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Building the Perfect PC, Third Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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2. Choosing and Buying Components

The components you choose for your system determine its features, performance level, and reliability. How and where you buy those components determines how much the system costs.

Sometimes it is a good idea to spend more for additional features or performance, but often it is not. The trick is to figure out where to draw the line—when to spend extra money for extra features and performance, and when to settle for a less expensive component. Our years of experience have taught us several lessons in that regard:

  • Benchmarks lie. Buying PC components based solely on benchmark results is like buying a car based solely on its top speed. It’s worse, actually, because no standards exist for how benchmarks measure performance, or what aspect of performance they measure. Using one benchmark, Component A may be the clear winner, with Component B lagging far behind. With another benchmark, the positions may be reversed. When you select components for your new system, we suggest you regard benchmarks with suspicion and use them only as very general guidelines, if at all.
  • Performance differences don’t matter if it takes a benchmark to show them. Enthusiast websites wax poetic about a processor that’s 10% faster than its competitor or a video card that renders frames 5% faster than its predecessor. Who cares? A difference you won’t notice isn’t worth paying for.

    Ron Morse Comments

    Conventional wisdom is that a change in performance has to be on the order of ...

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