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build a computer
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There are some other items that I haven't included elsewhere that I would like to tackle here. Some of these are essentials, some not quite so essential.

Power Supplies

Networking

Modems

Speakers

 

Power Supplies

Power Supplies sometime come with your case and sometimes don't. Ideally you will want to get a power supply with your case, as buying them separately can be more expensive. If you have your heart set on a particular case though and it doesn't have a power supply or your power supply has blown then here is a guide to buying one.

  • Firstly your power supply should be compatible with your case. ie Micro ATX case = Micro ATX power supply, ATX case = ATX power supply.
  • 300W(Watts) is a reasonable power supply, if you have an older processor or less power hungry components then your can probably get away with less, conversely if you have loaded up with extra hard drives, expensive graphics cards or lots of Firewire/USB peripherals then you may wish to go for 100-200W more.
  • Don't ever open up the inside of a power supply there are potentially lethal voltages inside. Even several minutes after they are powered down, they can store a charge that could kill you. See preparation guide

Networking

If you want to network your computer then you have several options.

  • Some motherboards have built in 10/100baseT (electrical ethernet) connectors built in.
  • To buy and install an electrical ethernet card in a spare PCI slot is easy.
  • Wireless ethernet will allow you to create your own home network without having Cat5 cables strung all around your house. They are slightly more expensive than the electrical cards, but cheaper than having to track you walls or lift your floor to hide the cabling.
 

Modems

If you cannot connect directly to the internet through your home network then you are going to need a modem.There are as usual a number of options:-

  • Dial up modem - how most people connect to the internet. These are very cheap. I suspect lower rates are almost impossible to buy now, but you probably want a 56K modem. Just check that it transmits and receives at 56K.
  • Cable Modem - More expensive and uses spare bandwidth on you TV cable connection. Much faster than dial up, but with additional costs of setting up the agreement with your cable company.
  • DSL/ADSL modem - allows the use of your current telephone wire to provide a much bigger bandwidth than Dial up. Larger bandwidth obviously means faster downloads.

Speakers

You have many choices here ranging from the very cheap to the very expensive. Speaker range from a single built in speaker in your case to the 6 individual speakers of a 5.1 Dolby surround system. Some things that are important in speakers:-

  • Power:- Do they have AC power or are they battery powered.
  • Wattage:- The higher the wattage the more powerful the speaker.
  • Range: Top quality speakers produce a range close to or better than that of human hearing 18 Hz - 22KHz
  • Controls:- Better quality speakers will allow you to adjust volume, treble, bass and dynamic bass boost.
  • Number of speakers:-
    • 2 speaker will give stereo
    • 3 speakers will give stereo + Bass bin
    • 5 speakers will give two front, two back & a bass speaker also known as 4.1
    • 6 speakers will give two front, two back a center speaker and a bass speaker known as Dolby surround or 5.1

     

 
 

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