5 Things to Do When You Get Your PC
Fix up your PC to play games and do work faster.
Unlike consoles which don't require much beyond a few accessories and a high-resolution display, PCs often need a few squirts of WD-40 to get them to run smoothly. Store-bought PCs sometimes need upgraded parts, better software, and constant software updates in order to run properly over time. We've compiled a list of five must-do steps for when you get your PC.
Get Rid of the Junk
Prebuilt computers from large manufacturers such as Dell and Hewlett Packard come with numerous preloaded programs. Many of them start up with the computer and take up precious resources. Occasionally the programs interfere with games by reducing performance, and sometimes they make them crash--hence the suggestion of turning off all programs while gaming. To put it bluntly, many of the preinstalled software titles are worthless. Most are trialware, sales offers, or severely crippled versions of what could be a useful program. You can manually uninstall all the programs or use a utility like PC Decrapifier. Uninstall the junk, and if you realize you miss something, you can always use the manufacturer's reinstall disc to get it back.
Update Windows and Your Drivers
Run Windows Update as soon as you get your computer. Microsoft rolls out security patches at a rapid pace, which means that even if you recently bought your computer, it's likely not fully protected. We recommend enabling automatic updates, because it keeps your OS patched and up to date and you won't have to do a thing.
Also regularly check for new drivers for your video card, sound card, and motherboard chipset to take advantage of performance and stability improvements. Check either Nvidia's or AMD's Web site frequently for GeForce and Radeon video card driver updates. Both companies release drivers every few weeks, and sometimes even more frequently due to major game releases. Sometimes you only need a driver upgrade to enable better performance in newer games. Sound and chipset drivers don't change often, but check for updates if you encounter any strange game performance issues that aren't solved by updating your video card drivers.
A system without good anti-malware programs will eventually become an expensive doorstop. Install programs such Ad-Aware and SpyBot Search and Destroy to keep nasty Web exploits at bay. Also pick up an antivirus program such as a free version of AVG to keep your system safe from malicious files. Norton has also recently released "gaming" antivirus software that won't launch system scans when you're in the middle of a game.
Pick up a few other programs while you're fortifying your PC. Get programs like Firefox for Web browsing, Picasa for all your pictures, GOM Player for all your videos, Foxit Reader for PDFs, and 7-Zip to cover all your compression needs.
Most computers come with fairly mediocre mice and keyboards. Upgrade to a mouse from a company such as Microsoft, Logitech, or Razer for better accuracy and a slew of buttons. All three manufacturers have excellent products on the market. If you're looking for advanced scripting features for your keyboard, be sure to check out Microsoft's Sidewinder X6, Razer's Tarantula, and Logitech's G15, among others.
While not exactly a peripheral, a secondary monitor comes in handy. Whether you're gaming on one or watching a video on the other, extra screen real estate always comes in handy.
Contrary to what some may think, PC gaming is far from dead. In addition to sharing a lot of blockbuster titles found on consoles, the PC has its fair share of exclusive games that can't be found on any console. Because of its control-scheme limitations, the PC has sole domain on many types of games, such as real-time strategies and massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Some of the more popular games to come out over the last year include BioShock, The Orange Box, Fallout 3, World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
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