accumulated in there at all (I can see inside the case fairly easily from inside, with the exception of the graphics card fan).

djbriandamage
19-06-2012, 04:16 PM
Do you really need to clean your computer with compressed air as often as once a month?

It depends on how dusty your home is, I guess. My PC gets dusty very quickly so I go through a can of compressed air about once per year.

I learned a valuable lesson too - don't be lazy and dust your fans while they're spinning. I did that for a while which eventually unseated one of the fans and broke it. I had to replace it for $20 or so.

Bobtree
19-06-2012, 05:55 PM
Removable dust filters are a very nice thing to have on your case.

Reinhardt
19-06-2012, 06:50 PM
I thoroughly recommend f.lux, I honestly don't know how I managed without it.

Do you really need to clean your computer with compressed air as often as once a month? I've left mine for a few months at a time and even then there's still not much dust accumulated in there at all (I can see inside the case fairly easily from inside, with the exception of the graphics card fan).
It may go without saying, but please please keep the air duster away from your kids or adolescents. My family learned this the hard way and I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself.

djbriandamage
19-06-2012, 09:22 PM
It may go without saying, but please please keep the air duster away from your kids or adolescents. My family learned this the hard way and I don't know if I'll ever forgive myself.

My wife likes to torment me by tilting the can and spritzing me on the back of the neck. As horriffic this is, I take it you have an even more woeful warning for us.

db1331
19-06-2012, 09:33 PM
My wife likes to torment me by tilting the can and spritzing me on the back of the neck. As horriffic this is, I take it you have an even more woeful warning for us.

That stuff can be really, really bad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsz2yT9ZNxI

Reinhardt
19-06-2012, 11:15 PM
I don't mean to derail this thread any further, but I'd like to go into a bit more detail.

db1331 is on the right track. For some people, duster can be a harrowing experience. For others, it can just be confusing. But for my sister and her friends (and others, as I've come to learn) it was instantly and overwhelmingly pleasurable. No matter how long she goes without it, she's always going to think about it because nothing will ever compare to the pure positive feeling that inhaling gave her. She told me that each time was like a new experience, and the pleasure got more and more intense with each inhalation.

If my word choice is making you interested in trying it, please reconsider. You will reach a point at which nothing in your life seems to be of any significance or consequence, and your sole interest and motivator will be duster. The feeling you get is inseparable from nerve damage and you will never be the same person again. I'm not inexperienced when it comes to hallucinogens, but I will stay far, far away from this mindtrap.

soldant
20-06-2012, 01:38 AM
Reinhardt: Unless you're deliberately inhaling it, it's not dangerous. If you are, it's very dangerous - there's a significant risk of hypoxia and thus death resulting from either the chemical effects of the propellant on the body or from rapid expansion and cooling of the gas as it enters the respiratory system.

That said without intending to sound disrespectful given that this is a situation you've had to face, I think it's important to note that the product itself isn't inherently dangerous; when used inappropriately it is, but so is pretty much everything else. A can of the stuff is invaluable in blasting away dust in hard to reach places and certainly shortens your workload.

Reinhardt
20-06-2012, 01:42 AM
Oh, no, you're totally right. I have a can on my desk right now. There's absolutely no danger of second-hand inhalation as it were, and I didn't mean to imply that there was.

As a tool it's invaluable. Just watch your kids!

Pantocrator
20-06-2012, 05:08 AM
On a more positive note, using something like gamebooster tends to eek a fair amount of juice out of older systems and clean up your ram. Free download, just google it.

Reinhardt
20-06-2012, 05:31 AM
On a more positive note, using something like gamebooster tends to eek a fair amount of juice out of older systems and clean up your ram. Free download, just google it.

I've nothing but praise for Gamebooster. It's very easy to set up and makes a significant difference in framerate and loading times.