How to get the most from your premium PC

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Jan 10, 2015
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Introduction




Anyone who shells out the best part of £1,500 (around $2,300, or AU$2,900) or more on a premium PC likely has one thing deeply embedded in the back of their mind: how long will it be until my brand spanking new PC is limping under the pressure?

The good news is that it doesn't have to get to that point just so long as you look after the new rig and buy it plenty of treats to keep it going. You don't even need to splash out cash to ensure your PC remains in tip-top condition, and simple regular housekeeping measures can help to make sure that you aren't clamouring for a new machine too early.

What we've put together here is a list of ways that new premium PC owners can get the very best from their machine and keep it relevant for as long as possible.

  • In partnership with Microsoft, powered by the HP Spectre 360
Make use of the cloud




Cloud services have become more and more widespread over the past few years, and even though many premium PC owners will want to keep all content on the machine itself, the cloud has a role to play in helping you get the most from your PC.

Gone are the days when you absolutely had to install the entire Microsoft Office suite on your PC and you can use Office Online web apps to get almost the exact same experience. You can still have the full Office experience by signing up for Office 365, yet the web apps offer enough functionality that you can leave that extra 1GB of space for something else.

It's not just saving space that the cloud helps with. There's nothing more frustrating than having a virus lay siege to your PC and having to delete everything. That can be compounded by the fact that you either didn't backup the computer, or have lost the external hard drive that contains all your data (or that drive has died, too).

Using a service like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or OneDrive to back up all your data takes the pain out of this, and by backing up regularly to a cloud service your machine will be back up-and-running in no time.

Watch the startup




Extracting every last drop of juice from your premium PC can be as easy as making sure there's hardly anything running in the background. Gaming is one of the best ways to get the most from your premium PC, and of course it helps your games run faster if there aren't programs kicking about in the background.

Indeed, one of the most annoying things that can plague any PC in general is a lengthened startup process that takes far longer than it should. The best way to prevent yourself falling victim to this is, of course, to ensure you take extra care when installing programs to make sure none of them launch on startup.

It's not hard to take your eye off the ball, though, and if you do then it's very easy to turn them off by doing so in the Startup tab in the System Configuration window (in Windows 8, the Startup tab is under the Task Manager). Here you can manually deselect the startup items you don't need, safe in the knowledge that they will no longer slow down your machine.

Delete unnecessary files




One bugbear of any PC user is the sheer number of unwanted files that can easily pile up if no action is taken to stem their proliferation, and they are usually split into two main areas – temporary files and unused programs.

Unused programs can be a real problem as they will continue to run background processes until they are uninstalled, and getting rid of them is incredibly easy. Simply head to the Control Panel then go to Programs and Features. From here you can go through the list of every installed program on your PC and hand-pick the ones that shouldn't be there.

However, be cautious to leave anything critical or created by Microsoft as it may adversely affect your system if removed, and by the time you've got rid of the dead weight your PC will run even more smoothly.

The other type of unnecessary file that premium PC users need to keep an eye on are temporary files that can soon mount up and slow down the system. Even though it's true that temporary files mushroom quickly, they are very easy to get rid of, and you can even set up your new premium PC to delete them automatically. Find the Temp folder inside the C:/Windows folder and then simply delete any files that are not dated with today's date, and don't forget to empty the recycle bin once you're done.

Always do a clean install




With Microsoft's all-conquering Windows 10 operating system on the horizon it's more important than ever that premium PC users perform clean installs as a matter of routine due to the sluggish speeds they'll experience otherwise.

Performing a clean install also completely removes any additional bloatware foisted upon you by the PC manufacturer in question, and as you get the install image and subsequent software from the horse's mouth, it's exactly what Microsoft intended Windows to be.

A clean install removes absolutely everything from your PC so it's wise to make a full backup of anything you want to keep. It can also rescue your machine from any other software issues, and even malware that is lurking in the bowels of the system, which will be completely eradicated by simply performing a clean install of the OS.

Overclock it




There's nothing worse than trying to crack the next level on your favourite game and realising that for one reason or another your PC won't pull it off. Overclocking, once only the preserve of the most rabid of PC gamers, is now easier than it has ever been, and there are programs that will have you worrying less about damaging the PC and more about how much extra power can be extracted.

For those not familiar with what overclocking is, it basically involves pushing the CPU above the stock speed it's set to run at by default. This can lead to huge gains on some machines and, even though some caution is advised, it's perfectly normal to use this as a method to power up your CPU.

Look to upgrade




Think of buying a PC as a pet project that you continue working on for many years and you'll end up getting the very most out of it. That means buying little bits and pieces all the time to upgrade the machine and keep it 100% relevant for just about every task you throw at it.

It may seem like replacing the parts of your PC is an accident waiting to happen, but the internet is full of helpful videos to guide you through various potential upgrades. Also, the motherboard manufacturers have been making it even easier to replace components that may, at one time or another, have been nigh-on impossible.

Although many will simply look at a GPU replacement as the best way to extract more usable power from their premium PC, adding extra RAM to the machine is usually recognised as the cheapest and also the most effective way to provide an instant speed boost. Adding RAM is often seen as a huge advantage for PCs over and above Macs.

Owners of older premium PCs born outside the SSD era would gain a lot from adding a zippy SSD to their PC, and with the larger capacity NAND memory offering huge uplifts in capacity, we will see even more users upgrading to this type of drive.

When it comes to replacing a GPU or adding more power look no further than the graphics amplifier currently being pushed by Alienware to see just how easy it can be to add to your premium PC. Other companies have tried this approach before and Alienware's decision to implement this in its upcoming laptops will only ignite interest from its competitors, thus making it even easier for consumers to upgrade.

Get the best monitor possible




Another pricey way to get the very most from your premium PC is to invest in a monitor that displays what's going inside your PC in the best light. Monitors are right now experiencing quite the revolution with 4K displays proliferating, thus meaning that the price of that class of monitor will soon begin to drop rapidly.

In terms of a visible difference that you can actually see, there obviously isn't a lot that comes close to buying a new monitor, and it doesn't just have to apply to a desktop PC either. This is because you can easily connect an extra monitor to your laptop that provides a much higher image quality than the integrated display you've been 'stuck' with, and enjoy a better experience as a result.

Secure your software




Fully protecting your PC from malware, spyware or any other viruses is of course key to preventing your PC being rendered eventually useless, and installing a credible piece of antivirus software is essential. Unlike costly upgrades or buying new monitors to get the most from your premium PC, you can pick up a reputable piece of antivirus software for absolutely nothing and be sure you are completely protected.

The only obstacle you have to overcome when getting antivirus software is the fact that most installations will try to force you into adding a toolbar to your browser, or installing another piece of unnecessary software to your PC. So just perform the installation very carefully, read everything closely, and you'll be absolutely fine.










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