Thursday, September 03, 2009

Essential Apps (all freeware)

I've compiled a list of the main apps/utilities I use and recommend. I see multiple posts in the forums from new owners asking what monitoring app to use, etc. This list should cover all of the basics.

1. HWMonitor - a small app used to monitor CPU/GPU temps. It should be noted that HWMonitor will require a bit of tweaking for proper reporting of CPU temps. Once you launch HWMonitor for the first time, it creates a config file. If you have a P8600, P8700, T9600 or T9800 CPU in your M17x you will need to open the config file using notepad and edit the following line:


Change the default value of 100.0 to 105.0. This will ensure HWMonitor is reporting the correct temperature of your CPU. For the Q9000 the TJMAX value can be left at default and no editing is required. I am still trying to locate the TJMAX value for the Q9100 and QX9300 CPUs. Once you have made the change in value, save the file and then open the file properties by right-clicking on it. Change it to a 'read only'. This will prevent it from being overwritten by the app the next time it is launched. Don't ask me why this is...

2. Auslogic's Disk Defrag - a very fast alternative to Vista's own Disk Defrag

3. GPU-Z - a lightweight utility which can be used to check clock speeds of your GPUs. Note: some of the info from the main window will be missing or reported incorrectly. This will hopefully be fixed in a future update. Still a great utility to verify your current clock speeds.

4. CPU-Z - another handy utility from the makers of HWMonitor, this little app will display info on your current CPU clocks/multiplier along with info on installed RAM, etc.

5. CCleaner - of all the registry cleaning tools I have tested, CCleaner is the safest and most effective of the bunch. This one I use almost daily to ensure the registry is free of old/non-essential entries. It can also be used to quickly access and enable/disable startup items.

6. Recuva - another top app from the makers of CCleaner, this utility can be used to restore files that have been accidentally deleted from your computer, memory cards, mp3 players, etc. If you've ever accidentally deleted an image from a camera memory card and needed to recover it, this is the app to have installed.

7. ExtractNow - is a great compliment to Vista's built-in .zip archive support. I use this one for all the .rar files I encounter. It supports the following formats: ZIP, RAR, ISO, BIN, IMG, IMA, IMZ, 7Z, ACE, JAR, GZ, LZH, LHA, TAR and SIT. I leave .zip archives to Vista, but the others are handled by ExtractNow.

8. Notepad++ - This is one of the best freeware source code editors I have ever used. This little app is essential when it comes to modding INF files and other formats. It also features a very handy built-in 'Compare' feature.

9. Stardock's LogonStudio Vista - this cool app is a lot of fun. You can take any .jpeg file and turn it into a Vista Logon screen. I will be posting a few Alienware M17x logon screens I have put together and this will be required if you want to try them out. Take a look, this app is great. Did I mention the app does not have to be running in the background? Launch it, set your Logon Screen and hit apply. That's it.

There you have it - my recommended freeware app list. If I think of any others I'll update the list.