Saturday, 21 February 2015

Motherboard upgrades: what to look for

Motherboard upgrades

Join us as we demystify the process of choosing a new board for your PC

When considering what hardware to upgrade, it's easy to get distracted by the simplicity of adding more RAM, a faster processor or a superior graphics card. But what about your motherboard?

A fresh motherboard brings with it a host of benefits. Unlike the incremental improvements that come with RAM or CPU upgrades, a new motherboard will instantly offer extra features and expansion possibilities that weren't there before. It will quite literally remake your PC.

But the number of co-dependencies your motherboard accommodates also makes it one of the most difficult pieces of hardware to upgrade - especially if you're not building an entirely fresh PC. Current operating systems have taken a lot of the strain out of swapping your motherboard for a new one, but it's still a difficult process that requires a fair amount of understanding to undertake.

Give Your Gadgets A Facelift

custom firmware

We look at how custom firmware can give your old gadgets a whole new lease of life

When hardware reaches a certain point in its life, it's normal for a company to declare it deprecated or unsupported. This means that it stops issuing updates and fixes for its software, and consumers are expected to move on to the next device, whether they want to or not.

But not everyone takes that lying down. If manufacturers don't want to update their devices, they reason, maybe they can. And so the hardware is adopted by custom firmware developers, who want to add new functions and capabilities to hardware that the industry has lost interest in. This practice of creating new operating systems and applications for 'closed' devices is also called 'homebrewing', and it's popular on a huge variety of consumer electronics, from obvious candidates like games consoles and routers to more offbeat items, like digital cameras.

Remembering... Cassette Tapes

Cassette Tapes

David Hayward recalls the mighty tape but admits he liked Rick Astley in his youth

Hands up all those who fondly recall taping Radio One's Top 40 on a Sunday night and having to hit the pause button on the tape deck the second the DJ started to talk- then writing 'Top 40: 20/06/85' or something on the label and pocketing it for playing throughout the week while you did your homework.

The cassette tape was such a part of everyday life that we often forget just how much we handled these things back in the day. For most of us, there was hardly a day that went by when we weren't in possession of a tape. Usually, the tape contained music, but often it was the latest game on the ZX Spectrum or C64.

The Intel Compute Stick, what is it?

Intel Compute Stick

David Hayward has a brief look at new micro computer

ARM hardware has enjoyed substantial growth these last few years, thanks to the fact that the design processes used to make the chips are relatively cheap, and they're small enough yet also powerful enough to fit into some exceptionally tiny places.

The chief destination for ARM processors is, of course, mobile phones, but tablets and other devices are a significant factor. More recently we enjoyed ARM-and Android-powered micro consoles and handheld consoles, which again prove that you can have quad-core power in a device that's the size of your hand.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens

Not content with giving away Windows 10 free, Microsoft now wants to float 3D objects in your living room

What is it?

A futuristic-looking headset that displays 3D objects (which Microsoft calls “holograms”) to the person wearing it. It can show the weather as a floating map, turn living-room walls into virtual screens, and let you play virtual games on your coffee table. Microsoft unveiled it in January when announcing the next version of the Windows 10 Preview, and said it will go on sale when the operating system officially launches later this year. There’s no indication yet of what it will cost.