MenagerieThe basic doodads of modifying, upgrading and creating your own desktop computer
The basic doodads of modifying, upgrading and creating your own desktop computer
Tags:
June 17, 2012
Tags:
June 17, 2012

So you reach home one night, weeping in silence as you stare into the blankness of space – or rather, your computer screen: as it still remains lagging after you loaded that fancy HD game or video two weeks ago. Watching every annoying warning pop up on your desktop only highlights the futility of your unfortunate ‘technological dilemma’. But you stare on, until thoughts verging on murder toward this seemingly innocent mechanical contraption come crashing in.

Well, don’t bang that keyboard and toss your CPU out the window just yet, because unless your computer’s operating system runs on fruit (i.e. Apple), there is hope.

Computers are at the forefront of technological innovation, with software upgrading day in and day out. Often, however, it’s impossible to spare the moo-lah to buy yourself a nice new up-to-date gamer-specs desktop for the ‘ownage’ of others (and believe me, that 6-digit price tag is not something to laugh about). So the best alternative is to upgrade your current unit for whatever purpose you have in mind – instead of scrapping it entirely and buying a new one. It’s fairly easy to pump up your current desktop to passable levels, without spending as much  – and saving on the e-waste to boot. Desktop computers are essentially upgradeable, like putting a V8 engine in your dilapidated lemon of a car.

Here are a few things you need to consider first.

 

The Motherboard

Motherboards are in essence the body of your PC; the glue that connects all your components together. The market is chock-full of all sorts of motherboards ranging from different brands to multiple socketed ones; some even have two CPU sockets. As for upgrading your own PC, it is best that you get to know your current motherboard a little better. Take her out to dinner, have a little chat, and eventually you just might get what you need with some enticingly sensitive coercion.

Puns aside, it’s important to know every bit about your own motherboard before sniffing out for upgrades. Questions to ask and to research on are things like the kinds of RAM sockets available in the market, the processors that work with them, or whether you have enough PCi Buses to add a videocard, soundcard, wireless internet, and so on.

Be warned. Some motherboards without sockets for attachable components are impossible to upgrade. Don’t waste money on hardware you can’t use.

 

RAM

RAM allows your computer to multitask – or alt-tab to infinity on your browser without lagging. Three types of RAMs exist, though one is obsolete. These are DDR1, DDR2, and DDR3. If your computer still uses a DDR1 RAM, you would best buy a new…. everything!

DDR2 and DDR3 RAMs are still available, however. Older motherboard models (probably prior to 2008) use DDR2 rams and can only be upgraded by the said components. There is a huge difference between these two RAMs. For one, their sockets are entirely different. These two components are built for their matching sockets and cannot be interchanged. Second, motherboards with DDR3 sockets can be upgraded to 8GB worth of memory, while DDR2 can handle far less than that.

Older isn’t always cheaper. DDR2 RAMs are on the way out and are pricier than DDR3 RAMs. Take this into account when buying a new computer, especially if you have plans of future upgrades.

 

Processors

The heart and soul of your computer is your processor. So it’s easy to fall for the latest and the raddest piece of hardware you can get your hands on. But heed my warning, unless you want an entire year’s allowance put to waste.

The processor is usually the most expensive component of a computer. Much like RAMs, they have different sockets for each set of models. The tragic difference is that there are now not only three, but nearly two dozen socket types for processors since the advent of the ‘dual core’, all different for every brand, application and so on. Prior to purchasing your shiny and really expensive processor, you better check whether that thing even fits your whole set, lest you cry tears of ill-spent wealth.

 

PCI Buses

Long story short, this is where the essential hardware goes in: videocards, soundcards, and so on. If you plan on putting multiple hardware on your desktop, you need to know how many PCI buses you have on your motherboard.  Unlike RAMs, PCI buses are generic and most hardware, if not all, can be inserted here, except the hard drive, which has its own socket.  The more you have, the more you can add onto your high tech desktop.

 

Tower, Chassis, Housing, Case, Whatever…..

Before snagging everything you want to throw into your pimped up desktop, make sure you can cram it all in that box of yours.

The casing encloses your desktop. It is easy to find out whether or not your entire set is compatible with the tower, and most bigger towers are compatible with any motherboard size. Just be certain it is big enough for everything you will put in it.

 

Power Supply

With hardware, you can add as many components as you wish. This however might cost you a lot of power. Each pre-built desktop computer essentially has its own power supply, but is only designed to deliver power enough for the computer to function properly. Though you can add a couple of components, only minor upgrades are possible. Upgrading to a more powerful CPU or video card equates to a much larger power requirement, and would probably send your computer on the fritz if not enough is supplied. Component manufacturers usually state power requirements on their labels, especially for high power ones. Always check these before installing them.

 

Hard drives

The bigger, the better; the more, the merrier. Just make sure your housing is big enough and your motherboard can handle it

 

The Upgrade Chain Reaction

One thing to keep in mind when upgrading your computer is to always look up the basic specs. Sometimes, incompatability issues will force you to upgrade more than just one component of your computer. Newer components come in all the time and may be completely incompatible with your ‘90s-version computer, in most cases. And unfortunately, you can never upgrade just any old desktop to top of the line specifications. The point is to do what you can with a beloved computer that’s nearing the end of its life – even on a skimpy budget.

 

Optimizing your Desktop

What makes it difficult in making your own desktop from scratch is having the most optimized setup.  Most prebuilt desktop comuputers offer the full compatibility and sychnronization of all their componets. Keep in mind that all computer components have specific properties that require much technological knowhow to desipher. it is eventually necessary to get e\xpert help so that you can optimize your CPU or do heavy research concerning the components. it is never easy to doing DIY things, but eventually they pay off, in experience, savings, or otherwise.

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