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Archive for Antony Leather

Combining a PC, media streamer and NAS box

Posted on 16th Aug 2012 at 07:33 by Antony Leather with 36 comments

Antony Leather
I have a love-hate relationship with NAS boxes. Part of me adores them. They offer a form redundancy for your data, can perform many functions such as FTP, photo and media servers, Bit-Torrent clients and many more, without the need for a PC. And they’re also smaller than a shoebox. The mere fact they’re designed to carry out a set number of tasks – far fewer than a Windows PC – means they’re very streamlined and usually easy and simple to use.

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Have expensive heatsinks had their day?

Posted on 29th Jun 2012 at 09:09 by Antony Leather with 55 comments

Antony Leather
In the last couple of years, water-cooling has made some serious leaps in usability and value. Sadly we’re not referring to custom water-cooling kits here, although the number of off-the-shelf components that are available now if you’re building your own system is staggering. No, we’re talking about all-in-one liquid coolers such as Antec’s Kühler H2O 920 and Corsair’s H80.

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How old is your hardware?

Posted on 22nd May 2012 at 07:31 by Antony Leather with 143 comments

Antony Leather
Something that's fascinated me since I became a PC enthusiast in the 1990s is the economy surrounding the hardware industry. It’s incredibly disjointed in some ways, and heavily reliant on other segments of itself in others. For instance, software, such as games or new operating systems, can dramatically drive forward new generations of hardware kit.

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Triple your Dropbox capacity for free

Posted on 13th Apr 2012 at 09:02 by Antony Leather with 46 comments

Antony Leather
As I know so many of you out there use Dropbox, I thought these handy little tips to boost your capacity for free would be a godsend - they certainly were for me. If you haven't heard of Dropbox, then let me enlighten you - it's one of those things that instantly makes your life easier. The ability to simply and quickly synchronise your files between PCs within Windows Explorer and have an online backup accessible where ever you are is immensely valuable, especially if you're on the move every day.

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Is it time for the hard disk to die?

Posted on 18th Jan 2012 at 08:36 by Antony Leather with 67 comments

Antony Leather
If you're lucky enough to own a modern SSD, then you'll probably have been quite impressed by how much of a difference it made to every day tasks on your PC.

Compared to hard disks, boot up times are reduced, as are game and application load times, while file transfers can see huge speed boosts. Personally I've found Windows 7 and programs I use regularly such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to be much more responsive too.

All these benefits, of course, point to the fact that hard disks are somewhat of a bottleneck in modern PCs - a fact most of us have known for a while. So why are they still around? Surely if SSDs offer such awesome speed boosts (not to mention the fact they're more robust, quieter and produce less heat) the hard disk should have died a long time ago?

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Is the Age of Massive PCs at an End?

Posted on 5th Nov 2011 at 12:26 by Antony Leather with 59 comments

Antony Leather
In the 15-odd years I've been building my own PCs, all my main systems have invariably been housed in large towers. Whether this was because they needed to accommodate multiple hard disks when I was experimenting with RAID, or to fit water-cooling hardware inside, my cases have got perpetually larger.

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Is There Still a Need for Water-Cooling?

Posted on 13th Jul 2011 at 07:41 by Antony Leather with 142 comments

Antony Leather
For me, water-cooling began out of necessity. I water-cooled my first PC nearly ten years ago, when, living in a house with a flat roof, my bedroom got incredibly hot in the summer months. I was already hooked on overclocking at the time and strove to save money by buying cheap, but very overclockable hardware. Unfortunately, the combination of the house's architecture and high system temperatures meant that my PC was intolerably noisy and unstable.

Infuriated, I made the move to water-cooling - not a particularly easy one as there were few guides and even fewer off-the-shelf components back then, which resulted in regular trips to the local DIY store to search for parts. I initially water-cooled my CPU, and my overheating and noise issues were solved instantly - my PC went from a hot, noisy box to a cool and quiet machine of wonder. I had more overclocking headroom than before too.

Every one of my main rigs since then has also seen me spend entire weekends building and leak-testing. In fact, the last three PCs I've built have had a water-cooled CPU and GPU, as well as the various hotspots on the motherboard too. However, a lot of today's hardware simply doesn't need water-cooling as urgently as its equivalent back in the day. People still want water-cooling, but it seems to be a desire that's separate from the need to actually cool the hardware.

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My best and worst PC-related moments

Posted on 9th Nov 2010 at 08:46 by Antony Leather with 112 comments

Antony Leather
I was talking cars with my brother the other day. He has owned several old VW Beetles which he's tweaked and modded over the years so has had plenty of good and bad experiences with them.

For example, the engine exploding and dumping all it's oil on the M4 (the stain is still there seven years later). I have a more modern car but we still have plenty to reminisce about our driving escapades.

Then I realised that I had just as many, if not more, interesting moments with the various incarnations of PCs I've owned too. Here are a few of them; feel free to share yours in the comments too.

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RC Models Are Awesome

Posted on 3rd Aug 2010 at 15:23 by Antony Leather with 20 comments

Antony Leather
To go with today's feature on remote control, Joe asked me to write a post about my experience with RC models.

Like many model enthusiasts, I started young. I built my first Airfix plane at the age of four, was cluttering my ceiling with models by the age of nine and my teens were filled with rockets, free flight aeroplanes and countless radio controlled cars and planes. I left the boats to my brother.

It's an interest that still lingers today and which pre-dated my passion for PC hardware. Contrary to popular opinion, you don't have to be technically minded or have the dexterity of a Red Bull-addicted ninja to enjoy making them either.

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The iPad: I finally understand it

Posted on 20th Jul 2010 at 10:28 by Antony Leather with 89 comments

Antony Leather
I love my iPhone. Before I get dumped in the Apple fanboy pigeon hole though, I can honestly say it's the first Apple product I've owned and despite enjoying it, I'm still very unlikely to buy a Mac. I like the iPhone because of its large screen, responsive touch interface and range of apps that are genuinely useful - not to mention it's a fully functioning iPod.

However, the iPad reignited my loathing of the ruthless Apple PR machine and the brainwashed hordes falling over each other to get one. It's hideously expensive and generally far inferior to a laptop but most importantly, I simply couldn't see decent reason you'd actually buy one.

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