Tech Talk

High-end computers for gaming and graphics are available from most PC manufacturers as pre-built configurations that usually have little or no options in regard to main internal components and software configurations. ici can build a machine specifically for you, using the exact parts you specify, or work with you to design one based on your needs. Our computers are built with only the highest quality components ensuring they will run smoothly and efficiently for years to come.

Advice for choosing computer components in a new system

Know your needs and your budget. Its beneficial to have a good idea of how you expect your computer to perform based on the amount you plan to spend. Some machines have many aesthetic features which enhance the cases appeal, yet do not affect the overall performance. Its a good idea to balance looks with performance when on a budget if interested in having a flashy looking machine. And really, who doesnt like flashy looking stuff?

Here are what I consider to be the most critical components when optimizing your PC for gaming:

  • Computer Cases.

    Expensive or inexpensive?

    The main feature aesthetically of any computer is the case. The variety of sizes , shapes, colors, front panel options, form factors and room for accessories (such as CD-ROMs and card readers) are all options to keep in mind when choosing a case. Both high-end and low-end cases can offer the same features when it comes to expandability, but unique colors and shapes often come with a price. High-end cases usually offer added internal features like screw-less hard drive and CD-ROM bays, bigger and/or quieter fans, better power supplies (if included) and generally a better use of space which increases the capacity for components. Some cases are designed to have better airflow, which can be useful for machines with many devices driving up the internal temperature of the case (like two video cards and four hard drives).

  • Computer Hard Drives.

    Hard drives vary in speed from 15,000 RPM SCSI drives to 5400 RPM IDE. SCSI drives are extremely expensive and often not used in workstations, but that doesnt mean we wont build one for you. I have found the best balance of performance compared to price currently is the Raptor 10k SATA drives which are affordable and fast. High-end computers are often sold with multiple drives installed, using RAID for redundancy or speed. We will build any configuration of drives depending on the abilities of the motherboard. Since Im not worried about redundancy in my computer, and because hard drives are somewhat expensive, I use only one drive and put the money saved towards a better video card.

  • CPU.

    Two companies make the majority of all the processors for PCs: Intel and AMD. Intels Pentium processors have been the industry standard for quite a while, while AMD held their small corner of the market by offering more affordable products. ici recommends and builds machines using Intel processors, but we can easily build an AMD based system upon request. I currently run an AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+, which was about one hundred dollars less expensive than the Intel equivalent at the time I built it. There are differences to consider when deciding what platform to go with. If you do not already know what you want and have questions feel free to call and talk with a technician.

  • Motherboards.

    Motherboards can come with many options or just the basics to make a computer function. Often high-end machines offer boards with quality sound, dual channel memory, gigabit ethernet, a powerful chipset allowing for tweaking of bus and memory speeds, along with many other options. Another option to consider when buying a board is scalability - do you plan on keeping this system and upgrading it? If so, better buy one thats upgradeable, ay? Again this is an area where you could spend more than you need to, or not enough. We can assess what board will work best based on your needs, wants and budget.

  • Computer Memory.

    Memory, or RAM, is based on the motherboard and processor in the computer. ici includes quality and current memory in all our systems. Some companies scrimp on this component and often include older but still compatible memory modules to save money. The average user doesnt often notice or know the difference between memory types. For example, PC2700 vs PC3200 or Single Channel vs Dual Channel. Not only are memory types and speeds different, they also have varying latency times. Quality memory can give you that extra performance increase over other machines and provide a reliable computer for high or low intensity use. Price and performance goes hand in hand - the faster and bigger modules cost more than slower and smaller ones. For gaming, I prefer low-latency corsair XMS memory, but these can be twice as expensive as modules that would be considered performance for an average workstation. ici does not recommend using low quality memory - this is not a component in the computer that is worth cutting corners on.

  • Computer Video Cards.

    Video! My favorite part, video cards.

    To me, they are the icing on the computer cake and can make or break a machine when it comes to graphical quality. With video cards the more you spend the more you get, with very high end cards costing as much as the CPU or more. Newer high end video cards use AGP and PCI-E - with the standard moving to PCI-E.

    Some newer cards have SLI (scalable link interface) technology that allows the motherboard to simultaneously use two video cards for graphical processing (the motherboard must also be compatible for SLI). Choosing a card depends on a few things:

    First, the interface the card uses to connect to the motherboard.

    Second, the demand created by the software being used on the computer. Not everyone needs a super powerful card to play the games they enjoy, or maybe having all the settings on the highest level possible isnt a priority.

    Third, price. The range of pricing for video cards is vast, from $50 to $1500. I should not leave out (although I would like to!) the always dependable on-board video. Not the best for gaming, graphics rendering or video and photo editing, but it gets the job done and is standard in basic workstations for home or office use.

  • Computer Monitors.

    It might not seem that a monitor would affect the quality of graphics from your computer. While they obviously dont affect what comes out of the computer, they do affect the way it is displayed. Older and lower-end monitors may not be able to handle the high resolutions of newer video cards. This is really only an issue if you have a very high-end graphics card(s) and an older CRT or low-end and/or older LCD.

  • Other Computer Devices.

    There are more devices inside a computer than what is discussed above, however they do not relate directly to the performance of the machine when it comes to gaming and other resource intensive activities.

    Things like CD-ROMS and floppy drives, cables and fans, and your keyboard mouse combination do not affect gaming performance. Do not, however, place speakers and headphones in this category, especially if you paid for a high quality sound card. Although they do not affect the quality of the visual effects, the value of the gaming experience is increased.

    I love it when something explodes and the house shakes from the subwoofer plugged into the computer, or when I can hear someone sneaking up behind me with a pair of 5.1 headphones!


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Computer Repair Services for the Portland, OR region including: Wilsonville, Woodburn, Canby, Tigard, Tualatin, Aurora, Hubbard, Brooks, Oregon City, and more.