Cover image for Building the Perfect PC

Book description

With off-the-shelf computer systems to fit any budget or requirement, some people might wonder why you'd want to build your own. They don't understand that for many computer users, a ready-made system is about as satisfying as popping a frozen dinner in the microwave when you'd rather have real food instead. Sure, it works, but it's not exactly what you need or want. There's a lot to be said for a computer that has exactly the quality components you choose, by the manufacturers you choose, rather than the conveniently bundled assortment made for your price point. But perhaps you've stopped short of building your own because you're inexperienced or you're concerned it won't come out right. After all, you want your computer to be perfect. Hesitate no longer: Building the Perfect PC delivers end-to-end instructions (that even inexperienced PC-builders can follow) for creating your ideal machine. Written by hardware experts Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson, this book covers it all, beginning with the various reasons why you'd want to build your own PC, planning and picking out the components, and putting it all together. The book outlines a variety of complete systems and all of their components, including a small form factor PC; a middle-of-the-road "sweet spot" system with top-notch components; and a top-end gaming PC with high-end video, a fast processor, and enough RAM to make your palms sweat just thinking about it. Straightforward language, clear directions, and extensive illustrations make this guide a breeze for computer builders of any level to follow--even those with little or no experience. If you've yearned for a quality machine with high-end components that suit your needs, then Building the Perfect PC will put you where you want to be: in control of your computer system.

Table of Contents

  1. Building the Perfect PC
    1. About the Authors
    2. Foreword
    3. Preface
      1. Goals of This Book
      2. Audience for This Book
      3. Organization of This Book
      4. Acknowledgments
      5. We’d Like to Hear from You
        1. How to contact O’Reilly
        2. How to contact the authors
      6. Disclaimer
      7. Thank You
    4. 1. Fundamentals
      1. Why Build a PC?
      2. Designing the Perfect PC
        1. Balanced design
        2. Designing a quiet PC
        3. Designing a small PC
      3. Things to Know and Do Before You Start
      4. Things You Need to Have
        1. Components
        2. Hand tools and supplies
        3. Software tools
      5. Getting to Know Your Motherboard
      6. Troubleshooting
    5. 2. Choosing and Buying Components
      1. Choosing Components
        1. Case
        2. Power supply
        3. Processor
        4. Heatsink/fan units (CPU coolers)
        5. Motherboard
        6. Memory
        7. Floppy disk drive
        8. Hard drive
        9. Optical drive
          1. CD-ROM drive.
          2. DVD-ROM drive.
          3. CD-RW drive.
          4. DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive.
          5. DVD writer.
        10. Video adapter
        11. Display
        12. Audio adapter
        13. Speakers
        14. Keyboards
        15. Mice
        16. Network adapters
          1. Wired network adapters
          2. Wireless network adapters
        17. Modems
      2. Buying Components
        1. Buying guidelines
        2. Recommended sources
      3. Final Words
    6. 3. Building a Mainstream PC
      1. Determining Functional Requirements
      2. Hardware Design Criteria
      3. Component Considerations
        1. Case and power supply
        2. Motherboard
        3. Processor
        4. Memory
        5. Video adapter
        6. Hard disk drive
        7. Optical drive
        8. Keyboard
        9. Mouse
        10. Speakers
        11. Display
        12. UPS
        13. Component summary
      4. Building the System
        1. Preparing the case
        2. Preparing and populating the motherboard
          1. Preparing the motherboard
          2. Installing the processor
          3. Installing the heatsink/fan (HSF)
          4. Installing the memory
        3. Installing the motherboard
          1. Seating and securing the motherboard
          2. Connecting the front-panel switch and indicator cables
          3. Connecting the front-panel USB ports
          4. Connecting the front-panel IEEE-1394a (FireWire) port
          5. Connecting the front-panel audio ports
        4. Installing the hard drive
        5. Installing the video adapter
        6. Installing the optical drive
        7. Connecting the ATX power connectors
        8. Final assembly steps
      5. Final Words
        1. Installing software
        2. Updating the BIOS
        3. Possible future upgrades
    7. 4. Building a SOHO Server
      1. Determining Functional Requirements
      2. Hardware Design Criteria
        1. RAID for SOHO servers
      3. Component Considerations
        1. Case and power supply
        2. Motherboard
        3. Processor
        4. Memory
        5. Hard disk drive
        6. External hard drive
        7. CD writer
        8. DVD writer
        9. CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
        10. Tape drive
        11. Keyboard, mouse, and display
        12. UPS
        13. Component summary
      4. Building the System
        1. Preparing the case
        2. Preparing and populating the motherboard
          1. Installing the processor
          2. Installing the heatsink/fan (HSF)
          3. Installing the memory
        3. Installing the motherboard
          1. Seating and securing the motherboard
          2. Connecting the front-panel switch and indicator cable
          3. Connecting the front-panel USB cable
        4. Installing the hard drives
        5. Installing the optical drive
        6. Connecting power to the motherboard
        7. Final assembly steps
      5. Final Words
        1. Installing software
        2. Possible future upgrades
    8. 5. Building a Kick-Ass LAN Party PC
      1. Determining Functional Requirements
      2. Hardware Design Criteria
      3. Component Considerations
        1. Case
        2. Power supply
        3. Motherboard
        4. Processor
        5. CPU cooler
        6. Memory
        7. Video adapter
        8. Sound adapter
        9. Hard disk drive
        10. ATA cable
        11. Optical drive
        12. Keyboard and mouse
        13. Home keyboard and mouse
        14. Away keyboard and mouse
        15. Game controllers
        16. Speakers and headphones
        17. Displays
        18. Component summary
      4. Building the System
        1. Preparing the case
        2. Preparing and populating the motherboard
        3. Preparing the motherboard
        4. Installing the processor
        5. Installing the heatsink/fan (HSF)
        6. Installing the memory
        7. Installing the motherboard
        8. Seating and securing the motherboard
        9. Connecting the front-panel switch and indicator cables
        10. Connecting the front-panel USB ports
        11. Connecting the front fan and setting the BIOS configuration jumper
        12. Installing the hard drive
        13. Installing the expansion cards
        14. Installing the rear fan
        15. Connecting the ATX power connectors
        16. Installing the optical drive and voltage/fan control panel
        17. Final assembly steps
      5. Final Words
    9. 6. Building a Home Theater PC
      1. Determining Functional Requirements
      2. Hardware Design Criteria
      3. Choosing Software
        1. Linux PVR applications
        2. Windows PVR applications
        3. myHTPC
        4. Sage
        5. ShowShifter
        6. SnapStream Personal Video Station
        7. ATi Multimedia Center (MMC)
      4. Component Considerations
        1. Case and power supply
        2. Motherboard
        3. Processor
        4. Memory
        5. Video adapter and capture/tuner card
        6. Hard disk drive
        7. Optical drive
        8. Remote control
        9. Keyboard and mouse
        10. Speakers
        11. Component summary
      5. Building the System
        1. Preparing the case
        2. Populating the motherboard
        3. Installing the processor
        4. Installing the heatsink/fan (HSF)
        5. Installing the memory
        6. Installing the motherboard
        7. Seating and securing the motherboard
        8. Connecting the front-panel cables
        9. Connecting the internal I/O cables
        10. Installing cliffhanger connectors
        11. Installing the drives
        12. Installing the video adapter
        13. Connecting the main ATX power connector
      6. Final Words
        1. Installing and configuring software
        2. Hardware changes
        3. Connecting the HTPC
        4. A better way to transfer VHS tapes
        5. Going forward
    10. 7. Building a Small Form Factor PC
      1. Determining Functional Requirements
      2. Hardware Design Criteria
      3. Component Considerations
        1. Case and power supply
        2. Motherboard
        3. Processor
        4. Memory
        5. Video adapter
        6. Hard disk drive
        7. Optical drive
        8. External peripherals
        9. Component summary
      4. Building the System
        1. Preparing the case
        2. Installing the processor and memory
          1. Installing the processor
          2. Installing the heatsink/fan (HSF)
          3. Installing the memory
        3. Installing the motherboard
          1. Seating and securing the motherboard
          2. Connecting the front-panel USB ports
          3. Connecting the front-panel switch and indicator cables
          4. Connecting the front-panel audio ports
          5. Connecting the drive cables to the motherboard
        4. Installing the drives
        5. Installing the Low-Speed Cyclone Blower
        6. Final assembly steps
      5. Final Words
    11. Index
    12. Colophon