CPU - Central Processing Unit for short or Processor, this little guy and I did say little, is the mind of your computer. This is one of the most important parts of a computer. The most common processors seen is by AMD and Intel. Intel being the leader of processors, but at a price also. AMD is more budget friendly, but not as good performing in demanding situations that require raw processing power. However both have their goods and their bads, but we can get more into that later down the article here. Certain processors are suited for certain things.
RAM - Ram or Memory is insanely fast temporary storage for your computer as a whole. However it is volatile, meaning if it loses power then all information stored is lost. There is difference types or Ram, ECC which is a type of ram in which error checks data to ensure there is no data loss or corruption. Mostly this is only for servers, a home user desktop shouldn’t ever have ECC Ram. The other kind is Non ECC which is the most common and what you will always look for as a typical computer user. Buffered and Unbuffered can be explained later in the article.
HDD/SSD - This is the primary storage for your computer. Everything you do, must be saved permanently in order to preserve it for later usage or sharing. There is other types of storage for a computer, but these are the main types. A HDD is reliable and has been around for many years and as of current days are very large in storage size. Typically they are up to 4TB which one could never really fill up with data unless you want to and try hard. While a HDD is large in storage size, they are generally slower. As of lately SSDs have came into play. A SSD is a storage device that uses special electronic storage means, there is no moving parts and they are very power friendly. They are very very fast, but their storage size is quite small. They are best for boot drive, laptops, or netbooks. However this can be explained a lot more down the article here.
GPU - The second most important part of a computer. The GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, or Graphics Card/Processor most common names. This device or “processor” is responsible for 2D and 3D drawing and acceleration. Everything a computer does, needs a way to display its information to a monitor, HDTV, TV, or display screen of some kind. There is several kinds of GPUs, and each has its purpose.
OS - Or Operating System for short. This is the 3rd important thing kinda for a computer in a whole. A computer has no use really without a operating system. There is several operating systems, but only a few main ones. The main being Linux, OS X, and Windows. Most common is Windows. Linux is a free Operating System and only advanced users should ever use it. OS X is only featured on Apple Inc. computers.
PSU - Power Supply Unit for short. This is literally the heart of the system, many think the motherboard or CPU is. However without a power supply, a computer is nothing since they must run on DC current and not AC current. The power supply is the one thing that you really want in quality and not cheap price if self building or replacing one. Much more about these then can be explained here. Just remember they are the most vital part of a computer, the motherboard is the next vital part.
Motherboard - The mother of your system, well to speak anyway. This is the “breadboard” that connects all parts together in your computer. This is the second most important part, a cheap and bad quality motherboard will fail and render a computer useless or fry and destroy other hardware. The motherboard’s BIOS is also responsible for ensuring a system is good to boot on startup and also boots the Operating system. No motherboard is the same really. There is also different types, many different types.
Case - This is the shell for all your computer parts to protect them from damage and provide cooling also using fans “mostly anyway”. Another name is Chassis but computer case is more commonly used. There is not much to say about these, just know that they come in different sizes and are truly a personal choice since you buy for looks and features and space and sometimes cooling.
Laptops are great for those always on the go or don't like having to always sit in the same place in front of a monitor all the time to use their computer. Laptops, being portable as they are, allow portability with ease. However they may be great for being portable, but come at a cost.
Laptops are overpriced most of the time for their hardware and the screen sizes are smaller and sometimes the build quality is very poor as well. The batteries in them also can only power them for so long depending on hardware, screen side and settings, and how many cells the battery has.
Here is a general breakdown of all Laptops in a whole.
Portable and very lightweight.
Freedom to sit, lay anywhere or travel with and use at same time.
Can run on battery power from min of 1 to 6 hours depending on battery and laptop hardware and features.
Much lower power consumption then a typical desktop computer. However this varies.
Good for people that like to use a computer wherever they want.
Most time very poor heat dissipation.
Hardware is always under powered to allow low low power usage and heat output. However this is expected.
Over priced most of the time for hardware and features, but sometimes fair priced deals are abound from the right companies.
Build Quality is always a concern, research should always be done before purchasing.
One last thing, Laptops shouldn't be used for heavy gaming. However many still do, but pay arm and legs for such laptops when a much better desktop computer can do much better for probably far less then a gaming laptop price on average.
The Custom Built Computer
The Custom Built is always the wise decision to go for a new computer. Even if you have no knowledge of building a computer, it isnt hard. It is literally just like putting a puzzle together. There is lots of places to get free help for getting your computer built. Don't be shy about it and ask. Building your own computer, ensures you get your money worth as well quality ensured.
There isn't a whole lot to explain about a custom built computer. You choose your parts, processor, HDD, graphics card or processor, type and amount of ram you want. So forth like that. This way you know what your hardware is and know your own computers limits to what you will be using it for.
Custom chosen parts from OEMs of those parts.
Lots of money saved and quality is ensured.
Each part has its own warranty, no more shipping entire computer back for a repair. Just the part that breaks is shipped back.
You can ensure it is put together right and ensure no sloppy factory like prebuilts.
Own custom case, case mods, and own type of cooling or fan setup.
Built to suit your budget and what you intend to use it for.
Choosing each part can be annoying sometimes. Mostly being graphics card, power supply, motherboard, ram, and processor. It is all dependent on your needs.
ESD, or Electrical Static Discharge can fry your motherboard, processor, or graphics card if not careful and discharge frequently.
Not always cheaper sometimes. Sometimes you can get a prebuilt cheaper. In the long run you can use the prebuilt as a cheap base to work with from then on.
There is other miniscule things about building your own computer. However they are simply not large enough to put here. It is up to YOU to build and focus on building your own computer. The time and careful work you put, pays off in the long run.
The processor is also known as the Central Processing Unit, or CPU in short. You could say it’s the ‘brains’ of the computer, it is involved in nearly anything that happens inside your computer. Without a CPU, the computer will do absolutely nothing. It won’t even be able to boot*.
Two Intel Core 2 Quad processors, top up and bottom up
Because a processor handles so many things, it’s quite obvious that you’ll want to get a good one. An old, slow processor may cause your entire computer to slow down because it can’t handle the data it needs to process. However, all modern CPUs are well able to handle tasks such as running Windows 7, browsing the internet and text editing, to name a few. If that’s all you do, you can get a low-end processor, and you’ll never notice the difference between a low-end and a high-end processor.
Most people here, however, aren’t using their computer just for that. Perhaps you’re a gamer, an 2D/3D artist or a video editor. In that case, you’ll need a fairly powerful processor.
So how do we measure the performance of a processor? First of all, the closest we can get is benchmarks. Benchmarks will usually give you a rough indication of how the processor will perform in certain applications. If you're considering to buy a certain processor, make sure to check how well it performs, and see if there aren't any alternatives available that are more powerful.
However, you should also be able to quickly gauge the performance of a processor, as you simply can't read complete reviews every for every processor available. The following paragraphs will teach you how to do that.
There is a major misconception about clock speed which you need to know. The clock speed of a processor, which is usually measured in megahertz or gigahertz, doesn’t always tell you how powerful it is. Most of the time, it’s actually a fairly meaningless number. To understand why, you need to know a bit about how a processor works. At a clock speed of 3 GHz, the processor performs a certain amount of work, three billion times a second (three billion clock cycles). However, newer processors will be able to perform more work in each clock cycle, so a new processor may only need to run at 2.5 GHz to perform the same amount of work as an old processor at 3 GHz.
This means that the clock speed only matters when you are comparing very similar processors, such as Intel’s i5-2500 and 2400.
Another ‘performance indicator’ is the amount of cores. Be just as careful here. The multiple cores of a processor are very useful when you’re multitasking, as different applications can run on different cores. Many games still use only one or two cores, so a 6-core processor will usually have no performance increase over a 4-core processor, as long as they share their generation and manufacturer.
Then there’s also the CPU cache. Explaining how it works is beyond the scope of this guide, just keep in mind that you should never use this to determine a processor’s performance. Just neglect it.
You should know a fair bit about choosing the right CPU now, just one more thing. At the moment of writing (5/15/2012), Intel’s CPUs outperform AMD’s processors by a fair amount, while usually being cheaper as well. It is therefore best to not get an AMD CPU right now, unless you want an APU. More on that in the next article.
Recommendations and final words
The following processors will offer excellent performance for the price, so I recommend checking them out.
Intel Core i7-3770K (Only choose this one over the 3550K if you’re into rendering and/or video editing)
Intel Core i5-3570K (A very popular processor. For gaming, it’s just as good at the 3770K
Intel Core i3-2120 (Whatever you throw at it, this processor will handle it. Perhaps not as good as a 3570K would, but don’t let that hold you back.
Intel Pentium G630 (If all you do is playing games, even this processor is fine, allowing you to spend a bit more on the graphics card.
Keep in mind that, while Intel processors offer more performance at a lower price, AMD processors are still quite good, especially processors like the Phenom II 945 and 1045t [update: by now these processors are starting to show their age. I would recommend against buying them, though they're still fine and if you already own one, there's usually no need to upgrade it yet - unless you want to, of course.].
*) Some computers are, in fact, able to run without a CPU, when flashing the BIOS. However, this is a bit of an exception and they won't be able to boot into the OS.
The graphics processing unit, or GPU, is, as the name suggests, the component that does the graphics processing. Some are integrated into the CPU or motherboard, mainly in low-end systems. Ideally, though, one would have a separate graphics card; more on that later. The GPU gets data from the CPU and processes it to output an image onto your display.
A good GPU is important if you want to game. Most modern games are fundamentally bottlenecked by GPU performance, meaning you’ll need a good GPU to get tolerable framerates. In some cases, an on-die GPU will be sufficient, though nearly all graphically-demanding games (for example, Battlefield 3) need a good graphics card to run.
An on-die GPU is, simply, a GPU on the same piece of silicon as the CPU. It’s also known as an integrated GPU. It shares resources with the CPU, and perform poorly because of it. An APU, or Accelerated Processing Unit, is the AMD term for a CPU with an on-die GPU. Depending on the GPU, some of these would suffice for moderate gaming, though are ideally suited for simpler tasks, like web-browsing and word processing. Motherboard GPUs
A motherboard GPU is exactly what the name suggests; the GPU is integrated onto the motherboard. Other than that, they’re quite similar to on-die GPUs; they also share resources with the rest of the system, perform poorly, and are also known as integrated GPUs. They are sufficient for web-browsing, word processing, and other simple tasks. Gaming performance in most modern games is very poor with motherboard GPUs. However, motherboard GPUs are used less and less. Intel has moved completely to on-die GPUs with their consumer-level CPUs, and AMD has started to as well; while most of their CPUs have no integrated graphics, their new motherboards have no GPU either.
The terms GPU and graphics card are often used interchangeably, though doing so is not correct. The performance of graphics cards is generally far superior to integrated GPUs. What it is: A graphics card is a GPU with its own PCB. Modern graphics cards plug into the motherboard using the PCIe x16 interface. However, older graphics cards used AGP or PCI. The graphics card contains a GPU, RAM, and power regulators, along with outputs. Why it’s better: Graphics cards do not have to share resources with the system. As said, they have their own RAM and other parts necessary, and have exclusive access to these resources. In addition, they can have vastly superior, with many heatpipes, radiators, and generally at least one fan. The manufacturers: AMD and Nvidia are the two main manufacturers of GPUs. These companies make the chips, but do not make the cards themselves. They will create a “reference card” with a PCB and cooling solution. Then, they send the blueprints, and the GPUs, to companies like XFX, EVGA, and MSi. These companies will generally stick to the reference PCB design, but usually use a custom cooling solution. Multi-GPU solutions: AMD and Nvidia both enable a user to use multiple GPUs in tandem. Nvidia calls their version Scalable Link Interface, or SLI, and AMD calls theirs CrossfireX (colloquially, CFX, Crossfire, XFire).
While both technologies are software-based, the drivers controlling the parallel rendering, both technologies use a small piece of hardware known as a bridge. This bridge allows a far faster method of communication between GPUs than through the PCIe bus, PCIe controller and back again. In its current form, consumer drivers will only support up to 4 GPUs in tandem. With nVidia, you can also add a secondary GPU that will be dedicated to PhysX processing. Both the CrossfireX and SLI brands do not come originally from AMD or nVidia. CrossfireX, originally Crossfire, comes from ATi, and SLI comes from 3dfx, but the acronym did not mean the same.
In addition, both companies make (design) graphics cards with two GPUs. Because these cards have two GPUs in them, two cards makes a full 4-way Crossfire/SLI setup.The last two numbers of the dual-GPU cards’ names is 90 (or 95) for both AMD and Nvidia. The PCB of a dual-GPU card looks generally similar to this: However, multi-GPU setups have their disadvantages. There are diminishing returns the more power you have, though this is true for essentially everything. But the bane of multi-GPU setups is something known as microstuttering. Microstuttering occurs when the GPUs come out of sync with each other, caused mainly because of the limited bandwidth of the bridge and the PCIe slots. It causes notable stutters in performance. See this chart: Notice the drops every few frames with multi-GPU setups. This also shows the limited scaling in multi-GPU setups. This game is somewhat unique in that dual-GPU scaling is nearly 100%, it’s usually around 50% scaling, but you see that past that, there’s hardly any benefit.
Once you take into account that the GTX680, the highest-end single-GPU card on the market, can run essentially any game with decent framerates even on 3 monitors, there’s really no point in getting a multi-GPU setup, especially because not many games support SLI/Crossfire.
Clock speed: The majority of GPUs, excluding some integrated solutions, have two clock speeds that can affect performance, but are not factors by which to judge performance. These are the GPU clock (also referred to as core clock, graphics clock, or core/graphics frequency) and the memory clock (memory clock, VRAM frequency, memory speed, VRAM speed). In the case of some nVidia GPU series, there is also a shader clock that is double that of the GPU clock. The shader clock is the frequency at which the shader engine runs.
Note that you should not use clock speeds as comparisons between cards unless both cards use the same GPU core (i.e. nVidia Fermi, AMD Tahiti XT). If you compare clock speeds of cards that do not use the same core, the comparison is essentially worthless.
VGA (Video Graphics Array - left) is the only common analog connector. It’s falling out of use, and Intel and AMD (no word on Nvidia) will not support it with their GPUs starting around 2013-2015. VGA can drive up to 2048×1536 pixels at once.
DVI (Digital Video Interface - center-left) is one of the most common digital connectors. There are different types of connectors, that are generally cross-compatible. Single-link DVI can drive up to 1920x1200 pixels, and dual-link supports up to 2560x1600.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface - center-right) is the most ubiquitous connector, being used on nearly all modern monitors, along with TVs. It’s digital, and has multiple versions with the form factor exactly the same and backwards- and forwards-compatible. Version 1.0-1.2 can drive 1920x1200, while 1.3 can drive up to 2560x1600, and 1.4 can drive up to 4096x2160.
DisplayPort (not shown) and Mini DisplayPort (right) are relatively new connectors. While DisplayPort is not used commonly (HDMI has the same purpose), MiniDP is, because of its small size. Both can drive up to 3840x2160. Thunderbolt, a connector developed by Intel and licensed exclusively by Apple until May 2012, uses a modified MiniDP connector. It can transfer data and drive displays.
Multi-Display Solutions: Multi-display solutions have been found on both manufacturer’s cards for some time now. nVidia Fermi-based graphics solutions supported 2 monitors on a single GPU (3 monitors on a multiple GPU setup, with the exception of Galaxy GeForce MDT series cards), and AMD HD6000-based solutions have support for up-to 5 displays.
Both companies also have names for their solutions. With AMD, it is called EyeFinity. With nVidia, it is Surround. In terms of total number of monitors, AMD EyeFinity is the winner, as it can support up-to 6 monitors on workstation cards, HD7900-series cards and the ATI Radeon HD5870 EyeFinity6 Edition. nVidia, on the other hand, supports up to 3 monitors on pre-GeForce 600-series configurations, provided you have a Galaxy GeForce MDT-series card, a GTX590, ASUS Mars II or multiple graphics cards.
With the GeForce 600-series, however, cards such as the GTX680 can power 4 displays with ease, using 3 for nVidia Surround and one as an extra. This means that, while you can use 3 monitors, the fourth monitor cannot have a game stretched onto it.
RAM, short for Random-Access Memory is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The RAM stores information and programs for active use, and is basically used as a cache for many things. Without the RAM, your computer has nowhere to store programs or anything else that is currently running, such as the OS.
RAM is also currently the cheapest part of any PC (next to the optical drive) making future expansion very easy and cheap.
The speed of your RAM, and what tools like CPU-z report the speed as will be different in number. This is because DDR stands for Double Data Rate. Excusing you of a very long explanation, this basically means the “upstream” and “downstream” of data count as a single clock.
So for instance, CPU-z and other tools will show my RAM at 665.3Mhz. However, since it is DDR3, the data rate doubled comes to my normal value which is 1333MHz (it actually comes out to 1330.6MHz but this is for various reasons that are too lengthy to go over here).
There are a few different types of RAM, however, for the purpose of this guide we will only be focusing mainly on the kind for general use and gaming.
Desktop & Laptop RAM:
DDR3:This is the current staple and most common RAM available right now. Pretty much every laptop and desktop PC sold at the moment uses this type. The maximum amount of RAM on one stick of DDR3 that is readily available to consumers is 8GB. Each desktop stick has 240 pins while each laptop stick has 204.
DDR2: This is an older type of RAM usually found in systems before 2008 or so. Like DDR3, at the time this was the staple and most commonly used type of RAM at the time. The maximum amount of RAM on one stick of DDR2 is 4GB. This type of RAM is rarely used and most of what is on websites at the moment is overstock from last gen. Each desktop stick has 240 pins while each laptop stick has 200.
DDR: Even older than DDR2, and also shares the same traits, being pretty much a staple at the time. Usually found in systems before 2004-2005 or so. The maximum amount of RAM on one stick of DDR is 1GB. This type of RAM is only used in legacy systems. Each desktop stick has 184 pins while each laptop stick has 200.
Other types of RAM and memory: Any other type of RAM not listed here does not apply to this guide and thus should be ignored, as if you are asking about it, you probably have no use for it anyway.
**ECC memory: This type of RAM is really only used for servers and workstations. Do not use this type of RAM in your gaming or general purpose build. If you ever need to use it, you wouldn’t need an explanation on what it does or how it works because you would already know. But just for the sake of completion, ECC = Error Correction, to help prevent corruption.
|NOTE: The type of RAM you get does not have anything to do with what type of VRAM your video card has. A card with GDDR5 will work fine with a system running DDR2 or DDR3
RAM is not backwards compatible in any way with either any previous or future RAM. This is reinforced thanks to the sticks and slots on the mobo having notches making it exceptionally difficult to put the wrong type of RAM in the wrong type of slot, the exception being DDR and DDR2 laptop RAM which might fit, but the computer will not boot.:
Desktop RAM sizes:
Laptop RAM sizes:
There are not many brands to worry about in this field. Of note, the most commonly used ones are G.Skill, Corsair, Crucial, Mushkin, Kingston, Patriot, and PNY. Note that just because a brand is not listed here does not mean it is worthless. Generally the most commonly used series for gaming are the
G.Skill ripjaws and Corsair Vengeance, although these are just examples of "most common". There is plenty out there that is better/worse/cheaper/more expensive on the same tiers.
How much RAM should I get?
Generally back in the day, running out of RAM was quite a common problem, and adding a stick of 256MB or 512MB would fix many slowdown issues (though in many cases slowdowns were due to malware and bloatware and this only masked the issue but that is a topic for another time). However, in recent years this is not the case, and has not been the case for quite a while. Since RAM is so plentiful, most systems do not use anywhere NEAR the amount that is installed, which is pretty much put to waste. Many people try and make their systems use as little RAM as possible, however, this is pointless in the long run and given how cheap RAM is, there is no point. At most it is used for bragging rights or to see how little memory they can get their OS to use.
Remember the golden rule: Unused RAM is wasted RAM. More RAM does NOT increase performance except in very rare and specific circumstances.
RAM Tiers: If a tier fits you, then the relevant amount is generally what you will want to go for.
General use = 2GB: In this tier we will assume the computer will mainly be used for web browsing, MS Office, and nothing much more than that.
Light gaming & every day use = 4GB: In this tier we will assume that not only will the machine be used for the above, but also light gaming. Games that are not too demanding nor intense. If you are building or getting a PC strictly for Minecraft this is generally the amount you should get.
Moderate to heavy gaming & moderate to heavy use = 8GB: In this tier we will assume not only is the above going to happen, but the computer will be used for semi-intensive RAM use such as video editing/rendering, Virtual Machines, photoshop, and moderate to heavy multitasking.
Professional video editing, 3D rendering and heavy usage = 16GB+:Generally you only get this much if you know for a fact you will be using it.
As always with any of these tiers, if you find yourself hitting the cap and using virtual memory on the HDD, expansion and addition of RAM is cheap and quite easy, do not feel restricted by the above guidelines as they are just that, guidelines. RAM speed:
RAM speed as a whole really does not matter. The gaming performance difference between DDR3 1066MHz and DDR3 2666MHz is measured in
nanoseconds. While RAM speed will matter greatly for certain tasks at hand and certain kinds of uses, in general and for the purposes of this guide as well as for gaming, the speed of whatever RAM you get is not important**. Just get whatever is cheaper, and on the off chance you can get a higher speed for the same price, go for it.
**THE EXCEPTION: However, for integrated graphics and APUs, RAM speed matters quite a bit, and if you plan on having a low end gaming machine with an APU, you should get at the very least 1600MHz RAM. Unless you are going with an APU and no graphics card, however, the above paragraph still applies, just get whatever is cheaper.
CAS latency (Column-Access-Strobe) is how fast the memory modules respond to a request for data.
While this is a bit too much to go over here, the gist of it is that a lower CAS latency is better, but the performance gains aren’t really significant enough to worry about for most people. Currently most RAM has a CAS latency of 7 or 9. The difference between them is, again, not terribly significant. This is another one of those things that if you really needed to know or worry about, you would not be looking at this guide.
While many overclockers like to tweak the RAM in these ways, it can increase heat, damage the RAM and is really not recommended for the average user, or even light to moderate overclockers.
Monitors is what you will receive most of your computer’s output with. While almost all monitors you will see are LCD, There are many types of LCD screens and many different specifications of them.
What are the different types of Monitors?
Well lets start with the different types of screens.
LCD- Liquid Crystal Display.
LCDs work by having the pixels change color and then having a backlight illuminate the pixels.
TN- Twisted Nematic
TN is very cheap has a very low response time. This is the most common type of monitor due to the low cost. Unfortunately the price comes at a cost TN have lower viewing angles. They also lack the color quality of other types of panels. TN also does not require as bright of a backlight as other LCD technologies making it more energy efficient.
IPS- In Plane Switching
More expensive slower response time than TN. IPS also has many advantages such as better color quality and accuracy. This makes it often used in jobs who work with photoshop or do graphic design. IPS also has much larger viewing angles. Many have high response times making them undesirable for gamers. Response time for IPS has improved a lot in recent years and is catching up to TN. There are also different types of IPS panels.
E-IPS- Enhanced In Plane Switching
The cheapest of all IPS technology at the cost of a lower viewing angle and
reduced color quality
S-IPS- Super In Plane Switching
More expensive then E-IPS but provides better color quality
and larger viewing angles.
The backlight is what make the screen light up. There are two main types.
CCFCL- Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp
Similar technology to a lightbulb inefficient compared to LED.
LED- Light emitting diode
Not to be confused with OLED screens this is just a backlight.
More energy efficient and generates less heat and allows thinner displays.
LED- Light emitting diode Rather then just have the screen backlight by a LED the pixels are made up of an Red, Green and Blue LED. This means it does not require a backlight and allows true blacks to be displayed. While phones are using AMOLED Active Matrix Organic LED screens for a couple of years now this technology has not hit desktops. Samsung has demoed a few Organic LED screens but no one currently sells them.
Nvidia has its own proprietary 3D technology the monitors for it are expensive and you need to use Nvidia glasses and have a compatible Nvidia graphics card it will also work with any other active monitor.
AMD cards that support HD3D use an Open Standard and should work with any 3D display device. For games you will need software offered by Iz3D or Tridef.
If you are looking for 3D set up and are more budget oriented it would be better to look at AMD GPUs due to the fact it can use any 3D monitor competition has pushed prices down.
Both technologies have issues in some games but work fine in other it is very much in its infancy as a technology and you will pay the price of an early adopter.
MultiMonitor If you want to set up a multimonitor set up you better make sure your GPU supports it.
Eyefinity AMD supports the 5 series and above. For its highend cards AMD supports 6 monitors with displayport to know for sure look up your graphics card here. You can mix and match monitors. http://www.amd.com/u...-eyefinity.aspx
Nvidia surround Nvidia supports only supports 3 monitors with a single 6 series card or two older cards in SLI and required exact same model of monitors. To know what configuration your graphics card supports look here. http://www.nvidia.co...quirements.html
What specs should I look for?
There are several things to consider such as Resolution, Response time, screen size and connections.
Resolution Resolution is the measure of how many pixels are on your monitor more pixels mean a higher detailed image. The current standard for resolution and the most popular 16x9 ratio currently is 1920x1080p. While the most popular for 16x10 is 1920x1200. While there is nothing wrong with 16x9 resolutions they have less vertical space and many people prefer having 16x10 unfortunately this comes at a price hike and for most people is not worth spending the extra cash.
Response time Makes moving images smother most TN panels are 2ms but anything between 5-1ms is fine. Gamers should lean to getting lowest as possible but 1ms is quite a price increase and not worth the improvement over 2ms. For a person just browsing the internet it really does not matter.
Screen Size Larger does not always equal better as really large monitors will make the pixels larger and could make the monitor look worse up close. If you have a chair at a computer desk you should be looking at monitors around 23in. You will need larger if you plan sitting further away from your monitor.
VGA- Video Graphics Array
The oldest video connector you will probably ever come across. Majority of Video cards do not ship with connectors for these anymore and the majority of monitors lack ports for them. An Adapter can be purchased to connect to a DVI port.
DVI- Digital Visual Interface
Very common connector most graphics card ship with connectors with an adapter it can become a VGA or HDMI output. It is being replaced by DisplayPort and HDMI.
HDMI- High-Definition Multimedia Interface
Basically just DVI but also transmits audio most TVs and game consoles use this interface. Only 1.4 and above support 3D also supports Ethernet over HDMI but I have not heard of anything that supports it.
One of the newest and arguably the best connector. Video Cards come with ports for it, but not many monitors support it yet. It can send audio and video at higher qualities than HDMI and supports 3D. It can transmit to multiple monitors with 1 video cable making it very useful for multi monitors set ups.
Also worth mentioning don’t pay extra for gold plated connectors or monster cables it's all a gimmick to steal your money.
LG Apple Asus Samsung Dell (Only their IPS panels) View Sonic
Quite a lot of brands are tagging some of the parts and peripherals they sell as Gaming part. Gaming keyboards and mouses, Motherboards, RAM, monitors, you name it, there’s probably a gaming version available. However, you should always be a bit critical when judging choosing for gaming parts, especially when you come across statements like this one: “Gold plated USB cables for ultra low latency”. Now this is a prime example of a marketing trick. Gold plated USB connectors do not reduce latency in any way, the only thing they’re good for is allowing the manufacturer to charge more for their parts.
That brings us to the main question you should always ask yourself before buying High Performance or Gaming parts. “Will I be able to notice a difference?”. Well, provided that the difference actually exists (which is often not even the case), the answer will more often be no than yes. When choosing between monitors with a response time of 2ms and 5ms, keep in mind that the difference is near impossible to see. Don’t judge a keyboard/mouse by the metal used on its USB connectors. Don’t judge a mouse by its DPI. Don’t judge RAM by its clock speed, because it doesn’t matter.
“Why not?” you may ask. That’s a good question. Sometimes you can just use logic. Let's see what happens if you press a key on your keyboard. If you’re typing something, the time between you pushing the key down and the letter appearing on the screen is what matters. Even when gold plated USB connectors actually work, they would only reduce that time by a small amount. Furthermore, the computer actually 'polls' the keyboard. The keyboard doesn’t send a signal as soon as a key is pressed, the computer 'asks' the keyboard every once in a while whether a key has been pressed or not. This introduces much more delay, but apparently it doesn't matter. Otherwise we'd still be using PS/2 keyboards instead of USB keyboards.
It may be useful to understand the length of a millisecond here as well. A millisecond (ms) is one thousandth of a second. In one second, one thousand milliseconds pass. As you see, a difference of 1-5 ms is pretty much negligible. If you cannot see, feel or measure the difference, you don’t have to worry about it.
The idea of a future proof PC comes up a lot, mostly in threads that have absurd budgets. While it is fun to speculate and make hypothetical future proof builds, you cannot future proof your PC. Technology is constantly upgrading and being improved on. For example, every single year, AMD and Nvidia will release a new series of GPU's that will improve upon the last generation. Even supercomputers are not future proof, they are extremely powerful, but that term is relative. The first supercomputer, the CDC 6600, is weaker than your phone. The Titan, the current fastest supercomputer, will probably not hold that title for longer than a year or two. This doesn't mean that you need a new build every year, but every 2-4 years or so is a good time to upgrade your PC, depending on what you do. You should also take in to account that buying top of the line parts now is pointless (of course, this depends on what you do, an i7 does indeed have uses but not for the average user) as better technology will be available for half the price in 2 years or so. You should also be aware that Youtube videos saying "future proof $1500 PC!" or similar, are always wrong, in 10 years that will be a pile of trash you wouldn't give to your grandmother. So, please, don't buy a PC with the amount of money you could buy a used car with, it won't last forever and you are wasting your money.
If you’re a bit into hardware, names like Nvidia, AMD and Intel will surely sound familiar to you. Otherwise, you should have encountered them at least a few times in this guide. You should also already know that there are two CPU manufacturers you’ll be dealing with. AMD and Intel, and that the same goes for GPU manufacturers: AMD and Nvidia.
The fact that only two manufacturers exist in both the PC processor market and in the PC GPU market has caused quite a lot of people to take sides. This often results in a lot of discussions about the question “Who’s better, AMD or Intel” in the CPU market. Replace Intel with Nvidia, and you have the same question, but now for the GPU market.
A lot of people tend to take sides in those discussions, and usually outside them as well. Some people simply don’t trust Intel at all, so they buy AMD processors. Some people don’t trust AMDs graphics cards, so they buy graphics cards with Nvidia GPUs.
However, this is usually not a good way to compare hardware. Especially when it comes to buying crucial parts like the CPU and GPU, always look at benchmarks to see how they perform when they’re actually part of a build, and to see how they perform in games and/or benchmarking applications. Intel, AMD and Nvidia all manufacture hardware of equally high quality. This can easily be proved by the fact that when a computer dies, it’s usually caused by a dying power supply unit, motherboard or hard disk. In case the graphics card breaks, it’s usually the ‘card’ itself breaking, rather than the GPU.
On a final note, every manufacturer will occasionally accidentally supply a DOA (dead on arrival) part. If you got a DOA part from a certain manufacturer once, don’t worry about it later. If you’re unsure about the quality of a product, you can always ask for help on the forum.
Laptops (for gaming): While there are laptops that exist that can play games pretty well you generally want to avoid them due to their cost/awkward size/battery life.
Used parts: Used parts typically come with 0 warranty, replacements, or refunds. So avoid at all costs or unless sold from an approved retailer that has them. (IE: Newegg, Microcenter, etc.). Now some places have good used/refurbished products for example Woot.com. I have purchased 2 keyboard (Razer Lycosa) and a mouse (Razer Tron edition) and all items work perfectly. Now it really comes down to if you’re willing to take the risk.
The “to-good-to-be-true” deals: You may be browsing google and come across a 128 GB SSD for $60 dollars and buy it. Now if the site has good ratings you should be fine but that no name site selling it may not always be the best purchase. You may think, “Wow! I saved 60 bucks!” but in the long run you may end up spending tons of time on the phone trying to get a replacement to no avail and essentially thrown $60 down the drain.
Pre-builts: While there are some really great deals as far as prebuilts go, its very unlikely and you never truly know what is in your case. While it may seem like a good deal you may end up with a huge pain when you find you can’t push a game or that you need a better GPU and thus your PSU can’t power it. Some good tips to avoid being ripped off when purchasing a prebuilt:
Look other places: Find other places where you can buy/customize a similar or the exact same model
Compare it to the cost of building it yourself: Look at the parts you’re getting. Can you build it for cheaper? (More often than not yes, yes you can.)
What are your reasons behind buying? Is it because you are to afraid to do it yourself or because you don’t have the know how? Both of these can be fixed by following simple guides found on the internet.
That guy selling on a forum: A few forums actually have marketplaces in which you can buy parts. Often full rigs. While I wouldn’t recommend it, it is a great way to get some cheaper peripherals or even a few extra tidbits. But in most cases avoid it, it may seem great but it is often not the best idea to do. You have no real protection. Use eBay, and if you must, use paypal and only sell/buy from someone with a verified PayPal account.
A cone type loudspeaker that produces frequencies between about 20Hz to 200Hz. You may feel what is produced rather than hear it, since it is the low of the low for bass. The subwoofer usually has the largest driver.
Produces bass from about 40Hz to 1000Hz or possibly above. This would be bass you hear and covers a good portion between the bass and mids.
Produces sound in the mid range from 300Hz to about 5000Hz. This also sneaks into the bass-mid area and also the mid-high area.
Produces the highest notes all the way up to about 22KHz. This is the smallest of the drivers. There are two types of tweeters. Cone type speaker you usually see and ribbon feed style. Both can produce exceptional quality.
A type of driver that integrates sound from the woofer to the tweeter and on occasion the subwoofer. Generally sound is better from separate drivers, but on a budget these work well for gaming.
3.5mm (A typical 3.5mm connection. Clean enough for general music listeners)
RCA (Cleaner than most connections)
XLR (Extremely clean, usually used for studios)
1/4” TRS (Clean and delivers good power to large monitors)
Binding posts (Generally only used for passive speakers between amps)
Passive vs Active
Passive and active is a bit of a debate for audiophiles. Passive might give you better sound, but not necessarily. There are a lot of good active speakers. Passive requires an amp, while active does not. It generally depends on the speakers and price range.
These speakers carry a neutral tone and generally include all drivers but the subwoofer (for obvious reasons). These are, as in the name, used in studios. There are expensive and mid ranged prices for both passive and active. I’ve only listened to one pair, and I loved them. I won’t give recommendations, but Yamaha, KRK, and a few other brands are great. You probably don’t want to bug these people for studio monitors that aren’t going to be used in a studio, but you can take a look at this site: http://www.gearslutz.com
You could also try here: http://www.head-fi.o...-dbt-free-forum
Ultimately, I would stick with bookshelf speakers.
(Note: These are not focused on sound quality, but directional cues. Bookshelf speakers are better for music)
If you have any questions on speakers, amps, DACs, or headphones, please don’t be afraid to PM me. Also keep in mind this is not a high fidelity forum, please take a look at the site I linked above (head-fi) for audiophile support.
Eftj, for headphones I also recommend you look at the Sennheiser HD598/PC360 (use the same driver, just the PC360 comes with the headset, may also have the foam like the HD558). Also recommend the Koss Pro DJ100 and for competitive gaming the KRK KNS 6400 and 8400. Options on the more expensive side is the K601 and Q701, but they require a sound card, as they are high impedance.