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Building a Computer

Getting Started with the Basics of Computer Hardware


Seth Moyer ENGL 202C July 11, 2011

Contents
Preface
Included in this Guide........................................................................................3 Intended Audience.............................................................................................3 Assumptions this Guide Makes......................................................................4 Organization of this Guide...............................................................................4 Tips for Using this Guide..................................................................................4

Consumer Resources
Tom's Hardware..................................................................................................6 Computer Power User.......................................................................................7 Overclock.net......................................................................................................8 Energy Star...........................................................................................................9

Professional Resources
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications...................................................11 ACM Digital Library..........................................................................................12 IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics..............................................13 Statistical Abstract of the United States....................................................14 Image Credits.................................................................................................15
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Preface
Included in this Guide
This guide includes resources that fall into two categories. The first category of resources are more consumer based and are specifically targeted toward consumers who are interested in or are already in the process of building a PC for themselves. The second category is of more general resources that are of a more professional nature that are related to the industries of technology and computing. This latter category is useful for people whose interest in the technological field has been piqued and want to learn more about the field itself. Included in each resource's entry is a description of what the resource is, what its purpose is, and why it is useful as well as a list of tips for its effective use.

Intended Audience

The intended audience for this guide is a consumer who wants to learn more about the process of building a computer, as well as learn about the computer industry itself. As such, the guide contains resources that are specialized and will be most useful to those interested in computer building and electronics. The guide is also somewhat intended for people who are looking to further their interests, possibly professionally. This guide will not be as useful for people who are already experienced at computer building and are knowledgeable about the technology industry, since it is meant to help people who do not know much about either of these subjects.

Assumptions this Guide Makes

It is assumed that readers of this guide are at least somewhat technically inclined. The resources that are included in the guide are for people whose level of proficiency with technology is above that of the average person. If the reader of this guide is not proficient with technology, they will likely have a harder time learning from the resources than they could or they may become frustrated and give up altogether. Therefore, it is recommended that people who would like to read this guide but are not confident in their level of technological proficiency familiarize themselves with computer hardware and software, or at the very least expect to have to familiarize themselves later on.

Organization of this Guide


This guide is organized into two main sections. The first section includes the resources that would be most useful for computer building, both the process of becoming an informed buyer and the actual assembly. The second section of the guide contains some important resources that are a starting point for people who become more interested in technology and wish to pursue it further.

Tips for Using this Guide


Make use of the table of contents for more directed reading. Be sure to read the Tips sections of the entries themselves for more specialized tips regarding each resource. For those only interested in one of the two sections of this guide or even only one entry, they can be used as standalone resources.

Consumer Resources

Site Name: Tom's Hardware


Web Address: http://www.tomshardware.com/ Description: Tom's Hardware is a commercial website that posts reviews and comparisons of computer components as well as news pertaining to computer hardware and to the technology industry in general. Tom's Hardware is a rich source of information, with a very large number of articles ranging from previews of new products not yet on the market to value comparisons of products that have already been released. Tom's Hardware also contains a forum, where it is possible to ask questions about various computer-related topics. The forum has a fairly large user base and questions normally generate useful answers. The information contained in Tom's Hardware is useful to anyone who is planning their PC build because it will help them become an informed buyer so that they can get the best value for their money. Tips: Some of the links in the news section may lead away from the Tom's Hardware site. The Tom's Hardware team periodically posts articles about the current best value parts in a given category (e.g. Best Video Cards for the money, July 2011). Make sure you use the most up to date article. Before posting a new thread on the forum, search the forum to see if someone else has already posted a similar thread.
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Site Name: Computer Power User


Web Address: http://www.computerpoweruser.com/ Description: Computer Power User (CPU) is a magazine targeted toward people who like to maximize the performance of their personal computers. It is available online or in print for free. CPU contains a bevy of product reviews and comparisons, which can help a reader become a more informed buyer. CPU also contains articles that explain new technologies or products to make them easier to understand for people who had never heard of the specific technology or product before. One of CPU's most useful features is that it also contains step-by-step guides on how to perform various upgrades to a computer or how to tweak a computer to achieve the best performance. Tips: CPU's website has an archive of all back issues of the magazine, but there is no way to search for something among all of the issues. To find a specific article, you should navigate to each issue's table of contents. Some product information from earlier years is outdated. Make sure the article you are reading is still applicable. Product reviews from 2009 are not going to be useful in 2011.

Site Name: Overclock.net


Web Address: http://www.overclock.net/ Description: Overclock.net (OCN) is a website dedicated to The pursuit of Performance. Overclocking is the relatively niche practice of making computer components run at faster than default speeds. OCN itself is a forum what is mainly focused around building and overclocking PCs but it also has other sections about other technology-based subjects. OCN has been in existence since 2004 and has approximately one million threads on a diverse selection of topics. While many people don't want to overclock their PCs, OCN is still a useful resource because the members are very knowledgeable about PC building and its various idiosyncrasies; many of them have built multiple computers before. OCN also has some members who are official representatives of companies who make computer parts, and it is easy to ask them questions as well. Tips: Make sure to search for the issue you have before posting a new thread; it is likely that other people have had the same issue that you are having. When making a new post, be sure to post in the correct section to get the best answers. Be as thorough and specific as you can. Providing as much information as possible will facilitate a faster and better response to your question.

Site Name: Energy Star


Web Address: http://www.energystar.gov/ Description: Energy Star is a government organization that is a part of the Environmental Protection Agency which is in turn a part of the Department of Energy. The Energy Star website contains various resources that may be used to help people save energy. One of the more useful parts of the site for someone who is building a computer is the product search. From there it is possible to find a list of Energy Star certified products, including computer monitors. There are also guides with tips and tricks that can help users set up their systems to save energy, and by extension money. Tips: The Find a Model sections of the Products pages are somewhat hard to find, but are very useful. They are located in the sidebar on the right of the page. Do not choose to buy a product solely based upon whether it is Energy Star qualified, rather make sure it is a good product based upon reviews and then look it up to see if it is energy star qualified.

Professional Resources

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Site Name: Catalog of U.S. Government Publications


Web Address: http://catalog.gpo.gov/F?RN=63075838 Description: The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) is an expansive and comprehensive listing containing over half a million government documents that were created as early as 1976 (according to the Catalog's own about page). This is a tremendously important resource for anyone who is looking for government documents made in this time period. The CGP's search functions similarly to other large online databases, and there are tiered search functions based upon the searching ability of the user. These are marked Basic, Advanced, and Expert. This allows proficient users to be able to access data more quickly than otherwise possible. The CGP can return useful information on almost any subject, including computing.. For example, this article explains how CPU/GPU hybrid computing can be used for radar imaging:
United States. Army Research Laboratory. Central Processing Unit/Graphics Processing Unit (CPU/GPU) Hybrid Computing of Synthetic Aperture Radar Algorithm. By Song Jun Park and Dale Shires. Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. Web. 6 July 2011. <http:/ /permanent.access.gpo.gov/lps125464/ARL-TR-5074.pdf>.

Tips: Be sure to read and follow the instructions for searching that are provided on the site. Be as specific as possible when searching.

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Site Name: ACM Digital Library


Web Address: http://portal.acm.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/dl.cfm (For PSU students only) Description: The ACM digital library is a database that contains every article that ACM ever published. The Association for Computing Machinery is a group that is now among the academic leaders in the technology field. ACM is broken up into different Special Interest Groups, in fields ranging from SIGACCESS (Accessible Computing) to SIGWEB (Hypertext and the Web). However, every article from all of these fields has been added to the ACM Digital Library. The Library itself is searchable or can be browsed by category. The ACM Digital Library is useful to anyone interested in computing and its various uses because it contains some of the latest research and scholarly articles in the field. Tips: Consider using the Advanced Search feature to narrow the search results based on more specific criteria. Visit the Using the ACM Digital Library page for more information about access to the Library and a list of publications whose articles appear in the Library.

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Site Name: IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics


Web Address: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/RecentIssue.jsp?punumber=30 (Subscription required) Description: The IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics is a journal published by the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society. Its main purpose is to inform readers of new technology developments that can relate to consumer electronics. The Journal is published quarterly and when it is published it is available online to IEEE Xplore subscribers. The articles published in this journal are intended to be interesting and informative, and papers that get accepted into Transactions on Consumer Electronics are required to explain how it relates to the consumer electronics field. This publication is useful to people who want to keep informed about the latest technological breakthroughs in consumer electronics. Tips: This journal is not meant to be used as a reference material; rather it is meant to be read by professionals or hobbyists who need or want to stay current in the field. This journal, while useful and interesting, is not the only journal in its field. Most professionals read multiple journals that can relate to their area of work in order to maximize the amount of knowledge they can gain.

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Site Name: Statistical Abstract of the United States


Web Address: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ Description: The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a document created by the U.S. Census Bureau that summarizes virtually everything the Bureau knows about the United States. Its scope is extremely massive and includes topics as simple as a statistical summary of the genders, ages, and ethnicities of the residents of the U.S. As well as much more complex topics like the total amount of retail space available for lease in the U.S. It is organized into categories to avoid confusion and to increase its ease of use as a reference material. It also includes a search feature to allow for more directed use of the site. Some information contained in the Abstract that somebody who is interested in computers may find interesting is the section entitled Manufactures: Semiconductors, Computers, Telecommunications Equipment which contains documents that describe the values of shipments of various electronics and the changes in those values over time. Tips: Do not become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available. Since it is organized categorically and there is a search feature, it is possible to easily find what you are looking for. Think about what section is most likely to contain the data you are trying to find. It may be confusing at times but the data is generally categorized in a logical fashion.

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Image Credits
Circuitry (Front Cover)
Retrieved from: http:/ /www.wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/computer/1600x1200/Circuitry.jpg

Tom's Hardware Logo (Page 6) CPU Magazine Logo (Page 7)

Retrieved from: http:/ /www.i-believe.ie/wp-content/uploads/toms-hardware.png Retrieved from: http:/ /www.computerpoweruser.com/Info/MediaKit.aspx

Overclock.net Logo (Page 8) Energy Star Logo (Page 9)

Retrieved from: http:/ /www.overclock.net/art-graphics/177453-ocn-logo.html Retrieved from: http:/ /crystalclearhomeimprovement.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Energy_ Star_logo.155131656_std.jpg

GPO Access Logo (Page 11)

Retrieved from: http:/ /www.gpoaccess.gov/images/nav_01.gif

ACM Digital Library Logo (Page 12)


Retrieved From: http://blogs.ulster.ac.uk/library-research/files/2011/01/acm.jpg

IEEE Logo (Page 13)

Retrieved from: http:/ /www-phare.lip6.fr/WD2009/img/IEEE.logo.jpg

U.S. Census Bureau Logo (Page 14)


Retrieved from: http:/ /cdn1.newsone.com/files/2009/12/Census-Bureau-Logo.jpg

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