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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Designing and Specifying PC Systems and Components ]

Component Specification Issues

Having considered PCs at the system and subsystem level, and having examined overall design issues in some detail, it is now time to turn our attention to the components that comprise these machines. Whether you are buying a pre-made PC or building your own from parts, you will want to take a very careful look at all the components that go into the PC. After all, these are the building blocks that make the computer what it is. The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, but it certainly helps to start with good parts! :^)

Specifying components wisely is absolutely essential if you are building your own PC or having a system custom-built. However, even if you are buying a pre-made machine, you really need to understand all the issues that relate to the components in the system. Differences in components between models can be one of the most important bases upon which you differentiate systems.

Before I proceed to discussing the specification of particular component types, I want to cover some basic issues that apply to all component types--or at least to many of them. In this section I will start by talking about the different ways that components are marketed and sold, which is a very important and often misunderstood issue in the PC component market. I then cover component warranty matters and the differences between brand name and generic components, and look at integrated components, component lifetimes, and the matter of component revision levels.

Next: Retail and OEM Components

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