How To Choose A Computer Case

Things to Consider When Choosing a Computer Case

In the past, computer cases were all very similar… Clones of the same boring, beige box. With all of the choices available today, this is no longer the ‘case’, and people can use their systems’ chassis as a means to express themselves and to set their system apart from the rest. Although appearance may be a big one, it isn’t the only factor in the selection process and the following items should be considered when shopping for a new computer case.

1. Form Factor

There are different sizes of motherboards, which in turn require different cases to house them. Case form factors share the names of the motherboards they support, and some of the common ones include ATX, Micro ATX (mATX), FlexATX and Mini ITX. ATX motherboards are perhaps the most common, and the largest of the four, measuring at most 12″ x 9.6″ (305mm x 244mm). A Micro ATX board is at most 9.6″ x 9.6″ (244mm x 244mm), a FlexATX is 9.0″ x 7.5″ (229mm x 191mm) and a Mini ITX comes in at a tiny 6.7″ x 6.7″ (170mm x 170mm). ATX and mATX are by far the most popular motherboard sizes for consumer motherboards, and hence, most cases are made to support one or both of these sizes.

A mATX motherboard can obviously fit in a smaller enclosure than an ATX motherboard, and therefore there are different size cases available to match. The larger cases are generally downward compatible with smaller from factor motherboards, but the opposite is not true. For example, someone with this Amptron mATX motherboard could save a few inches and install it in this 14.25″ tall mATX case, or pick something like this black ATX case that stands just a bit taller at 16.5″.

Many branded systems (ones that you may buy prebuilt and with preinstalled software) are usually a combination of a standard form factor (such a mATX) with some type of proprietary design (usually in the front panel switches and it’s cabling) and buying a new case for these types of motherboards can be tricky. Some branded systems also use lesser used form factors such as NLX and LPX (which employee riser cards for the expansion slots) and finding replacement cases for these type of systems can be a very difficult and pricey endeavor.

A smaller system may be desirable where space is tight, but larger form factor cases provide more room for multiple drives and other peripherals, and a smaller motherboard may be better suited to a larger case in a system such as this.

2. Size

Size may go along with form factor in many respects, but even while considering cases of the same form factor, there can be variations in size in a few respects. Areas where size can vary are in overall dimensions, the number of exposed 5.25″ and 3.5″ bays, and the number of internal bays.

ATX cases obviously need to be large enough to hold an ATX motherboard; some are just large enough, while others seem cavernous in comparison. If a case needs to fit under a low shelf, or between items of a certain width, it is important to choose an appropriately sized case. Cases come in two basic configurations when it comes to their size and shape, either desktop or tower. Desktop cases are wider than they are tall and are oriented so the motherboard lays flat, while tower cases have the motherboard standing upright, and come in three basic heights… mini tower, mid tower, and full tower. Tower cases are more common these days, and currently the only style in the Computer Geeks case inventory.

The number of exposed drive bays is generally in direct proportion to the overall size of the case. A higher number of exposed 5.25″ bays may be desirable for those with more than one DVD or CD drive, removable drive racks, and fan controllers. Exposed 3.5″ bays are generally occupied by floppy drives, Zip drives, fan controllers, and things like this 9-in-1 Card Reader, and in most cases you may get one or two of these bays, maximum. This case is very similar in appearance to this other one, but they have one difference that may prove to be a huge factor. They both have four exposed 5.25″ bays, but one has two exposed 3.5″ bays while the other only has one. If a user had a floppy drive and the 9-in-1 card reader, they would either have to choose to install only one, or use an adaptor and take up one of their 5.25″ bays.

Internal bays are generally reserved for hard drives, and systems with multiple drives require the necessary space. So, if a user decided he really wanted a yellow colored case, but needed room for five hard drives, he would be forced to choose this one (5 internal drive bays) over this one (4 internal drive bays).

3. Cooling

Cooling is a critical feature to consider when selecting a computer case. High end systems can generate a good deal of heat, and the case needs to be adequately cooled to keep the system running and stable.

The basic configuration for case cooling involves having one intake fan on the lower portion of the front surface, and one exhaust fan higher up on the rear surface. This allows cooler air to be drawn in, passed over the various heat generating components, and exhausted out the back. There are many other cooling configurations available that may provide improvements in terms of cooling performance and noise.

One way to decrease noise, and perhaps move more air, is for a case to use 120mm (4″) fans instead of the usual 80mm (3″) fans, as larger fans don’t need to spin as fast to push the same volume of air. This A-Top Z-Alien utilizes a 120mm exhaust fan that also features another key feature to good cooling. The fan grill is very open, meaning that there will be minimal resistance to air flow and reduced noise as the air rushes past it. Many fan grills are made from perforating the case’s sheet metal, and they do not provide enough open area for good airflow.

Another approach to better cooling is to throw more fans at the heat. This Matrix case adds another fan to the side panel which will draw cool air in right on top of the processor and video card, two of the hotter items in a system. Other cases will add an exhaust fan to the top of the case, which pushes the heat out just like a chimney.

No matter the approach, cooling is one area that needs close consideration when it comes to cases intended for today’s high powered systems.

4. Installation Features

Installing a system into a case can be a time consuming affair, which can become annoying to those who find themselves in a continuous cycle of upgrading. Many cases now include convenient features to make installation much simpler, and far less time consuming

Some of these convenient installation features include a removable motherboard tray, removable drive cages, tool-less expansion card mounts, tool-less side panels, and tool-less drive rail systems. Being able to remove the motherboard tray and drive cage makes it easier to work on those specific areas in the open, and having a tool-less system for mounting drives or cards means there is no need for screws or a screw driver. Definitely time savers!

Although the listing on the Computer Geeks site does not specify it, this X-Blade ATX case features both a removable drive cage and tool-less drive rail system, according to this review.

5. Convenience Items

It is not enough for a case to house a computer system any more, it now needs to multi-task. Having regularly used connections on the front or top of the case is one common convenience feature that many people look for. Cases such as this A-Top Z-Alien model let users forget about the annoyance of reaching around the back of their case to plug things in, as USB, Firewire, headphone and microphone jacks are located on the top.

Other cases are available that take convenience to another level by including clocks, digital thermometers that monitor specific components, and fan controllers to help maintain a healthy balance between noise and cooling performance.

6. Style

A few years ago cases only came in one color and one basic style… plain beige boxes. If you’re nostalgic for the olden days of computer cases, Computer Geeks still has one for sale in this style, the KG-200. But cases now come in styles from mild to wild, and in a whole rainbow of colors. Some have large windows in the side panel to show off the case’s insides, some include special lighting effects, and some have appearances that might scare the kids. At this point there seems to be few limits in case design, but there are always classically styled cases in updated color schemes for those who want something modern looking, but nothing too intense.

7. Power Supply

Many cases are sold with a power supply included, but this power supply might not be the correct one for the system to be installed inside of it. An adequate power supply needs to be chosen to meet the demands of the system, and this may very well mean buying an additional power supply to replace the one included, or selecting a different case with a more appropriately sized power supply.

For example, someone may decide their high end gaming system would go well in this black ATX case, but the included 300W power supply may not be strong enough for a top notch graphics card, multiple drives, water cooling, and other power hungry peripherals that might be installed.

Final Words

There are many factors that go into selecting an adequate case for a computer system, including the seven mentioned above. What may wind up being the most important factor was not discussed, but can hopefully be addressed by balancing the importance of these factors… price. Computer cases can cost anywhere from several dollars to several hundred dollars, meaning that a tight budget may decide which of the other features is really all that important.

Online Gambling Causing Credit Card Debt

It is the latest craze at the moment and everyone seems to be enjoying gambling at home with the increase of poker sites on the internet, but its not good news if you are running up debts on your credit card. I don’t know about you but it seems that I have a misconceived perception of time when I am sitting at my computer; time just seems to fly by. The longer you are gambling on an internet poker site, the more money you are spending.

Online gambling is being seen as pushing up consumer debts and that’s not good for the UK economy. Figures from the government have revealed that the amount of money spent on gambling last year was £42.8 million; in 2001 that figure was only £8.6 million. It is a perturbing sharp increase. Internet sites that have been registered outside the UK have not been included in the government figures of money spent.

The glamorization of gambling, especially poker, by celebrities at the moment is partly to blame for the rise in gambling. Sitting at home on your computer can undermine your ability to spend your money wisely. Internet poker sites or casino sites allow you to insert your credit card details; once your details have been entered you can continue gambling up to your credit limit. Some gamblers are maxing out numerous credit cards at a time to try and win back money they have lost with the Debt Advisor group seeing some individual debts as high as £100,000. Casinos have a strong cash culture unlike internet gambling where it is your credit card that does the spending. Using cash instead of your credit card makes you more aware of the amount you are spending.

The growth of gambling online in the next five years is predicted to be around 22% a year while playing poker online is said to rise by 44% a year. Gambling through your mobile phone is now also being offered by companies which could see even higher debts being accumulated.

Gambling has always seen its fair share of creating debt problems but with easier accessibility it may cause more households to suffer from unmanageable debt. Other household members are usually unaware that there is a debt problem looming not realizing how much is actually being gambled, the more desperate people become to win back their money the higher the stakes become seeing people usually losing more and more.

If you are suffering form credit card debt problems through internet gambling there are many organizations that can help you. Seeking help sooner rather than later will prevent even more debt.

10 Steps For Fighting Click Fraud

Pay-Per click fraud dates back even from the time when Overture was still Goto.com. Only, it wasn’t as serious as it is lately since the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is becoming very popular for getting highly targeted traffic as well as making an affiliate-based commission.

So, what’s pay-per click fraud?

In an ideal world, you and I will pay a fee to a site that offers PPC program and hosts our ads whenever those ads are being clicked by a visitor. The visitor then examines our site and eventually makes a purchase. We make money.

In click-fraud-world as it is nowadays, those clicks that you and I pay for are not coming from potential customers. But from scam artists, automated scripts known as “hitbots”, underhanded competitors, and even affiliates that just click on our ads in order to earn commission offered by the PPC providers. We lose money.

Fraudulent clicks or “click spam” can be defined as any kind of click that occurs with zero possibility for a conversion to occur, or a website visit not being originated by a legitimate user. Fraudulent clicks happen on a regular basis – even more than what we could possibly imagine.

India Times published a shocking article about a mother who gets down to work every evening while holding a baby in her lap. She is clicking on PPC advertisements. She doesn’t care about the ads, but diligently keeps count – it’s $0.18 to $0.25 per click.

“The trend is catching up in India,” – says Goutam Rakshit, chairman, Advertising Council of India – “It’s a numbers game as far as media buying is concerned. And anybody who can manipulate numbers gets the edge. This is unethical, and needs to be curbed.”

John Squire, the vice president for product marketing for Coremetrics, estimated that his company’s clients are spending approximately $10 million a year on fraudulent clicks. They are spending about $10 million on consumers that don’t exist.

How much are you paying for customers that don’t exist?

If you think your PPC campaign funds are depleting due to a fraudulent click activity, affiliate-generated fraudulent activity, or if you are simply suspicious of the traffic that occurs without any increase in sales – then perhaps you need to start getting tougher with your PPC analysis.

You can always ask for refund from the PPC provider running your campaign if you have suspected a fraudulent click activity. But, you won’t get the refund unless you have hard core facts to prove it.

And now, let’s get down to the facts.

1a. On a less technical note, define a unique URL for the sales page that will go through the PPC program. Clone your sales page and save it under a different URL.

If your page is selling vitamins for an example, and lets say your URL is hotvitamins.com, save it as hotvitamins.com/power. Or, create a sub-domain, such as power.hotvitamins.com.

Then, use this “cloned” sales page for your PPC campaign. That way, the only traffic coming to that page is from the PPC website. Only, do not link this new URL to any other website. You want to have 100% pure PPC traffic so you can keep an eye on it.

1b. For more technical people, you can assign unique session id to each of your URLs within your PPC campaigns. I’m seeing both techniques being used.

2. Use a basic log analyzer program to begin to investigate the data on the received clicks, including date, time, referrer, page views, URL, IP, etc. Your webhost should already provide you with a log analyzer program or a “Site Statistics Tool.”

If not, maybe it’s time for you to change your webhost, or you have to install log analyzer software yourself.

What you want to do at this stage is look for anything suspicious. Based on how comprehensive your “Site Statistics Tool” is, at the end of the day you want to be able to capture the IP address from each click.

Then, look at the quantity of the clicks from each IP address, click behavior and click timing. Run a “reverse IP address lookup” to see who is making those clicks.

Basically, you want to be able to gather as many details as possible for each and every click. Whether you will depend on the tool your webhost is providing you, or you will install a software yourself, or you will contract it out, make sure you have the capability of capturing the IP address.

If the IP address was not captured, or cookies were not generated, that’s an indication of clicks being generated by automated scripts known as “hitbots.”

3. Start tracking the conversion ratio. You can choose to track conversions either by using your own conversion tracking system, or by using a third-party conversion tracking tool. There are plenty of low-cost conversion tracking solutions.

In some cases, the services offering to track your clicks will have a sales conversion option available for you. That’s a service you definitely want to get if you don’t want to deal with it yourself.

But, if your sales ratio is very low or even zero, your chances are very high that you’re being bullied by someone. It could as well be the low demand of your product or a high competition, but if you’re getting high amount of traffic from your PPC campaign and low to zero sales, the chances are very high that you could be a victim of click-fraud.

So, what do you do if you suspect that you’re receiving fraudulent clicks on your PPC campaign?

4. Be meticulous – very thorough. Make sure you have data that points to questionable traffic. You have to have evidence of the suspicious clicks. Ensure that you have a legitimate case even if you have to double check your records. The PPC provider will ask you for facts and not an opinion.

5. Carefully document your traffic analysis during your PPC campaign. Document anything related to the campaign – handwritten notes, email exchanges, scribbles, reports, screen shots, etc.

6. Be sure to record every one of the clicks, whether they’re from your server logs or from a third party processor that you might be contracting for this purpose.

7. Document all relevant competitor positioning. Ever since Google changed its policy on PPC ads, there have been various reports on competitors of a same product manipulating Google’s new system.

It’s the people with more technical knowledge manipulating the system for their own good while killing the campaigns of the people with no technical knowledge. They’re not breaking Google’s rules, but they know when to pause their campaign (knowingly) and when to reactivate it again.

8. On the other note, you might want to contact your competitors to see if they’re experiencing click fraud. Your PPC campaign might not be the only one experiencing these fake clicks. Two victims’ cases presented to the PPC provider will make a stronger case.

9. When feeling highly confident that you have a strong case and clear facts that you’ve been a victim of click fraud, contact your PPC account representative and submit your data with a request for refund. Their investigations can, and do take time.

10. Meantime, continue to monitor your click activity and record any additional data.

It’s unfortunate that we have to be so much involved to protect ourselves. We pay for advertising so we can free up our time and let someone else do it. But with the seriousness of PPC “click spam” nowadays…….. you snooze – you lose.

Rid Your Life Of Gambling

I want to help you rid your life of gambling. This is a tough problem to live with because it is hard to quit. Many people try to go cold turkey, but that is surprisingly difficult to make work. Gamblers are psychologically driven to want to do this and there is a pay off in your brain for doing it. I think it is more important than ever for gamblers to get a hold of this problem in these tough economic times. When people and families need every single dollar, you can’t be blowing it in a casino or in some sort of internet gambling. I’m going to help you rid your life of gambling.

This is an addiction, but often people use that as an excuse not to deal with it. You don’t do things because it is an addition. You do things because you get some sort of emotional pay off and that is what you’re addicted too. You need to identify what you’re looking for as pay off. That’s the key to getting past this problem. Maybe you’re someone that likes the adrenalin rush of putting a lot on the table and winning. Maybe you do it to avoid other problems in your life.

If you want to rid your life of gambling, you have to able to identify the real reason you do it and find another way to get the pay off. If you do it for the rush, maybe you should find a hobby that gives you a rush. If you do it to avoid dealing with a failing relationship, maybe you should try and fix it. Identifying the root cause of gambling is essential to ridding yourself of it.