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Laptop buying guide: PC or Mac?

A question as old as computing itself is should I get a Mac or a PC? Apple even turned that question into a successful series of “Get a Mac” advertisements for many years, comparing Macs versus PCs using actors John Hodgman as PC and Justin Long as Mac. There are many pros and cons for both Macs and PCs and we will go through all of them, listing the MacBook’s pros and cons and PC laptop pros and cons.

Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U is asked this question often and has an easy way to clarify if you should get a Mac or a PC – “if you’re into gaming and plan to use your laptop to predominately play games on, a PC laptop is the best way to go”. This is due to the vast array of PC laptops available with powerful GPUs and the fact most games aren’t even available on the Mac.

However, Anthony recommends a Mac if “basic video editing and music production is your thing” because “out of the box, the Mac comes with superior creative software such as Garage Band and iMovie and excellent advanced tools like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro”.

If you’re thinking about a MacBook, here are some pros and cons of Apple’s popular laptop:

Pro: MacBooks, even the cheapest ones, all have excellent displays. They’re factory calibrated, have excellent viewing angles and are “Retina” quality (Apple’s marketing term for high resolution). The similar quality of display on a PC laptop are often available on only high-end laptops that cost way more than Apple’s.

Pro: Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad owners will enjoy a Mac more with iCloud and a familiar design language. Airdrop will “just work” between devices. Apple Pay configured on your phone will show up on your Mac when making a purchase. iMessage will work between devices, as will FaceTime. Living in the Apple ecosystem is a nice place to be.

Con: The much maligned “butterfly” key mechanism on Apple’s current laptop range has been a sore spot for many Apple devotees. While the innovation allows for a slim chassis, people describe using the keyboard like typing on a glass iPad screen and the thin key mechanism is suspectable to failing with any kind of debris ingress like dust, sand or crumbs, requiring repair.

Con: Whatever you plug in to a MacBook will need to be USB-C, as that’s the only ports Apple has included on the MacBook range. If you plan on using anything not USB-C enabled, you’ll need an adaptor, or a dongle to convert the plug. It’s not unusual for many MacBook owners to have a little kit bag full of adapters to plug into projectors (HDMI, VGA) and mini USB hub to insert flash drives and other peripherals.

If you’re thinking about a PC laptop, here are some pros and cons of going with Windows:

Pro: There’s so much choice when it comes to buying a PC laptop. Want something cheap and cheerful to surf the web on? There’s plenty of sub-$500 PCs that’ll do the job. Need a powerful mobile rig to game on the go? The fastest mobile GPUs from Nvidia are only in PC laptops. There’s a PC laptop to suit everyone, at every price point.

Pro: Apple is notorious for using proprietary parts (even screws) and making their devices difficult to open. While there are ways for third party repairers to fix a MacBook, it’s never as quick and cheap as a PC laptop that uses industry standard interchangeable parts that are easy to replace.

Con: One thing Apple excels at is the trackpad and for some reason PC manufacturers just can’t match it. Even on the highest end PC laptops, the trackpads are small and don’t have the same amount of glide, tactile feedback or accuracy as Apple’s most basic trackpad on an entry level MacBook.

Con: Windows can be a bit of a mess sometimes. There are multiple places to change settings, Microsoft has loaded the stock Windows 10 install with bloatware apps and there’s a plethora of tracking and data collection services enabled by default. Apple however keeps macOS lean and doesn’t collect any data on you unless you opt-in to doing so.

Either choice you make, Anthony Hill from Geeks2U says that “there is a misconception out there that Macs don’t get viruses, but that’s not the case. There are viruses and malware specifically targeting the Mac nowadays, so make sure you’ve got anti-virus software on both PC and Mac” – don’t buy your next computer on what is “safer”, but rather what meets your needs. If you require purchasing decision help, Geeks2U is more than happy to assist!


Quick Tips To Fix Your Computer Problems

Fixing a computer problem can be a frustrating task….

Computers today are highly complex machines squeezed into very small spaces. Add to this the constant barrage of computer viruses, malware and spyware plus the enormous range of add ons such as cameras, modems and wireless network cards and it is no wonder that there is the occasional glitch.

  • When your computer misbehaves, a simple restart may be all that is necessary to set things right. By shutting down and restarting the computer, you are effectively starting afresh. During the reboot, files, services and programs are properly closed. Fresh new copies of the files needed to run your operating system and support your hardware are then loaded from the computer’s hard drive during start-up. Naturally, rebooting will not solve all the computer problems that you are likely to encounter. However, in many instances, it is a very useful first step and may ultimately save you a lot of frustration and lost productivity.
  • Over time, computers accumulate a series of instructions from the various programs that are added or downloaded. Although the programmers are pretty clever today, conflicts can develop between different operating instructions requested by the software. Without getting too technical, these conflicts can either slow your system down or, in the worst cases actually cause your PC to freeze up. You should research and buy a reliable PC optimisation program that regularly checks for such conflicts and “spring cleans” your system.
  • Unless you have a sophisticated hard drive filing system, files can often become “orphaned” or randomly spread out across your hard drive, jumbled up like a deck of cards dropped on the floor. Defragmenting your computer attempts to do some housekeeping, putting all related files closer to each other so that your PC takes less time and does not have to work as hard to find the files.

If your computer problems are not resolved by these simple tips, then it’s time to call in the experts. Unless you are a real computer wiz, fiddling and rummaging through your computer’s hard drive and software can cause further problems, making fixing your computer problems even harder. It’s time to call in the experts…


Top 5 things to look for when buying a new computer or upgrading your PC

Buying a computer doesn’t have to be overwhelming

When you’re looking for a new computer, or upgrading your existing computer, begin the process by listing everything you’d like that computer to do, eg. browsing the internet, send/receive email, store your photos and music. Once you know what you’d like to use your computer for, you will find it easier to establish what sort of computer to buy. Some key things to remember when purchasing/upgrading your desktop or laptop computer are detailed below.

Desktop computer

  1. What type of computer & which CPU (processor)? For most users a standard mid-range computer will do everything you require. Most users do not need the latest/fastest computer, the increased price does not justify the small gains in performance…but don’t buy the cheapest! There are two main brands of processor, AMD and Intel. Both of these processors are great – just make sure it’s a “dual-core” processor.
  2. How much RAM (memory) should I get? Your computer memory is one of the most important components for performance. 1GB is the suggested minimum for a new computer – 2GB will ensure that everything runs very quickly.
  3. Will it be compatible? Make sure your existing software and hardware, like for example your camera and printer will work with your new computer.
  4. Graphics & video capabilities. If you use your computer for playing games, video editing or graphics applications, you should get a computer with a “separate graphics card” rather than an “inbuilt graphics” card. You won’t be disappointed by slow graphics and poor image quality.
  5. Backup! Buy an external drive to back-up all of your valuable photos, videos and documents. They can be purchased from $50 upwards and will give you the security of knowing you won’t loose your irreplaceable files.

Laptop computer

When purchasing a laptop you need to bear in mind that many components within laptops are not upgradeable – so it’s really important to identify exactly what you need before you start shopping. It can be quite mind-boggling when you’re out there shopping and you’re confronted with dozens of laptops – so here’s a guide to help you get started…

  1. Size vs. Portability
    When you buy a laptop, the decision you need to make is: do you want a ultra portable laptop or would you prefer a larger-screen laptop? A portable (lightweight) laptop means a smaller screen and keyboard but easier to carry around, while the large-screen laptops are heavier but have a more comfortable keyboard.
  2. What type of CPU (processor)?
    There are two main brands of processor, AMD and Intel. Both of these processors are great – just make sure it’s a “dual-core” processor.
  3. How much RAM (memory) should I get?
    Most new laptops are being sold with Windows Vista which needs at least 1GB of RAM to function correctly – if you can afford to spend a little more you should get a laptop with 2GB of RAM.
  4. What other things should I get with my laptop?
    Most laptops come with both a DVD burner and wireless technology – but its always worth checking the specifications just to make sure.
  5. Will it be compatible?
    Make sure you existing software and hardware, such as your camera and printer will work with your new computer.


10 Tips to Speed Up Your Computer

Everyday IT and computer repairs advice to help make your computer run faster & more efficiently from Geeks2U…

Everyone knows the aggravation and frustration of a slow computer, so how do you speed up your computer? You can now save yourself from exasperation especially when you are busy working. The following are Geeks2U top ten tips to speed up your computer.

Note:
you should only attempt these tasks if you feel confident in doing so, and remember that your friendly Geeks2U computer technician is only a phone call away.

Here are 10 tips to make your computer go faster:

1. Close applications that you’re not using.
Having lots of windows open will reduce the performance of your PC. Even applications running in the background can use up memory and can cause issues. It’s always good to check your system tray (near the clock) and quit everything that you don’t need.

2. Check for & remove spyware and adware.
Spyware and adware are a menace to computers these days. All computers on the internet are exposed to spyware and adware. These malicious programs usually install themselves without your consent and are designed to monitor your computer usage for marketing purposes, and also to spam you with unwanted advertisements. These can be removed with special software, but be very wary of companies claiming to offer spyware solutions, because they often contain spyware themselves!

3. Check for and remove viruses.
Many viruses will slow your computer to a crawl. It’s very important to have a good antivirus program that is kept up-to-date.

4. Defragment your Hard Drive.
As you use your computer, files become fragmented. This can slow the operation of your computer dramatically.

5. Upgrade your RAM.
RAM stands for “random access memory” and almost everything your computer does requires this type of memory. If you are running low on this, your computer will suffer significant loss of speed. This is the cheapest and most effective hardware upgrade you can perform.

6. Add a dedicated video card.
Most computers use integrated video adapters, meaning that all of the graphics displayed on your screen are using up RAM. Adding a dedicated video card which has its own memory can dramatically increase both the graphics performance and overall speed of your computer.

7. Reformat your Hard Drive.
This is a very dramatic form of cleaning up your PC. It involves deleting everything on your Hard Drive and reinstalling your operating system (such as Windows). Make sure you have backed up all of your files.

8. Upgrade your internet plan.
If the performance of your computer is satisfactory, but web pages load slowly or downloads aren’t as fast as you’d like them to be, call your internet service provider and ask them about upgrading to a plan with more bandwidth.

9. Is it time for a new PC?
We’ve found that computers older than 4 or 5 years are somewhat obsolete. Obtaining parts for older computers is generally more expensive and they are usually much less efficient than newer parts. Computers these days are extremely cheap regarding what you get for your money, so it’s always a good possibility to explore.

10. Get a geek out!
Here at Geeks2U we receive calls every day from people suffering from poor computer performance. Our technicians are extremely experienced at diagnosing performance issues with your PC and can generally have them fixed within one hour. We will also provide you with personally tailored advice on how to keep your computer running as efficiently as possible.


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