This month the doctor tackles XP vs. Windows 7, Upgrading from LGA1366 and PhysX on AMD
Question: My laptop is an Asus G74SX-TH71. It has a GeForce GTX 560M with 4GB of RAM, a 2GHz Core i7 CPU, and 12GB of RAM. It has two 500GB hard drives in it, one for OS and games and the other for videos. I was wondering if I should upgrade my laptop to a desktop. I have about 500 dollars and I’m looking for a good budget gaming computer with a monitor. Can you suggest a computer or a way to upgrade my laptop, maybe an SSD?
Note: This article first appeared in the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.
We'd love it if you spent the bulk of your online time right here on MaximumPC.com, and we're constantly working hard to deliver awesome online content to keep you coming back. But hey, the Web is big -- really big -- and there are some worthwhile destinations out there. One of our favorites is iFixIt.com, a site dedicated to DIY electronics repair enthusiasts, and these guys aren't afraid to crack open the latest gear to see what makes 'em tick. We dig that kind of mindset. So when our friends at iFixIt told us they were launching a new website, they had our full attention.
More often than not, it seems that when Best Buy makes headlines on a computer site, it's because the company's Geek Squad division did something boneheaded. In this case, a woman is accusing Geek Squad of foul play by holding her disabled sister's laptop hostage until after the warranty expired. Let's go back to the beginning.
Let's not kid ourselves, Best Buy's Geek Squad division isn't exactly a respected establishment in DIY circles, and referring someone to Geek Squad for tech support is like, well, does this even need an analogy? No offense to any of our readers who may work as a Geek Squad tech, but you know what they say about a few bad apples.
What's even worse -- and we thought unthinkable -- is when the manufacturer of one your computer parts suggests calling Geek Squad to diagnose your failing gear before they'll replace it. That's exactly what one user who wrote into The Consumerist claims happened when his Netgear DGN2200 wireless router with DSL modem went on the fritz.
"Five calls to [Netgear's] tech department and it is still not working," the user claims. "On the fifth and final call they suggested I call the Geek Squad (approximately $139 for them to come to our home) to troubleshoot it and if it proves the modem is bad they will send me a new unit at that time (which I only paid $79 to begin with)."
It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that's a bum deal. Assuming it all went down the way the user claims it did, let's hope this was an isolated incident.
An undisclosed settlement amount will be paid to lawsuit plaintiff Advanced Internet Technologies which Dell hopes will finally put an end to the media firestorm surrounding the Optiplex brand of business desktops. Dell’s only comment was to say that “Settling the matter is better and more cost effective for the company than taking the case to trial”.
Since the case will never be fully heard out in court and the settlement details are being kept private we may never actually know the truth, however, I’m sure the monetary damages from this debacle are going to be far less punitive than the long term impact on the brand. Has this impacted your perception of Dell?
Did your car really need new muffler bearings and was it actually low on blinker fluid, or did your mechanic take you for a ride? You may never know (we do - he took you for a ride). To help put your mind at ease (and maybe to get back at its staff for joining a union), Audi is test driving a new program called Audi Cam.
The way it works is when you drop off your Audi for repair, you end up tethered to your mechanic with a two-way radio and headset video camera. You're then whisked away to the waiting room, where you can watch your mechanic's every move and, for better or worse, communicate with him as he works, and vice versa.
Snarkiness aside, we can see where this would be useful, both for the mechanic and the customer. We can also see where it would be incredibly annoying, at least for the repair guy. Either way, Audi Cam so far is only available in Europe.
Did Dell knowingly sell broken OptiPlex PCs and try to cover up problems with bad capacitors, as some have charged? Not so fast, says Dell, who responded to the widespread media attention in a blog post.
"Some of you may have been reading about faulty capacitors in some of our older OptiPlex desktops," Dell's Lionel Menchaca wrote. "Before I get into more details, I want to make some points clear.:
This is an issue we addressed with customers some years ago. The Advanced Internet Technologies lawsuit is three years old and does not involve any current Dell products.
Dell did not knowingly ship faulty motherboards, and we worked directly with customers in situations where the issue occurred.
Dell extended the warranty for up to five years for customers who had affected machines.
This is not a safety issue.
"Dell suspended use of Nichicon capacitors after we discovered a problem in its manufacturing process. As we routinely do with product issues, we actively investigated this failures, audited the Nichicon plants and worked with customers to fix OptiPlex computers on a case-by-case basis."
Menchaca also pointed out that Dell voluntarily extended warranties on all potentially affected OptiPlex motherboards up to January 2008.
Big name PC repair shops don't need any more bad publicity, but they're getting it anyway courtesy of a pretty embarrassing SNAFU by CompUSA. Here's what happened.
According to CBS News in Chicago, a woman named Kymberli Mulford entrusted the CompUSA in Hoffman Estates with removing a nasty virus on her system that she believed was causing it to shut down. Around the same time, Karen Davis took her PC in to th same store for repairs. CompUSA purportedly took care of both issues, but they also installed Mulford's files on Davis's PC. Oops!
"It was everything, pictures of her kids, notes, and emails," Davis said. "Even what meds her kids were taking, just very personal stuff."
Davis did the right thing by getting in touch with Mulford to tell her what happened, but now Mulford fears her data could have been loaded onto other machines too.
"All of that information is a gold mine for thieves," said Roger Safian, a computer security expert. "They back up all the data first, then they re-install it after they remove the virus, and that could be how they ended up making this mistake. They re-installed one person's data to the other person's machine."
According to CompUSA, the tech and his supervisor were fired because of the incident.
Have a PC repair horror story of your own? Hit the jump and tell us all about it!
Alright, I'll admit it. I finally got hit with a virus.
Well, sort-of. I first thought that the strange "YOUR COMPUTER IS NOT PROTECTED" icon in my taskbar was some indication that my antivirus software of-choice had finally flipped out for good. Double-clicking on the icon brought up an obviously fake replica of Windows Security Essentials that, more annoyingly, wouldn't close no matter how many times I clicked on it. Over and over, my machine would be assaulted with "*.exe is not secure!" messages. My Internet sessions grinded to a halt no matter which browser I tried using. I started to fear for the safety of my World of Warcraft account.
As it turns out, I only got nailed with an annoying piece of malware. But after running through a number of analysis and removal techniques (which ultimately failed, as I had managed to disable the malware's process from starting up as-is using good ol' msconfig), I had amassed quite a list of rootkit removal programs, hardcore malware eliminators, and antivirus applications that were more surgeons in training than general practitioners.
I now share them with you.
Look, it's easy enough to install a common antivirus scanner on your system and call it a day. But you, like me, might forget to do so throughout the course of your PC building life. Or, worse, your system might become compromised in such a way as to render your analytical tools entirely useless. In that case, it's time to roll up your shirtsleeves and get crackin' with the digital equivalent of bleach for your mucked-up PC. Join me after the jump, and I'll share with you some of my favorite advanced freeware and open-source applications for virus and malware elimination!
Once a week, I feel like I'm either finding or running a large batch of programs in an effort to keep my computer as crap-free as possible. It's a never-ending battle. I defrag, I delete, I shuffle, I organize, I optimize, I scan... and still, what I end up downloading and installing over the next six days almost always leads me back to the good ol' "Sunday Purge," as I've come to call it.
And you? I venture that your habits are pretty similar to mine, as you're a Maximum PC reader with a thirst--nay, need--for speed. But we both don't have to waste a ton of time poring over our hard drives and giving them digital equivalent of a good flossing. There are tools, wonderful tools, that will automate this process--and automate it for free!
You're probably aware of quite a few of these applications, in fact. That's why I've cast my net over a wide swath of sites to find two little tidbits that you probably haven't heard of before. Here's a sneak preview: These tools let you assign rules for clearing out a wide variety of files based on customized criteria you select. One of the apps works its wonders on your desktop and the other offers a similar service for any USB device you attach to your system.
Intrigued? Those are but two of the five awesome programs in this week's freeware roundup. The rest are waiting for your trigger-happy downloading fingers after the jump, as always.