16 PC mysteries solved!

Our digital detectives uncover the truth behind some of tech's most baffling questions.

By Alex Wawro, PC World |  Hardware, HDTV, PCs

Why do I have to reactivate software after upgrading my motherboard?

Most programs link their serial key to the computer you install them on­--and most software vendors tie your unique product key to your PC's MAC address, which your ethernet adapter generates. Some apps remain tied to the serial volume number of your hard drive, but many vendors prefer to use the MAC address be­­cause it is unique to your PC and is easy to transmit to the vendor's website when you register your software online. The ethernet adapter is usually part of the motherboard; when you up­­grade the board, you obtain a new MAC address, and many of your applications must be reactivated.

To combat software piracy, some PC games require you to reactivate them and to verify your identity after a hardware change. Also, some game publishers now require players to be constantly connected to the publisher's servers to play their games.

What is a DisplayPort connection, and how does it affect me?

If you recently purchased a new PC or monitor, you may be mystified by the "DP" or "Display­Port" connection on your new device. This component is exactly what it sounds like: a digital multimedia interface for shuttling data between your PC and your display.

Introduced in 2008, DisplayPort is an open industry standard that companies such as Apple, HP, Intel, and Samsung support. But we have VGA, DVI, HDMI, and now Thunderbolt cables for connecting computers, tablets, and smartphones to monitors and HDTVs. So why should you use DisplayPort instead of a standard DVI cable?

In the first place, the technology is just plain better. DisplayPort can deliver display data to your monitor or HDTV more efficiently than DVI or VGA can, because it transfers signal data to your display in discrete packets rather than in a steady stream. Each data packet contains its own time stamp, which helps your devices assemble the data more easily into what they're supposed to display on screen. The data-packet approach also reduces distortion and image degradation, and it allows developers to modify how DisplayPort transmits their data. DisplayPort cables can carry audio data as well as video data, and they're compatible with most popular display interfaces, if you're willing to purchase an adapter. Consequently you can hook up your new graphics card with DisplayPort connectors to an old VGA/DVI monitor, though most major manufacturers plan to phase out VGA and DVI in the next decade in favor of DisplayPort.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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