Patrick Stone

Patrick Stone

No matter how many monitors get posted on retail websites, they all really seem much the same -- contrast ratios are largely-inflated marketing hype, latency differentials seem irrelevant, and really, the only solid demarcation of product differences is the screen size and panel type. That's what this guide is for.

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There's a lot more to monitors than that - and although the choices may feel by-and-large identical, there are minute differences in terminology that can make a world of difference in your monitor purchase.

In this monitor specifications guide, we'll discuss whether or not contrast ratios matter, cover LCD vs. IPS vs. LED LCD differences, and explain important monitor specs.

For the most part, system building is incredibly straight-forward: Purchase components, just add screwdriver. Some cable management later and you're mostly done. Sometimes, though, things don't work out perfectly - as was the case with our once-famed Zalman CNPS 9700 LGA 775 cooler. It didn't quite fit on the newer LGA 1155 socket (specifically on an ASRock Extreme4 motherboard), and rather than waiting another agonizingly-long three days for an adapter bracket to arrive, we took it upon ourselves to mod the existing 775 mounting plate to fit the LGA1155 socket.

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For all of you who just enjoy case and system modding, here's a quick how-to guide for converting 775 bracketed coolers to 1155 sockets. As always, we'd suggest that you take care when working with low-voltage electronics and wear an ESD wrist strap (or even read our anti-ESD guide).

As gaming-grade equipment continues to set the standards for most high-end systems and PC builds, upper-range components are held to higher standards of performance as price is relentlessly driven down by market irregularities and consumer demands; for this reason, it's tempting to grab that 600W power supply for $40 online - but, of course, many of you have already seen us suggest that PSUs are "the last place to skimp" in our PC builds.

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But spending $200 on a power supply without truly understanding the specs is just as bad. Just because it's more expensive doesn't mean it's better (although that is generally a safe bet, given the reliability of user reviews), but the objective of this PSU spec reference guide is to define what each of those rows listed under a power supply really means. We'll answer the questions of modular vs. non-modular PSUs, ATX12V vs. EPS12V form factors, a power supply's optimal efficiency, how big of a power supply you should get, and more.

If I were your financial adviser, I'd tell you that a little bit of planning and maintenance can save you tons of headaches in the future. I'm not your financial adviser. I am a computer engineering instructor, so what I'll tell you is that a little bit of planning and maintenance can save you a ton of headaches in the future.

pm-really-gross-dustFun tip: Scrape this off with your finger, compress it into a ball, and tell your coworkers it's cookie dough.

This guide will explain preventative maintenance for computers and protecting an expensive investment (we're assuming you're running some sort of gaming build, here, so that makes it even more important to protect).

Let's look at some of the most commonly-spotted scenarios that we've seen on our hardware support forums:

Intel's motherboard engineering team wants to change your mind about their boards -- at PAX East this weekend, Senior Product Marketing Engineer Fred Birang told us: "When most people think of Intel, they think of CPUs. We want the gamer mindshare to know that we don't just make a great reference motherboard, we have a board that is as good -- if not better -- than anything out on the market."

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