PC Construction Resources?

(Also posted to Superuser)

Hi there lazyweb. A non code-related question today:

The last time I built a PC the tricky parts were knowing the difference between ISA, VLB, and PCI cards; juggling IRQs; and getting IDE master/slave right. Now I’m helping my stepson build a gaming PC and I’ve realised that PC internals have changed a lot since then. Multiple fans, thermal paste, dual-channel RAM configurations, a bizarre array of power supply connectors – it’s a different world.

I am looking for a concise resource for boning up on PC construction. Not a whole hardware enthusiast website, but a book or series of articles which covers current hardware technology, what plugs in where, common gotchas, how to know if I’m managing heat effectively, that sort of thing. Any recommendations?


  1. Here's one possible resource:
    AnandTech has a lot of good information as well, but they haven't recently summarized things into a guide.

    If I had to pass on a few observations, they would be:
    A) Motherboards are more important than they once were, and are back to being as expensive as they were in the Pentium Pro days.
    B) Building 'complete' PCs is more important than before; you rarely need more peripherals than a video card and storage; making sure those are well-matched to the rest of your parts is your #1 chance to succeed or fail. This includes simple things like making sure your CPU is fast enough to keep your video card busy when you want it to, as well as trickier things like making sure your parts don't have known incompatibilities with each other.
    C) Cases are important again; instead of lots of small warm parts, PCs have relatively few white-hot parts now. Here is a good resource for case reviews; spend some time on this step, it is worth it: http://silentpcreview.com/

    Also, this is the era of optimizing for latency, rather than throughput, generally speaking.

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