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Detailed Considerations and Tips for Specifying Particular Components
Having looked at general issues related to specifying components, it is now time to turn our attention to the particulars of selecting each of the components commonly found within a PC system. Every component serves a different function in the PC, has different attributes and characteristics, and therefore each requires a somewhat individualized approach.
I should say from the start that I can't cover here every kind of component that exists, nor can I explain absolutely everything there is to know about the ones I do discuss. There are just too many different considerations, and the technology changes too rapidly. I also cannot possibly know what aspects of any component are most important to you. However, I do cover all of the most common PC components, and I have provided enough detail to certainly let you make good selections, and avoid most of the common pitfalls made by those who don't thoroughly research their component choices. To make a truly optimal choice that is ideal for you, augment my comments and recommendations with your own research and evaluation. Of course, you don't have to make an optimal choice of every component to be happy with your PC. It doesn't have to be perfect, just good for your needs.
The best overall advice I can give you regarding the selection of different parts of the PC is this: know thy components. In this buyer's guide I am going to discuss the particulars of what to look for when shopping, but I am not going to try to explain the workings and characteristics of every component in detail. This would not only make this section ridiculously long, it would duplicate much of the information presented elsewhere. See the Reference Guide for full details on most of the components discussed here.
I am also not going to recommend particular components--that's not the idea of The PC Buyer's Guide at all. There are numerous online resources that produce a monthly buyer's guide that focuses on telling you what specific makes and models are good for each component type; I urge you to refer to these if you want more specific help. Consistent with the goals of the Guide as described in the Introduction, I am trying to "teach you to fish", let you know how to look at all the component types in a way that empowers you to make your own decisions.
Note: The individual sections
on selecting components are fairly long and detailed. I have tried to cover all the
considerations that go into making a good component selection choice. If you are building
your own PC, buying a build-to-order or configure-to-order system, or planning your system
for future expansion or upgrading, this information will be essential to you. On
the other hand, if you are buying a pre-made PC and are considering components only within
the scope of an existing system, you may find these pages to be a bit more detail than you
need for comparing systems. You'll certainly learn a lot about how to evaluate the various
parts of systems if you read them in full, but may not want to bother. In this case, the page on system-based component selection and comparison may be
sufficient for your needs.
For most of the components there is a lot to cover, so I have structured the material to make it a bit "easier to digest". For each component, the following topics are covered:
Next: System Cases