Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What's a really good CPU for gaming?

A. This is a pretty hard question to answer, without knowing more about your system, games played, and what quality played at.

If you play basic games in 1080p, a CPU like a Ryzen 3 will do just fine, due to the relatively high clock speed, and quad core architecture. If you play games in 1440p, you might want to look at an i5-8600K, due to the higher core count, and still high clock speed. If you play games in 4K, you'll want to be using something close to an i7 (7700K or 8700K), as the GPU would quickly be bottlenecked by an i5 in this arena.

There is a great deal more to CPU choice however, namely cost. If you would like help choosing a CPU for your system, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What’s a really good CPU for gaming and streaming at the same time?

A: Gaming applications alone don't typically need more than 4 cores, although, streaming WHILE gaming requires more cores. And generally, a standard quad-core i7 isn't quite enough.

We highly recommend the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 for playback in a gaming+streaming environment. The AMD Ryzen 5 1600 provides you with 6 cores/12 threads, a 3.2/3.6Ghz clock speed, 3MB L2 cache, and 16MB L3 cache. It also comes with a very capable stock cooler, even when overclocking. Like all of the AMD Ryzen CPUs, this chip is fully unlocked, meaning you are free to overclock to your hearts content.

The best part...it's just $200. Yeah, read that again...

If you'd like to know more about CPU selection, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. What is an AIO?

A. An AIO, or all-in-one, generally refers to a closed-loop liquid CPU cooler. There are two kinds of liquid cooling loops; open and closed. Open is the more complex/expensive option, and closed is the more economical/simple option. Open involves picking all of the components (pump, radiator, fan, tubing, fitting, reservoir, water block), where closed is really just picking the cooler itself.

An AIO like the Corsair H100i v2 takes about 20 minutes to install, and an open loop of the same cooling capacity might take an hour or more (depending on the tubing and designer skill).

If you'd like to know more about AIOs, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. Is there a big risk in using an AIO cooler for my CPU?

A. There is a bigger risk in using an AIO versus an air cooler, yes. This is due to more moving parts, and the inability of the AIO to properly function in the event of a mechanical failure.

If the pump fails, you well be in major trouble very quickly (your PC will generally shut down in a matter of seconds, to prevent catastrophic damage to the CPU). If the fan fails, you lack a large heatsink that can be easily cooled by the case airflow (radiators aren't typically right in the middle of your case).

That being said, most reputable AIOs nowadays come with long manufacturer warranties, that are very generous in what they cover. However, if you aren't overclocking, don't care that much about having a clean interior, and care more about having a super-reliable system, you might to go with air cooling.

If you'd like to know more about CPU cooling, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. What is an SSD?
 
A. An SSD (solid state drive) is a storage device much like a normal hard drive, but for one crucial element. Where a hard drive (HDD) has a mechanical spinning disk that is written to with a metal head, an SSD has no moving parts, and is more like a flash drive.

SSDs are more expensive than HDDs, although they are much faster as well. Where a 2TB HDD is typically $100-$120, a reputable 250GB SSD is about the same price. However, that HDD will peak at around 80-120MB/s, where the SSD will peak around 500MB/s.

If you'd like to know more about SSD, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. What is M.2?

A. M.2 is a physical interface used for some SSDs in computers. This connection type has been around for a few years now, but has been revised a few times, and is now going mainstream. M.2 is the connection interface used on SSDs such as the Samsung 960 EVO.

This connection allows the SSD to use the PCIe bus instead of the older, slower, SATA bus. The PCIe bus allows for far greater storage speeds, as you are now using the connection typically used for video cards, advanced network cards, and RAID controllers.

If you'd like to know more about M.2, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. What is NVME?

A. Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVME) is a relatively new technology, used on some new SSDs (such as the Samsung 960 EVO).  This technology allows for the flash storage to "stay" on the drive when the system loses power, such as when you shut down your computer.

NVME SSDs are much faster than their ACHI cousins, although they do require a semi-modern chipset to hit their full potential. If you are an Intel fan, you need at least a 6th gen Core CPU, and if you are an AMD fan, your best bet is to get a Ryzen CPU.

If you'd like to know more about NVME, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. Is NVME worth it in a gaming computer?

A. In our professional opinion, in a purely gaming environment, no. You will only see the major read/write gains when installing your game, not so much when loading maps. A 500GB 850 EVO (normal SSD) is about $150, where a 500GB 960 EVO is about $235. You would probably be better off either getting a bigger SATA SSD, or spending the money on better cooling, or a better video card, or somewhere else.

That being said, NVME SSDs don't require any cables, so they do make for some very clean builds.

If you'd like to know more about NVME, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: Is there a big difference between SATA SSD and NVME SSD when gaming?

A: SSDs are typically used to decrease load times in games. While a 960 EVO NVME SSD is about 5-6x faster than an 850 EVO SATA SSD, you won't really see the difference in gaming. You might see load times decrease by a few seconds. Where you will see a sizable difference, is in doing things like virus scans and moving very big files.

See our other FAQs on SSDs at the links below.

What is an SSD?   What is M.2?   What is NVME?   NVME SSD for Gaming?

If you'd like to know more about SSD, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: How much RAM should I put in my computer?

A: If you are planning on gaming, and have a low budget, we recommend at least 8GB of memory. 4GB isn't enough to effectively operate Windows 10.

If you have a bit more money, we highly recommend using 16GB of memory for gaming. This should provide you with plenty of memory for your computer use.

If you are using your computer in a workstation-type environment, memory requirements vary dramatically depending on your application. However, 16GB of memory is still a good baseline.

If you'd like to know more about memory amount, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: Does the VRAM on a video card stack when using more than 1 card?

A: Video RAM (VRAM) does not "stack" when using more than one GPU in SLI/Crossfire. If you have 2 4GB GTX 970s, connect them together with SLI, and then fire up your favorite game, you will still only have 4GB of available VRAM.

VRAM behaves a little differently when using the GPU(s) independently, such as in a professional environment. You can run two video cards independently (no SLI/Crossfire link), and use them for different tasks.

If you'd like to know more about VRAM and multi-monitor, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What GPU should i use to fire up a 4K monitor?

A: Any GPU that supports at least a resolution of 3840x2160, with 4GB of VRAM should do fine for powering up a 4K monitor.

Note, we said powering it....not gaming on it. VERY big difference.

If you'd like to know more about 4K monitors, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What GPU should I use for 4K gaming?

A: We recommend at least a GTX 1080 (or AMD equivalent) for 4K gaming. If you plan on turning up the visual settings really high, a GTX 1080Ti would be a much better choice.

Depending on the game, you might even need dual 1080s or dual 1080Tis.

See our 4K Gaming Flagship PC for a more comprehensive spec.

 
 

Q: What does having multiple video cards do for me?

A: In a gaming environment, you can use technologies like SLI and Crossfire (Nvidia and AMD, respectively) to combine the processing power. Using these technologies does have drawbacks, such as increased power draw, increased heat load, and increased noise.

Professional environments that aren't focused on driving an image on a screen, but rather use the video card for the superior parallel processing power, suffer from less technical issues in multi-GPU configurations. They do however, still suffer from the physical issues like power, heat, and noise.

If you'd like to know more about multi-GPU, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What are the “Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium” ratings on power supplies?

A: These words signify which 80+ rating the power supply has been certified for.

80+ is a certification program to promote energy-efficient power supplies for computer use. The ratings are for 82%, 85%, 87%, 90%, and 92% efficient at 20% load.

If you have a 600W PSU that is 60% efficient, running at full load, you'd be drawing 1000W from the main line, and wasting 400W as heat. A 600W PSU that is 80% efficient, running at full load, will draw 750W from the main line, and only waste 150W as heat.

Typically, power supplies are most efficient between 50-75% load, with very low efficiency at low load, and somewhat lower efficiency at max load.

If you'd like to know more about power supplies, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: How big of a power supply should I be looking at?

A: We recommend about 100-150W more than the designed max load of the system. Power supplies tend to live longer if not always pushed to the limit, and you REALLY don't want to run out of power. If you have a 400W power draw, you'd be fine with a 500-550W power supply.

That being said, some power supplies offer an "eco mode" where the fan does not spin below a certain power level. If having a super-quiet system is important to you, you might want to look at a more powerful system.

If you'd like to know more about power supplies, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What is the advantage of fully-modular power supplies?

A: Fully-modular power supplies only require the cables that will be used, to be installed. If you only plan on using motherboard, CPU, and GPU power cables, then that's all you need to plug in.

Fully-modular power supplies also make it a bit easier to use custom-colored cables, and remove the additional cable heft when using extensions.

If you'd like to know more about fully-modular power supplies, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: What is Ryzen?

A: Ryzen is a CPU/APU brand developed by AMD in 2017. Ryzen implements the Zen micro-architecture. Ryzen brought about a resurgence by AMD, and brought significant performance boosts versus the current comparable Intel CPUs, often at a fraction of the price. The initial Ryzen 7 launch was followed by Ryzen 3, 5, and then the HEDT (High-End DeskTop) option, Threadripper.

Ryzen remains a valid choice now, and we incorporate it in some of our systems.

If you'd like to know more about AMD Ryzen, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: Why does an AMD Ryzen build need fast memory?

A: The piece of the Zen micro-architecture that connects all of the internal cores is called "Infinity Fabric". This interconnect is directly tied to RAM frequency. That is, having faster memory will result in a faster CPU. While this is true with Intel CPUs as well, it is especially true with Ryzen.

If you are planning an AMD Ryzen build, you should buy the fastest DDR4 that you can afford, at least DDR4-2666.

If you'd like to know more about RAM frequency, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: Does fan type matter for my computer?

A: If you don't push your computer hard, no. If you want to really tune your computer right, keep reading.

Generally, there are two specific types of computer case fans; Static Pressure (SP) and Air Flow (AF).

SP fans are optimized for use in tight areas where there might be something blocking airflow (drive cage, radiator, aluminum front panel). These fans have a wider fan blade design, and should be used when a clean intake of air is not possible.

AF fans are optimized for use in general intake/exhaust situations. If you have a fully air-cooled system, and have a mesh front panel, you can use almost all AF fans.

If you'd like to know more about fan type, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q: Can I overclock with the stock CPU cooler?

A: While nothing is physically stopping you from overclocking your CPU with the stock cooler, we recommend only doing so with the stock cooler on AMD Ryzen.

The stock cooler for Intel CPUs is not strong enough, and would be quite loud (not to mention it wouldn't be powerful enough to cope with the additional heat load).

If you'd like to know more about CPU overclocking, and what works best for your setup, please fill out the contact form below.

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Q. What software do you install on a PC prior to delivery?

A. We install Windows (10), and what is needed for the normal optimal running of your PC. This includes the latest motherboard drivers, video card drivers, fan tuning software. We also tweak Windows a little bit to make your life easier (configuration of drives, power settings, security settings, privacy settings, etc).

No other software will be installed unless explicitly requested. And especially no bloatware.

Q: Why do people cool their computers with water?

A: For a whole host of reasons. Some make sense, some don't, and they're all a ton of fun.

1) Because who doesn't like looking at something like this...

water cooled computer

2) Because they want the best. No explanation required there.

3) Because water cools better than air.

4) Because you can push a computer harder on water than you can on air, and still remain stable (see Note 3).

5) Because you can remove much of the internal heat inside a case with watercooling.

6) Because you have more money burning a hole in your wallet.

7) Because you're looking for that "finishing touch" on a still-epic build.

8) Because you have a bunch of powerful hardware that puts out a lot of heat, and your case has poor natural airflow.

9) Because you want to "punch it", but not have your PC sound like an F-14 Tomcat on the steam launch.

And finally, the most important reason...

10) Because your friend Johnny has one, and you just can't stand to not have as good of a PC as him.