Feb 25, 2011

The basic Hardware for computer building


The central processing unit (CPU) is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, and is the primary element carrying out the computer's functions. The central processing unit carries out each instruction of the program in sequence, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The form, design and implementation of CPUs have changed dramatically since the earliest examples, but their fundamental operation remains much the same.


In personal computers, a motherboard is the central printed circuit board (PCB) in many modern computers and holds many of the crucial components of the system, while providing connectors for other peripherals. The motherboard is sometimes alternatively known as the main board, system board, or, on Apple computers, the logic board. It is also sometimes casually shortened to mobo.


Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order (that is, at random). "Random" refers to the idea that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether it is related to the previous piece of data.


A modern computer power supply is a switch with on and off supply designed to convert 110-240 V AC power from the mains supply, to several output both positive (and historically negative) DC voltages in the range + 12V,-12V,+5V,+5VBs and +3.3V. The first generation of computers power supplies were linear devices, but as cost became a driving factor, and weight became important, switched mode supplies are almost universal.


A graphics processing unit or GPU (also occasionally called visual processing unit or VPU) is a specialized microprocessor that offloads and accelerates graphics rendering from the central (micro-)processor. It is used in embedded systems, mobile phones, personal computers, workstations, and game consoles. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating computer graphics, and their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than general-purpose CPUs for a range of complex algorithms. In a personal computer, a GPU can be present on a video card, or it can be on the motherboard, or as in certain Core Intel CPUs, on a CPU die. More than 90% of new desktop and notebook computers have integrated GPUs, which are usually far less powerful than those on a dedicated video card.


A hard disk drive (HDD) is a non-volatile, random access device for digital data. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the platters.


An operating system (OS) is software, consisting of programs and data, that runs on computers and manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for efficient execution of various application software.

Next we'll start looking at specific hardware parts.


The Hardwareguide (part 5 of 11)

The RAM (random-access-memory)

Size: 2GB for budget users, 4GB for normal, 8GB for enthusiasts. Getting more does not improve performance, other than in extremely specific situations in a few professional programs.

Corsair Dominator DDR3

Brand: Corsair, G.Skill and Kingston have well-known reputation for quality control. Crucial and Mushkin are also good. Getting RAM from another manufacture is fine as well.
Kingston Hyper X DDR3

Speed: Get DDR3 RAM. 1333MHz or 1600MHz makes little difference: get what is cheaper. Same goes for CAS latencies. DDR3 usually runs at 1066MHz by default: You must OC to get higher.

G.Skill Trident DDR3

Tips: RAM is also very easy to replace or upgrade. If you need to save up, drop to 2GB, and add more when you have the funds for it. Mixing different types of RAM is not recommended.

Feb 24, 2011

The Hardwareguide (part 4 of 11)

The PSU (power supply unit)

Which:  For the price: Antec, Corsair and Seasonic are very good. OCZ/PCP&C and Silverstone are ok. HEC and CM are acceptable. Get something that is 80+. Do not skimp on PSUs: Generic ones fry.

Corsair TX850 v2 850w

Calculating: Use a PSU calculator to determine your power requirement and add some headroom. Or follow the amount shown in this guide (pre-calculated for you).

Omissions: Many, many PSUs are excluded from the recommendations. The majority of those are excluded because of the high price, even tough they may have better noise/ripple/efficiencies.
Seasonic X series, Corsair HX/Gold/Professional series, high-end Enermax PSUs, are all EXCELLENT PSUs, but go for the 2x or 3x the price of what is recommended here.

Seasonic SS-850HT 850w

Modularity: Normal PSUs have all (or most) of the power cords fixed. Modular PSUs allow you to add or remove cords for less clutter and improved airflow, but usually have a price minimum.

Warning: The Antec Basiq (for the Destitute build) has only 1 SATA connector, though newer models are reported to have 3. Make sure that you are ok with this before purchasing.

Oddity: The Antec CP-850 is a nice, cheap, excellent performing PSU, but it is ONLY COMPATIBLE with: Antec 1200/P183/P193. If (and ONLY if) you want those cases, then give this PSU a look.

XFX Black Edition 850w

Tips: A PSU only provides as much power as is needed. Example: A 700w PSU provieds only 300w when the PC needs only 300w.
If there is a combo or a sale on a PSU that provides more power than you need but is cheaper overall, then by all means get it. Some PSUs do NOT come with a power cord, so check first.
A badly chosen PSU can fry your entire machine. Choosing to save $20 by getting a bad-quality or underpowered PSU might cost you your entire $1000 setup.

Feb 22, 2011

The Hardwareguide (part 3 of 11)

The GPU (graphics processing unit)

Brands: Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte and MSI are very good. Sapphire, XFX and Zotac are good. HIS is ok. Look for the better heatsink/fan and warranty.

Tiers: A general guide: Sub $100 is low tier, $100-$200 is mid tier, $200-$300 is high tiee, and above $300 is very-high/flagship tier.
Low tier: Play old (pre 2006) games easily, and modern games on low or not at all. Mid tier: Play Modern games, at medium settings. High tier: Play modern games on medium or high.

EVGA GeForce GTX 580

Resolution: Your res has the biggest effect on your GPU's performance. 1920x1080 is very popular at the moment, but a mid-tier/low-tier GPU can still play modern games on reduced res.

Warning: Recommendations are valid at the shown prices. If a recommendation is only available at a higher price, or an alternative is cheaper than usual, then these recommendations is no loner apply.

Alternatives: Consider switching to these "great, but" cards if you can find them with good discounts/combos: 240, 250, 4850, 4870, 5850, 470

HSF: Most graphic cards with the reference designs have similar or identical performance/noise/temps, since the internals and HSF are similar, Only the sticker outside is different.
Cards with custom HSFs may be slightly more expensive, but may have superior cooling, better OC-ability and lower noise. Examples: MSI's Twin Frozr II design, Gigabyte's Windforce design.

ASUS HD 5970

Tips: When comparing GPU benchmark, pay more attention to game performance at your preferred resolutions. Place less emphasis on GPU performance in synthetic benchmarks.
SLI/CF setups may trump single cards in performance, but may have microstutter/temp/noise/power draw/future upgrade issues. A 580 is a great card but its price is ridiculously high.

The best performance for your $$$ is usually in the mid-tier cards. The higher the card, the larger the price increment goes. The priciest cards usually have terrible performance/price.
A general rule: Mid-tier cards scale better than high-tier. nVidia also has (generally) better driver support under Linux.

Remember to make sure your PSU can power your cards (and has enough cables if SLI/Crossfire), and that your case can fit them and provide adequate cooling.

Feb 18, 2011

The Hardwareguide (part 2 of 11)

The CPU (central processing unit)

Get a CPU that suits your needs. Most of the people buying high-end CPUs do not fully utilize them, and could have easily chosen something adequate for a lower price.

Most games utilize only 1 or 2 cores. A few modern games (future games mostly certainly) utilize more. Getting a CPU with more cores will not necessarily improve your gaming performance.

Modern hames are more GPU-bottlenecked. For better gaming performance, allocate more of your budget to GPU than CPU. Going higher than i5 brings little or no benefit in games.

Intel Core i5 and i7 CPU

Do not get hexacores yet. The i5/i7 CPUs are better than the AMD hexacores for the same prices, and the Intel hexacores cost too much to be justified.

Athlon II's are great for budget build. Phenom II's for mid-tier build, and the i5s for high-end. The i7s are for professionals/enthusiasts who can fully utilize the computer power.

AMD Phenom II X4 and Athlon II X4

The top CPUs (i7) usually have hyper-threading, allowing for more threads. This may give major boost in some programs, but may not necessarily improve gaming performance.

Feb 16, 2011

Guide for a "great" computer (budget $716)

Ok, today we'll see what parts we can buy to build a "great" PC with a budget of $716. 
  • Motherboard; MSI 870A-G54 which costs $99 Or a ASUS M4A89GTD for $145
  • CPU; Phenom II x4 955 BE for $145 or a Phenom II x4 965 BE for $160
  • PSU; Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W  for $70 or a Seasonic S12II 620 Bronze 620W for $70  Or any 80+ 600w+ PSU.
  • Case; Lian Li K58/W for $70 or CM690 II for $70 or Lian Li PC-K62 for $99
  • GPU; 6870 for $220 or a 560 TI for $250 or a 6950 for $260
  • RAM; 4 GB DD3 $42
  • HDD; 1TB for $70
TOTAL: $ 716*

Feb 15, 2011

Guide for a very good computer (budget $666)

Ok, today we'll see how we can build a "very good" tower with a budget of $666 (no pun intended). 
  • Motherboard; MSI 870A-G54 which costs $99 Or a GIGABYTE 890GPA-UD3H for $135
  • CPU; Phenom II x4 955 BE for $145 or a Phenom II x4 965 BE for $160
  • PSU; SeaSonic S12II 520 520w  for $60 Or any 80+ 500w+ PSU.
  • Case; Lian Li K58/W for $70 or CM690 II for $70
  • GPU; 6850 for $180 or a 460 (1 GB) for $180
  • RAM; 4 GB DD3 $42
  • HDD; 1TB for $70
TOTAL: $ 666*

*prices taken from newegg.com