A Beginner's Guide to PC-Building Terminology

A Beginner's Guide to PC-Building Terminology

New to PC building? Here's some quick terminology tips to get you started on the gaming rig of your dreams.

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Very informative article, learned a bunch of new things. Question regarding 4K monitors, I'm guessing I'll need to go buy a DisplayPort cable along with the monitor?

Shayman:
Very informative article, learned a bunch of new things. Question regarding 4K monitors, I'm guessing I'll need to go buy a DisplayPort cable along with the monitor?

Depending on what you buy the manufacturer may or may not include a cable for it. Check if it does before you buy.

The Pink Pansy:

Depending on what you buy the manufacturer may or may not include a cable for it. Check if it does before you buy.

Good idea, I'll double check. Thanks.

Quite good.

You forgot GDDR 6. It is coming next year though...
Some future proofing for the article?

The biggest thing I haven't been able to figure out when it comes to PC components is how to compare CPUs. How does a 2.4 GHz dual core compare to a 1.8 GHz quad core? I don't know, but thankfully benchmarking sites have become more common and complete now.

Johnson McGee:
The biggest thing I haven't been able to figure out when it comes to PC components is how to compare CPUs. How does a 2.4 GHz dual core compare to a 1.8 GHz quad core? I don't know, but thankfully benchmarking sites have become more common and complete now.

Both of them are fairly slow now adays :-P
But to make that clear it comes down to how fast the CPU can do each task vs how many tasks it can do at once. In this case the dual core can do each task faster than the quad core (so if your just playing a game then that game will run better on the dual core) but if your doing multiple things at once (eg: graphics editing where you've got a few programs open at once or heavily surfing the net with multiple tabs) then the quad core will win out due to being able to do multiple tasks at once. That said now adays you can get 4-8 core CPU's that are running 3.5-4Ghz easily and are overkill for any single task.

I'm wondering, exactly how important is it to get the correct number of RAM sticks? For instance, if you have 3x 1GB sticks laying around, would it be worth putting all of them in a dual channel system? Or does the system only really use 2GB, and the extra stick is mostly useless? What about mixing and matching RAM clock speeds?

EDIT: also, all other things being equal, is it better to have 2x 2GB sticks or 4x 1GB sticks in a dual channel system?

When it comes to PSU efficiency it can be better to not to go to nuts with efficiency, it depends on where you live and how much you pay for electricity but going all out for a titanium level efficiency power supply can cost more than you would save. In some circumstances you could be looking at saving only a few pence a week and a few pounds over the year.

It might take five years or so to recoup the extra cost, generally an 80+ Gold is enough to be efficient and not cost that much. If electricity costs a lot in your region and/or you are going all out with a power hungry dual graphics setup (like a pair of 290Xs) the savings can pay for themselves but in general they wouldn't. Not with a single GPU and a budget or high efficiency build, the same argument often applies to CPUs and GPUs.

Many Intel and Nvidia users will get on their high horses to AMD users about how much more efficient those brands can be, yes they are but in most cases the amount of electricity you save will not recoup the extra cost within the life span of the component when you consider how often many PC users upgrade parts. I like the efficiency because I am bit of a nerd and like my machine to be streamlined and efficient in all categories, from hardware to software but don't be under any illusions of saving money.

The equation changes for people with 1000W or higher power needs or really high energy costs but for most builds its not a concern.

Johnson McGee:
The biggest thing I haven't been able to figure out when it comes to PC components is how to compare CPUs. How does a 2.4 GHz dual core compare to a 1.8 GHz quad core? I don't know, but thankfully benchmarking sites have become more common and complete now.

with more and more games moving to being multithreaded natively the quad core would be a far better option a friend of mine gave me a dump truck analogy when i asked the same question a while back its like comparing 4 dump trucks carrying loads at 60km/h or 2 carrying loads at 80km/h which group moves the pile of stuff faster but i find unless the difference is clock speed is massive its probably better to go for more cores than higher clock speed

Avaholic03:
I'm wondering, exactly how important is it to get the correct number of RAM sticks? For instance, if you have 3x 1GB sticks laying around, would it be worth putting all of them in a dual channel system? Or does the system only really use 2GB, and the extra stick is mostly useless? What about mixing and matching RAM clock speeds?

EDIT: also, all other things being equal, is it better to have 2x 2GB sticks or 4x 1GB sticks in a dual channel system?

The general consensus is that while you will see an increase in performance by going with dual-channel RAM, the difference will be minor.

However, I would like to point out that 4GB is pretty barebones these days. I'm pretty sure that Windows 7/8 require 4GB simply to operate.

Since it's just touched upon I'll give a few tips on hard drives. (it'll probably be a thread later :P)

I say, if you can get two, an SSD (Solid State Drive) and an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in your computer.

Think of an SSD as a memory stick, because there's no moving parts it's faster and doesn't over heat. the benefits of this is faster boot times for most programs and you should ideally save all apps on that. They're rather expensive but I assume you won't need more than a 250gb SSD anyway.
HDD is like any other storage unit and ideally you should get one with the highest cache (memory buffer), I don't know what's the most or least. I think Western Digital Drives are used the most and most "stable" but I think Seagate's are faster(?, anyone care to confirm or deny?).since
1TB SSD's are waaaaaaaaaay expensive get a SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive), half as good as an SSD and half better than a regular HDD.

I'm upgrading my gaming Laptop right now (had some problems with the old drive) I'm in the process of moving files from my HDD to my new SSHD and a few tips and problems I ran into.

1. Don't bother clone your drive
What that means is essentially connecting one computer or drive to another computer or drive and essentially coping, this doesn't work as your new hard drive isn't recognized by your computers BIOS (you don't need to know what that is... Yet). Though the programs will work the drivers won't not even the programs that are for the GPU, the way that worked for me is below.

2. Clean Install OS
In the computer you want to use, clean install you OS, the exact one from the original drive onto the new, use a usb or CD and BOOT UP.when that's done get the model of your computer and re-install ALL the drivers. Now you'll notice you have no internet connection, that's the diver you need first, just use another computer copy the internet drivers with another computer and load it up, then from their download the rest.

3. The Best Way to Transfer Old Files to New Harddrive
Windows has a transfer tool one allows you to use an external harddrive to save everything into one big file, the other makes use of a USB-to-USB cable (this good for two laptops and as far as I know is the fastest way).
What I did use at first was use a sata-to-USB 3.0 to move the files from old drive to new. I don't recommend this as if you have the same amount of storage and you've used most of old, the transfer file will be too big to upload fully (keep in mind, the saved transfer files will be one big file).
After experimenting I found cloning is a little tricky as it usually makes a separate partition or overwrites some stuff, the transfer tool moves everything to the main drive.

So yeah, transfer to an E:drive, which ever method you use, unless you have a very powerful CPU (possibly a lot of ram) the cloning or transfer will take a day. No Joke, not just scanning, not just saving, but transferring process as a whole.

4. The Transfer Itself
What the transfer does is replace damn near all the settings from you're old drive to the new one, exactly as it was. Game settings, Gadgets, almost everything in it's place some passwords like for your anti-virus have to be logged back in but the files will work. It worked for me once but this is when I discovered the drivers wouldn't work, which is why I recommend the clean install.

Um, that's pretty much everything I know and have done that has worked for me. Again, this is only if you want to keep your old computer user settings as for the old drive? New External Hard dive!

Have I missed anything or is there a less convoluted way than mine?

XD

Chadling:
However, I would like to point out that 4GB is pretty barebones these days. I'm pretty sure that Windows 7/8 require 4GB simply to operate.

Windows 7 uses less than 1GB of RAM on my desktop. I have Firefox open with 16 tabs and the total RAM in use is only 1600MBs. The thing is most users have way to many things running at the start of Windows (from Windows services to other programs). I literally only have ZoneAlarm (an old version) in my System Tray, I don't even run an anti-virus because it's completely unneeded; you're perfectly safe behind NAT with a good firewall, add in NoScript on Firefox and you can't get anything unless you download it yourself.

Chadling:
However, I would like to point out that 4GB is pretty barebones these days. I'm pretty sure that Windows 7/8 require 4GB simply to operate.

I think they can run as low as one gig. My office had (fucking horrible) netbooks with atom processors running Windows 7 32bit that only came with 1GB of ram. We upgraded them to 2GB but it wasn't really enough. I have a new netbook with 2 gigs of ram and Windows 8 doesn't run half bad on it (though it would be nice if stopped bricking my pc after updates...). It uses a out 500 to 600 megabytes of ram at any one time. I can even play some lower end games like Half-Life 1 on it with no lag

Most people need at least 4GB to run smoothly, but if you know what you're doing (stay away from Google Chrome) 2GB can be plenty

Edit: I dun goofed and didn't refresh this page to see someone already mention this :/

Ah, I stand corrected, then. My rule of thumb when I was doing my research was essentially "4GB is just enough, but 8GB is better. If you need more than that, you probably have a workstation with special requirements."

Didn't know that about Windows, thanks!

 

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