This guide is intended to help those who are not very familiar with the internal components of a typical computer system understand what each part
represents. Even those with advanced knowledge of computer hardware can use this as a check-list when they are building their own computer or buying a
new one. Operating System (OS) information is only included for Windows as this is the most widely used. Nevertheless, the hardware components are the
same and can still be useful for MAC/Linux/Other users.
1. The Processor
Commonly referred to as the CPU (central processing unit). The brain of the computer. This is the component that sends/receives messages to other
parts of the system and is critical for the overall functioning of the computer system.
do not worry too much about the numbers, most modern chips will do the job. Intel and AMD are the major competing brands. Intel
is more expensive, but is considered by most experts to be the superior choice. The brand you choose will affect the other parts of your system as
they need to be compatible.
decide whether you want to over clock. Ensure your choice of CPU is compatible with other system parts such as the motherboard.
For example, an LGA 1155 processer is only compatible with a socket 1155 motherboard. Keep in mind that the newer LGA 2011 processors tend not to come
with their own fan and you will need to purchase a cooler separately.
2. The Motherboard
Also referred to as the mainboard, or simply board. This is the piece of hardware that holds all of your internal components together and allows them
to function as a system.
do not worry too much about the features. Just make sure it has USB 3.0 connectivity, a sound card, a LAN port, and at least one
PCI-express slot if you are planning on using it for gaming.
perhaps the most important choice which will affect almost everything you want to achieve with your new system. You might want
to consider USB 3.0 connectivity, multiple PCI-express slots (for CrossfireX/SLI setups), extra slots for sound cards, network cards or other devices.
Take note of the number of DIMM slots and the maximum memory capacity that the board supports.
3. Random Access Memory (RAM)
A form of memory the computer uses to store information and carry out functions in real time. It is the amount of information a computer can openly
handle at any one time.
Most modern computers should come with at least 4GB of RAM. 2GB is fine if you are only using the computer for basic tasks.
If you are running 32-bit version of Windows, then anything more than 4GB is a waste. If you are running a 64-bit version, then
8GB should suffice, though you may wish to go as high as 16-32GB depending on how heavy your use will be. Generally the more the better.
4. Storage Device
Solid-state drive (SSD) – a newer, faster and more expensive flash-based type of long-term storage. Typically these are a lot smaller in capacity
than HDDs, and are good for running the Operating System (OS) as well as your favourite applications and games. Due to their typically small size,
they are best complemented with an HDD to store extra data.
Hard-disk drive (HDD) – the standard mechanical form of long-term storage. Modern HDDs are still decent on their own, but they generally are slower
at reading and writing data compared to SSDs.
most modern drives have more than enough space for the casual user and most new computers will come with at least 500GB of
storage. Be aware if your OS is running off an SSD or HDD as this will limit the amount of space you can use to install/run applications. SSD is a
luxury for the casual user and is not necessary.
you may want to use an SSD for running your OS and a few games. Keep the HDD for photos, documents, mp3s and videos. Keep in
mind that the capacity of the SSD/HDD will be lower than advertised when formatted, as well as space for the OS files that run the system.
5. Optical Drive
Devices such as CD-ROM/DVD/Blue Ray readers and/or writers. These are used for reading and copying data from CDs/DVDs/Blue Ray discs. Typically the OS
will be installed via a disc and some applications too.
don't worry too much, but make sure the drive can at least read DVDs (most games/software will come on DVDs these days.)
decide whether you want to be able to watch Blue Ray discs or make your own discs. Having a drive that can Read (view) Blue Ray
discs is a cheap alternative to a standalone player.
6. Power Supply
Also referred to as the PSU, this is the component that provides the energy needed to power up the overall system and any peripherals.
While a very important component, don't worry to much about this because most modern computers will come with a power supply that
can handle the other parts. Modern computers have at least a 550W power supply.
If you are going to use a moderate range card and only a few devices, then go for a 650W supply. If you are using lots of
peripherals, then go with a 750W supply. If you plan to use a high-end video card then you will need at least 850W. If you are going CrossfireX/SLI
then I recommend at least a 1000W supply.
7. Video card
Also known as the graphics card or GPU, this device will determine the picture/video/3d application quality/performance of the system. Most modern
computers come with a graphics processor built on the motherboard which is fine for non-gamers and basic users. Most motherboards will also come with
an expansion slot that can be used to add one or more graphics cards. Older boards use the PCI/AGP interface, while the vast majority of newer ones
use the faster PCI-express (PCIe) interface.
the in-built GPU on the motherboard will be sufficient for basic use. If you using the computer for watching movies then you
might want to invest in a separate graphics card.
an important decision, cards range from as little as $60 to as much as $1500, so the choice is yours in terms of how much money
you want to spend and what you will use the system for.
Also known as the computer tower or chassis, this is the part that holds (and protects) your motherboard, cables and other components, and gives you
easy access to peripherals.
not an important decision. Just be weary of which ports you will have access to at the front of the case (eg. USB 2.0 or USB 3.0
ports), and which you will need to reach around the back to access.
Ensure your case complements the motherboard's I/O front connectors. Also consider if your video card will fit in the case, if
you want a side window and how much room there is for liquid cooling radiators and other accessories/expansions.
edit on 26/10/2012 by Dark Ghost because: formatting