Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Learning about computers

Last response: in CPUs
Share
February 14, 2003 11:36:27 PM

I want to build a new computer but the thing is that i know nothing about the latest stuffs and their technologies.
So i want two things, one, is to learn about computers, and two, is to build a new computer ... But first things first.
Can anyone help me with that coz i am totally lost. And all i know is that after i learn about computers, i will get a P4 aimed mainly for gaming.

More about : learning computers

February 15, 2003 3:03:52 AM

Here's some basics. For starters you should look into AMD chips for gaming. Amd and nforce2 boards are an excellent combo. The 2200+ and below are really cheap. The new nvidia fx graphic card disappointed almost everyone. The ati 9700 pro is the best price/performance video card out there. Corsair memory is the top memory for overclockers and www.newegg.com is a good retailer. Thats just the basics of the basics, i'll let someone that really knows what they are doing explain stuff.
February 15, 2003 10:59:21 PM

You're at the right place if looking for info. Look around and read the Upgrade or Recommended system threads. You'll find lots of useful info. Then when you think you have decided what components you want post them (be specific of what brand/price and retailer). The guys on this forum will then help you decide which combination to choose.

The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it. <A HREF="http://forums.btvillarin.com/index.php?act=ST&f=41&t=32..." target="_new"><b>MY SYSTEM</b></A>
Related resources
a b à CPUs
February 16, 2003 7:28:06 AM

Well, you'll get a lot of arguments to the contrary, but I think you're making the right decision. The reason I'm saying this is, for the best gaming you want the best of everything, assuming you can afford it. AMD seems to be having trouble bringing new product to market, and their "top end" processors are lagging behind the P4 while at similar prices. I doubt AMD has any near future plans to remedy this situation. But since you're not building right away, you can watch and see if AMD gets out of the hole they're in by the time you're ready to build.

Near future products are "800MHz" bus chipsets for the P4. If you choose one of these, you'll most likely have two years worth of upgradability to look forward to. Right now the fastest chipset for the P4 is the SiS 655, and it will be getting revised soon to support the new bus speed. Intel's (Springdale?) chipset should follow.

Right now the fastest gaming card is the ATI 9700 Pro. Following the release of the GeForce FX, ATI will release an even faster card (9900 Pro?) in order to maintain their lead.

Computers are fairly easy to work on. You'll find a lot of bad product hits the market, but if you ask questions before you purchase you'll likely be able to avoid them.

<font color=blue>There are no stupid questions, only stupid people doling out faulty information based upon rumors, myths, and poor logic!</font color=blue>
February 16, 2003 7:57:15 AM

Welcome to the system buiding family!!! Totally agree with everyone here. This is a good place for choosing hardware and getting a lot's of advice. And you can listen to the voices all over the world. Some small tips for you, try looking for the member in your area because the info they give you would be the most appropriate one. (Example: If you are in Australia, what for if you ask the price and after sell service info on USA??) And you have to decide which CPU you'll go for, Intel or AMD? Then you start to looking for the parts which suits your requirement best! Wish you having good time in learning and buiding your dream machine.

My PC has gone to hell... because it's a killing machine...
February 16, 2003 1:27:06 PM

Also beware of info rom FanBoys (Guys that are completely brand biased). Intel and AMD both have their merits as do Nvidia and Ati. Right now from a pure performance view Intel and Ati are your best bets. (I run AMD and Nvidia at the moment for no particular reason).

The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it. <A HREF="http://forums.btvillarin.com/index.php?act=ST&f=41&t=32..." target="_new"><b>MY SYSTEM</b></A>
February 17, 2003 3:22:13 AM

Totally agree with Rubberbband. It is you the one who take out your hard earn cash to build your own system. Just ignore those FanBoys, they will only feel happy if you buy the same brandname they like but not neccesarily the best price/performance. Just buy the parts which gives you best performance within your budget. Also beware of those advises like "add $xxx more for xxx" if you are extremely tight on budget because you'll end up with overbudget and have to buy some bad product in the end.

My PC has gone to hell... because it's a killing machine...
February 18, 2003 12:23:54 AM

Well i wanna thank you and all the other guys for these really valuable informations. I am really not in a rush for building my pc, i can wait till i really learn everything about computers as i don't wanna end up with a shitty machine and lose all my savings. Right now, at this moment it could help if you or any of the forum's guys tell me how and where to start learning. I am trying to read everything in the cpu section but i think i am lost, i can't really follow all these informations. I need to know where to start.
Thanx again for your great support and help. I know now i am in the right place.

Ihab
February 18, 2003 1:30:35 PM

You can start in the major differences of Intel and AMD CPU. Pay attention to keywords like "Hyper Threading", "Pentium-Rating", "Overclockability", "FSB" etc. And you should look for some reviews on CPU via internet too. Then the chipset to support all these CPU and features, once you've some basic idea on CPU and chipset, then you can start looking at motherboard, then graphic card and so on. Well happy learning!

My PC has gone to hell... because it's a killing machine...
February 18, 2003 1:42:09 PM

Thank you ... i will be doing this for the upcoming weeks ... i am really eager to learn fast ... and never hesitate to send me any other suggestions or links that might help.
Thanx.
February 18, 2003 4:49:09 PM

I'm watching you amigo.....!!!

lol!!
February 19, 2003 1:09:21 AM

i thank you for having the courage to learn and do it yourself rather than follow the sheep to the nearest dell store. your doing your part to making the world a better place, lol

my computer is so fast, it completes an endless loop in less than 4 seconds!
February 20, 2003 12:58:19 AM

Thank you Crashman for these infos. As i said i am not in hurry for building the ultimate speedy machine of mine. I will be waiting and meanwhile i will try to learn about it from the scratch. So tell me if you have any suggestions about how to understand these huge amounts of technology and reviews in a more simple and easy way. I am reading and i hope to get it all by time, but i feel it is not easy to follow.
Thanks man.
February 20, 2003 1:26:31 AM

<A HREF="http://www.arstechnica.com" target="_new">http://www.arstechnica.com&lt;/A>
This website has very in-depth information on computers and their components, especially CPUs.
They just did an article which begins from the start, on how PCs work, and slowly introduces you to the binary concept, and to what data and instructions are. It should be what you should read, to get going, as it's the ultimate starter guide.

Good luck, and Ya Ahla! :smile:

--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
a b à CPUs
February 20, 2003 1:33:47 AM

You have to be a bit carefull with the information you consume. Most enthusiast sites I read are AMD fan sites. There are a few Intel fan sites too. And some nVidia fan sites. And even a few ATI fan sites. I think this site is the least biased, although sometimes the information isn't that great. Anandtech is a good place to read about motherboards.

<font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
February 20, 2003 3:58:02 PM

Well, I don't know nearly half about cpu's as some of the guys here, but, I'll try and explain the basics, and clarify some numbers for you. (BTW, if I am wrong with anything, please correct me)
The first thing you will notice about processors is the speed, measured in Mhz (Million cycles per second) or Ghz. Naturally, the faster the better. In very basic terms, a cpu does a certain number of instructions per each cycle. Intel built their processor for speed, and therefor each cycle, the P4 does a relatively small amount of instructions. AMD chose a different route, choosing to have their processors do more instructions per cycle, but have their chip run at slower speeds. For example, the Athlon XP 2800+ runs at 2.25GHz, but does a large number of instructions per each cycle. When reading about Athlon chips you'll notice thier PR number. Very simply, this is what the chip runs at compared to an equivalent P4. Therefore, a XP 2800+ is comparable to a P4 2.8Ghz. If you think of it this way you'll be allright.
Next is the front side bus. This is how fast the chip can recieve and send data, basically. Think of it as a highway. A 100 bus means cars can drive 100kph (or mph, i'm canadian, so i use kilometers:) ) A 133 bus means you can drive 133kph. These speeds were used in the P3 era. what companies are doing today is multiplying busses. a P4 with a 400Mhz bus has a 100 bus*4. the current P4 have a 133 bus*4=533. I suppose one way of thinking about it is adding lanes onto a highway. A 533 has 4 lanes of traffic going 133, compared to a bus speed of 133, with only one lane of traffic going 133. Again, this isn't set in stone, just a bacic anology to help you understand the numbers. Intel's newest proccesor coming out will have a 200Mhz bus*4=800. The faster the bus, the more information that can travel. One of the last numbers you will probably come across is cache. Cache is memory that is directly on the chip itself. It is much faster than your ram. What happens is your processor thinks ahead and trys to guess at what your next command will be. It takes that command from the ram and loads it into the cache, where it will go directly to the chip. This helps speed things up because your chip doesn't have to wait for data from your slow ram. There are 2 types ,L1 and L2 (I suppose 3, some processors have an L3 cache, but we won't worry about that). L2 is the most talked about, and it is also the biggest. The Athlon recently got a L2 cache upgrade from 256kb to 512kb. This helps because it can store more information that can be fed to the chip. Intel's upcoming processor will have 1mb of L2 cache on it. Data goes from the L2 to the faster L1 and then to the chip.
Hopefully this helps you to understand the basics of processors, and clarify some of the numbers out there.
February 20, 2003 4:22:33 PM

My advice would be to go out and buy a cheap second hand machine that you can play around with. I have had loads of fun playing around with old machines. Also you don't need anything wonderful and if you find you have software that won't run on your machine, you can UPGRADE!! Hooray! Try and pick up an old Pentium III machine or something and start tinkering....

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/myanandtech.html?member=114979" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
February 21, 2003 12:57:21 AM

Thanx Sargeduck about these really valuable informations. This is really the kind of stuffs i am after, and one can't find such infos in such an easy way. It really helped a lot and if you got more information concerning any other component of a computer just let me know, i will be listening and reading.
Thank you :) 
February 21, 2003 1:41:08 AM

Well sjonnie, i already have a 7 years old machine running pentium MMX 233mHZ, 64MB RAM, and only a S3 2MB Video card and this machine should have been already in the graveyard. Then i got myself a nice notebook (at the time i bought it) 3 years ago running Pentium III 600mHZ, 64MB RAM, 6GB Hard disk, 16MB ATI videocard, with an 8x dvd ... and it has been really nice to me but i use it only for work and surfing the net, never for playing games.
But i guess it's my time now for serious gaming ... and i can easily call any of my enthusiastic friends who are willing to pick me the best of the best ... i can go tomorrow morning and make one myself with few tips from you guys and from whatever salesman ... what about getting an Athlon XP 2 series together with nforce2 board, load it with DDR RAMs 333 or whatever and get ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, soundblaster Audigy, Klipsch 5.1 speakers or logitech or maybe creative 5.1 or 6.1, a plextor or philips cdrw or maybe a dvd, dvdrw, cdrw combo, and a WD or seagate or maxtor hard disk 80 GB 7200 RPM or maybe get two separate hard disks and get a nice solid case with a powerful power supply and the best fans i can get for it.
Anyway this is not really what i am after ... i need to learn coz i want to, it's very interesting i guess ... and then when i am done with the learning, no matter how long will it take, i can build my first computer by myself really understanding how it works and cherish it for maybe 2 or 3 years later before needing to upgrade it.
Well this is what i want to, i don't want to get an old machine and then upgrade it. I am after the technology for the time being.
Thanks for your advice.
February 21, 2003 1:55:54 AM

lol...amigo....lol..

Dont get too serious about it......lol...

Take a chill pill....
February 21, 2003 1:56:27 AM

Oh!! i have just read your post from the thread that goes under the name "learning ??" ... i checked the website you pointed at http://computer.howstuffworks.com/ ... this is what i really need. Its hardware library is superb. I will get to learn a lot from reading about these basic knowldeges.
It's a great site with valuable informations in it, and for this i can't thank you enough.
Thanx again.
February 21, 2003 1:57:02 AM

Guess u meant....:
Ya Hala!!
February 21, 2003 2:10:18 AM

no problem. I hope you're a little clearer on cpu's. Hmmm what next.....Well I suppose motherboards and ram would be the next logical step. Motherboards are pretty basic. This is where everything plugs into. This is what connects everything togeather. Again, in really basic terms, the ram sends data to the motherboard, which then sends the data to the cpu, and vice-versa, and this goes with everything...video cards, hard drives, the works. There isn't many "technical" numbers on them, really just the front side bus. But you already know that. If your processor has a fsb of, say, 133 then puttin it into a motherboard with a fsb of 100 doesn't make much sense. That's pretty much it for motherbaords. When you buy your comp, ask the guys here what motherboard you should get for the cpu you want. Next would be ram. There are 2 types out on the market, ddr ram and rambus ram. Rambus ram is for high end Pentium systems, and your' going to pay for the performance. It's not to common, and you probably won't be getting it so we'll just leave it out for now. DDR sdram is the common memory on the market. It stands for double data rate synocrised dynamic random access memory. with just sdram, data would only be sent on the "up (or maby it was down)" part of the cycle. think of a sin curve. ddr made it so that data would be sent on the up and down part. therefore, pc 133 (the speed)sdram would only send data on the up part per cycle whereas ddr has a speed of 266 (133*2[the speed of the ram times the data it sends on the up and down]). They have since come out with ddr 333 and 400 speeds. One thing you should always try and do is match your ram speed with your motherboard. putting ddr 400 into a motherbaord with only a 333 bus is a waste of money. putting ddr 266 into the same motherboard is a performance waste. another number dealing with ram is latency time. very simply put,this is the time it takes for the ram to find the data it is looking for. The lower the better. ram having a latency of 3 is going to take longer to find the data than ram having a latency of 2. You're going to pay a bit more to have lower latency. Here is where it gets fun. Let's say we have 2 sticks of ram. ddr 333 with a latency of 2 and ddr 400 with a latency of 3. which is faster? I don't know, but I think most people would recommend the 333 stick. Those are the 2 most commonly spoken of numbers dealing with ram. both athlon and pentium chips take all speeds of ddr, but only the pentium takes rambus. unless you are a huge performance nerd, go with the ddr. Now that you hopefully have an idea about ram and motherboards, newer mb have what is called dual channel. older motherboards have single channlel, that is only one channel for the ram to send data to the motherboard. newer mb have dual channel, that is, 2 channels for the ram to send data. This effectively doubles the bandwith (how much data is sent). However, you need 2 sticks for this to work. Not to hard. get a mb with dual channel, get 2 sticks of the same ram.
well, I hope this explains some more of the technical numbers to you, and clears things up. This is getting kinda long so I'll post about video cards next
February 21, 2003 2:13:43 AM

maby i won't post about video cards. it's getting late, and i'm tired after my last speil. inquire about it in the video card section :) 
February 25, 2003 2:24:56 AM

Thanx man, this really helped a lot.
March 11, 2003 4:29:26 PM

Isn't there any more links or reviews that any of you can point me to?
Any help would be really appreciated.
Forgive my ignorance.
March 11, 2003 4:57:31 PM

picking the parts isn't all that hard. The hard part is putting them together. I recommend to take a crap system and take it apart and put it together and turn it on. See if it works and stuff. If not learn to trouble shoot.

The parts are easy because they all do the samething it's a matter of preference.

Both Intel and AMD will do the samething for you. They are both fast enough and the same price. You can get a 2.53ghz cpu for 192 bucks (www.newegg.com) where a compariable product form AMD would be about the same.

So go with whatever you feel the most comfortable with in spending your hard earned money with. If you like Intel go with Intel, if you like AMD go with AMD. Watch out for these fanboys that will sell you false information. Both cpus do the samething.

right now the ATI card is THE fastest card out even with geforce fx, seeing that the ultra card has been recalled. The ati 9800 pro will be your best choice as it is the fastest card out.

hard drives you typical want a harddrive taht is 7200 rpm, and for gaming 60Gb should be plenty, for video editing 120GB should be plenty. go with whatever you feel comfortable. Me i prefere maxtor drives as they appear to me to be very stable and great tech support.

sound yuo can with whatever. I think the audigy 2 might be good for you if your willing to spend that kind of money.

sound system, *shrugs* pick whatever you like. The logitech ones look nice.

dvd-rom and a cd-writer i would go with pioneer and lite-on respectively. Because i've bought 2 pioneer dvd-roms and a lite-on cd-burner and they are very nice. If you got the money, plextor is probably the best you can buy as far as quality.

ethernet and modem. Doesn't matter your not in a huge network. So pick whatever is cheapest. I would go with linksys and for modem, i had a zoom modem and those worked great.

printer, i would go with HP
scanner, i'd go with epson

and thats pretty much it i tihnk, oh ya screen. I don't know, if your doing heavy gaming pick a crt. at least a 17inch.

i think thats about it. They all do the samething. It's just a matter of preference and experence.

<updated>
oh ya i forget stuff ... mouse and keyboard i like logitech. and motherboards for intel i would go with asus, abit, or MSI with the latest Intel chipset. For AMD i would go with abit, asus or MSI and go with nforce2 chipset or the latest nvidia chipset or even SIS makes some decent chipsets too for AMD.

RAM for general use kingston pc2700 or pc3200 should be decent. If your an overclocker Crucial XMS series is for you with pc3200. and 512MB of RAM should be enough for a long time.

I like antec cases and you'll want at least a 400watt power supply.

wow i can't believe i forgot all that stuff lol! I'm done with being a computer hardware hobby person. Gets too rediculous man! I just have my case under my desk tossed over by the side so i don't see it lol! Maybe i'll upgrade next year to a faster processor but thats about it man. lol! I'm not gonna do a full upgrade for another 2-3 years. i'm done! unless something breaks though.

but hey i hope i helped a little with my biased opinions and i hope you learn a lot from this experience!

good luck take care!

Life is irrelivent and irrational.

<A HREF="http://www.anandtech.com/mysystemrig.html?id=9933" target="_new"> My Rig </A><P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by xxsk8er101xx on 03/11/03 03:09 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
March 11, 2003 11:16:03 PM

use a Dell sytemes it your best choice

[-peep-] french
March 12, 2003 1:55:12 AM

ewwww not a dell!!! Dells cost a lot more than building your own rig. In my opinion there are only 2 very good reasons to get a dell: 1 if you are a corporate customer and are going to order $100k+ dollars worth of stuff, or 2 if you want a really solid laptop. I have a dell inspiron 8200 that I am very happy with, but dealing with their tech support has been terrible. I am no nOOb to computers and the initial problems with it were hardware/their fault. It was fixed and they threw in some stuff to make it right, but it was still a pain dealing with endless automated phone systems, non-english speaking techs (i am in usa so they really should know that), and having to call and call to get it fixed. I find it very insulting that I purchased their machine and it came preloaded with more [-peep-] than I can shake a stick at. It was faster for me to just wipe the drive and reinstall windoze than to hunt down and kill annoying shareware appz. I am not sure how open architecture dell's are either so it maybe hard to upgrade it later on. If you are afraid to build it all yourself, you can go halfway and have some place like http://www.monarchcomputer.com stick your motherboard and processors together in a sexy looking case. If this is your first build, I would suggest not attempting to overclock it unless you are with someone who knows what they are doing and has done it before. IMO, unless you do it a lot, do not try to overclock anything until you have run it stock for a few months just to get the feel for it. It is much easier to rid a machine of gremlins while it is stock. Speaking of sexy cases, go lian li!!!! I have a PC-61 black and it is the kewlest looking case I have ever seen. Lian Li cost a bit more, but they look killer and have great cooling even without fan upgrades. One thing that I think is also important with cases is having tool-less construction and a motherboard tray (makes life much easier and no bleeding fingers). Also look for a case (like Lian-Li ones) that have the front fan(s) blowing over your hdds. Drives like to be cool just like processors do.
March 12, 2003 2:11:16 AM

Get a quality powersupply, not a brand X. Thermaltake, Antec, Enermax or Topower. Spend the extra money and get decent peripherals, no point of having a fast pc with a fuzzy monitor and a mouse that won't track.
March 13, 2003 2:49:17 PM

Hi Juin, ca va? ... Actuellement, je ne veux pas acheter un Dell systeme. I guess it's better to do a machine on my own becuz of three reasons ...
1- As you heard Dell has a shitty support.
2- There is no Dell or any other brand companies support where i live ... so it's useless to get any brand machine anyway.
3- It would never give me the performance i need, and it is gonna be expensive. The computer i want to make is gonna be expensive too but the performance would be much better i guess.
March 13, 2003 9:56:36 PM

man don't start reading everything in a forum if you don't understand first read all the THG guides and then all the guides on other websites, like www.extremetech.com, thats what i did when yoiu understand then come back and you'll understand better what it said here

the AMD intel question is something else that will be hard to decide because you'll read heavy pro's and heavy contra's, just look at somebenchmarks comparing amd and intel systems and then decide hoz much performance you want

SL6EF OC's GOOD
March 14, 2003 1:16:17 AM

Oh so you speak to Juin in french as you know he is, and when I throw you a "Ya Ahla", you don't take a hint and reply... snif... :frown:

You meanie! :tongue: :wink:

--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
March 14, 2003 1:25:54 AM

Oh ... Mais pardon mon cheri ... excusez-moi ... I really apologize for overlooking it ...
Ya ahla feik Habibi, Shou Akhbarak? ... :) 
March 15, 2003 1:18:11 AM

Ana mnih, min wein inta jeyeh? (mbayann min Lebanon inta...)

Ouch, I think the forum members won't like us talking like this... :smile:

--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
!