I've created this thread to help give some brief explinations on the parts of the computer for upgrading purposes and for a better general understanding of how your computer works together. This may become more in depth as i think of things so hang in there.Central Processing Unit (or CPU)
This is the brain of the computer, the component that does all the math and number crunching. Obviously the better this component is the better your computer will be. There are two main companies that make Processors. Those being AMD and Intel. Intel is an older and larger company than AMD but don't let that be the decision maker for you.
Dual core CPUs are a new breed of CPU. These are theoretically speaking two single cores on one processor. You may think this means double the power but that would be incorrect. The CPU can still only run as fast as it's fastest core, which are generally slower than single cores. It's like horses. If you've got a horse that can run 25mph and you add another horse that can run 25mph it doesn't mean you will be moving at 50mph. It simply means you now have two horses that can share the load making it easier for each horse to pull, and if necessary, pull more.
Most would point out that at this point there is little reason to buy a dual core CPU unless you are a very heavy multitasker, because a single core CPU will perform better in most applications until applications come out that support dual core technology. This may be seen within a year.
Dual Core processors are now on par and better than single core processors. Intel has revamped thier dual core technology and AMD dual cores have always been good chips. Another simple yet important part of the CPU is the cache. In general the higher the cache the better the CPU can run. This is something that may be overlooked by the novice, but if you see two chips that appear to be the same in speed then look at cache to determinate which chip is better. Cache is like memory that's on the actual CPU, it's faster by several thousand times than RAM so you can see why it's important.
Another important thing to mention are sockets. Sockets are the "ports" that the processors sit on a motherboard. Older sockets work with older CPUs, and vice versa. Only certain chips/processors will fit into certain sockets. The following is a list of AMD and Intel Sockets:AMD:
Make sure you check with the chip and your motherboard on which socket you have/need.Motherboard:
This is the component that nearly everything in the computer attaches to. Think of this as a chassy/frame on a car. It's the building blocks, the thing that needs to be compatible with everything else in the system. Today motherboards are generally split into 3 or 4 different types. However you will only need to worry about two of these. The motherboards will only be compatible with an AMD or Intel CPU. The four types of Motherboard that are generally used are AMD desktop, Intel Desktop, AMD server, and Intel Server. Server boards are different than Desktop boards and you won't need to worry about them if you're here to read about your desktop PC. Now AMD and Intel are both respectable chip manufacturers so theres really no way to go "wrong". Picking out a motherboard can depend on many things. Are you carrying over any old hardware to the new PC? What kind of CPU are you going to be using? How many PCI slots will you need? Will you be using new PCI-Express graphics (explained later) or AGP, or even PCI? etc. Looking for a motherboard may be the most complicated process in selecting parts for a computer. A list of reputable motherboard manufacturers follows:Asus
(List is incomplete)Graphics cards:
Graphics cards are like miniature computers that help take some of the load off of the rest of your computer by rendering the display seen on your screen. In essence the graphics card is a miniature motherboard, ram, and CPU all in one. Most, if not all, newer games will need one of these. There are two types of graphics systems. Integrated and Stand-Alone. Integrated graphics is a graphics card literally built into your motherboard. These are lower performing chips and use up the CPU and memory in a system. These are the two main reasons these are not used for games. Stand-Alone cards are graphics cards that fit into a motherboard by means of a slot. Whether this slot is PCI, AGP, or PCIe. These are the preferred cards for most gamers. These cards however are an extra expense, ranging from $50-$800. This is often the reason most people don't have the latest graphics card. Stand-Alone cards are produced by two major companies, nVidia and ATI. Some people prefer one company, some prefer the other, and some prefer to choose cards based upon how well they perform. Lately these two have been having a back and forth battle for superiority and are creating cards like mad, which is only good for us, the consumer. Below are some reputable companies that make video cards with ATI and nVidia chipsets:nVidia:
Memory is an often overlooked but important part of a system. Generally speaking the more memory your computer has the more smoothly it will run. Memory or RAM has the job of keeping track of recently used commands that the CPU has processed. In this way the CPU can simply refer to the ram (as it's faster) instead of the harddrive making things run much quicker. There are currently three types of ram, one of which is completely outdated. SDram, DDR ram, and DDR2 ram. SDram is rarely used except in old systems and may be hard to find and replace, or add more. DDR ram is generally used in only AMD based computers, though some older Intel computers use this type of ram as well. DDR2 ram is used in most newer computers
and is as of right now only compatible with Intel, or should i say, Intel is the only one compatible with DDR2
AMD2 processors are now compatable with DDR2 RAM. Memory comes in different speeds and sizes. Generally speaking the highest DDR ram you will need is DDR400 (PC3200) and the highest DDR2 is yet to be determined but the highest commercially used is DDR2-667 though there is even DDR2-1000. The amount is also very important. Most brand name systems will come with a standard 512MB which is hardy enough to run windows and solitaire at the same time these days. Most would tell you that 1GB (or 2x 512MB) should be enough for most games and applications. Others however will tell you that it's probably a good idea to go ahead and get 2GB (or 2x 1GB or 4x 512MB). Remember the more memory you have the more stable your computer will run, up to a point. It can only become so smooth, 2GBs seems to be all you will be needing for a while so it would be ill advised to go past that mark at this time. Some reputable manufacturers are listed below:OCZ
(This list is incomplete)Power Supply Units (PSU):
Power Supply Units or PSUs are also generally overlooked these days. A good PSU will make sure your computer has the energy it needs and that it will run stable and safely. Generally speaking the more you invest in a PSU the more power is available and it's more stable/safe as well. However spending more than $120 may be a tad ridiculous. Most good PSUs will range from $50 and $120. Depending on your system you may need a PSU that provides more power than most. If you are unsure of the power you need it's good to be safe and get something around the 500-550W area. Most people will say that a PSU at or better than 450W will be sufficient, and this is a good rule, as of today, to go by. Below are a list of reputable PSU manufacturers:Coolermaster
PC Power and Cooling
(This list is incomplete)Hard drives:
Most harddrives will work with most any system. There are two major different kinds of harddrives, PATA (Parallel ATA 100, 133), and SATA (Serial ATA 150, 3.0Gb/s). Each type has a different type of connector and will need to be compatible with your motherboard. Most older computers have PATA (or just ATA) hard drives but newer ones now come with SATA (or Serial ATA) harddrives. The faster the read write time the faster the hard drive can load and save files. This read and write time can be seen in the type of harddrive, i.e. 100Mb/s, 133Mb/s, 150Mb/s, and 3Gb/s. Speed of rotation is also important in a harddrive. Speeds range from 5000rpm to 12000rpm. The higher the speed the more expensive the harddrive, but also the faster the harddrive is. Generally 5000rpm hard drives are found in laptops, 7200 rpm are the norm for most desktop PCs, and 10,000 and 12,000 rpm are found in servers or more high end desktop PCs. Any harddrive should work fine for running a game and each one will have little effect on the performance of a game. So long as it's at least a 7200 rpm HD and is compatible with your motherboard you should be all right. Another important thing to consider is the cache of each hard drive. The more cache the smooth loads and saves will be on a computer can even speed up these processes. The higher the cache the better. 8MB is usually seen as a good medium for todays harddrives. The last thing and easiest to understand is the size of a hard drive. The more space it has the more room you have to install and store things on your computer. a 40GB hard drive has half the space of an 80GB. To help you understand how much space you will be needing, most games today take upwards of 5GB each to install on a machine. Again, a list of reputable manufacturers follows:WesternDigital (WD)
Cases are a fairly simple concept. Find one that provides decent cooling and one that is compatible with the size of your Motherboard. Generally speaking you will want air to flow from the bottom/front of your case to the upper/back This helps to move air through your computer and keep your components cool. Look for cases with the ability to have a fan in each of those two areas. This was not mentioned in the motherboard section, but this seems to be a more fitting area: Most desktop gaming PCs will have an ATX type motherboard which will need a mid to full tower case. However, some people own Mini ATX motherboards and should look for mini to mid tower cases. Some decent brand names for cases are below:Thermaltake
AerocoolInformation and Links
Provided below are more links to the various topics above to help cover the things i didn't have time to:RamGraphics CardCPUMotherboardHard driveHow does a computer work?
- A great site that helps to explain computers and it's components.How PCs Work
-Another great site on how computers work.
Buying a new PSU and not sure how much power you need? Try this.
More information on Power supplies can be found here.
Here are a few sites for simple troubleshooting help:Games: How to troubleshoot Setup problems in Microsoft gamesHow to Troubleshoot CD-ROM or DVD-ROM Read IssuesGames: How to perform a clean boot to prevent background programs from interfering with play
Motherboard, Graphics cards, and memory troubleshooting articles can be found here.Nightmare2013's Codec Reset Utility and DXDIAG Interpritation Guide.
For finding out what all components your computer consists of use Everest Home Edition, found here.
For keeping spyware off of your computer use spybot search and destroy, found here.
For finding ad ware and taking it off of your computer use adaware SE, found here.
For a browser that helps protect better than Internet Explorer get Firefox
For those confused about any Internet or computer related acronyms and abbreviations check out this
For buying new parts go to these recommended sites:
, Tiger Direct (US)
Canada- TigerDirect (CA)
, PC Canada
, Canada Computers
(don't let the name scare you)
If your looking for sites with reputable reviews and other interesting PC articles try these:Tom's HardwareAnand TechThe Inquirer-Updates will be added-