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~ Computer Buyers' Guide ~ - 04-02-2008, 01:36 AM

#*^ Computer Basics & Buying Guide ^*#
V1.4.28092008


I have seen many people getting in to trouble without knowing what actually are their needs, having great expectations for the money they have, end up with worthless rigs for what they pay, disasters like that.
This guide is to give an idea on
1. What specifications to look/what are the basics to know?
2. How to purchase the parts for their computer as to their budget and needs.

Targeted For the Sri Lankan but basics are all the same everywhere.

NOTE that this is only guidance on how and what to choose.

** There are two options when having a new PC.
  • Buy a branded PC like HP,Acer,Megabox,AGC,e-Gate
  • Assembled PC.
This is for the assemblers.

First I will describe what are the essential parts ,how to choose them, basics, name the three main economical categories (Budget/low-end, Mainstream/ mid-end, Gaming/ High-end).At last I will add some more helpful links + examples at the time.

Look out for the purple color text. They are the tips. If you want to get it quickly, reading only them will do.
Parts in Yellow topics contain Basics, Theory and explanations on terms.

To keep this short and sweet, I have skipped explaining some older parts, acronyms and basics. They will be added on needs or requests.
There are whole lots of add-ons to a PC so I’m not going to describe all of them as I lack well established knowledge on most parts (99%) and of the huge amount(1%). If someone gives me the detailed specs to look on, I’ll add them.



This is a 6.5k word,35k character document. Pardon me for spellings & grammar mistakes.
This guide is not copyrighted.
It’s kind of under GPL.
Just give credit to me if you think I deserve it.
If you think this is worth it, Please Vote for a sticky.All thoughts and ideas are welcome to make this guide more useful.
All categorizations of brands and chipsets are in my personal point of view. I am not paid to say which are best.
Please do not hold me responsible if something goes wrong.



Happy buying!!!!!!!

zCexVe

^*^*^ Index ^*^*^

First 6 are the essential parts for a system unit.

1. Central Processing Unit (Processer/CPU)
1.1 Basics, Understanding the terms
1.2 Briefing of available Intel/AMD CPUs
1.3 Tips & what to buy
2. Motherboard (main board/MB/mobo)
2.1 Briefing of options they have
2.2 Tips & what to buy
3. Graphics card (VGA)
3.1 Understanding the terms
3.2 Chipset briefing
3.3 Tips & what to buy4. RAM (Memory)
4.1 Understanding the terms and RAM timings
4.2 Tips & what to buy
5. Hard Disk (HDD)
5.1 Understanding the terms
5.2 Tips & what to buy
6. Power Supply Unit (PSU/Supply)
6.1 Understanding the terms
6.2 Tips & what to buy

These are not essential but they are required.
7. Optical Disk drive (ODD-CD/DVD/Blu-ray ROMs and burners)
Basics & tips
8. Casing
What to buy


9. Sound card
9.1 Basics
9.2 What to buy
10. Network card (NIC)/MODEM
What to buy
11. TV/radio/ Capture cards
What to buy

12. Monitor

12.1 CRT-what to buy
12.2 LCD-Understanding the specs
12.3 What to get
13. Keyboard/Mouse
13.1 Tips & what to buy
14. Speakers
14.1 Understanding the specs
14.2 Driver types (speakers)
14.3 Standards & Connectors – Digital & analog
14.4 Tips and what to buy

15. Links
Places to calculate and head to head compare Performance
Websites of Local PC sellers
Additional reading
16.
Current configurations you can go with
Budget
Mid range-low and high
High-end
Uber Gaming
17. Thanks

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1. CPU - Processor

This is the brain of the PC. There are mainly three types of CPUs for home use. AMD, Intel ,VIA. Only Intel is commonly available allover Sri Lanka. AMD is coming around in Colombo with new Athlon X2s and Phenoms. I have seen some VIA C7s too.
The infamous Pentium generation is over now. It’s the age of Core2.But Intel keeps some of its core2s named Pentium Dual core aimed budget.

Also at this time Intel has released LGA 1366, new CPU socket so LGA 775 will be outdated sooner or later. They are named Core i7.
Please don’t buy any CPU other than Intel core 2 duo/quad or Pentium Dual Core in Intel platform.
In AMD platform you can have AM2/AM2+ CPUs.

1.1 BasicsClock speed
-The operating frequency of the CPU. Higher is better. Usually varies from 1.6 to 3.0 GHz on stock clocks nowadays.
Clock speed=Multiplier X Base clock
.
Base clock is set the same in all mobos so the increased multiplier makes the higher clock CPUs.
Cache
-This is the closest and fastest RAM available to CPU. Static RAM type. Higher is better. It is required for heavy applications like games and 3D modeling. There are two (or three in new AMD K10 family and upcoming Intel Nehalem family) named L1,L2,L3.Speed of cache is L1>L2>L3.
So usually more L2 more performance.
Usually these days L1 is 64 KB for a core and it is all the same.(in Intel its divided 32K data,32k code)and what you should look for is L2 which is a shared memory usually
comes in sizes 3,4,6,8,12 MB in sizes.L3 is only with AMD so far and it is a shared in them keeping L2 cache core independently.

FSB (Front Side Bus) or HT
- This is the speed which the CPU communicates with the Northbridge. This speed is a multiplier of the Base clock. Higher is better. Intel’s FSB is a Quad pumped FSB as they take 4 times data for a single clock.
So in Intel FSB=4 x Base clock. The most common FSBs are 800, 1066, 1333 and 1600.
In AMD they have HT.Now Ut is HT 2.0/3.0 .It is usually 2000MT/s or 1000MT/s.
Cores
-The core inside the CPU is the whole thing that does the work. So more cores on a CPU, more tasks you can do in the same time. There are single, Double, Triple and Quadruple cores inside a CPU till now.
In Sri Lanka we can find all except triple core CPUs.

Socket type
-The socket which the CPU plugs in.Most common are;
LGA 775
– For Intel Core 2/Pentium Dual core/Celeron/Pentium D/
Celeron D/Pentium
LGA 1366
– For Intel Core i7 CPUs.
AM2/AM2+
- For AMD Athlon X2/Phenom X3/Phenom X4/Sempron

Nm Technology -
The CPU core internal path width in nano meters. Thinner is better. Current trend is 45nm.Intel will switch to 32nm in 2010 ,AMD will switch to 45nm in 2009.

1.2 Briefing of available Intel/AMD CPUs(LK available only)

Intel

Low-end
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Intel Celeron E430 – Single core- 1.80GHz-800FSB-512KB L2-65nm
Intel Celeron Dual core E1200 – Dual core- 1.60GHz-800FSB-512KB L2-65nm
Intel Celeron Dual core E1400 – Dual core- 2.00GHz-800FSB-512KB L2-65nm

Mid range
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Intel Pentium Dual core E2180 – Dual core- 2.00GHz-800FSB-1MB L2-65nm
Intel Pentium Dual core E2200 – Dual core- 2.20GHz-800FSB-1MB L2-65nm
Intel Core2Duo E4600 – Dual core- 2.40GHz-800FSB-2MB L2-65nm

High end
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Intel Core2Duo E7200– Dual core- 2.53GHz-1066FSB-3MB L2-45nm
Intel Core2Duo E8400 - Dual core- 3.00GHz-1333FSB-6MB L2-45nm
Intel Core2Quad Q6600- Quad core- 2.40GHz-1066FSB-8MB L2-65nm


AMD
High end
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
AMD Athlon X2 5000+
AMD Athlon X2 6000+
Some energy efficient CPUs are available too.


1.3 Tips & what to buy
  • The prices vary from 4250 to 27000 LKR from top to bottom in Sri Lanka.
  • If you don’t play games (videos) more often cache is not important to you.
  • ACPU with a higher FSB makes your OC chances less.(Lower CPU multiplier)
  • Be aware of the support Sri Lanka have for the AMD CPUs.
  • It’s easy to get an AMD CPU. Just get the higher number. i.e. 6000+ is better than 5000+.The ‘BE’ at the end of the name means it has unlocked multiplier upwards too like Intel Extreme.

Last edited by zCexVe; 04-02-2008 at 11:38 PM.
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04-02-2008, 01:37 AM

2.Motherboard
It is like choosing the right girl for you. You have to consider looks, accessories, quality, characteristics, brand, generation etc.
We have to get a mobo which supports our CPU, which in our scenario a Socket 775 for Intel and AM2+ for AMD.
If you wish to Overclock, get a mobo with OC options.
For a budget one get a mobo with all options onboard [Sound+LAN+VGA].Usually budget mobos too have OC options but only for CPU FSB.
2.1 Briefing of options they have

IMPORTANT!!
Chipset - Every mobo is built around a chipset mainly from NVIDIA, Intel, AMD. If you want a multi GPU platform with NVIDIA-SLi go for NVIDIA. For Crossfire/X go with Intel or AMD.
With Intel 5 series or higher you can have any multi GPU platform.
The mobos which are built around the same chipset feature the same basic options:
CPU support, PCI-express lanes, Memory type and support, Onboard Audio,video,LAN(If have), Basic SATA and IDE Storage, USB and IEEE1394(If have).
Form Factor -
The sizes of mobo.5 are available.
I.ATX-Advanced Technology Extended
II.mATX-mini Advanced Technology Extended
III.BTX- Balanced Technology Extended
IV.mBTX-mini Balanced Technology Extended
V.ITX-Ultra mini cool boards made by VIA.
First 2 are the most common options for us.ATX boards have much more space for additional cards and more options than the mini.

Memory -
We have to use DDR2 supported mobos which all are.
Few DDR3 boards are
around LK like MSI P35 Diamond, ASUS Maximus formula.

Expansion slots -

I.PCI-Peripheral Component Interconnect-Getting old but still used widely, more cards plug in here. Latest standard is 2.3.Usually mobos contain 2~5 of these slots. Every card plugs in here even VGAs with PCI interface.
II.PCIe- PCI Express - Newer and faster. Latest standard is V2.0.It is backwards compatible.

Note-The PCIe is full duplex (Can transfer data both ways at the same time) and each lane is 250MB/s.So we can combine lanes for more bandwidth. For example PCIe X16 is 250x16=4000MB/s.And since this is both ways more often it is mentioned as 8000MB/s.

And this standard is hot plug meaning you can remove cards while PC is on although I’ve never tried. :O
Usually there are 4 types of these ports.
i. PCIe X1-Tiny little slots. Few things go here.
ii.PCIe X4-Double size of X1.New TV, Sound and Network cards go here. More bandwidth.
iii.PCIe X8-Many of these are the same length as PCIe X16 so that VGAs can fit in there.
iv.PCIe X16-The Place for the VGAs.
v.PCIe X32-Not common. Almost none. But standard have it.

Rear panel ports-
There is hell of a lot.
I.PS/2 Purple for keyboard, green for mouse.
II.USB - v2.0 ports.4~10 can be found.
III.VGA - optional. For your monitor. All have 15 pin D-sub AKA analog video port.
IV.Analog sound - Mostly 3.In high-end 5/6.Comes in 6 colors. For analog audio output and input.
Green – Front out (2/2.1)
Black – Rear out (4/4.1)
Yellow – Center/subwoofer out (5.1)
Gray – Surround out (7.1)
Pink – Microphone
Blue – Line in
V.S/PDIF - Sony/Phillips Digital Interconnect Format - For digital audio. Optional.
VI.Optical out - Cool red lighted port for digital audio. Optional.
VII.IEEE1394 [firewire] - For cameras. Usually 1.Optional.
VIII.Serial [COM]-1 ~ 2.Rarely used.
IX.Parallel [Printer] - 0 or 1.Not used now. Only for Port programming if used.
X.LAN - 1 or 2.All are Gigabit Ethernet full duplex ports.
E-SATA - For external storage. Optional.

Onboard audio,video and LAN
- All have OB sound and LAN. Both are now at separate purchased ones’ quality. Audio is in HD and LAN is in Gigabit Ethernet.
Video is still crappier and not in high end mobos. But great for budget builds.

Storage
- Many mobos come with 1 or 2 EIDE ports, 2~8 SATAII ports.High end boards support RAID onboard. Some come with e-SATA.


RAID - Redundant Array of Independent Disks
-There are many RAID standards from 0 to 10.I’ll tell you the most common.
i.RAID 0-A disk Striping scheme.Need at least two disks.Used for high performance of same specs.
ii.RAID1-Disk mirroring scheme.Used for the safety of data.Need at least two disks of same specs.
iii.RAID 0+1-Striping+mirroring.Safe while having performance.Needs at least 4 disks of same specs.
iv.RAID5-Data parity.Used in Enterprises.At least three disks are required.
v.JBOD-Just a Bunch Of Disks.Will show the fitted HDDs as one drive.So you can even use all HDDs as one logical drive.
You have to first setup RAID then install windows.RAID must first be enabled from BIOS then install drivers in Windows.All RAID drivers unfortunately come in floppy drives

OverClocking - w000000t!!!! My favourite. Running things over the rated specs.More performance, more fun. Needs a board that has BIOS options for Overclocking. These comes with extra price. Applied to VGA,RAM and CPU.

2.3 Tips & what to buy
Choose according to your budget
For Intel
Low end--------------------------------------------------------
Intel G31/P31

Mid range-------------------------------------------------------
Intel G33,P33
NVIDIA 650i

High end--------------------------------------------------------
Intel P35,P45,X38,X48
NVIDIA 680i SLI,780i SLI


For AMD
Low end-----------------------------------------------------
VIA P4M890M
High end--------------------------------------------------------
AMD 770FX,780FX,790FX

Tips
Better to have an Intel chipset for Intel, AMD for AMD. NVIDIA is luxurious.
The difference is mobo makers add extra features and hardware and software into the package. So basically select the chipset for you then get to know what you get additionally for the money you pay.
I am unable to tell you which mobos are good but I’ll tell you the brands.

Bad-Mercury,PCchips

Good-Foxconn,ECS,Biostar
Great-ASUS,MSI,GigaByte


Budget range- Foxconn G31MX-K,Gigabyte G31-S2L,MSI V series,ECS boards
Mid range- Gigabyte/Foxconn G33 mobo

High-end - Foxconn Mars,Gigabyte P35 DS3 series, ASUS P5B-E

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3. VGA – Video card
VGAs are the most expensive part of a PC.This is required for better graphics, namely for gaming and 3D works.There are two main categories; ATI Radeon and nVIDIA GeForce.Lets get to know their basics.

3.1 Understanding the terms

GPU core -This is the MOST important thing which processes the graphics. Better the core better the graphics. They usually have codenames and marketing names.
GeForce uses G84,G86,G92 etc. ATI Radeon uses R770,R630,R770 LE etc.
All VGA are named with the marketing number of core + some gimmick with OEM.

GPU core clock -
The clock which GPU runs. Higher is better.

Memory clock - The clock which the VGA buffer memory runs. Higher is better.

Shader clock -
The clock shaders run in a DX10 card. Higher is better.

DX9 shaders
-There are two types. The pixel shaders apply colors, texture and other attributes to pixels within the image. The vertex shaders create the look of the objects. More pixel shaders and vertex shaders you have, the better the card is.

DX10 Shaders
- Here we have Unified shaders which can do both according to the situation. More is better. But don’t compare with the total shaders of a DX9 card and the shaders of a DX10 card.
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
This units apply texture operations to pixels.

Raster Operation Units (ROPs) This writes pixel data into memory. This rate is called the Fillrate. Usually indicates the bandwidth.

Fillrate –
There are two. Pixel and Texture.
Pixel Fillrate=ROP x GPU core clock .Total pixels VGA can output.
Texture fill rate=TMU x GPU Core clock (or in NVIDIA way pixel pipeline x TMU)

Pipeline
This term is not exactly valid now. A pipeline is Pixel Shader + TMU.

VGA memory - Used to buffer the frames, textures etc.
This is not so important!!This is exaggerated by the idiots round the country. NOT SO IMPORTANT!!!

VGA memory type -
Current are GDDR2,GDDR3,GDDR4,GDDR5.Higher the better and lower power consumption. In general higher the clock and the GDDRX, the better they perform.

SLI/CrossfireX - These are multi GPU setups. SLi is from NVIDIA, Crossfire-X is from ATI.
Used to gain more power to process the graphics. We can have 2,3 or 4 VGAs combined to have more power. This is a waste of money in my point of view. Remember performance doesn’t increase twice if you plug in two VGAs. With crossfireX and 3way SLI you can plug in any VGA with SLI/crossfire support.
BUT REMEMBER it is better to be from same OEM and identical. You need to have a compatible mobo to have one of these multi GPU setups.

PhysX –
It is by NVIDIA to improve the AI of the graphics or more importantly games. It processes the Physics calculations regarding to the graphics. Do not improve the performance or frame rate but the realistic quality.
Under Windows XP or 7 you can use a NVIDIA card for the physX even with ATI cards for graphics. This is just a touch on it.

3.2 Chipset briefing
In order of performance
Low end--------------------------------------------------------------
NVIDIA GeForce 7300LE
NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT, 8400GS
ATI-HD 2400, HD3450

Mid range-----------------------------------------------------------
NVIDIA-GeForce 8500GT,

ATI HD 2650/3650
NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT
NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT

High end-----------Gaming-----------------------------------------
ATI HD3850

ATI HD3870
NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT (G92)
ATI HD 4850
ATI HD4870
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260

3.3 Tips & what to buy
  • Don’t get a low end. t is useless to have a one. se Onboard.
  • For a resolution of 1024 x 768 128 MB is enough. Up to 1280x1024 256 MB is enough.512 MB can hold up to 24” displays.
  • Good brands are ASUS,Sapphire,e-VGA,Gigabyte,MSI,Inno3D.
  • We have to buy a PCI express VGA as it’s the one we have now.Also almost all VGAs come in DVI and VGA ports or converters for VGA so no need to worry about the display type.
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4. RAM – Random Access Memory


These sticks memorize things which CPU needs to access not so often. Slower than L2/L3.Dropped in price lately, which made many manufacturers quit or form joint ventures, it keeps favoring us. You can have up to 16Gb in a desktop these days.

4.1 Basics
RAMs have two names. By their Memory bandwidth or DDR frequency.(DDR-Double Data Rate). For example a DDR2667 RAM is also mentioned as PC5300.This means the RAM actually runs at 667/2=333.3 MHz. Same as said by PC5300.
To get the theoretical max bandwidth we have to multiply the actual speed by 0.16.
So 333.3 x 0.16=53.33 GB/s=PC 5300.FYI The bandwidth is the same of L2 cache of CPU and the RAM.
Other than Capacity and Speed The most important thing RAMs have is timings.

RAM Timings

RAMs have timings because they work like the wheels in a mechanical clock.These RAM timings determine how to work with bits stored in RAM.

The timings are usually said in 5 figures with dashes.Most often the last one is dropped as it is not much important.
Ex.5-5-5-15-1T
5+5+5=15 but how can 5-5-5=15? Do not get confused.
Here is how to decode it.
They are in order of tCL-tRCD-tRP-tRAS-CPC

tCL-CAS Latency time
- CAS means Column Address Strobe. TCL sends data from the memory controller, has it read to the memory location, and output to the modules output pins.
OMG what is that?Okay ,easy way….The amount of clock cycles it will take the memory to respond to an operation request ( time between the sending a read command and the time the first piece of output is available). Lower the CAS Latency, the faster the RAM .Remeber lower this is much better than lowered others and more expensive the RAM will be.

tRCD-RAS to CAS Delay time
-Means Row Address Strobe to Column Address Strobe Delay time. This means the amount of clocks it takes between issuing the active command ,the read or write command.Lower the better.

tRP-Row Precharge time
-Represents amont of clocks RAM is powered to read write the active commands to the memory.Lower is better.

tRAS-min RAS Active time
-Represents the amount of time taken between a row being accessed and deactivated.
NOTE-A tRAS row must be allowed to complete before being deactivated. An error will occur with the memory and system will be unstable if this receiving and executing collapsed.
Tip-This is usually calculated by adding the CAS + tRCD + tRP .Because if a command is being executed, another cannot be retrieved in RAM. Lower is better.

CPC- Command Per Clock
-This is not much important. Two options are available.1T,2T.For higher memory Capacities 2T is used.

Let’s get physical: D

Some RAMS have heat spreaders, lights(Crucial Ballistix tracers),RAM load meters (Corsair tracers)etc.Needless to say these are bit expensive and they are better.You can choose in many colors and patterns.Choose them to your likeness.

Last edited by zCexVe; 04-02-2008 at 11:50 PM.
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04-02-2008, 01:37 AM

4.2 Tips & what to buy
The Current trend is DDR2 RAM. In Sri Lanka only Kingston is widely available. Other few are consisted of unbranded Corsair and Patriot.
Since we do not have options I recommend getting 1GB or more in Capacity and DDR2 667 or more in speed.

For the High-end go with the RAMs which have heat spreaders on them and with lower timings.The most common timings for widely used DDR2 667 is 5-5-5-15.
Getting 2GB sticks lower your OC adventures but makes you able to have 8GB.

Memory chips are the important thing.Not the memory OEM.
Micron , Elpida , Samsung , Qimonda mem chips are great.
Nanya , Hynix are normal.


Reputed memory manufacturers are Crucial , G-Skill , Corsair , Buffalo , Mushkin , Cellshock & OCZ.
Namely Buffalo firestix,Crucial Balistix,Corsair Dominator,OCZ reaper are the greatest.S


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5. Hard Disk Drive


A mechanical part. These things store our data. Over the years the physical size has gotten smaller and capacity got bigger.

5.1 Basics

Interface
-Two are available.SATA or EIDE.Go for SATA and do yourself a favour.SCSI is the fastest but can’t get ‘em here.

RPM
-RPM the hard disk cylinders spin.Normal is 7200.Raptors have 10000,Cheetahs have 15000.More the better.

Cache
-The cache memory hard disk have. In LK you can find 8MB & 16MB now.32 MB is available.More the better.

Size
-in GBs.40,80,160,250,320,500,1000.(SATA HDDs)Choose according to your needs.I’ll recommend to have more than 250GB.

Seek time/write time/Latency
-These average times say how fast data can be found, written and the lagging of HDD. These specs are not on the hard drive label so don’t look for it. There is a link to look for them in chapter 16.

Disk throughput – This determines how much data can be handled in a second.Samsung F1s holds the record here.
5.2 Tips and what to buy

All are the same.
Good -Hitachi
Better -Seagate,Maxtor,Western Digital,Samsung

Best –Seagate Cheetah, Western Digital Raptor/X /VelociRaptor
, Samsung F1,

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6. Power Supply Unit
Sri Lanka is filled with rebadged 250W Chinese PSUs.They are able to just hold on to you rig.

6.1 Understanding the terms

Wattage
-The more the better.But this must be the actual.Many local PSUs have wattage only in label but not in PSU.
For a single VGA standard setup 30 MPs will be adequate.More for multiple VGA,RAIDed Overclocked systems.
12V rail\s
-This is the most important as most components run on 12V.Better to have at least 30A on 12V rails.Some PSUs have more than one 12V rails.NOT the 12V wire lines that have molex connectors but actual multiple power lines.
PFC
-Power Factor Correction-No matter the input voltage fluctuate,these PSUs can hold on.They have an input voltage range.Usually 90V~250V.
Efficiency
-In a PSU efficiency matters because it directly affects the power bill.With the current PSU system only a max of 85% efficiency can be attained.Closer to that the better the PSU is.
6.2 Tips & what to buy

Read the PSU label. Get the Amperage under +12V line\s. Now multiply from the voltage. This is close to actual wattage.
Ex-+12v1-15A,+12v2-14A
Wattage=12*(15+14)=350W.But since other lines are powered this is not accurate.

I can’t recommend a good brand.Anything over 10k is good.Also people usually say the more heavier PSUs are good because transformers,capacitors are heavy and that means more of them in it.
Here are some what good budget PSUs I heard.
Delux , Sonic gear
ASUS , Gigabyte and FOXCONN are the best choices so far.
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7. Optical Disk Drives
Another mechanical part. Used to read/write data from optical media such as CD,D VD, Blu-ray.
nnX
The speeds that the writer can read or write into the media used.Usually CDs are able to be written @ 52X read @ 52X.Rewritable CDs are @ 32X max.DVD ± R can written @ 22X max.reading is usually @ 18X .DVD-ROM is @ 12X.These speeds can be vary from drive to drive.And X in CDs and DVDs are different.

Lightscribe/LabelFlash
-A technology which allows user to burn an two color image on the surface of lightscribe compatible CD/DVDs. Will take up to 15 minutes. Cool but not so gorgeous. LightScribe is yellow and Labelflash is Blue.

Blu-ray
- Newest OD standard. Not widely available yet, none in SL.

Do yourself a favor and buy a DVD writer. These days they are starting from 3200 Rs so don’t even think of CD-ROM,CD Burner, DVD-ROM. Specs to look are all the same. Get a one supports higher speeds and more flavors. The higher the DVD writing speed, the newer and better the DVD-Burner is.

Good brands-Lite-on,LG,Samsung

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8. Casings

Get a spacious one, ATX or bigger than that. Fix in at least one intake fan and one exhaust fan. Look for a bit stronger one. Two materials are used. Aluminium is less durable but light weight. Steel is heavy but provide good protection. There are beautiful ones available but please look for their built quality, strength and durability. Always look for the front panel connectors. Handle is handy if you move your case, say for LAN Parties.

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9. Sound card

Without this a PC feels like nothing worth. Even though On Board sound is more than enough (Now a days they come in HD, EAX, CMSS 3D ,bass boost and so on..) I felt like adding the basics so you know how to get an external sound card. I music
9.1 Basics
Frequency Response
The range of frequency the hardware can produce. This should exceed the human hearing range for optimal performance.<20Hz and >20kHz.The dB rating with this says how much amount of volume variation across the hearing range. This should NOT exceed +- 3dB.
SNR(Signal to Noise Ratio)
SNR=Output audio signal /noise within that signal
The higher the SNR the better the audio quality. Anything over 100dB is great.
Dynamic range
Alternative for the SNR.I can put it like this.
Dynamic range = {full (loudest) signal – no signal}/noise floor level
Its given in dB and higher is better.
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N)
This is an alternative for SNR. It means the total of unwanted signal in the output of a given harmonic level. THD means the unwanted sound in the output and Noise means the noise in the output signal.
This measures only the distortion in sound. 0% is the virtual best. Smaller is better.
Inter Modular Distortion + noise (IMD+N) –
Better measurement than THD+N ,this measures all unwanted things in the sound including not related to the harmonic level. It is too advanced even for me to explain. The closer to 0% is better.
Stereo Crosstalk
How much of a channels output (right/left) interfere with other. Mono means 100%. Lower the better. Lower the rating you will feel the difference more between the channels. Usually <= -90dB is considered better.
9.2 What to buy

For separate cards here are the choices.(Credits to Chanster)
These are 5.1/7.1 HD sound cards
Low end=Audigy value,Xtreme Audio

Mid Range=Xonar DX,Audiotrak Prodigy,Xtreme Music

High end=Asus Xonar D2,Auzentech X-Fi Prelude,Auzentech X-Meridian



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10. LAN/MODEM card

These are old age.Modems are replaced with routers and built-in modem CDMA phones and LAN comes onboard.I recommend not to have any of these.
If you really need them,get a cheapest 56K data/fax modem.
For a network card get a Killer NIC.(A hole in the pocket for sure )Others are all the same.


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11. TV/radio/Capture cards


These are for your entertainment.
Please get a card with a digital tuner (Cards do not have a big shiny metal box on it).Analog tuners tend to get errors as time passes.
ASUS and Pixelview ones are great with the budget. Namely Pixelview 8000/8800GT and ASUS my cinema ones.
You can capture video with your TV card too but not in pro quality.
For capturing Pinnacle and Snazzi cards are great and available.
Or Use your high-end ATI Radeon card cheaply like me.

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12. Monitor
12.1 CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)(The big bulky power eaters )
For CRT monitors, get a bigger ,black, Flat, recently created one with digital menus. Or my choice is 2nd hand 17” black imported one with digital menus. Its the same and cheap. Only difference is warranty. But do not worry. They are good rather than crappy brand new here.

Good brands-Samsung, Dell, HP, Acer, viewsonic

12.2 LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
Here are the basics.
Input Ports - Most LCDs nowadays have both DVI and VGA ports. Digital ones are better.
Wide or not -16:9 is wide, 16:10 is editing and 4:3 is normal. I highly recommend 16:10.The ease with that ratio is mmmmmmmmm…
Panel Type - All LCDs have a TFT panel. The question is if it is TN, IPS, MVA or PVA Panel.

1.TN Panel: The TN panel is the cheapest to produce and is the one most LCD manufacturers use. These panels have the fastest response time, however, they produce the worst color and the color will slightly change when you move up or down / left to right. They also have limited viewing angles.

2.IPS Panel: An IPS is one of the best panels available for an LCD. These panels offer very good viewing angles and color. However, these cost much more than the TN panel and have higher response times.

3.MVA Panel: This panel is more of a hybrid between a TN and IPS panel. These panels offer a big viewing angle and color with a fast response time. However, these panels cost more than the TN panel, but less than an IPS panel.

4.PVA Panel: Very similar to the MVA panel but offer much higher contrast ratios when compared to the MVA panel.
Response Time - This is the amount of time it takes for the screen to synchronize. This is especially important for gamers since if the response time is not fast enough you will see ghosting or the video lagging. For gaming anything 8ms and under in response time is good and you should not see any types of ghosting. Please note, that some monitors with 2ms response times sometimes gets stuck since the response is too fast.
Color Support - This is the amount of colors that the display can show. There are currently 2 amounts for this. 16.2 million (6bit) or 16.7 million (8bit). 8 bit gives you the feel of CRT and it is better.
Contrast Ratio - This is the contrast between colors. Higher the better. This is more important for people who use visual programs. Most common are 700:1, 1000:1.
Brightness - This is to have a bright monitor similar to a CRT.

Try to get a wide screen. At least get 1440x900 or 19” one. Under 5ms is great.Always look for 16.7 million colors.
Good brands-Samsung ,Acer, HP, Viewsonic ,NEC


Last edited by zCexVe; 04-02-2008 at 11:22 PM.
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04-02-2008, 01:37 AM

13. Keyboard and Mice

There are lots of them available. Get USB ones.
For a mouse get optical or laser if you game.800DPI is enough for usual tasks, get a DPI changeable mouse for gaming. Say like 800-2500DPI mouse.
For keyboards get a one with Multimedia buttons. If getting wireless ones try them well before buy it and Have a warranty.

Remember try these before you buy. No matter how good your PC is, these are the two which you use to interact with them. So they need to be well compatible with you.

Logitech and A4Tech are good at these. If you have money Razor is the choice. Logitech G series is available in SL.

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14. Speakers & Surround sound

These must be bought after hearing. Because the taste is different from one to another. Creative is same all range, Bose have tweaked mid range, Altec Lansing have a sweet treble and some deep bass (I don’t know the word for that feel) list goes on..


14.1 Basics
Even though this stuff is really nerdy ,I added the basics. It will make some explanation in your mind with numbers on how to go for a good sound setup.
Frequency Response
The range of frequency the hardware can produce. This should exceed the human hearing range for optimal performance.<20Hz and >20kHz.
SNR(Signal to Noise Ratio)
SNR=Output audio signal /noise within that signal
The higher the SNR the better the audio quality.
RMS (Root Mean Square)/ Rated power
Basically the measurement at which the speaker operates at. RMS is the median power rating across the speakers operating range. speakers with a higher RMS are more powerful and louder, but require more power to operate too.

Peak power - The maximum amount of short-term input of a speaker that can tolerate before damaging itself.But it is possible to damage speakers long before reaching the peak power rating.So it is recommended not to operate a system @ 100% load for a long time.

Speaker Impedence -The average impedance of a speaker while operating in normal way.
This is important when matching equipment. For example you can plug a 4 Ohm speaker to a 8 Ohm amplifier but never below a 4 Ohm one.

Crossover Frequency - Audio frequency boundary in a multi driver setup.Where the output range is splitted and send to multiple drivers in the sound setup.Usually it is better to have drivers overlapping each others range for a better hearing.

Crossover Filter - Type of crossover filter used in a multi-driver setup. Often high-pass or low-pass. A high-pass filter will only allow frequencies above the crossover frequency .A low-pass filter will only allow frequencies below the crossover frequency.
14.2 Driver type (speaker type)
There are two main types of drivers. Individual multi driver or specialized drivers for each range. It is better to have those specialized drivers.
**4 main sub types of drivers (speakers) – Detailed
(please note that I can’t simplify these more than this. I need picture illustrations for these too but lack a suitable host and pictures, will be added if requested, this is like telling a blind what colors look like. Please google the names and look at the pictures that come up for them.)
Tweeters -
Better suited to play back frequencies of 2 kHz to 30 kHz.For the treble parts. There are 2 main shapes.
  • Cone shaped – mellow and softer tones, narrow range.
  • Dome shaped –Crisp and brilliant tone, wider range.
There are things called super tweeters. AFAIK they can have ultra high KHz range. Never seen a one in operation though.
Subwoofers and woofers
- Woofers can play from 40Hz to 1kHz.More specific design is subwoofers which are designed to play back frequencies from about 200Hz ~15 Hz or even lower. Boom Boom Bass Baby!!! These come in various sizes said in inches 6”, 8”,…. 18”,20” .The larger the woofer is the looser the sound becomes from tighter. So better to have something in the middle which offers kind of both cutting off very low and very high. Also there are single coil and double coil,(single magnet, double magnet) etc. More of them, more powerful and flexible is the woofer.
Mid range –
Plays the mid range (the voice) between the tweeter and the woofer.
Multi driver (Full range driver) -
Has everything in it. Disadvantage is can’t play more dynamic, fast paced music. Very much directed music. Fairly expensive. But needs little space. They are also called 3-way , 5-way etc.

14.3 Audio standards & connectors
There are two main types.Digital and analog.Both have their own pros and cons.Digital signals must be encoded and decoded and transmitter and receiver must know about the format they are on. If not you are on 2 channel in digital line.Biggest advantage for digital is no signal quality loss or noise added through the way.Crystal clear
Tip, Ring and Sleeve connector (TRS)
– The most common in PC audio and the world.There are 3 main types.Stereo (6.3mm),mini(3.5mm) and micro (2mm).It is like a rocket in shape ,can carry upto 4 signals with ground.
Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN)
– A circular Jack that can carry 3~8 separate signals.Used mainly in Recording studios.Old and rare.
Radio Corporation of America jack (RCA)
– Male has a pole in a middle of a round, female fits it. Another more common jack. It is a one way one signal cable, so the signal is stronger than the TRS connector. Can be S/PDIF ready too.
Toshiba Link (TOSLINK)
– Better than S/PDIF can transfer more than 32bit data at a higher bandwidth. Uses fiber-optic to transmit data. A really high price tag.Very small square connector.
Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format (S/PDIF) -
A famous digital audio throughput standard. S/PDIF cables are those that meet industry requirements to transfer a digital signal with little to no signal loss. S/PDIF cables come in either a coaxial vareity, with is capable of transmitting in 20bit and 24bit signals, and optical cables, which can transmit upwards of 32bit and at a higher bandwidth.The greatest we have to transfer audio nowadays.
Connectors involve Banana jack, Spade jack, Barrel jack etc.
14.4 Tips and What to buy
More things to see...
·wired or remote sound control
·headphone jack
·Bass control
·wall mounts and/or desk stands
·Wire length.

Here are your choices (Credits to Chanster)
2.1 setups-
Low end=SBS 370(The best you can get...good bass for the price) Micro Lab ,Also Creative A200 and SBS 380.

Mid Range=Altec Lansing ATP3,Some of the Creative inspire T series

High end=Logitech Z2300,Roth Audio Audioblob2,Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 160watt

5.1 Setups-
Low end=Creative Inspire M5300/SBS 580

Mid Range=Creative Inspire T6100,Logitech G51,X540

High end=Logitech Z5500,Edifier S750,Klipsch Promedia 5.1 Ultra


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15. Links



A place to calculate the power you need for the PC.

Compare VGA performance

Compare CPU performance

Compare HDD performance

15.2 Online shops and Sri Lankan PC sellers’ web sites

www.nunet.lk – Nunet Technologies Pvt.Ltd(Foxconn/patriot)
www.barclays.lk – Barclays computers pvt. Ltd and Megabox(Foxconn)
www.pchouse.lk – PC House pvt.Ltd(Gigabyte)
www.epsi.lk – EPSI computers pvt. Ltd(ASUS/Creative/Apple/Viewsonic)
www.computer.lk – An online PC seller
www.salaent.com – SALA enterprises (Prolink/Delux)
www.laptop.lk – Technocity Pvt.Ltd – HP/Acer laptops
www.metropolitan.lk – Metropolitan(Acer/canon)
www.memory.lk – Memory Technologies (Kingston)
www.gobigit.com – MyLinx Pvt. Ltd (Corsair)

15.3 Reading on for more
www.tomshardware.com
www.techpowerup.com
www.xbitlabs.com
www.anandtech.com
www.vrzone.com
www.xtremesystems.com
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16. Current configurations you can go with

** System units only **
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Intel Pentium Dual core E2200(2.2GHz,1M)
Gigabyte G31M-S2L mobo
1GB Kingston KVR DDR2 667 RAM
80GB Hitachi GST/samsung SATAII 7200 RPM 8M
Samsung 22X SH-223 DVD RW SATA
Casing with PSU

26000 LKR

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Intel Pentium Dual core E2200 (2.2GHz,1MB)
Gigabyte G31M-S2L mobo
2GB Kingston KVR DDR2 667 RAM
250GB Hitachi GST/Samsung SATAII 7200 RPM 8M
Samsung 22X SH-223 DVD RW SATA
Casing with PSU

30000 LKR
+Gigabyte/mercury/Foxconn 8500GT 512MB GDDR2= 38000LKR
+Gigabyte 8600GT 512MB GDDR3= 42000LKR
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Intel Core2Duo E7200 (2.53GHz,3MB)
Gigabyte GA P35-DS3P /Foxconn MARS
2 GB Patriot DDR2 800 RAM
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 3850 512MB GDDR3
250GB Samsung HD252LJ SATA II 8M/16M 7200RPM
Samsung 22X SH-223 DVD RW SATA
GIGABYTE casing and GIGABYTE/Foxconn PSU

77000LKR
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Intel Core2Duo E8400 (3 GHz,6M)
Gigabyte X48 DS4/DQ6
4 GB Patriot DDR2 800 RAM
GIGABYTE Radeon HD 3870 512MB GDDR3
500GB Samsung HD252LJ SATA II 8M/16M 7200RPM
Samsung 22X SH-223 DVD RW SATA
ASUS ATX 2.3 Power supply with EPS 2.92
120000 LKR
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17. Thanks
Guys @ www.elakiri.com (Dexter.morgan.666, geethq, Chanster, nuwa1, Anusha, sameera_m, shanX, sri_lion to name a few)
Guys @ www.techpowerup.com
www.xtremesystems.com

www.tomshardware.com
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Version 1.4
Last edited by zCexVe 28-09-2008

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04-02-2008, 01:53 AM

ela wadakne
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04-02-2008, 01:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MagmificientROO
ela wadakne
Me davasvala Internet thibune ne.Bila gevve 3 months valin. ethakota ithin meva venava
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04-02-2008, 01:58 AM

Hey zCexVe..nice work...Keep It Up Bro...
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04-02-2008, 07:52 AM

I think it should be
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04-02-2008, 09:04 AM

Good work man, keep it up, voted to make it sticky..but duno if the admin will ever make it sticky, makes me reluctent to put a lot of hard work for articles in elakiri

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04-02-2008, 09:10 AM

Great guide.....but few people will be able to understand whats in there or read the whole thing.......All and all great guide.......

EDIT=
Just a thought....you should make 3 configurations..low end,mid range,High end and update them each weak........So that it will be very easy for people to decide....

Last edited by chanster; 04-02-2008 at 09:15 AM.
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