This is the fifth and final portion of the series covering choosing the components for your computer. So far in the series, we have covered every item in the list below that is italicized. As always, the items with an asterisk beside them are optional, depending on your computer set up.
Here are links to the first four installments of the series in case you missed them:
Tech Tip 84 - How to Build a Computer
Part 1: Choosing the Basic Computer Components
Tech Tip 85 - How to Build a Computer
Part 2: Choosing the Hard Drive, RAM & Motherboard
Tech Tip 86 - How to Build a Computer
Part 3: Choosing the CPU & Heat Sink Fan
Tech Tip 88 - How to Build a Computer
Part 4: Choosing the Hard and Floppy Drive Cables, CD/DVD Drive Cable and Graphics Card
• Power supply
• CD drives
• DVD drives
• Floppy Drive*
• Hard Drive(s)
• RAM (random access memory)
• CPU (central processing unit)
• CPU heat sink/fan
• Thermal paste
• Hard drive cable
• Floppy drive cable*
• CD/DVD drive cable
• Graphics card*
(optional if your motherboard has onboard graphics)
• Sound card* (optional if your motherboard has onboard sound)
Choosing the monitor for your new computer is one of the more personal choices when it comes to selecting components for your computer system. Depending on how you will be using your computer, you will want to choose a monitor that tailors to those uses. If you are a graphic designer and absolutely need to have colors on the screen that look exactly like what you get on paper when it is printed, you should shop for a high-end graphic design display, such as the Eizo CE240W or an Apple Cinema Display.
If the main use for your system is going to be PC gaming, you may want a display with the lowest possible response time to help ensure your images will not be blurred during game play, and that you will not experience a phenomenon known as ghosting. Ghosting is when images on LCDs change too quickly for the LCD to completely redraw the next image. The resulting image that is similar to what you would see on a TV that is using an antenna and picking up more than one station on the same frequency. Again, what you are looking for is the fastest pixel response time your budget will allow.
For some uses, you may want a CRT display rather than LCD. For instance, for video editing and other tasks that require extreme high resolutions, CRTs are often the better choice. Just be sure when you are choosing your display that you consider what you'll be doing with your system, and buy the highest quality display you can fit into your budget.
The keyboard is another computer peripheral that at first glance seems quite uncomplicated. However, the keyboard is one of the most overlooked places that you can gain productivity and increase gaming fun. For gamers, there are number of gaming specific keyboards on the market, such as the Wolf King Warrior USB Ultimate FPS Gaming Pad which is very well laid out for first person games. The Logitech G15 has a traditional keyboard layout that would work as well.
If your tastes don't lean towards gaming, you can still get a keyboard that will help increase your productivity and comfort. There are a large number of keyboards designed to both reduce the strain on your arms and wrists, and help you control different types of media on your computer such as MP3s and video.
Users going for the cleanest desktop they can get will want to go wireless. However, I don't recommend wireless mice and keyboards for gaming due to possible response latency. At the end of the day, the choice really comes down to your preference and your computing style.
Much like keyboards, the mouse is another component where gamers can improve their game play. There are many special-purpose gaming mice on the market such as the Razer line of mice, as well as a variety of mice from Logitech, such as the G5 and G7. When choosing a mouse, gamers should keep an eye on the optical resolution of the mouse and the type of mouse (i.e. laser or optical). There are still some ball mice on the market, even though that technology is quickly becoming archaic. The vast majority of newer mice will be either optical or laser. Laser mice tend to be more sensitive, more cutting-edge and more expensive, while optical mice tend to be cheaper and less sensitive.
Even if you're not a gamer, you will still want to pay attention to the mouse you choose. You'd be surprised at the productivity you can lose if you choose a poorly designed mouse. I have found over the years that a mouse with extra programmable buttons that control Web browsing forward and backwards is a big timesaver, not to mention a scroll button for quickly scrolling up and down a page.
PC speakers are an optional component of your computer system. If you're not interested in hearing sounds and music from your computer, you can simply skip this component all-together. However, for the gamers, music fans and video buffs out there, the speakers you choose are one of the components that can make or break the immersion you get while doing what you do. Ideally, you will want a set of 5.1 surround sound speakers. However, if your budget is limited, then any set of speakers will allow you to hear the sound output from your favorite game or program. Just remember that with speakers especially, you really get what you pay for.
That's All for This Week
With this issue, we conclude the portion of the series covering choosing your computer components. In our next issue, we will begin the assembly portion of our series starting with preparing your computer case or chassis. If you missed any of the past installments of the series on choosing computer components, visit the Tech Tips Hardware section of the Geeks.com website.
You know computers have taken over your life when...
- You hum the Windows opening theme when ever you wake up
- You think the numbers on tombstones are high scores
- You use Google to search for your car keys
- You actually hand in work from Essay Generator.com
- You keep getting fired as you beat up your boss thinking that you'll get to the next level
- You keep a trash can and a selection of neatly arranged folders on your desk top
- You excuse yourself to go to the toilet by anouncing that you have to download
- You try to shut windows by tapping them on the top right corner
- You refer to meals as power ups
- You call Christmas a bonus round