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Build It. Fix It. Own It.: A Beginner’s Guide to Building and Upgrading a PC

Book Description

BUILD IT. FIX it. OWN IT.

A Beginner’s Guide to Building and Upgrading a PC

Build It. Fix It. Own It. is the ultimate beginner’s guide to building and fixing your own PC. With a friendly, knowledgeable tone, this book shows the beginning PC builder everything he or she needs to know to build a computer or upgrade an existing one.

We step you through the parts that lurk inside a PC, from the motherboard and power supply to the CPU, memory, hard drive, video card, sound card, and networking hardware. In each case, you will learn how the hardware works, what it does, what types of hardware are available, and what to look for when buying the hardware.

Then we walk you step-by-step though a series of PC building projects. We show you how to build five different types of PC: a basic business PC, a home theater PC, a high-performance PC, a killer gaming PC, and a budget PC. And if building a new PC from scratch isn’t in your budget, we show you how to resurrect  an old PC by swapping out a few key components.

When you have your PC built and running, we show you how to set up a wireless network and the BIOS and maintain your new rig.

Build It. Fix It. Own It. is the ultimate PC builder’s guide, even if you’ve never ventured inside a PC case before!

Author Bio

Paul McFedries is one of the industry’s most well known and respected technical writers and is a passionate computer tinkerer. He is the author of more than 70 computer books that have sold more than three million copies worldwide. His recent titles include the Sams Publishing books Windows Vista Unleashed and Windows Home Server Unleashed and the Que Publishing books Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista, Formulas and Functions with Microsoft Excel 2007, Tricks of the Microsoft Office 2007 Gurus, and Microsoft Access 2007 Forms, Reports, and Queries. Paul also is the proprietor of Word Spy (www.wordspy.com), a website devoted to tracking new words and phrases as they enter the English language.

Category     Hardware

Covers         PC Hardware

User Level    Beginner—Intermediate

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. About the Author
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. We Want to Hear from You!
  5. Reader Services
  6. Introduction
    1. Build It. Fix It. Own It!
    2. Who Should Read This Book?
    3. Conventions Used in This Book
  7. I. Getting to Know Your PC
    1. 1. The Barebones: The Motherboard, Case, and Power Supply
      1. Mobo Mojo: Understanding the Motherboard
        1. A Tour of a Typical Motherboard
        2. Understanding Expansion Slot Types
        3. Sizing Up Motherboard Form Factors
          1. ATX: The Standard
          2. microATX: Good for First-Timers
          3. Mini-ITX: The Small Form Factor Choice
        4. Buying a Motherboard
      2. The Case Is Your Base
        1. Buttons, Bezels, and Bays: A Case Parts List
        2. That’s About the Size of It: Case Form Factors
        3. Case Designs: From Boring to Beautiful
        4. Going with the Flow: Case Fans
        5. Buying a Case
      3. Power to the PC: The Power Supply Unit
        1. Getting to Know the Power Supply
        2. Buying a Power Supply
      4. From Here
    2. 2. The Brains: The Central Processing Unit
      1. Intel or AMD?
      2. Clocks, Cores, and More: Understanding CPU Specs
        1. The Processor Family
        2. The Processor Cores
        3. The Processor Name
        4. The Processor Clock Speed
        5. The Processor Socket
        6. The Processor Bus Speed
        7. The Processor L2 Cache Size
        8. The Processor Manufacturing Process
        9. The Processor Core Type
        10. The Processor Market: What’s Available
      3. Keeping It Cool: Fans and Heatsinks
      4. Buying a CPU
      5. From Here
    3. 3. The Work Area: Memory
      1. What Is RAM?
      2. Combining Memory Chips Into Memory Modules
      3. DDR, DIMM, and More: Understanding Memory Specs
        1. The Memory Module Standard
        2. The Memory Type and Speed
        3. Dual Channel Mode
        4. The Memory Module Capacity
        5. The Memory Latency and Timings
        6. The Memory Module Configuration and Pins
      4. Windows and RAM: The 4GB Conundrum
      5. Buying Memory
      6. From Here
    4. 4. Hard Drives and Other Storage Devices
      1. Drive Time: How a Hard Drive Works
      2. Capacity, Cache, and More: Understanding Hard Drive Specs
        1. The Hard Drive Interface and Throughput
          1. The PATA Interface
          2. The SATA Interface
          3. External Drive Interfaces
        2. The Hard Drive Form Factor
        3. The Hard Drive Capacity
        4. The Hard Drive Speed
        5. The Hard Drive Cache
        6. The Hard Drive Seek Time
      3. Buying a Hard Drive
      4. Disc Driving: Choosing an Optical Drive
        1. The Data’s the Things: Optical Disc Capacities
        2. A Tour of Optical Drive Types
        3. Speed Is All: Understanding Optical Drive Speeds
        4. Buying an Optical Drive
      5. More Storage Devices
      6. From Here
    5. 5. Eyes to See and Ears to Hear: Video and Audio Hardware
      1. Assessing Your Video Card Needs
      2. GPU, GDDR, SLI, and More: Understanding Video Card Specs
        1. The GPU Chipset
        2. Video Memory
        3. Dual-GPU Support
        4. Video Card Connectors
      3. Buying a Video Card
      4. Bits, Channels, and More: Understanding Sound Card Specs
        1. The Sampling Frequency
        2. The Sample Depth
        3. The Number of Channels
        4. Sound Card Connectors
      5. Buying a Sound Card
      6. From Here
    6. 6. Getting Connected: Networking Hardware
      1. Getting Wired: Understanding Ethernet Networks
        1. 10BASE-T
        2. 100BASE-T (Fast Ethernet)
        3. 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet)
        4. Beyond Gigabit Ethernet
      2. Learning about Network Interface Cards
      3. The Wired Connection: Network Cables
        1. Twisted-Pair Cable
        2. Crossover Cable
      4. A Connection Point for Your Network: The Switch
      5. Adding the Internet into the Mix with a Router
        1. Understanding IP Addresses
        2. The Router and Dynamic IP Addressing
        3. The Router as Firewall
        4. The Router as Switch
      6. A Buyer’s Guide to Ethernet Hardware
        1. Purchasing a NIC
        2. Purchasing Cables
        3. Purchasing a Switch
        4. Purchasing a Router
      7. Going Wireless: Understanding Wi-Fi Networks
        1. Understanding Wi-Fi
          1. 802.11b
          2. 802.11a
          3. 802.11g
          4. 802.11n
        2. Understanding Wireless Hot Spots
      8. Learning About Wireless NICs
      9. Putting It All Together with a Wireless Access Point
      10. Expanding Your Wi-Fi Empire with a Wireless Range Extender
      11. A Buyer’s Guide to Wireless Networking Hardware
        1. Purchasing a Wireless NIC
        2. Purchasing a Wireless AP
      12. From Here
    7. 7. Buying PC Parts
      1. Researching Parts Online
        1. Checking Out Product Reviews
        2. Performing Price Comparisons
      2. Researching Retailers Online
      3. Buying Parts Online
      4. Returning Parts Online
      5. Buying Parts Offline
      6. Buying Non–Shrink-Wrapped Parts
      7. From Here
    8. 8. Basic Skills for PC Building and Upgrading
      1. What Tools Do You Need?
      2. What Software Do You Need?
      3. Setting Up Your Work Area
      4. Playing It Safe
        1. Keeping Yourself Safe
        2. Keeping Your Components Safe
      5. Opening the Computer Case
      6. Making Cable Connections
      7. Installing Memory Modules
      8. Installing an Expansion Card
      9. Installing a Processor
        1. Installing an Intel CPU in a Socket 775 Board
        2. Installing an AMD CPU in a Socket AM2 Board
      10. From Here
    9. 9. Scavenging an Old PC for Parts
      1. Removing an Internal Expansion Card
      2. Taking Out a Hard Drive
      3. Prying Out a CPU
      4. Pulling Out Memory Modules
      5. Releasing the Power Supply
      6. Removing the Motherboard
      7. From Here
  8. II. PC Building and Upgrading Projects
    1. 10. Building a Basic Business PC
      1. Design Goals for a Basic Business PC
      2. Choosing Parts for the Basic Business PC
        1. Selecting a Case for the Basic Business PC
        2. Choosing a Motherboard for the Basic Business PC
        3. Selecting a Power Supply for the Basic Business PC
        4. Picking Out a CPU for the Basic Business PC
        5. How Much Memory Does the Basic Business PC Need?
        6. Storage Options for the Basic Business PC
        7. Determining the Video Needs of the Basic Business PC
        8. Selecting Audio Equipment for the Basic Business PC
        9. Choosing Networking Hardware for the Basic Business PC
        10. Pricing the Basic Business PC
      3. Putting Together the Basic Business PC
        1. Removing the Generic I/O Shield
        2. Installing the Motherboard Standoffs
        3. Getting the Motherboard Ready for Action
          1. Inserting the Processor
          2. Inserting the Memory Modules
        4. Installing the Motherboard
          1. Inserting the Motherboard I/O Shield
          2. Attaching the Motherboard to the Case
          3. Installing the CPU Cooler
          4. Connecting the Motherboard Power Cables
          5. Connecting the Front-Panel IEEE-1394 Cable
          6. Connecting the Front-Panel USB Cable
          7. Connecting the Front-Panel Audio Cables
          8. Connecting the Power Switch, Reset Switch, and LEDs
          9. Connecting the Case Fan Power Cables
        5. Installing the Hard Drive
        6. Installing the Optical Drive
        7. Inserting the Video Card
        8. Final Steps
      4. Powering Up
      5. Final Thoughts
      6. From Here
    2. 11. Building a Home Theater PC
      1. Design Goals for a Home Theater PC
      2. Choosing Parts for the Home Theater PC
        1. Selecting a Case for the Home Theater PC
        2. Choosing a Motherboard for the Home Theater PC
        3. Selecting a Power Supply for the Home Theater PC
        4. Picking a CPU for the Home Theater PC
        5. How Much Memory Does the Home Theater PC Need?
        6. Storage Options for the Home Theater PC
        7. Determining the Video Needs of the Home Theater PC
        8. Selecting Audio Equipment for the Home Theater PC
        9. Choosing Networking Hardware for the Home Theater PC
        10. Pricing the Home Theater PC
      3. Putting Together the Home Theater PC
        1. Getting the Case Ready
        2. Installing the Motherboard Standoffs
        3. Getting the Motherboard Ready for Action
          1. Installing the CPU Cooler Back Plate
          2. Inserting the Processor
          3. Inserting the Memory Modules
        4. Installing the Motherboard
          1. Inserting the Motherboard I/O Shield
          2. Attaching the Motherboard to the Case
          3. Installing the CPU Cooler
          4. Installing the Power Supply
          5. Connecting the Motherboard Power Cables
          6. Connecting the Front-Panel IEEE-1394 and USB Cables
          7. Connecting the Front-Panel Audio Cables
          8. Connecting the Power Switch, Reset Switch, and LEDs
          9. Connecting the Case Fan Power Cables
        5. Installing the 5.25-inch Drives
          1. Installing the Optical Drive
          2. Installing Sound Blaster Breakout Box
        6. Installing the Expansion Cards
        7. Installing the Sound Card
        8. Installing the Hard Drive
        9. Final Steps
      4. Powering Up
      5. Final Thoughts
      6. From Here
    3. 12. Building a High-Performance PC
      1. Design Goals for a High-Performance PC
      2. Choosing Parts for the High-Performance PC
        1. Selecting a Case for the High-Performance PC
        2. Choosing a Motherboard for the High-Performance PC
        3. Selecting a Power Supply for the High-Performance PC
        4. Picking Out a CPU for the High-Performance PC
        5. How Much Memory Does the High-Performance PC Need?
        6. Storage Options for the High-Performance PC
        7. Determining the Video Needs of the High-Performance PC
        8. Selecting Audio Equipment for the High-Performance PC
        9. Choosing Networking Hardware for the High-Performance PC
        10. Pricing the High-Performance PC
      3. Putting Together the High-Performance PC
        1. Getting the Case Ready
        2. Installing the Motherboard Standoffs
        3. Getting the Motherboard Ready for Action
          1. Inserting the Processor
          2. Inserting the Memory Modules
        4. Installing the Motherboard
          1. Inserting the Motherboard I/O Shield
          2. Attaching the Motherboard to the Case
          3. Installing the Power Supply
          4. Connecting the Motherboard Power Cables
          5. Installing the CPU Cooler
          6. Connecting the Front-Panel IEEE-1394 and USB Cables
          7. Connecting the Front-Panel eSATA Cable
          8. Connecting the Front-Panel Audio Cables
          9. Connecting the Power Switch, Reset Switch, and LEDs
          10. Connecting the Case Fan Power Cables
        5. Installing the Hard Drive
        6. Installing the Optical Drive
        7. Installing the Card Reader
        8. Inserting the Video Cards
        9. Final Steps
      4. Powering Up
      5. Final Thoughts
      6. From Here
    4. 13. Building a Killer Gaming PC
      1. Design Goals for a Killer Gaming PC
      2. Choosing Parts for the Killer Gaming PC
        1. Selecting a Case for the Killer Gaming PC
        2. Choosing a Motherboard for the Killer Gaming PC
        3. Determining the Video Needs of the Killer Gaming PC
        4. Storage Options for the Killer Gaming PC
        5. Selecting a Power Supply for the Killer Gaming PC
        6. Picking Out a CPU for the Killer Gaming PC
        7. How Much Memory Does the Killer Gaming PC Need?
        8. Selecting Audio Equipment for the Killer Gaming PC
        9. Choosing Networking Hardware for the Killer Gaming PC
        10. Pricing the Killer Gaming PC
      3. Putting Together the Killer Gaming PC
        1. Getting the Case Ready
        2. Installing the Motherboard Standoffs
        3. Getting the Motherboard Ready for Action
          1. Inserting the Processor
          2. Installing the CPU Cooler
          3. Inserting the Memory Modules
        4. Installing the Motherboard
          1. Inserting the Motherboard I/O Shield
          2. Attaching the Motherboard to the Case
          3. Connecting the EL I/O
          4. Connecting the Front-Panel IEEE-1394 and USB Cables
          5. Connecting the Power Switch, Reset Switch, and LEDs
        5. Installing the Hard Drive
        6. Installing the Optical Drive
        7. Inserting the Sound Card
        8. Inserting the Video Cards
        9. Installing the Power Supply and Power Cables
        10. Final Steps
      4. Powering Up
        1. Configuring the RAID Array
        2. Installing the Operating System
      5. Final Thoughts
      6. From Here
    5. 14. Building a Budget PC
      1. Design Goals for a Budget PC
      2. Choosing Parts for the Budget PC
        1. Selecting a Case for the Budget PC
        2. Choosing a Motherboard for the Budget PC
        3. Selecting a Power Supply for the Budget PC
        4. Picking Out a CPU for the Budget PC
        5. How Much Memory Does the Budget PC Need?
        6. Storage Options for the Budget PC
        7. Determining the Video Needs of the Budget PC
        8. Selecting Audio Equipment for the Budget PC
        9. Choosing Networking Hardware for the Budget PC
        10. Pricing the Budget PC
      3. Putting Together the Budget PC
        1. Getting the Case Ready
        2. Installing the Motherboard Standoffs
        3. Getting the Motherboard Ready for Action
          1. Inserting the Processor
          2. Installing the CPU Cooler
          3. Inserting the Memory Modules
        4. Installing the Motherboard
          1. Inserting the Motherboard I/O Shield
          2. Attaching the Motherboard to the Case
          3. Connecting the Front-Panel USB and eSATA Cables
          4. Connecting the Front-Panel Audio Cables
          5. Connecting the Power Switch, Reset Switch, and LEDs
        5. Installing the Hard Drive
        6. Installing the Optical Drive
        7. Inserting the HDMI Card
        8. Installing the Case Intake Fan
        9. Connecting the Power Cables
        10. Final Steps
      4. Powering Up
      5. Final Thoughts
      6. From Here
    6. 15. This Old PC: Renovating a Computer
      1. Getting Started: Researching the Upgrade
        1. Looking Inside the Computer
        2. Accessing the System BIOS Configuration Program
        3. Running the Device Manager and System Information Utilities
        4. Searching for the System Manual Online
        5. Using Third-Party Tools to Research Components
      2. Before: Benchmarking the Old PC
      3. Making the Old PC Run Faster
        1. The Chipset Is All
        2. Adding More Memory
        3. Upgrading the Video Card
        4. Beefing Up the Hard Drive
        5. Dropping in a Faster CPU
      4. After: Benchmarking the Upgraded PC
      5. From Here
    7. 16. Putting Your Network Together
      1. Configuring Your Router
        1. Connecting the Router for Configuration
        2. Displaying the Router’s Setup Pages
        3. Changing the Router’s IP Address
        4. Updating the Firmware
        5. Setting Up Your Broadband Connection
        6. Enabling UPnP
        7. Enabling the DHCP Server
        8. Modifying Wireless Settings
        9. Checking the Router Status
      2. Connecting the Broadband Modem
        1. Attaching the Internet Connection Cable
        2. Registering the Modem
      3. Connecting the Router
      4. Connecting the Switch
      5. Laying the Network Cable
      6. Changing the Computer and Workgroup Name
      7. Making Wireless Network Connections
        1. Connecting to a Wireless Network
        2. Disconnecting from a Wireless Network
      8. From Here
    8. 17. Maintaining Your Computer Hardware
      1. Cleaning the Computer
        1. Dust: Your PC’s Worst Nightmare
        2. Cleaning the Screen, Keyboard, and Mouse
        3. Cleaning the Front and Back of the PC
        4. Cleaning the Power Supply
        5. Cleaning the Interior
      2. Updating the Motherboard BIOS
        1. Updating the BIOS for the Intel D975XBX2
        2. Updating the BIOS for the Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H
        3. Updating the BIOS for the ASUS P5K3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP
        4. Updating the BIOS for the ASUS Striker Extreme
        5. Updating the BIOS for the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI
      3. Updating Device Drivers
      4. Creating a System Image Backup
      5. Checking Your Hard Drive for Errors
      6. Defragmenting Your Hard Drive
      7. From Here