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Everything you need to know about the computer.

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As the new tech mod, I'll be working on some cool things for you guys, first thing is first, I'm explaining the basics of computer hardware.

Before we can even start, what is a computer?

A computer is a machine for manipulating data according to a list of instructions known as a program. A digital circuit is based on a number of discrete voltage levels, usually two, as distinct from an analog circuit that uses continuous voltages to represent variables directly. Digital circuits are the most common mechanical representation of Boolean algebra and are the basis of all digital computers. They can also be used to process digital information without being connected up as a computer. Such circuits are referred to as "random logic".


Lets start from the begining, shall we? The first computers were basically what we think of now as a calculator. A proccessing unit designed to do simple mathmatical functions (2+2=4). They slowly developed into what we know as a PC. The HP 9830, introduced in 1972, was the first desktop all-in-one computer. It even had BASIC in ROM, but few people know about it because HP marketed it primarily to scientists and engineers.


Anyway, enough history for bit. Lets fastforward to what we are here to learn. The first and most important peice of equipment in the PC is the CPU, short for central processing unit (The Intel 4004, a 4-bit CPU released by Intel Corp. in 1971, is considered to be the world's first commercial single-chip microprocessor). The CPU processes all of what is going on in your computer at any given time. It is the "thinking part of the brain" of the computer if you will.


Today, there are 2 main types of CPU's you can buy. 32-bit and 64-bit CPU's. As you can figure, 64-bit CPU's can proccess data 2x the speed of 32-bit ones, but the lack of software support means that it is a terrible choice for the mainstream user. This is why all 64-bit CPUs come with 32-bit logic, allowing them to proccess data at either 32 or 64 bits.

There are other types of cpus as well, single cores and dual core. Single core CPU's have once processor on a chip, dual core CPUs hae 2 processors working together on one chip. This can mean a 2x performance boost if your software happens to be multithreaded, or supports reverse-hyperthreading (coming soon from AMD). All of the current consumer dualcore CPUs come with 32-bit and 64-bit support.

Now lets get down to the manufacturers, AMD and Intel are the most well known consumer CPU makers, for PC's anyway. Intel has been sticking to its "netburst" archetecture for a couple of years now, meaning they believe the higher the clock, the better. Some Intel Pentium 4's are 3.8GHz stock, which is quite fast...or is it? AMD, another CPU manufacturer, believes they should get the most out of their archetecture. Meaining they ry to eliminate anything holding them back and get the most out of what they already have. In most cases AMD's idea wins. a 2.8GHz AMD proccessor tends to beat the 3.8GHz Intel proccessor without a doubt. :)

A modern processor:



The second most important part of the computer is the RAM. Short ofr Random Access Memory, it serves much like the short term memory part of the brain. There are 2 (still supported) types of consumer system RAM right now. DDR and DDR2 ram.

DDR memory runs at either 266, 333, 400, 500, or 600 MHz. The faster, the better. Each "stick" of ram also comes in sizes ranging from 64 MB to 1024 MB (aka 1 GB). Another thing to check for are the memory timings. These are delays from differant parts of the memory module. So basically, the smaller the number the better. DDR memory has 184 pins.

DDR2 memory runs at 400, 566, 667, 800, 1066, or 1200 MHz (well not 1200MHz yet, but there are prototypes). They also come in the same sizes as DDR memory. DDR2 modules have higher timings than DDR memory, which is why many believe that DDR2 memory isn't much better than DDR memory until you get tothe super fast 800, 1066, and 1200 MHz modules.




The third most important part of the computer is the hard drive, the long term memory. All your h4x, games, movies and whetever else get stored here. They range in sizes from 40 GB- 750 GB. You really don't need more than 250 gigs unless you are running a server or you are super warez man. :tease: Another thing to look for in hard drives is speed, and cache size. The faster the hardrive spins the better, andthe bigger the cache size the better. Hard drives spin at either 5400, 7200, 10000, or 15000 RPM. Their cache sizes are 2, 4, 8, or 16 megabytes.




Our next part is the graphics card. We all love to play games right? Well the graphics card does all the complex algorithms for graphics and physics (for now). Its what makes the picture come on screen. Graphics cards are the most complex part of the computer, and there are several things you should look for. Pixelpipelines/Shaders are the most important, ATi and nVIDIA both do it differantly, so you cannot directly compare the part of the card. Let's assume that ATI hardware has 64 unified Shaders. This means that ATI can process 64 pixel lines only per clock. That may be in the proportions: 50 pixel, 14 vertex and geometry lines per clock, or 40 vertex, 10 pixel and 14 geometry information per clock. Any ratio that adds up to 64 will do. I hope you get this maths. The Nvidian idea is 32 pixel and 16 vertex and geometry lines per clock, which might be a wining ratio but it is still too early to say. We don’t know who will win the next generation hardware game and whose approach is better: ATI's unified or Nvidia's two-to-one ratio. (The r600 vs the g80)

The next thing to look for in graphics cards is the core and memory clock speed. An nvidia card with the same amount of pipes and shaders with a core clock speed of 500 MHz and memory speed of 1200 versus one with a 400 MHz core clock and 1000 MHz of memory speed would have better perforamance because 500/1200 is > 400/1000 :)

Graphics cards come with differant types on memory onboard as well, there are three other things to look for in the memory: link width, how many bits is it? 64, 128 or 256? Bigger is better, and I don't suggest ever buying a card that has 64-bit memory. Next is the memory type. Is it gDDR, gDDR2, or gDDR3? Welll guess what? Don't buy a card with DDR memory. The final thing other than speed (last paragraph) is memory size. Get a card with 256 megabytes or 512 megabytes. There are cards taht comre with 128 megs, but the more the better, and the price shouldn't be that much highjer to buy a 256 meg version.




Next we'll talk sound cards. Sound cards are what make the sound come through your speakers. All modern motherboards come with onboared sound or a sound card. The quality of that sound is pretty good, infact there is really no need to upgrade this unless you want super crystal clear music and games. In that case, you should buy a Soundblaster X-fi or Audigy2 ZS. You should look for the number of transistors on these, generally the more the better. Be sure to pair these nice sound cards with nice speakers to get the most of it. :thumbsup:




Now, lets talk about the thing that links it all together, the motherboard. The motherboard comes with chipsets, in these chipsets are instructions on how to handle whats plugged into it. The motherboard links everythimgn that goes into your computer, from CPUs to mouses, thats its job. Everyones needs are differant for motherboards, so there is lot to talk about.

-Make sure you get the right socket, so your CPU fits and works in it.

-Make sure you CPU is supported, sometimes even though your CPU will fit, it might not work.

-Look for a good Northbridge chipset. Nvidia currently makes the best ones, IMO. They are compatible with ATI graphics cards, don't worry. But anyway, the good chipsets are any of the NForce 4 or 500 series.

-Memory is important too. Make sure your motherboard has enough slots, can handle your ram speed, and supports dual chanel which doubles performance if you put 2 identical dual chanel support memory sticks in your mobo.

-Make sure you get PCI-E if you are buying a new system, it is important because AGP graphics cards are hardly manufactured anymore.

-Look for the number of PCI slots, make sure its enough for you.

-Make sure it supports your hard drive. IDE, SATA, and SATA II are normally the types of hard drives to look for support for.

-Check your LAN speed, 10/100/1000Mbps or higher is recomended. This is called "gigabit lan".

-From factor, makes sure it fits your case. Mobo's come in ATX, MicroATX and BTX.




We are almost done, now its the Power Supply. Many people kinda ignore this, which is not wise. It is suggested to get a 300 Watt PSU with 18 amps on its 12v rail for a budget workstation. If you are running a nice server or gaming machine, make sure to get at least 450Watts with DUAL 12v rails, having at least 18 amps on each rail. If you are running a gaming machine with SLI, makes sure you get 500 Watts or MORE with DUAL, TRI, Or QUAD rails, with at least 18 on each (15 if quad). A general rule also, the heavier the better!




I'd talk CD/DVD/Flash drives/Ipods ect here, but I think you gusy know what they are, so I'l skip to cooling. :tease:

Cooling is one of the most important, and generally ignored factor in computers. Your CPU should not excede 60*c at any given time. Your Graphics Card should not excede 80*c at any given time. Your hard drive should not excede 45*c at any given time. Finally, your motherboard should not excede 60*c. You can monitor your temperatures with a program called Everest.


WOW that took me an hour and a half to type up. You'd better at least read it :mellow: I'll add more as I see fit.

Edited by NickF

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I did, I started writing it last night after XGhozt made me section mod. I go tired, went to bed and finished it at 11 this morning.

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many ppl won't read this stuff cause it's humanly impossible to read that without stopping... anyway gj

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man tahts long........




u forgot about liquid cooling most ppl dont kno about taht


and hard drives range from 20 - 1000 gigs for now

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Thank you, ALOT. I learned alot in that 20 min of readin/understanding. Seriously nice work +rep

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Those were the days :spiteful:/>


Wow, you bumped up this post from 2006. Hahaha

I believe that's called... Necroposting? I can't remember...

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