Gaming PC for under £1000

Custom Built Gaming Computer

We were recently approached by a customer looking for two gaming computers with a total budget of £2000. They wanted gaming computers with great performance and striking looks. The obvious choice of components would have been an Intel i7 processor, a high end NVIDIA graphics card and a ton of RAM, but this puts the computer well over budget. Instead we opted for components that would give the best performance under actual use by the customer.

Intel i5-4670 Corsair Vengence Red

Firstly we decided to use the latest generation of Intel processors, fitting the top end i5-4670 Haswell processor. With 4 cores and no hyper-threading, the single core speed is actually faster than the latest i7 processors, which would only outperform the i5 if more than 4 cores are required, and for our customer they wouldn’t be.

For the RAM we decided that 8GB would be sufficient, but left 2 of the 4 slots free so that this can easily and cheaply be upgraded in future when necessary. We did however install Corsair Vengence Red RAM due to the low latency and low voltages, which allow for more stable overclocking and faster speeds.


For the graphics card we opted for the NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti, which is a very good graphics card for gaming, scoring well on both in-game tests and benchmarks. As we were building gaming PCs we spent a significant proportion of the budget on the graphics cards as this is definitely going to be the key component under load.

For storage we chose to use a 120GB solid state hard drive as the primary drive, with an additional 1TB hard drive for storage. Although not essential for running games on max setting, it does mean that games open, load and save at lightning fast speeds as well as allowing the PC to boot up in a matter of seconds; no one likes waiting around for their PC to boot up or the game to load.

Custom Built Gaming PC

Finally we assembled the components in the eye-catching and award winning NZXT Phantom 410 cases. The final PCs looked great and performed very well – our customer was very impressed.

New Website for The Art of Building in Loughborough, Leicestershire

After providing The Art of Building with a bespoke business management software solution, we were asked if we could also build their new website; working alongside Richard Jackson who was already working on their rebranding.

The Art of Building New Website

The site is very responsive, scaling to fit virtually all screen sizes from smartphones up to 27 inch, high resolution screens. Most pages of the website feature a large, single gallery that fills the majority of the screen, so the typical responsive column layout wasn’t appropriate as there isn’t enough content for it to automatically rearrange. Instead the page scales with the screen size, using the large images as a datum for calculating widths and heights. The result is a website where the beautiful photos fill your view, regardless of the screen you’re viewing it on.

The new website for The Art of Building is all about showcasing their work, so the website is designed around exploring the projects. The home page features an auto-scrolling gallery of selected photos from projects, as well as the three most recent projects.

Clicking a recent project takes you to a page where you can view a full gallery of photos and details for that project. The details appear over the gallery, but can easily be hidden so the photos can be fully appreciated. Below the gallery is a navigation bar allowing you to conveniently browse through similar projects or share the project across all the major social media sites.

The project list can be browsed in full, split into residential and commercial or even viewed by category, such as ‘Extension’. Users can also jump straight to any of these from the drop down menu in the main navigation.

The projects and their photos are all uploaded and managed from a custom built content management system that is bespoke for The Art of Building and their new website. The content management system allows them to upload a single photo that is used automatically generate images at various sizes for different uses across the site. It also allows The Art of Building to reorder photos and give them titles for accessibility and search engine optimisation.

Bespoke content management system

In addition to managing projects, The Art of Building are also able to update the website via an embedded WordPress blog, which also feeds summaries of the most recent blogs onto the home page. The WordPress blog is labelled as the ‘News’ section of the site and has been styled in line with the rest of the site.

The new website is built to a high quality, reflecting the service it sells, using high resolution photos, images and icons to cater for larger screen sizes and high density screens, such as the Apple Retina screens and the Google Pixel. The website is a good reflection of The Art of Building and everyone involved is very pleased with the result.

New Website Design Lincoln for Style-Arrival

Style-Arrival Homepage

Our new website for Style-Arrival has been launched this week, replacing their previous website. Style-Arrival provide a variety of chauffeur driven services across the UK, including airport transfers, corporate travel and wedding car hire. Style-Arrival approached us after receiving rebranding proposals from students at the University of Lincoln, of which Style-Arrival liked elements, but none of them provided the full package. We took the elements they liked and used them as a basis to create the new website. The design of the new website is stylish and minimalist, using semi-transparent panels over the large background image. The homepage is particularly minimalist, displaying only the banner (containing the logo and navigation), allowing full view of the background image. The banner is present across the site and contains the company logo, phone numbers, site navigation and a short piece of text that changes depending on the page being viewed. The colour scheme of the site is inspired by the background image, picking out shades of gold, silver and brown.

Style-Arrival Airport Transfers

The page content throughout the site appears above the banner, covering the majority of the background image with a semi-transparent background colour. It was important to make the page content stand out from the background image, particularly as many of the pages contain photos. To achieve this, a shadow was placed around the content panels and filter was positioned over the background image. The content panels typically consist of a sub-menu on the left, a gallery along the top and text below. The sub-menu has the crown logo in the bottom right, slightly clipped, to match the company’s business cards. The content panels vary in size depending on the user’s screen size and to accommodate shorter screens (particularly widescreen laptops) the text area gets a custom scroll bar, which has a narrow track and replaces the rectangle with a miniature crown logo to tie in with Style-Arrival’s new branding. The circle element of the new Style-Arrival logo was also used to create custom social media icons for the Contact page.

The site posed a few technical difficulties, mostly due to the ‘scale to fit’ nature of the site and the support for transparent backgrounds varying from browser to browser. The site is fairly consistent across all major browsers; however, in Internet Explorer 7 and 8 often a choice had to be made between a transparent background and an image, leading to the logo being dropped from some backgrounds or slight differences in transparency levels (due to layering). The image below shows the Contact page in 3D, depicting how the site is layered.

Style-Arrival 3D Webpage

Like all Mamu Computing websites, the new Style-Arrival site has been optimised for search engines and traffic is monitored so Style-Arrival can see just how many people are using their new website.

Unfortunately the existing WordPress blog was not part of our remit, although we did give it a bit of an overhaul: increasing the search engine optimisation, updating the navigation menu and providing guidance on effective blog writing techniques.

Style-Arrival have been very pleased new website and high level of service we provide, so much so they have already recommended our services.

Microsoft Replacing Messenger with Skype

Only six months ago we wrote an article about Microsoft replacing Hotmail with; now Microsoft have announced Windows Live Messenger (previously MSN Messenger) is to be replaced by Skype, which Microsoft bought in 2011. Messenger is being replaced globally, with the exception of mainland China.

Currently, Messenger users can continue to use Messenger, upgrade to Skype or merge their Messenger account with their Skype account. After 15th March 2013 [edit] 8th April 2013 all Messenger users will have to upgrade to Skype in order to continue using the services, but don’t worry – the process is fairly simple and we will run through the options (with pictures) below.

Firstly you need to make sure you have Skype installed, available here. If you already have Skype installed, make sure you have the latest version by going to ‘Help’ then ‘Check for Updates’. Next, open Skype; if it automatically logs you in then log out (‘Skype’ then ‘Sign Out’). You should now see a login screen like the one below:

Skype Login Screen

You need to select ‘Microsoft Account’ from the right hand side, which is the account you use for Messenger. After logging into your Microsoft Account you will be given two options.

Skype options to merge or upgrade Microsoft account

If you do not already have a Skype account simply click the ‘I’m new to Skype’ button to convert your Messenger account into a Skype account. If you already have a Skype account then you have two options available to you. The option on the left, labelled ‘I have a Skype account’ will merge your existing Skype account with your existing Messenger account. The alternative is to convert your Messenger account into a separate Skype account by clicking the ‘I’m new to Skype’ button. Having separate accounts will mean you can choose which account to log into, but not both at the same time on a single computer or other device. This could be particularly important to some users as Skype lacks options for displaying different online statuses to different users or groups of users, despite being a popular feature request for many years. In fact, the only option available is to block contacts to whom you wish to appear offline.

After you have either merged or upgraded your Microsoft Messenger account you will be able to use Skype to communicate with all your contacts, regardless of whether they are still on Messenger or have upgraded to Skype.

Microsoft really appear to be rebranding everything they have to offer. The 2D panel design used on the new Windows 8 start menu (originally branded ‘Metro’) has gradually been applied across the board: computers, smartphones, tablets, games consoles, software, websites and even the Windows logo itself. On top of this Microsoft have been clearing out old offerings, with very well-known services, such as Hotmail and Messenger, being retired. For many, myself included, Hotmail and MSN Messenger were a staple part of early online social networking and it feels like an end of an era to see them go.

New Website Design – Harmless

Harmless Homepage Screenshot

We have launched a new website for Harmless. Harmless are a user led organisation based in Nottingham that provides a range of services about self-harm including support, information, training and consultancy to people who self-harm, their friends and families and professionals. Harmless approached us looking for a complete revamp of their previous website that was five years old and no longer met all their requirements. The new website has been designed with three key areas: blog, shop and the core website. As well as designing the new website, Mamu Computing also designed a new logo for Harmless.

The principal part of the website starts with the home page, which prominently showcases the diversity within self-harm through a transition of large photos. The page also pulls together live data feeds from various sources including Twitter, Facebook and their Google Calendar, as well as the Harmless blog and online shop. Due to Twitter’s 140 character limit it was fairly straightforward to design how tweets would be displayed. However, the length of Facebook posts can vary greatly, so in order to maintain a consistent look Facebook posts were displayed in small, scrollable panels with custom designed scroll bars. The primary navigation for the website is situated along the top and divides the site into its major sections, each of which has its own sub-menu.

Custom Google Calendar

The events page (under ‘Who We Are’) displays a custom calendar that uses a Google Calendar data feed, allowing Harmless to easily update the upcoming events using their existing Google Calendar. The custom calendar shows all upcoming events in a ‘month view’ layout, with the ability to browse through future months. Clicking an event reveals additional details in a pop-up bubble, which includes time, description and location, as well as a link to Google Maps and the option to add the event to your own Google Calendar.

The new website provides various forms of media for download, including brochures, forms, videos and audio files as well as being able to watch, read and listen online. The website’s contact page includes a contact form (which was particularly important to Harmless as it allows people to get in touch without a record being saved in their sent items) as well as email, telephone, postal address and social network details, allowing users to get in touch by whatever means best suits them.

Harmless Blog Screenshot

The new website’s blog allows Harmless to keep their users up-to-date with all the latest news from Harmless and self-harm related news. The blog also provides a forum for discussion, allowing people to become a member and comment on news articles. The blog is designed with the same style and layout as rest of the website so that it very much feels part of it. The header and footer match the main part of the site to provide a consistent navigation.

Harmless Online Shop Screenshot

The layout of the shop part of the website differs slightly from the rest of the website, most notably in the header, footer and navigation bar. However, the style is consistent with the rest of the site, maintaining the same colour scheme, graphics and use of panels with rounded corners. The reason for the difference is that the shop serves a different purpose: it aims to promote and sell the products and services that Harmless offer. For that reason the home page of the shop features a highly animated promotional space and an area for promoted products. The shop provides a great deal of functionality for its users, including account management, downloads and a newsletter, as well as plenty of management tools for the Harmless staff, allowing them to manage products, stock levels and customer orders.

The new website better reflects the Harmless organisation, allows them to keep their users up-to-date and streamlines the process of selling their products and services, which all helps them work efficiently and reach the people that need them.

Twitter RSS Feeds Have Moved

Today we noticed that a Twitter feed on one of our customer’s sites had stopped working. On closer inspection the PHP code used to interpret the feed was failing to find any relevant terms. Viewing the feed in a browser quickly highlighted that Twitter had stopped the feed. The URL of the feed that was being used was in the following format (the customer’s username has been replaced by ‘MamuComputing’):

Which then displays the following:

Twitter RSS Feed Error

Fortunately, the Twitter RSS feed hasn’t been turned off, merely moved. After changing the URL of the feed to the format below everything worked fine again.

Although, with Twitter disabling Tweets feeding into LinkedIn and Facebook turning off RSS feeds, both earlier this year, we will be considering a different approach to Twitter feeds for our customers.

New Website Design – AMSD

New AMSD Website

The new website for AMSD (Andy Mann Structural Design) has been launched this month. AMSD is a structural engineers in Nottingham that was looking for a new website to replace their existing one that was becoming outdated. Our design brief was to produce a site that felt modern and sleek, with an emphasis on style and images. The new website is designed using sleek black, grey and white colours, reminiscent of steel, with elements of green to tie in with teh AMSD colours. The new website is also functional, allowing customers to not only browse AMSD’s services, but also provide design specific details through forms that request information tailored to each structural design as well as allowing drawings and other specifications to be uploaded.

From a technical point of view the sites multiple forms are all validated before submission using both Javascript and PHP validation. The Javascript validation provides more responsive and user friendly feedback, while the PHP form validation provides a second layer of validation for cases where Javascript is either unavailable or being manipulated. All the forms throughout the site contain a Captcha to prevent automated spam beign sent through them. However, it was decided to make the Captcha images clear, rather than the more common obscured ones, so as to reduce user frustration.

As with all Mamu Computing websites, the new AMSD website has been developed to aid search engine optimisation, ensuring all pages have the appropriate titles, meta tags, alt tags, etc. The site has also been configured to provide an analysis of its traffic so its performance can be measured. The new website is also ready for expansion, designed with the ability to add extra services with minimal effort, allowing the website to continue to grow alongside the company.

We wish AMSD all the best and hope they continue to grow and expand their services.

Microsoft Replaces Hotmail

Our last post discussed whether Microsoft was abandoning the corporate user in favour of the more casual tablet user with the upcoming release of Windows 8, but today’s announcement from Microsoft reveals the demise of Hotmail in favour of the all new Hotmail has long been a dominant player in the battle for domestic email addresses and has been a major part of Microsoft’s online presence since they bought it back in 1997. However, today’s announcement declares the Hotmail brand soon to end, soon to be replaced by Microsoft’s Outlook brand, which has been the principal mail client amongst business users for over a decade.

So what is and how will it affect 350+ million Hotmail users? There are already a few changes that Hotmail users may have noticed. Firstly the login screen has changed its style:

New Hotmail Login ScreenNew Hotmail Login Screen

This new style is more in keeping with Windows 8 and the Metro Start Menu, but also matches the look of the new After signing in users are likely to be presented with a request for additional security measures (phone number, alternate email address and trusted PC), which users with a Google account may already be familiar with. Again this page has been styled to suit the new face of Microsoft.

Hotmail Additional SecurityHotmail Additional Security

So what’s the new like? Well, you can see for yourself as Microsoft has made it available for all current Hotmail users to try. Simply go to or select it from the Hotmail options menu and you will see the mail part of Hotmail in the new layout. Don’t worry, the transformation isn’t permanent – just click the setting ‘gear’ towards the top right and select “Switch back to Hotmail”. It’s worth noting that if you want a email address then you’d better register quick as your equivalent for your Hotmail address is NOT automatically allocated to you and the addresses are going fast (over a million went in the first two hours); has already gone, and not to us. Anyway, here’s our newly registered account:

New Outlook.comNew

As you can see the general structure is similar to the current Hotmail, which has been gradually moving towards the layout of the desktop version of Outlook for some time now. The major changes are in the menus and selection styling, which fit the new Metro style that is being applied to all things Microsoft (Windows 8, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone). Not only does the new style help tie all the Microsoft products together, it also provides a clean, responsive feel. This is also underpinned by a clean-up of the layout. The adverts have gone, but the presence of the ‘AdChoices’ in the bottom right suggests this is only temporary. Messenger has moved from the bottom of the left column to a dedicated messaging pane (next to the settings gear) where it is joined by the new Facebook messenger plug-in.

Facebook messenger isn’t the only new integrated feature. also allows Skype communications straight from the Chat panel and Office 365 is built-in to allow documents attached to an email to be edited within the email without leaving, which brings it up-to-date with Google Mail and Google Docs. However, Microsoft outdoes both Google and Apple by including 7GB of free storage using SkyDrive (Google Drive and iCloud only offer 5GB).

Unfortunately , Microsoft are still not providing IMAP support, so if you want your mail synchronised across multiple devices you will have to use either the website or a Microsoft supplied app. This is quite disappointing for us here at Mamu Computing as we strive to make technology work smartly to provide more functionality with less input from the user. Although this is a reasonably major feature to be lacking, seems to be doing everything else, and well.

To conclude, is a definite enhancement on Hotmail, bringing it right up-to-date and keeping up the fight against the likes of Google and Yahoo. Not everything is ready to try just yet, but you might want to try out the new Outlook layout for your Hotmail emails.


Linux for the Uninitiated

Linux is for nerds and geeks that know far too much about computers, right? Here at Mamu Computing, we often find Linux to be the operating system of choice for the user at the opposite end of the spectrum – the sort of person that just uses the computer to browse the web, check Facebook and send and recieve emails. It’s true that Linux provides a very fast and powerful system for highly technical users, but it also provides a fast, simple and cheap alternative for the least technical users too.

It’s always a worry when we replace a client’s computer with one that has a significantly different operating system, and we always expect numerous questions. A recent client of ours decided their computer was becoming unbearably slow and was definitely past its best. The computer was a fairly middle of the range computer over five years ago, running Windows XP. The client was a home user with a fairly low demand from the computer and a low level of computer technical knowledge, and as such was not looking to spend much on a replacement computer – preferably under £200.

When it comes to budget computers, custom builds just aren’t as good value for money as the mass produced, off-the-shelf variety. However, we find that Windows PCs that are under £200 can fall quite short on performance, but there are many PCs available without an operating system, which is far better value for money, and Linux is widely available free of charge. In addition to getting better hardware for your money, Linux uses far fewer resources than Windows, further increasing performance. So it’s a no brainer then?

Not exactly. People like to know where they are with their computer and want as little change as possible – the idea of switching to an operating system they haven’t heard of is usually enough to put people off. However, back to our client in question: making the change from Windows XP to Windows 7 is quite a big one: the new look, wording and menu structures are all very different to the old version (for example, My Libraries instead of My Documents), so there’ll always be a learning curve that’s unavoidable without sticking with an old, unsupported operating system. In order to give the client a little more confidence in using Linux we installed a distribution from Ubuntu on the old computer alongside Windows XP so they could try it out. Obviously there were several questions, but they found it simple enough to use and found it considerably quicker than using Windows XP. As such, they decided to have Linux installed on their new computer. Several months later they are very happy with the computer: it’s fast, simple and very reliable.

From our point of view Linux has many advantages: firstly there is no licencing system in place, so there’s no activation or paperwork to be kept safe. Secondly, installing a Linux distribution tends to handle all drivers and peripheral setup with no input from ourselves. When we came to connect the computer up at the client’s home we were delighted to find that even the all-in-one printer was set up by the operating system. The printer was a HP OfficeJet 5610 and simply had to be connected to the computer for the printer, scanner and fax to be set up – that’s real plug-and-play, not the plug-and-play that’s been sold for years that requires installing from CD and a reboot before you can even plug in.

To summarise, we have found Linux to be a well suited solution for many of our less technical customers, offering an easy-to-use operating system that is considerably faster and cheaper than they are used to. We hope to see it become more commonplace so that people are aware of the choices that are available, meaning they can choose the operating system that suits them rather than just opting for the familar Windows or fashionable Mac.