Small guide to choosing/upgrading components in your computer

By Exonimus
Feb 16, 2007
  1. So, I've been reading a lot of posts lately about people asking about upgrading. I've decided to make a small guide that may help people choosing components. It’s also written for people not sure what pc to choose, but also as an indication of what to upgrade.

    The most important question: what do you want to use your pc for? Just as a desktop, for a bit of word processing, and be done with it? Or do you want to have the latest gaming rig that can handle any game at max detail, max AA, etc. I’m going to go into further detail for a few sorts of pc’s.

    The Word Processor
    If you just want to do some typing documents on your pc, read some email, browse on the internet a bit, the ‘word processor’ is perfect for you. You don’t need the latest core 2 extreme to do this stuff on. Basically, almost any processor is fine. However, with windows Vista coming up, I assume a lot of people will be upgrading to it. Therefore, the minimum system requirements(quoted from
    A Windows Vista Capable PC includes at least:
    • A modern processor (at least 800MHz¹).
    • 512 MB of system memory.
    • A graphics processor that is DirectX 9 capable.
    Windows Vista Premium Ready PCs
    Some Windows Vista Capable PCs have been designated Premium Ready. These PCs will provide an even better Windows Vista experience, including the Windows Aero user experience. Features available in specific premium editions of Windows Vista, such as the ability to watch and record live TV, may require additional hardware
    A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC includes at least:
    • 1 GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor¹).
    • 1 GB of system memory.
    • Support for DirectX 9 graphics with a WDDM driver, 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum)², Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.
    • 40 GB of hard drive capacity with 15 GB free space(I’d go for at least 80GB)
    • DVD-ROM Drive³.
    • Audio output capability.
    • Internet access capability.
    Now looking at the above, a 1ghz processor would be enough. However, as far as I’m concerned, I’d buy something a bit better. But with Vista, it really depends on what you want. If you don’t need the (good looking) Aero interface, the system stated above is more than enough. And if you do want the interface, the above is enough, but I’m not sure how fast it will run. I would recommend a faster processor.(but any modern/new processor is faster than 1ghz, so that’s not really a problem) so when upgrading your ‘work’ pc, and you need a new processor, almost any processor will do. If you want to upgrade a motherboard, you shouldn’t go for the most expensive one on the market. Just make sure it fits the other components you still have(like RAM,graphics card, etc.)

    The Media center.
    The media center pc will require a bit more high end parts, but still nothing really fancy. A
    A media center pc will be used to watch(maybe record) movies on, listen to music, probably also to watch tv on. It’s the storage for one’s movie and music collection, and therefore needs quite a large hard drive. Now it really depends on how many movies and music you want to store on it, because I’ve never seen someone with more than 60GB of music. The things that will really cost you space are the movies.I’d say about 250-300GB. But again, it really depends on how many movies you want to store. If you Hard drive is full, you can always add another one later. If you want to change the function of a pc you already have, or you want to also upgrade to windows vista on your media center, I’d say you can go over the specifications listed above. 1GB of RAM should still be enough, but you might want to consider expanding it a bit. Also, please bear in mind that windows media center 2005 works fine.

    The mid range gaming pc
    It’s all about budget. The mid range gaming pc usually has 1-2gb ram these days. At the moment, a graphics card like the nvidia geforce 7600GT is a good choice(it’s not too expensive, and you can upgrade it when you want to) if your budget allows it, a geforce 7900/7950gt are very nice, but you’re already shifting more to the high end specs. For the rest, make sure the hard disk is enough to store your games on. 250gb should do it just fine.

    The high end gaming pc.
    This one is easy. You should go for the best stuff you can afford. If money doesn’t play a role, buy the best there is.(like the nvidia geforce 8800gtx) and put 2 of them in SLI. Make sure they fit on the board you already have though. Or if you don’t have one, buy one that fits these cards. Buy the best processor, motherboard, etc. You can find, and please don’t forget other things like: a big hard disk, a good PSU(you need a good one for those graphic cards) and you need to remember cooling. The better cooled, the better your system will run(usually). If you’re on a budget, you should consider putting another card in(like the 7950gt or the 7900gx2) although if you’re really on a budget, you should go for the mid range gaming pc.

    The server
    This really really varies for what you use it for. I can gave you one advice though: make sure it’s STABLE. My friend had this server online, he was away for a few days and he got a blue screen of death. That’s not something you want when you serve important applications to other people. Faster is usually better, but if you have some low end applications you want to serve, you don’t need the latest hardware. There are some special server motherboards you might look into.

    Now, I didn’t state exactly what hardware you would need, because that depends entirely on what you want, and what you are willing to spend on it. This also changes rapidly. Feel free to post any comments/tell me what to improve.
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