Bespoke

IT Support Greater Manchester

iStock_000019489363Small[1]We are proud to deliver high quality best in class IT support services in the Greater Manchester area.

Operating from our offices in Northenden, we have local advantage and a reputation as trusted IT Support in our sector, providing remote and on-site IT support services to organisations in the local area including Manchester, Altrincham, Stockport, Oldham, Bolton and Bury.

Being located just off the M56 means we have the ability to rapidly attend site at our customer locations in Lancashire and across the north-west. Our pro-active monitoring and IT Service Desk further allows us to deliver support services instantly via remote access.

We offer the full range of IT support functions to SME and Enterprises alike from our manned UK IT Service Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our team of capable IT specialists are a phone call away and are supported by industry leading remote monitoring and server management tools.

Our services include:

• Managed IT services – full cover or modular support to integrate into your existing IT Services function

• IT outsourcing – end-to-end service covering asset management, hosting and full support

• Server/Network/Desktop/laptop/ Hardware Maintenance

• On-site Desk-side Support

• Managed Endpoint Anti-virus Protection & Email Security

• Cloud Backup

• Monthly Reporting and Annual Health Check

• Project Design, Delivery and Management

 

 

Custom built gaming computer on a budget

From time to time we take on little projects aside from our normal day to day support to businesses. Especially if one of our clients has a specific requirement out side of their support contracts.

One of our clients has asked if we can build a computer that serves as a gaming machine but can be used in an office environment. I should mention that our client works mostly from home and has a small network of computers that are all used for business purposes.

Well the answer is yes we can help and as custom computers are getting to be a regular request from our clients we have gained the experience and knowledge to source the correct hardware for the job.

Now if I was given an unlimited budget I could throw money in to the best high end hardware for this project like we have for a previous client on our Hercules model that cost £3,500 to build. However Hercules was built specifically for an entirely different purpose but needed a really high end specification that gaming hardware provides. The budget I have for this particular build is £1,200 and with this budget we can build and source a very well suited computer for the role it will play.

We intend to use the below Hardware but you may notice that there is no case, well this because we had chosen one but thought it inappropriate for an office environment with it’s neon lights and see through panels.

Custom built computer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Motherboard we intend to use and deserves a mention on it’s own is the MSI Z87-G45 Gaming Intel Z87 (Socket 1150)

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Intel® Z87 Express Chipset

  • Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1150 socket
  • Supports DDR3-3000(OC) Memory
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Audio Boost: Reward Your Ears with True Quality
  • Killer Ethernet: Kill Your Lag
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World’s 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA SLI & AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Gaming Device Port: Optimized with Triple Gold-plating for High Polling Rate Gaming Devices
  • Total Fan Control: Optimize All Fan Speed As You Wish
  • Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0: Uncompromised Game Response Performance
  • Fast Boot: Quickly Boot Up & Enter OS in A Few Seconds

Z87_GAMING_06

One feature of this board that is particularly nice is The Killer™ E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high-quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect™, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and the competitive edge. With this exclusive, automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.

Through the detection and prioritization of gaming traffic you can finally fully utilize your network without fear of being kicked from an on-line game because of high ping. This enables true multi-tasking without manually enabling or disabling applications, updates and installations. Killer networking actually allows you to use your PC 24 hours a day.

The Graphics Card
DirectCU II with SSU architecture

20% cooler, 3X quieter

P_500ASUS graphics card engineering leads the industry once again with the introduction of DirectCU II SSU thermal design. Comprising two “S” and one “U” shapes, the new heatpipes are precision shaped for optimal efficiency and heat transference. They are also nickel-plated to minimize oxidization, with their mid-section now placed directly over the GPU die. This design shortens heat transfer travel to lower thermal resistance and create bi-directional flow for up to twice the cooling capacity in the same space as that required by existing graphics card cooler designs. High-conductivity copper used in heatpipe formulation creates tube-like vapor chambers, moving heat to a large aluminium heatsink that features extended fins for multiple points of dissipation. The assembly is further chilled by two high performance but carefully-tuned and sound-dampened fans for faster and quieter cooling.

 

GPU Tweak

Real-time intuitive graphics tuning

  • Shows detailed specs and actual card status with GPU-Z
  • Sync GPU clocks and voltages for easier overclocking
  • Monitoring widget provides real-time detailed multi-parameter info
  • 2D/3D switcher locks cards in 3D mode for higher benchmarks
  • Automatically checks and updates drivers and BIOS versions
  • Stream on-screen action to the web in full HD
The processor

images7X90ZWG1The new Intel Core i7-4770K. It’s the fastest version of the desktop part of Intel’s latest CPU architecture, known as Haswell.

With that comes expectations. This isn’t just a minor tweak or a die shrink. As Intel itself proudly claims, this is the fourth generation of its Core architecture. Unleash the fireworks.

Intel’s 4th gen processor codename: Haswell offers superior performance over the previous generation Ivybridge by up to 10% clock for clock. This astounding performance boost results in performance improvements in multi-tasking, encoding, gaming and multithreaded applications. Intel’s 4th generation processor has improved PCI-Lane 3.0 bandwidth which helps further boost performance of latest generation 3 graphics cards for the ultimate gaming experience.

Over the following weeks we will be posting videos and pictures of how we build the system and configurations.

 

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Backup 14 Terabytes of data

How do you backup 14 terabytes of data?

A client of ours recently approached us for some guidance on how to backup all their data from numerous external HDD’s and data stored on the local computers. The obstacles we faced our 14 terabytes of data and increasing, data stored on different devices and computers and nothing is backed up.

On first inspection of the external HDD’s three of them were old Omega and Seagate that varied between 200 gigabytes to 500 gigabytes, these had been stored and not been used for at least three – four years, alarm bells start ring!!! So firstly we needed to establish if these worked and the data was not corrupt. Fortunately all of them worked and all data was safe, then we had to check the newer external HDD’s ranging from 1 Terabyte – 3 Terabytes again these all worked and although the data was stored all over the place with no order we proceeded to make our recommendation.

Of course with such large amounts of data storing it in the cloud was not an option because of expense and time, so the option we proposed is two NAS drive (Network Attached Storage) don’t get me wrong this option is going to be expensive to achieve with the hardware that is involved and work to set it up not to mention there needs to be two of everything.

We could have chosen two pre-built NAS already assembled with drives installed but we wanted a specific amount of storage with at least 32 terabytes and from what we have discovered not many companies offer this kind of configuration and if they were to modify the specification it would be double the price of our suggested configuration.

So down to the nitty gritty, we opted for the Synology DiskStation DS1813 with 8 drive bays, this would allow us to configure the DiskStation with 8 x 4 Terabytes = 32 Terabytes. We needed one large logical disk with fault tolerance per unit so we opted for a Raid 5 Configuration. This was not an easy decision as it takes a whopping 10 terabytes away from the original 32 terabytes leaving a logical disk of 229367 Gigabytes or just under 23 Terabytes.

Product Features:

  • 211.88 MB/sec Writing, 352.39 MB/sec Reading
  • Four LAN Ports with Link Aggregation Support
  • Scale up to 72TB with Synology DX513
  • Expandable RAM Module (Up to 4GB)
  • CPU Passive Cooling Technology & System Fan Redundancy
  • VMware®, Citrix®, Microsoft® Hyper-V® Ready
  • High Availability and Automatic Failover by SHA
  • Powered by Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM

So bearing in mind that it took nearly 5 years to accumulate 14 terabytes of data which will now be transferred to one of the NAS and with an additional 9 terabytes free space this should allow for further data to be added for at least three to four years.

So one NAS will be used to transfer all the data into one central location, for easy access to historical and current data and one NAS will be used to backup the data stored on the first one. With the NAS drives being able to be networked both units can be stored at different locations, which means we have now provided them with a means to recover lost and deleted data, fault tolerance on the hardware and a means of recovering data should one unit have a disaster.

For the software to manage the backups we will be using Symantec Backup Exec Small Business Edition, firstly it will backup over the network and secondly it will backup individual workstations and thirdly it will backup multiple locations, this is ideal for our purposes as there is no Server to speak at the location other than a basic domain server (SBS Essentials)

 

The DC3217IYE our smallest computer project.

The DC3217IYE our smallest computer project.

Another one of our clients who run a respite care home wanted a computer to show presentations videos to residents, staff and board members but did not want a full computer that was going to take up space. Rather they wanted it to be hidden, small and compact with the least amount of disruption during installation.

After doing some research we came across the DC3217IYE, at first I didn’t think much of this unit whilst reading reviews and it’s specification. Firstly it has some downsides like no sound card only two USB ports and if you want Wi-Fi you need to purchase the upgrade version. However if this unit was to be hidden away and it uses HDMI to connect to a Television it doesn’t really need  sound built in as the HDMI sound driver takes care of that. Two USB ports posed no problem either if you purchase a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse as it only uses one USB port leaving one free for an external HDD.

The Unit comes with a mounting a kit so that you can mount the computer on any modern flat screen TV and it’s very quiet in fact there is no noise from it all. This computer is very fast when it boots up and is a dream to work with, the unit comes with Windows 8 but seems pointless to me unless you have a touch screen, so we ordered it without any OS as the client has a site licence for Windows 7 and it installed like a dream. One thing I should mention is that if you intend to install the OS yourself make sure you have an external CD Drive.

This computer is ideal for schools, board rooms, display stands in fact anywhere you want small, fast and easy to transport with all the power of a full size computer then this unit is what you want. With an i3 Intel Processor, up to 8GB’s memory and SSD Drive this computer will handle anything you can throw at it.

This was another interesting project which the client had a specific criteria and need that we were able to provide a viable solution and a cheap one too with the DC3217IYE costing under £300.

 

 

Part 4 of our Custom Built Computer

Custom Built Computer which we have named Hercules: Conclusion and thoughts.

Now you have seen the critical components of what’s inside our clients custom built computer you should have a good idea of the planning and quality this build is. There are more parts and numerous software goodies that came with the motherboard and Graphics Card but we’ll save that for another article.

Our client has been using the computer for over two weeks now and is absolutely thrilled with it’s performance, although it has to be said the client was more impressed with the fact their IPhone could connect to the computer via Bluetooth tut!!

We have provided the client with exactly what they asked for plus a few additional features they were not expecting, the storage space should last a good few years to come and the upgradability of the computer is second to none.

See some pictures of the finished product

Total cost for Hercules the custom built computer was nearly £3,300 so it’s not your usual desktop computer. The total weight of the computer when we finished was nearly 90ibs and took two people to lift it in to it’s new home. This kind of computer we built for our client is usually used for serious gamers who play high end games but we adapted it to the clients needs. It was a really good interesting project something if we are ever approached with again we would certainly relish the challenge.

Some pictures of the computer in the studio of our client:

Video of our Custom build


So I hope you enjoyed our article and come to read our latest article on the smallest computer we have fitted which is the size of a small CD case. Click here

 

Part 3 Custom Built Computer

More about what’s inside our custom built computer:

Although the Rampage IV motherboard is capable of supporting 64GB’s we installed Corsair Vengeance 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 PC3-15000 C10 1866MHz XMP Quad Channel Kit. This is more than sufficient to meet any software requirements installed on the computer but will allow future upgradability.

corsair-cmz12gx3m3a1600c9_extra1For the processor there was only really one choice which is an Intel Core i7-3930K 3.20GHz (Sandybridge-E) Socket LGA2011 Processor – Retail. Six Core Technology, 3.20GHz clock speed, 12MB L3 Cache, Hyper-Threading Technology, Quad Channel DDR3 Controller, 3 Yr Warranty.77881-1_600_600_120917055606

We chose the retail version because we didn’t want to use the standard cooling fan but instead one of our own choice which is the Thermaltake Frio Advanced Cooler and by coincidence the colour scheme was black and red the same as the other components so we got a bonus, features below:

  • Heat-pipe Direct Touch Technology, Supports 230W Cooling Performance
  • Dual 13cm Over-clocking Fan, PWM controllable with 800~2,000 RPM Speed
  • Universal Socket Compatibility & Accessory Package
  • Universal socket support : Intel: LGA 2011, LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA775AMD: FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2

For storage we installed 4 Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 2TB 64MB Cache SATA 6 Gb/s 7200rpm hard drives making a total of 8 terabytes storage space. However since we installed the computer and the client transferring all externally stored archived data this has used 6 terabytes of the 8 terabytes.

So with this in the mind the client asked for more storage so an additional x4 3 terabytes have been installed making a total of x8 HDD’s with a total of 20 terabytes storage.

This posed no problems as the Cosmos II case allows for 12 HDD’s leaving 4 HDD housing bays spare, which is exactly how we planned the custom built computer, even if upgrading storage was a lot sooner than we expected.

Click here for last and final part 4 with pictures of the finished custom build.

 

 

Custom Built Computer Part 2

Custom built computer continued

What’s inside:

To compliment the Coolermaster Cosmos II Case we purchased a Rampage IV Extreme Motherboard, an i7 Intel Processor and 32 Gigabytes of memory. The motherboard can support 64GB’s which fitted our criteria of future upgradeability and below you can see all the other specifications on this amazing motherboard that exactly fitted our purpose.

product_overview

With it’s:

  • 4- Way SLI Crossfire
  • 8 Sata connections
  • 20 USB 2 and 3 connectors
  • 64 GBs upgradeability

We knew instantly this board was the one we needed, the ASUS Rampage is by design a Gaming motherboard but can be used perfectly for what we needed. It was an absolute dream to fit and configure. The only downside to the board is that if you are fitting a non standard Intel processor cooling fan and want to install a high performance custom cooling fan like we did, then depending on the fan you loose 2 memory slots from either side of the board due to the size of the heat sink mounting on the high performance cooling fan.

This does not pose too much of a problem as if and when the other 4 slots are needed to upgrade to 64GB’s we can always replace the cooling fan or even switch to water cooled as the Coolermaster Cosmos II has radiator mountings and coverings to facilitate this.

The Graphics Card

For the graphics we opted for the Asus GEFORCE GTX 770 with 2GB

The GeForce GTX 770 ships with the highest reference clock speeds of any NVIDIA GPU to date. Its core is clocked at 1046 MHz, with a GPU Boost frequency of 1085 and a blisteringly fast 7.00 GHz memory that churns out 224 GB/s of memory bandwidth. The card features 2 GB of memory, but 4 GB variants could come out pretty soon allowing for future upgradability.

  • DirectCU II with precision-shaped SSU heatpipes utilizes highly-conductive copper and directly-centered GPU placement to double cooling efficiency in the same space
  • DIGI+ VRM with 10-phase Super Alloy Power precise digital delivery for superior efficiency, reliability, and performance
  • GPU Tweak helps you modify clock speeds, voltages, fan performance and more, all via an intuitive interface

Click to read Part 3

Custom Built Computer

Hello all, firstly apologies for the long absence of posts, fortunately we have been busy with new clients and some interesting projects that has prompted us to write about them. The first project we have been working on has been a real joy because of the 2,700 pound budget we were given to build a custom built computer for one of our clients.

Our client is a professional photographer and is well established in the magazine and catalogue industries, so the client is very busy at all times and has a specific requirement for their business needs in the way that the client edits the photographs and stores all the pictures.

Our client who has been with us for around four years and in that time we have provided support to her computers and have when needed upgraded the machines to suit their needs. This usually involved adding extra storage and memory, however after us pushing the machines to their limit the client has  finally taken our advice to upgrade their equipment.

So we were given specific instructions on the criteria and requirements the computer needed to meet which were:

  1. High performance
  2. Plenty of storage space
  3. High end graphics
  4. Upgradability
  5. Multiple HD Monitor capability
  6. Plenty of USB 2 and 3
  7. Windows 7 64bit

So the first thing we had to decide was what kind of hardware we would use and the upgradability it would provide. So lets break it down, we knew the hardware required would not fit just any case but would require plenty of space to work inside, plenty of cable management, lots of cooling fans, maybe even water-cooled and most importantly lots of HDD slots.

After some searching and reading reviews we chose the Cooler Master Cosmos II

  • Stylish and streamlined race-car inspired design
  • Brushed aluminium and steel for strength and elegance
  • Airflow optimized design
  • Supports up to 10 fans and 13 HDDs (2 from X-dock)
  • Supports 4 Way SLI/CF
  • Supports XL-ATX / SSI CEB / SSI EEB boards
  • Advanced Control Panel:
  • 4 channel fan speed control
  • I/O (USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 4, e-SATA, Fan LED on/off switch)

The case is Cooler Masters flagship and at £300 for the case and £120 for the PSU it’s not cheap however the case is a real joy to work with and the design and thought that has gone in to it is second to none. Having said that the case is no lightweight and weighs in at 50lbs when it’s empty and the dimensions are 344(W) x 704(H) x 664(D)mm / 13.5 x 27.7 x 26.1 inch, so I wouldn’t recommend one of these unless you were spending some real money on what’s going inside it.

Click here for Part 2 of our article