Weekly Commentaries

The Sunday Bulletin weekly commentaries on various issues of interest affecting the country. All individual commentators are done by elite Papua New Guineans from diverse educational backgrounds.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Build your own computer


WITH THE need to use computers everywhere, users are starting to have the idea of having custom built computers to suit their needs. From the offices to the homes, people nowadays want fast computers. 

This means a fast proccessor or memory. This new generation of users want everything fast, fast internet, fast computers, fast cars, fast food. OMG! the fast generation, no wonder they die young.

Anyway it's just what they want so the retailers as well as the service providers must live up to fulfill that specific need.  

Of course even you the reader want a fast computer; I remember some time ago I had a very slow computer. It took ages for it to load before it is fully stable to do any processing. If I was to use it at 8am then I must switch it on at 7:30 giving it full 30 minutes to load. Fast computers are measured by how fast they load applications as well as responding to a user initiated task. That includes the logging on of the operating system.  

Wouldn't it be great if you built your own PC? In fact it's not as hard as you think; you can build your own computer at home. In this article I will try my best to give you some brief tips on doing that. The disclaimer would be not to fully use this article as a manual without consulting other sources.

The first step in building your own computer would be to look for a casing. I suggest you get a tower casing not a flat based casing. This is because most tower casings have an expandable architecture which makes it upgradable in the future. Mind you the flat based casing is those that lie flat where you can place your monitor on top. After getting a casing then look for a power supply. There are two types of power supplies. The AT and the ATX . You should go for the ATX, it's the latest make compared to AT which is now obselete. A good power supply unit will cost you around 90 bucks. Check Able Computing or Comserv they should have varieties of ATX. Find a good ATX power supply that has multiple connectors, this would make your computer expandable.

A good computer design is always expandable, meaning that its design can cater for upgrades. This would make it last longer rather than become outdated very soon after it is released. Therefore when designing your system take this into consideration. At least it will be economical in the long run.

Then the most foundation component of all, the motherboard. For those who are still not sure, the motherboard is the main board that all components are connected to. It is where all cards and modules are inserted. There are basically three characteristics that distinguises a motherboard; the form factor, chipset and components. The form factor of the motherboard determines the physical size of the motherboard and how components are placed on the board, that includes the location of the port such as USB and parallel, serial ports.

I think the form factor will also decide which case you are to have. For example if your motherboard has front panel USB and multimedia connectors then you have to get a case which caters for these. It depends on which one you get first, if you have a motherboard then find a suitable case for it, but if you have a case then find a suitable motherboard, whichever. The chipset which is the main chip on the motherboard decides which processor and memory you are to use for the system. It also defines the expansion slots and finally the components determine the core functionality of the system. A good tech would give you the best recommendation for a good system because motherboards determine function, expansion and stabality of the whole system. A good tip would be to choose motherboards which have most components intergrated onboard, that includes ports and drivers such as audio or VGA.

The next thing that you should add on to the system is a processor to drive the motherboard. The processor will be determined by which type of motherboard you have. Good motherboard manufacturers will recommend which processor you should place on the motherboard. If you have a manual for the motherboard check the specifications of the recommended processors so that you know what to purchase. Since processor contribute to the speed of the PC you should go for the fastest if you have financial power. I know you have, ha ha ha. Just FYI processor speed is measuresd in hertz. So go for the ones that come in the gigahertz.

Once you get the processor on board then get a RAM (Random Access Memory). Again depending on the motherboard you will decide which type of RAM you will buy for your system. Examine your motherboard to see which type of RAM you suppose to purchase. Memory is classified into various categories depending on the number of pins or the frequency speed rate, again like the processor you should consult you motherboard manual to see recommended specifications. Since this component too is responsible for speed, you should get the best your money can buy. Measured in megabytes you should at least have 512 MB of RAM or better a gig to satisfy your processing needs.

Now your system is about to be completed, screw in the motherboard and the power supply (check manuals for instructions on assemlying the motherboard). Attach powersupply cables on to the motherboard. Also following manual mount the proccessor and the RAM , get a tech to do it for you if you are not confident.
Once the necessary cables are linked together, get a hard disk drive (HDD), also depending on your motherboard form factor, you will decide whether to get an IDE drive of a SATA drive, newer form factors will cater for both. If that is the case then the choice is yours depending on your preference of speed and size.

Get the drive and connect it onto the casing.
Also buy a CD-RW of DVD-RW for the system and slot it above the HDD following the same connecting principles used for the HDD. Once it's done then you have a complete system. If it's your first time assembling a PC then its best you get a qualified tech to do an inspection of your system before you power it up. This minimises the risk of blowing up parts.

That is the hardware side of the system, once it's inspected, start it up, insert a Windows XP Installation disk and install the OS. You have build you own PC. Due to the brief run through of the entire assembly process in this article I would suggest you read more books on system specs, compatibility and safety from shocks before you start to build your system. Check www.build-your-own-computers.com.Until then, happy computing.


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