Explain To The Computer illiterate

Vitor

When The Fruit Of Life Corrupts Men
I'm not particularly smart when it comes to computers

Sure I know how to log onto youtube, how to check PMs in forums and stuff like that

But stuff like command prompts, soundcards, RAM, and CPUs utterly confuse the hell out of me

And this is all astoundingly ironic considering that my late father fixed them for a living and worked on them as a hobby at home

I want to be knowledgable about computers, especially since I plan at some point to buy an old Amiga computer to play around with as a hobby

Can any kind and gentle soul out there lend a hand?
 

jwk94

Member
I just want to know how to read PC specs, i get the RAM part, and possibly the processor part (more GHZ the beter?), but i dont understand the GPU part, there are no numbers to indicate which is better.
 

Herman the German

Treasure Cards of the Underworld
I'm terrible at explaining stuff, but I guess a few terms, I can explain in general.

The command prompt used to be the only sensible means of operating a computer whatsoever. It's still "there," though most users would find it far too inconvenient to use. It's still accessible on just about any regular operating system through various means and in some instances, it can still be an extremely powerful tool provided ya know whatcha doin'.

Soundcards are additional hardware components. They can improve sound quality, but usually, PCs come with pre-installed soundchips installed that provide sufficient sound quality for regular listeners.

RAM means "random access memory." As you know, data you save in files is stored on your hard drive (or a different medium). But what about data you see on your screen, stuff you haven't saved yet? For example, at the moment of writing this, the entirety of my post has to be stored somewhere, and that's where the RAM comes into play. Without RAM, your computer would not be able to work at all. Think of it as a kind of short-term memory; you load everything into active memory that you know on the subject to do whatever it is you wish to do, right? It's similar with RAM. (that explanation might need some work)
RAM size is defined in bytes -- these days, it's normal for there to be RAM in sizes beyond Gigabytes, which woulda been enourmous about 10-15 years ago.

The CPU is the Central Processing Unit. It's another part without which you could do not a thing. The reason a computer is called a computer is because it constantly calculates things; without calculations, nothing could be accomplished. The faster a CPU is, the faster your machine, generally speaking.
CPU speed is defined in Hertz, indicating the number of operations per second.

A GPU is a graphical processing unit, usually found as part of a graphics card. A graphics card is usually a combination of a seperate set of CPU and RAM that's more or less there to do the graphics calculating (which with modern games gets very heavy in terms of workload). If you left that to the regular CPU and RAM of the PC, things would get ridiculously slow in any other aspect, hence why you need a GPU.
If you are unable to read the GPU specs, or any other of your PC specs for some reason or another, there's a tool called Speccy that is capable of reading all your specs in detail.

… hope that helped at all. D:
 

jwk94

Member
I can see all of my specs, i just can't comprehend what i'm supposed to do to tell the difference between certain GPUs.

Like, i know RAM is in GB, CPU is GHZ, but RAM all i'm seeing are specific models, i dont see anything that's indicative of how good one is compared to another one.
 
Ram is actually in Bit.
[hide]
1 kilobyte [kB] = 1000 (103) byte
1 megabyte [MB] = 1 000 000 (106) byte
1 gigabyte [GB] = 1 000 000 000 (109) byte
1 terabyte [TB] = 1 000 000 000 000 (1012) byte
1 petabyte [PB] = 1 000 000 000 000 000 (1015) byte
1 exabyte [EB] = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 (1018) byte
1 zettabyte [ZB] = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (1021) byte
1 yottabyte [YB] = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 (1024) byte
1 kibibyte [KiB] = 1024 (210) byte
1 mebibyte [MiB] = 1 048 576 (220) byte
1 gibibyte [GiB] = 1 073 741 824 (230) byte
1 tebibyte [TiB] = 1 099 511 627 776 (240) byte
1 pebibyte [PiB] = 1 125 899 906 842 624 (250) byte
1 exbibyte [EiB] = 1 152 921 504 606 846 976 (260) byte
1 zebibyte [ZiB] = 1 180 591 620 717 411 303 424 (270) byte
1 yobibyte [YiB] = 1 208 925 819 614 629 174 706 176 (280) byte
[/hide]
Usually RAM is written in MB eg. 1GB Ram is 1024MB Ram and so on.
 

dchoc

All your FACES are belongs to ME!!!
There are a whole lot of How-tos on the web. If you're building from scratch, you need to check the Mother board (Mobo), CPU, and Memory specs that you'd want. Try to use the build kits that sites like Newegg, TigerDirect, and CompUSA uses as your base. Then, what you can do is mix and match stuff.

The higher the speed and size does not necessarily mean it's better. The overall parts should be able to sync to have better performance. I would suggest getting parts information from the web and then you can post it here so we can weigh in. Or you can probably call up the store support line and see if a part is compatible with stuff that you already have. :thumbs:
 

wizard

Lurker
I just want to know how to read PC specs, i get the RAM part, and possibly the processor part (more GHZ the beter?), but i dont understand the GPU part, there are no numbers to indicate which is better.
Graphic chipsets are a little harder to get a simple idea from. There are two main companies that make graphics chips, NVidia and ATI. Recently, ATI was bought by AMD. So, if you buy a new computer with an AMD processor, they will have an ATI GPU. The best way is when you get the Chipset Model, Google it.

Note, there is a difference in Graphics Chips (GPU), and a Graphics Card. Different companies can take a graphics chip from NVidia or ATI, and add their own hardware to it (connectors, specialty chips, huge-ass fans), and thus would tweak the output performance of the GPU. Built on the motherboard GPUs will often be on the lower end, sometimes much lower end, of the current generation of GPUs. It is advisory that if you get a laptop to make sure the graphics is what you want at purchase, because you are stuck with it. If it is a desktop, and you want to play games, buy a graphics card, the motherboard will not get you a decent performance, at all.

If it is an actual card when you search for the product number of the graphics card. I always find that NewEgg.com results work best. Just read the Feedback. Also, for up to date benchmarks for graphics cards: http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/graphics-cards,1.html

For the processor about more GHz, the better. Not always. By design, AMD processors will always run at a lower frequency (GHz) than Intel. This because of the architecture difference that the company uses in their chip design, as AMD was always thought of being more efficient. Some speculation has risen of late though, as AMD's are seen running hotter than Intel's chips, which is not a good sign for the consumption of power.

And just technology that is used in a chip itself changes how this is viewed. A few years ago, the Pentium 4 broke the 3.0 GHz benchmark. However, todays CPUs (with better design) hardly break 3.0 GHz, and run significantly faster than P4s.

This is because we also now have multi-core processors. Back in the day, special motherboards were made that allowed a builder of a computer to install two processors onto it. The motherboard would then distribute the workload to these independent processors and would dramatically improve performance. Nowadays, the processor companies are doing this, but instead, putting multiple processor cores onto a single chip. The norm these days is for two cores, with 4 being considered high end, but no doubt there could be higher available.

When trying to compare an Nvidia GPU to an ATI GPU. Or an AMD processor to an Intel processor. You can't look at the specs. The technology is so different that they don't both utilize those specs in the same fashion. You have to look up benchmarks that people have preformed online. Those will be the best way to find the most concerete information for how good it is. Likewise with the graphics benchmark link, here is an equally good one for CPUs: http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/processors,6.html

I hope I helped some out.
 

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