Basics of Personal
This is not to say that PC technology is terribly hard to learn. All you need to know is the how a basic PC is set up, and what components are required. The personal computer (PC) is one complex piece of machinery. Its made up of many individual components that will baffle the uninitiated. To learn about PCs, one has to have a desire to learn and experiment - it took me at several years before I got comfortable with building and maintaining my own computers.
After learning the basics, its a
matter of self experimentation and reading - with time, you'll be one of the
pros! This article aims to provide you with at least some basic knowledge of PCs
so that you can move on to learn more if you wish.
The motherboard is one of the most
important components in your PC. The motherboard is the glue that brings all the
separate PC components together. There are several factors you need to look at
when choosing motherboards, like the form factor (usually ATX), supported CPU,
bus speed, supported RAM, form factor, built-in sound/video/LAN. You can learn
more about how to select good motherboards in
my motherboard guide.
The CPU is another important
component, since it is the 'brain' of your PC. You'll want to look at either
Intel or AMD CPUs. The latest CPU from Intel is the Pentium 4, while that from
AMD is the Athlon 64. Both are excellent processors. For further reading, you
may also want to check out my CPU guide here.
The Computer Case
The computer case is your
computer's housing. You need this to store your components, the largest of which
is your motherboard. These days, the PC cases out there come in ATX form, which
means they can accomodate ATX motherboards. Learn
how to choose a good computer
Computer memory is also called RAM
(Random Access Memory) - think
of it as the storage area in the computer's brain. Typically, RAM sizes nowadays
come up to 512 MB to 1 GB on average. Computers which are run as full servers
typically have memory in the range of 4 GB or more. What are the factors to
consider when selecting computer memory? You'll find out in
this article on computer memory.
The monitor will be the most
expensive component in your system. Newer monitors tend to have large 17-inch or
19-inch LCD screens which are easy on the eyes. There are also conventional CRT
monitors which are bulkier but cost much less. If you want to know more about
the difference between CRT and LCD monitors,
this article on computer monitors will be of help to
Hard drives and Floppy Drives
A hard drive is essential for
storing your system's data, including the operation system software. Hard drives
are extremely sensitive devices and prone to failure, so get your hard drives
from respected brands like Seagate, Maxtor and IBM. Floppy drives are important
for reading 5.25 inch diskettes - these are fast becoming obsolete with the
increasing commercial adoption of USB storage devices like Pen Drives. Still,
for a basic computer, I'd still say the floppy drive is necessary. You'll also
want to read more about selecting a good
hard drive here.
A CD-ROM drive used to be an
'optional extra' in computers - it is no longer so. Most software packages come
in CD format, so you must have a CD-ROM drive to read them. Typically, CD-ROM
drives today need to be at least 24X speed to keep up with the newer software
applications out there.
The Video Card
Unless you have built-in video on
your motherboard, the video card is a must have component because it displays
images on your monitor. The latest video cards support 3D graphics rendering and
games - they are also the fastest changing technology in the PC world. Learn
more about selecting video cards here.
The Keyboard and Mouse
These two input devices are
obviously needed, otherwise you can't interact with the computer system. These
components are fairly standard stuff and can be purchased at pretty cheap
Next, there are the optional hardware components that need not be in every computer setup. These include: the sound card, the LAN card, as well as CD writers and DVD writers. Without them, the computer system will still be able to function.
The Sound Card
The LAN Card
The CD Writer and DVD Writer
Wow, that's a lot of components we've covered! Considering the huge array of computer products out there, it can prove to be very confusing to the beginner. I hope this article sums up the types of PC hardware available in the market and gives you some idea of what you will and will not need to buy.