Last month I kicked off the PC Building Guide FAQ with answers to several questions that plague first time builders. The response was positive, with more than a few would-be builders coming out of the wood works. That may seem surprising considering this is Maximum PC, but represented in the readership are users from all different experience levels, and we sometimes take for granted that there are a significant number of those just starting out. It's these folks that this series is intended, and today I'm putting the spotlight on some of the more common post build inquiries. Let's dive right in!
In more cases than not, the answer is no. To install the latest drivers right from the get-go, you have two options:
1) You can install just the Ethernet/LAN drivers from the CD, giving you internet access to download the latest versions from your mothboard manufacturer's website. If going this route, be sure you're hidden behind a firewall before going online, especially if you're not connected through a router with a built-in firewall. This hasn't been much of an issue since XP started shipping with SP2, which includes a firewall, and the same holds true for all versions of Vista.
2) Download the latest drivers on another computer, and burn them to a CD or copy them to a USB thumb drive. Both will be recognized in your newly built PC.
When you first turn on your computer, it should tell you if you're running single or dual channel. If it doesn't say, or the screen flashes too fast to read what's up there, you can still find out which mode you're in. Download and install CPU-Z , then click on the Memory tab. In the upper right corner it will say either Single or Dual, letting you know which mode your RAM is in. You can also view the latency timings, information about your motherboard, and your processor's vitals.
As for which benchmarks you should run, give the Benchmark Bonanza! blog a read.
One common trait all motherboards share is onboard sound, and if you're running an add-in soundcard, such as an X-Fi, the two could be conflicting with each other. You need to make sure you've disabled your motherboard's onboard sound in the BIOS (hit the Del key during POST to enter your BIOS).
If you've disabled onboard sound and the problem persists, then verify that you're running the latest audio drivers from your soundcard manufacturer's website. And if that still doesn't fix it, try moving the soundcard to a different PCI slot. Also check that your speakers (or headphones) are plugged in securely, and in the correct inputs.
To save power and reduce heat output, your processor is throttling. It's called Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) , and what it does is adjust your processor's multiplier and voltage, depending on what you're doing. For example, while your computer sits idle, EIST will drop the multiplier down, resulting in a decreased clockspeed, and also lower the voltage so you're consuming less power. As soon as you put a demand on the processor, for example loading a game or encoding a DVD, the stock multiplier and voltage settings are restored.
EIST doesn't hurt performance because it only kicks in when your PC isn't doing anything demanding, but if you'd rather disable this function, you'll need to head back in your BIOS. The specific location varies by motherboard manufacture, so consult your mobo manual if you're having trouble finding it.
My time's up! Once again, if there's enough interest, I'll continue another day with a Part 3. Let me know what topics you folks would like to see covered ( One4yu2c@gmail.com ), and just like last time, questions/comments are always welcome.