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=Things To Remember=
There are basically only 2 brands to pick here, Intel or AMD. As for the models, we have a couple of choices on both brands. We have these desktop models (jurassic models not included) for Intel sorted in terms of performance (slowest to fastest with the same clock speed) and most probably in price as well (cheapest to u know what):
-P4 Northwood HT
-P4 Prescott HT
As for AMD:
-XP / Palomino / T-bred
There are actually more models for both brands if we will go into detail. but those models are basically the only models that IMO u should know about. You can always visit their site (www.intel.com and www.amd.com) if u want to find out more about their models or dive deeper with their specs.
Its the "x.xx mhz" indicated after the brand/model on the processor. AMD does things differently though, their "xxxx+" is not the actual mhz/ghz rating of their processor. It's a PR (Performance Rating) of their processors in comparison with their Intel counterparts (ex: AXP 2000+ is more or less the same as an Intel 2ghz in terms of performance). This helps reduce the confusion that (for ex) an AMD 1.67ghz is slower than a P4 2ghz. U see, AMD processors can do more work per clock cycle. So an AMD processor with a lower clock speed can outperform or perform as well (unless the diff is to huge) an Intel processor with the same or almost the same clock speed.
So what clock speed should u pick? Well it depends on what apps, softwares, or games u want to run. Of course the faster, the better ... that is if u have the money to burn. These are IMO what u should at least get:
-1ghz (-): for peeps who only do word processing, web browsing, or listening to music while doing the mentioned stuffs.
-1.5ghz / 1500+ (-): for folks who are non-hardcore gamers and want to do more things like basic photo and video editing.
-2ghz / 2000+ (-): for casual gamers who does multimedia editing quite often.
-2.5ghz / 2500+ (-): for semi-hardcore gamers and folks who are semi-pro multimedia editors.
-3ghz / 3000+ (+/-): for hardcore gamers, multimedia editing pros, and heavy multi-taskers.
(-) = or slower
(+) = or faster
As for what brand u should pick? Check out my "Misc. Stuffs" section for more info.
There are only a few things that u have to take note when buying a mobo besides the obvious that it should support ur processor of choice (its easy, juz ask the salesperson). Probably the most important thing to look for is the "chipset", though a word processing or net surfing only system could probably juz ignore this one, folks want to have an additional boost by purchasing 2pcs of RAM with the same size might want to consider an NForce 2 chipset equipped motherboard. "VIA" is a pretty good if u for some reason u are not able to purchase an NF2 mobo (NForce 2 MOtherBOard). "SiS" can also be considered especially if ur quite tight on ur budget.
The number of available slots, ports, etc should also be considered and even counted (especially if ur planning on purchasing lots of PCI add-on cards in the future). The mobo can also often times support newer processors via BIOS update, so there's going to be a room for future processor upgrade/s. Don't expect ur 2-3yr old mobo to support the 'just released' processors though.
=Memory / RAM=
When buying RAM, there are 3 things IMO that u should take note of. The most important thing IMO is the amount, followed by its speed and type (thats the PCxxxx or SDR/DDRxxx that u see besides the RAM brand on pricelists), and lastly the brand.
U can follow my estimated amount depending on the system's type of usage:
-128mb: should be the bare minimum for folks with extremely tight budget and will only do word processing or light net browsing. I wouldn't recommend using WinXP as an OS though, use Win98se or Win2k instead (skip WinME).
-256mb: the minimum for WinXP regardless of the apps or games that u will use/play. Non-hardcore Win98se or Win2k users (might it be gaming, multimedia editing) can most probably survive with this amount w/ little noticeable system sluggishness. Tweaking WinXP (I also have a guide here, look it up) will help increase performance.
-384mb/512mb: Recommended for folks who plays newer games under any OS, non-pro video/audio editing can run w/ this amount of memory w/ minor to zero performance probs.
-768mb and above: Recommended for hardcore gamers, video/audio editing buffs, heavy multitaskers etc.
Gamers, take note that not all games require huge amount of RAM. Some benefit greatly from having lots of RAM (above 512mb) than having a fast videocard or processor. While some will do just fine with 384mb as long as u have a fast videocard and/or processor. "Balance" is still the key here.
The speed on the other hand can be a bit confusing at first. To make it simple, check ur mobo's manual ... the list of supported RAM speeds is listed there. It is recommended that u buy the fastest RAM that ur mobo supports. But if price is going to be a problem, a slower memory will suffice. Just remember that more RAM is better than having faster but less amount of RAM (unless u have lots already).
As for the branded or generic issue, check my Misc. Stuffs section for more info.
Good thing this is a non-techie article, 'coz if not ... this videocard issue will probably be longer than the rest of the other hardware articles combined ... lol! Anyway ...
Non gamers will probably be able to do fine with an "onboard" video (built-in to the mobo). An onboard video has a drawback though, if ur a gamer ... IMO u should not even consider buying a PC with an onboard only video. 'Coz not only will it run games using the powerpoint (slideshow) engine (its an analogy ok? ahehe!), it will also use up some part of ur physical memory (RAM, 'coz built-in video doesn't have their own memory) that will slow games even more (unless u have tons of RAM).
Now if ur going to consider an "add-on" type of videocard, try to think of the type or game titles that u plan on playing, what resolution and details setting, are u willing to play a game and sacrifice eye-candy in exchange for better performance etc etc? Once ur done with that, here are a couple of things that u should take note when choosing the right vidcard for u:
-As always budget dictates how good or bad ur soon to be purchased videocard will be. Try to extend ur budget as much as u can for future-proofing and in exchange for better videocard performance ... and not for a much expensive brand.
-In gaming, there's DX and OpenGL compliance written on the box. What are they for? Well newer versions gives u better graphics quality. Most newer games today already supports the latest DX and OpenGL versions and videocards that supports them via hardware will be able to produce the enchanced graphics better or faster than those videocard that only run 'em via emulation. Remember that there's a difference between a DX9 "compatible" and a DX9 "compliant" videocard (or any DX version for that matter). DX9 compatible videocards only supports the version via driver/emulation w/c can cause performance and graphics degration. Compliance on the other hand doesn't have those downsides b'coz it supports the said version via hardware. There are games that requires a specific DX version compliance, some will either run the game with emulated procedures or disable specific DX features if ur videocard doesn't support it (non-compliant but compatible).
-Now how would u know if a videocard is fast enough for ur needs? Some measure it via the specs on the box but IMO it is best to read reviews regarding a specific type of videocard in comparison with the rest of the pack. The amount of memory also do not dictate its performance, it does help but there are times where a videocard with half the amount of memory can outperform a videocard with twice its memory.
-How about the extra features? What should u guys look for? Well it again depends on ur needs. Most videocards now have a TV-Out socket, some comes with a DVI support (for digital panels), the rest may have an RCA-in for video capturing etc etc. All of those will of course have an effect on the price, so don't buy a videocard with a sky-rocketing price juz b'coz it has lots of features if ur not really going to use 'em.
-If ur into video editing, well that's another story. U will need a "capture card" for that. I am quite new to that field myself, but I'm already planning on starting a basic video editing section. Watch out for that!
I was asked a couple of months ago by a PC related website to create an article about purchasing soundcards. But months passed and up to now I can't find my article anywhere on their website. I dunno if they posted it somewhere else and took the credit, no worries though ... its hot in hell anyway.
I still have the copy of my article in a .doc file format though. It's not written with newbies in mind but it is still a non-techie article so even those who doesn't know anything regarding soundcards will still be able to understand the article. Its pretty long (6 pages) so I suggest that u just dl it. It talks about different types, models, features of soundcards. Their strengths and weaknesses, price range, and also talks a bit about ur current or targeted speaker setup.
Last Updated: 083004
Last Updated: 083004