Computers for Beginners...The Basic of the PC

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So here is the scenario, you're typing away on your keyboard or killing Zombies on Call of Duty, when, all of a sudden…bang and then a faint smell of electrical burning and sudden realisation your favourite item in the work…your computer has sadly gone to the great computer junk yard in the sky!
Now you maybe a computer savvy person or not but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy task going through literally hundreds of computers on the market, to find your perfect next system. However with a little guidance, this somewhat daunting task can be made simpler by understanding exactly it is you are looking for.
Firstly you need to work out what you will actually use your computer for, some may use it for typing up important documents, running it as a media centre or playing high end games. The scope of uses a computer can do, are almost unmeasurable! However you do need to be clear about the limitations of a new machine, although it may be great for typing, spreadsheets and the odd game of FreeCell, it will most likely not be suitable to play system intense games.
‘However you do need to be clear about the limitations of a new machine, although it may be great for typing, spreadsheets and the odd game of FreeCell, it will most likely not be suitable to play system intense games.

Jargon, Jargon and even more Jargon

So you most likely will have decided upon what kind of system you are looking for but are stumped by the fact all those little numbers under the specification tab seems to be complete and utter nonsense. Well try not to let them discourage to you too much as I will now make it all clear for you…


At present there are only two leaders in the processors industry, these are AMD and INTEL. INTEL is probably the best known out of the two, however they are pretty expensive but are worth paying a little bit more for. AMD on the other hand are a lot cheaper but are, in my opinion, just as well made and reliable as INTEL.
Now we know the two leaders in the processor world, let’s take a look at what each company offers in the way of processors…


INTEL offer many amazing processors and like anything else, the more money you pay the better the chip will be, INTEL do however have different ranges which are suitable for different tasks. These vary from Netbook processors to High End Gaming Chips.
INTEL’s processors can be split into different categories, depending on what you want to do with your system, it ranges from the i3 processor to the hard-core i7 Extreme Power.
If you treat the processors with the mind-set i3 is the entry level processor and the i7 Extreme Power is for High End Application, such as Photoshop and High End Gaming, you should find a processor to suit your needs. In respect to GHz the higher the number, the faster the processor so a 3.8GHz Processor is faster than a 3.3GHz processor…but only in its own range. So a comparing the speed of the i3 is different to that of the i5 due to different cores. Also certain types of processor have a feature called Hyper threading, this enables your computer to run multiple applications and perform other tasks more efficiently and quicker.


Number of Cores


Hyper threading






2 and 4


In certain models


4 and 6


In All Models

INTEL i7 Extreme Power

4 and 6


In All Models



AMD has been around since the 70’s and offers some interesting alternatives to INTEL, also a lot cheaper without losing quality or reliability. In my opinion I believe AMD will soon over take INTEL within the gaming sector due to their ability to communicate with graphics cards and motherboards, which makes for a better system.
As with the INTEL processors AMD processors come in a wide range of models, to cater for everyone. These range from the Sempron processor to the Phenom II X4. Let’s have a look at their range:


Number of Cores

Bus Speed

Processor Speeds

AMD Sempron


Up to 1600 MHz

Up to 2.3 GHz

AMD Athlon


Up to 2000 MHz

Up to 2.4 GHz

AMD Athlon™ X2


Up to 3200 MHz

Up to 2.3 GHz

AMD Athlon™ II X2


Up to 4000 MHz

Up to 3 GHz

AMD Phenom™ X3


Up to 3600 MHz

Up to 2.4 GHz

AMD Phenom™ X4


Up to 4000 MHz

Up to 2.6 GHz

AMD Phenom™ II X2


Up to 4000 MHz

Up to 3.1 GHz

AMD Phenom™ II X3


Up to 4000 MHz

Up to 2.5 GHz

AMD Phenom™ II X4


Up to 4000 MHz

Up to 3.2 GHz



When it comes to RAM you need to be aware of what your motherboard and operating system can handle. Window 7 32-Bit can only use about 4GB of RAM and a 64-Bit system can in theory use a massive amount of RAM but in reality this is very much dependant on your motherboard, most have limits ranging from 4GB-32GB, so when you choose your RAM you need to take this into account. For more information on RAM I suggest reading this guide from another eBay seller HERE. That being said RAM is one of the most important items within your PC, the Larger the RAM, the better your system will be.


The Hard Disk Drive is what I like to think off as your computers long-term memory, sorting all your information in 1’s and 0’s, more commonly known as binary. The larger the drive the more information and files you can store. In this modern day most things such as music and films are downloadable, which makes the need for larger Hard drives more greater.
At present most hard drives you can purchase start from around 500GB’s to about 3TB, which is a hell of a lot of space to store all your items. As well as Hard Drives there are also storage devices known as SSD or Solid State Drive, which unlike a normal Hard Drive, stores your information on flash chips, not unlike the USB sticks you can get but hold great capacity and at faster speeds. These drives are favoured more by the serious Gamer or Business wanting more productivity from their computers and staff, this is because they are more expensive to purchase.


Now we could thing of a motherboard as being the torso of your computer, which holds all of it’s vital organs in one place…just like a human body.
On the board you will plug in your RAM, Fans, Graphics Cards and pretty much anything your heart desires. Having a good understanding of the basic layout of a motherboard will greatly help you identify where your bits of hardware go.
Also you MUST make sure you get the correct motherboard socket for the processor you have purchased. Sometimes a good idea is to buy a motherboard bundle such as the one’s HERE. These are normally designed to work together without any problems and for the newbie who aren’t too sure what to get but still wants to build their own computer.
Different motherboards are designed for certain processors, meaning your wouldn’t buy an INTEL i3 1155 socket and expect it to fit in a motherboard designed for a FM2 socket processor. So it is of paramount importance that this is confirmed before purchase or before opening the box, you don’t want to spend £100 on something that is completely useless to you, that, you can’t even take back to the shop because you have opened it and tried jamming an INTEL Processor into a motherboard designed for an AMD processor!

“You don’t want to spend £100 on something that is completely useless to you, that, you can’t even take back to the shop because you have opened it and tried jamming an INTEL Processor into a motherboard designed for an AMD processor!”


Graphic Cards

You have all your major components sorted, plugged in and fired up…you turn on your custom built PC, install your favourite games and sit back and get ready for Armageddon, just as the game finishes to load you realise the graphics are all blocky, blurry and extremely sluggish…  The reason for this, is the fact you are pushing your on board graphics chipset past the point of usefulness!
This can easily be remedied by installing a graphics card, this bit of equipment can turn even the sluggish of computers into something worth keeping and you don’t have to re-mortgage your home to do it. In fact there are many decent cards out there for under £200 that will take your gaming to the next level.
Once again there are two major players in the graphics card industry, these are NVIDIA and ATI (which is owned by AMD). NIVDIA is widely used by gamers and pc enthusiasts alike and range from Entry Level to Ultra High End Graphics
Here is a list of my choice graphic cards for any budget:

Entry Level Gaming

The Radeon HD 6570

The Radeon HD 6570 is suitably prices at £44.99, which makes this an amazing price card to start of your gaming career with. It also boasts the following specifications.
• AMD Eyefinity Multi-Display Technology• 1GB GDDR3 video memory• PCI Express 2.1 x16 bus interface• GPU Clock 650 MHz • Memory Clock 1800 MHz
• 128bit Memory Interface
• 3rd Generation TeraScale Engine • ShaderModel 5.0• ATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology • ATI Radeon PowerPlay™• Accelerated Video Transcoding, Encoding, and Upscaling • Microsoft DirectX® 11 Support
• HDMI 1.4a with support for stereoscopic 3D, Deep Color and xvyCC extended gamut

Mid-Range Gaming

Radeon HD 7870 2GB 6000MHz GDDR5 2GB Graphics Card

The Radeon HD 7870 is a perfect mid-range card that is nicely priced at around £180 and would take you gaming up a notch or two and almost totally immerse you in your game play.
• AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology
• AMD ZeroCore Power technology
• AMD HD3D technology
• AMD CrossFireX
• AMD PowerTune technology
• AMD App Acceleration

High-End Gaming

GeForce GTX 770 2GB 1046MHz GDDR5 2GB 7000MHz Graphics Card

The GeForce GTX 770 is the mother of graphics cards, this retails for around £340 and in my opinion is worth every penny!
• Advanced Thermal Design
• Dual 10cm PWM fans with Propeller blade technology to generate more airflow than traditional fans.
• Airflow control technology deflects more airflow to heatpipe directly and increases the area of heatsink
• Gaming App
• The App that’s specifically designed to switch between Eco-mode and high performance gaming mode with just one click
• Gaming Mode - Tune up core clock and fan speed to get good gaming experience.
• Eco-Mode - Reduce core clock and fan speed to get comfortable environment and save power.
• Default Mode - Back to original settings
• Military Class III Components
• Hi-C CAP for GPU provides more precise voltage.
• Meet MIL-STD-810G standard to ensure the best stability and quality
• All Solid CAPs have longer lifespan.
• 3DVision Surround
• Support 3 displays in full stereoscopic 3D with a single card.
• Support up to 4 displays with a single card.
• Experience - Predator
• Just use Predator within Afterburner for "FREE"!
• Audio source selection support
• Screen capturing support
• BMP/JPG/PNG format support


So there you have it, there is my crash course into getting a computer or building a computer that will suit your needs, there is a lot to get your head around but above all else, enjoy doing it! I am always about for advice, I can be contacted via my shop HERE, also please feel free to look around and I will also be adding new and exciting products to my own line of PC’s.
Please if you do have any questions please feel free to drop me a line!
Happy computing!!
Scott Drury
IRLA Computers

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