5 easy hacks for your PC and Wi-Fi network

Speed up your CPU and graphics card, add advanced features to your wireless router, boost your network's range, and tweak your PC's power consumption for extra efficiency.

Save Energy by Underclocking Your PC

Difficulty: Easy Time: 20 minutes

I like getting faster performance out of a system for free, but two compelling advantages can make underclocking your hardware an even better idea: energy savings and heat reduction. Sure, the energy savings is small, but it could make a real difference if everyone did it. You might also underclock a system for a home theater, where silent systems are ideal; a slower CPU means lower temperatures, and that translates into quieter fans.

To underclock your system, follow the overclocking tips discussed previously, but reduce your chip's speed rather than increasing it. Or visit the Power Options control panel in Windows and change the advanced settings. Click Processor power management, and click the minimum and maximum processor states to change their value. Set the values from 5 percent to 100 percent in order to let the CPU speed up when needed, or play with a lower maximum if you use the PC primarily for e-mail and other basic tasks.

Boost Your Wi-Fi Network's Range With an Antenna Add-On

Difficulty: Easy Time: 45 minutes

Fitting a simple, passive, parabolic reflector around your wireless antenna can focus the signal exactly where you want it. Your network will reach farther, and the addition can even improve your network security.

Download Parabola Calculator to help you figure out the correct antenna shape. Enter a diameter and depth to represent the maximum size of reflector that your router's antenna(s) can physically accommodate. The software will create a table of points for you to plot onto graph paper. Cut out the inside of the parabola shape on two pieces of cardboard. Then cut a smooth piece of metal to serve as the reflector. Curve the metal into a U-shape around the guides, and glue it in place. Cut small holes into the guides at the focal point, and mount the reflector.

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