August 27th, 2003, 10:38 AM
New Hardware Forum Users-READ THIS FIRST!!!!!!!
I figured this was necessary because a lot of people come in and post threads without thinking, and without realizing that there is no possible way they could get help because of the way they posted the question. Here are some general guidelines.
USE SEARCH FIRST!
There is a pretty good chance that unless you have some
really odd or unique problem that it has been addressed on this
forum before (or even hundreds of times before for some issues).
Use the forum's search feature first to see if there are already some good threads on the subject. It's easy to search - just click the "Search" button at the top right of the page.
Be DESCRIPTIVE !
I cannot stress this enough. We cannot possibly help you if you simply post a thread saying "my computer doesn't work, what's wrong with it?" Keep this in mind:
1. Explain to us what your computer DOES (or what it's not doing).
2. Explain to us what exactly the error is.
3. Tell us what you have-- Motherboard make and model, Processor, how much RAM, hard drives, Operating System, etc. Without these we pretty much can't help you.
Don't use stupid topic names !
Post a descriptive topic name! Give a short summary of your problem IN THE SUBJECT LINE. Don't use attention getting subjects. They don't get attention. They repel and annoy people. Also don't ask for immediate help or use terms such as ASAP! That only serves to annoy the people who would assist you in your problem.
Here's a great list of topic subjects YOU SHOULD NOT POST by freebsd:
1) Help me
3) You must know the answer
4) Please help this female newbie
5) Something wrong
6) Come on PHP gurus
7) This one for you
8) Just wondering
9) This is too complicated for me
11) Very urgent
12) I have a question
13) Stupid question
14) Newbie needs help
15) pulling my hair out
16) this is driving me nuts
Generally ANYTHING similar to those is unacceptable. Just post your problem.
Here is a good example of a way to post a question about you computer not booting up:
"Computer does not boot"
or even better:
"Computer doesn't beep when turned on, no display"
These are bad examples:
"I can't figure this out!"
"Female newbie needs help"
"Help me! Urgent!"
If you're not going to take the advice, don't ask for help. !
Often times, people post questions about their hardware problem with the wrong mindset from the very beginning. Soon they are receiving replies, and silently debugging their system, making no effort to even acknowledge the people helping them! It becomes one sided, and the poster isn't aware that many of the people helping them hope to learn something as well! Letting people know of your progress and how their suggestions apply (or do not apply) will not only help you figure out your problem quicker, but you'll be returning the favor to those of us who learn more by helping.
Sometimes, people will post a question or problem, and never return to get answers. These are generally people who hit a bunch of different sites, use the first answer they get and ignore the rest. If we go to the trouble of helping you find the problem, at least return the favor by telling us what solved it, even if you got the answer somewhere else.
In even worse scenarios, sometimes the poster will argue back even when they don't know what they're talking about. Hey - if you know it all, don't ask for help.
When people give you suggestions that may solve your problem, by all means, try it out! And if it's not what you need, at least thank them.
And if people post stuff that is over your head, ask them for an explanation. Too many times I see great solutions posted, then the original poster doesn't understand it and goes away! The solution you are given may not always be something you are totally familiar with, so just ask for a better explanation!
Remember when people help you, they are doing YOU a favor !
Regardless of how big your ego is, it is NOT someone else's privilege to debug Your hardware. It is not their privilege to have them help you. It is YOURS. Remember that when people help you they are doing YOU a favor. They aren't being paid to do this. Be patient, help people out by posting good descriptions of what you need help with, and not snapping at people with garbage such as "if you aren't going to help don't waste my time replying".
Lastly, don't post multiple threads in different sections of these forums.
The hardware experts look in all the hardware threads, the operating system experts also look in the hardware threads and vice-versa. If your problem is determined to be more suited to another forum, rest assured that a mod will place it where it belongs. If you can't figure out where to put it, ask-- pretty much everyone around here is friendly when asked a friendly question.
Comments on this post
Last edited by Dngrsone; July 13th, 2005 at 12:48 AM.
Reason: Adjusted more toward hardware.
June 17th, 2005, 03:05 PM
Mods please sticky if you think it is useful.
How do I...?
1.Find out the detailed specs of my computer
2.Find RAM suitable for my computer
3.Decide Which Manufacturer to buy from
4.Decide how much RAM I should buy
5.Decide what size/number of RAM cards I should buy.
Hard Drives (`storage`)
6.What size of Hard Disk should I buy?
7.What manufacturer/model should I go for?
8.Should I go for IDE, SATA (Serial ATA), ATA or RAID?
(1).Find out the detailed specs of my computer
Use the Crucial System Scanner - Internet Explorer Only
(2).Find RAM suitable for my computer
(3).Decide Which RAM Manufacture to choose
Do you want performance or reliability. For performance choose GeIL. For reliability choose crucial. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee which is reassuring. I personally do not recommend other manufacturers
(4).Decide how much RAM to buy
What sort of applications do you run and what operating system do you run? If you run windows XP you should not be looking to have less than 256MB of RAM in total. You can get away with 128MB for windows 2000. Anything less you can get away with 64MB (although you really ought to be looking for more).
If you are a linux user, You can get away with 128MB on all distributions (well if you are on a REALLY tight budget, 64MB will suffice). I personally prefer at least 256MB of memory in a linux machine. If you get more memory than that you can optimise linux to use it to full capacity.
If you don't know which operating system you are using, see (1).
If you run nothing more than word processors and slideshows then the above numbers will suffice if you are on a budget. For those who have a little more money or would like additional I recommend buying 512MB. For those who run hefty video/sound editing software I would recommend no less than 512MB, preferably 1GB.
(5).Decide what size/number of RAM cards I should buy
Find out using step (1) how many total memory slots your computer has. This assumes you are looking to replace your existing memory. You will most likely have 2 slots (if you have 4 slots compatible with DDR memory you are lucky). Divide your desired size of RAM by the amount of slots free (but always make it an even number, if there are 3 slots, only use 2). So take 1GB of RAM with 2 slots free, divide 1GB by 2 to get 512MB. Then buy 2 1GB cards. If you are looking to upgrade, I would recommend buying another card of the same size. (unless it is small compared to your needs, in which case replace it and see above).
(6)What size of Hard Disk should I buy?
It depends on your budget and how much you will be storing.
The average user will find it hard to fill 40GB. If all you do is process documents and slideshows etc. occasionally, get a 40GB disk.
If you use it more often, you should consider buying a slightly bigger hard drive, perhaps 60 - 100GB. If you do a lot of downloading/programming/video editing/gaming (halflife 2 takes up roughly 4.5GB to itself) etc. then perhaps get a nice big 200GB hard drive.
(7)What manufacturer/model should I go for?
What do you want out of a hard drive? What connector is it (see below)? If you need speed and have a large budget then go for something nippy like a seagate barracuda or for quietness, value and reliability go for a Maxtor, the `caviar` range is excellent value.
(8)Should I go for IDE, SATA (Serial ATA), ATA or RAID?
If you have your motherboard already, find out what it supports. If not then go for SATA. ATA 133 is supported on many motherboards too. SATA drives have a higher life expectancy as well as high speeds. If your computer is relatively old it may only support IDE, but if buying a SATA drive, beware that SATA 1 and SATA 2 are incompatible. SATA1 may also be refered to as SATA 150MB/s, SATA 1500mbps or SATA 1.5gbps.
If people find this useful I will add to it another time.
Comments on this post
June 20th, 2005, 05:48 AM
June 23rd, 2005, 09:39 AM
Last edited by SimonGreenhill; June 23rd, 2005 at 09:42 AM.
Buying Guide Pt 2
Hardware Buying Guide - Part 2
7.What manufacturer should I buy from?
8.How do AMD Product codes work?(9).What type of chip should I buy?
10.What speed of chip should I buy?
11.What is FSB (Front Side Bus) Speed?
12.What are the technical terms I hear like `L1 cache` etc.?
13.How many pins should my processor have?
14.What brand to choose?
15.How do I choose a board that fits my processor?
16).What extra features should I look out for?
17).What are these other features like Wake-on-LAN etc.?
18).Can this be true? A motherboard that allows me to play CDs without booting up fully?
(7).What manufacturer should I buy from?
No doubt about it, AMD. Don't be fooled by the Intel adverts with all their fancy technology terms, lntel is inferior (and more expensive too)
(8).How do AMD Product codes work?
Ignore the actual speed rating (in Ghz) and concentrate on the other number, which ends in a `+`. That is the number of Mhz a slightly less powerful Intel would run at. Phrased another way, the 3.6Ghz Intel is slightly less powerful than the 3600+ AMD, and the AMD is much cheaper.
(9).What type of chip should I buy?
Are you on a budget? If so, then the AMD Sempron and AMD Duron (well not so much the Duron nowadays) are excellent buys. If you're looking for a higher performance chip, go for an AMD Athlon 64bit. When the next range of 64 bit applications come to the forefront you will want to be able to run them (and they will run faster). You will also get high power from this chip. If you're looking for even more power, head for an AMD Opteron (which are also 64 bit).
(10).What speed of chip should I buy?
What will you do with your computer? If you are just going to type documents and do the occasional slideshow, don't bother spending lots of money on high power processors. You could manage just fine on a 700+ duron. I would recommend go for a 1.2Ghz Sempron, they're fairly cheap and you get plenty of bang for your buck. If you will be doing more intensive things with your computer, like image editing or sound recording, aim a little higher up the speed scale, perhaps a 1700+ or maybe a 2000+ if you're doing a lot of the above. For video editing, you'll want a bit more, the Athlon 2600+ is an excellent buy and should handle most video editing, for really heavy users, you may want to consider investing in a 3000+ or even more perhaps. You will have to balance what you need with the above guidelines.
(11).What is FSB (Front Side Bus) Speed?
Newbies: skip this section and safely know you can ignore FSB speed.
This determines how fast your processor can communicate with both your RAM and your other hardware. In general, the faster the better, but there is little need to go above 333Mhz. Intel boasts some great FSB speeds, a pity their processors cannot keep up with it... a FSB of 333Mhz does not mean your processor will be reduced to 333Mhz speed, it just means a slightly higher speed will cut a little time transferring data to and from the processor. If you're a gamer or a potential server owner, aim for about 600Mhz, thats plenty.
(12).What are the technical terms I hear like `L1 cache` etc.?
Newbies: skip this, you can safely ignore these figures.
L1 cache is processor level cache, as in the more it has, the more data it can store for quick access. If programs are written to try and hog cache, they run a bit faster. I would not worry about L1 and L2 (for not quite so quick but increased size processor-local data storage), unless you're buying for a server or you're a hardcore compmodder. If you are one of those, then the higher the better (but don't be swayed by the Intel ones...)
(13).How many pins should my processor have?
Unless you've bought your motherboard already, don't worry. So long as your motherboard and your processor have the same number of pins, you're set. The processor should have the number of pins specified in the shop you buy it from. Preferably buy the processor and fit the motherboard around that, rather than the other way around.
(14).What brand to choose?
There's not a lot in it to be honest, although you won't regret sticking to a quality manufacturer like Gigabyte, Abit or Asus. Choose whichever has the features you want.
(15).How do I choose a board that fits my processor?
The board will explicitly say `For AMD Athlon 64 processor, 939 pin, 333Mhz FSB` etc. Assuming you've chosen that for your processor, great You'll also want a motherboard that supports DDR RAM (99% these days do anyway). For hardcore gamers with too much money, look at DDR2, or for the insanely rich, RAMBUS.
(16).What extra features should I look out for?
Onboard USB2, Firewire etc. If you don't want to invest money on sound and graphics cards, look for motherboards with onboard graphics and sound, most tend to have anyway
(17).What are these other features like Wake-on-LAN etc.?
Some motherboards have special features like Wake-on-LAN which allow you to wake the computer from standby when you ping it from another computer. This is useful if you're expecting an important piece of data to come through but don't want to leave your computer fully on, for example. There are other similar features, I doubt you will use any of them.
(18).Can this be true? A motherboard that allows me to play CDs without booting up fully?
Yes. There are a few with this feature, certainly look out for it if that's what floats your boat.
Last edited by Dngrsone; July 10th, 2005 at 01:46 AM.