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General hardware knowledge/questions


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#1 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:13 AM

Okay, so Black Friday is coming up (Should have prepared earlier, but oh well.), and I was just asked by my mom to help her get a computer. Now, I don't know if I'll just get a pre-built one or build it myself, but all in all, I need to get back up to speed on hardware as well as get some questions answered that I've never been able to answer myself.

Though, feel free to answer this question: "What would be recommended for a computer that will run CorelDraw (Whatever the latest is, I wouldn't know.) on Win7?"

And yes, I know I could check wiki or "google it," but the information would be bogged down by so much useless information, it would be impossible for me to learn from (I'm just that type of guy who performs better when things are in "layman's terms.").
And don't worry about using big words. If I can't figure it out via context or dictionary, I'll ask someone, or ask in a reply/PM. I'm a quick learner.

Without further ado: (And please keep in mind that while I can BS my way through conversations, I still have the problem of "not even knowing what question to ask" sometimes.) (Also keep in mind that I am trying to be frugal and buy things that are "just as good, or better!" but at better prices. I know the competition of the biggest names out there have to have SOMETHING to compete.)

Motherboards: Really, there's not much to say about this, I suppose. I know I need to make sure to get a CPU that goes well with it, as well as make sure to have as many slots as is needed for the hardware I want to put in, etc. But here's something: what is the latest, um, "plugs?" I know they were... "PCI" or something, years ago, but I'm sure it's changed by now. And is the latest the same as the best, or are there motherboards out there that have better hardware pin-connections? Also, is it possible to add more USB ports later on? I forget if that was dependent on the motherboard or not. And I remember my old, old computer could only have 1 Master HDD and 1 Slave HDD. Has that changed to where I can now have more Slave HDD's? And are things like HDMI ports reliant upon the motherboard as well?

CPU/Processor: I know even less about these. Never had to deal with them nor the BIOS. Well, first off should be: Are those new Intel's iX really the "best?" I know they're popular duo/quad/6-core with good speeds each, but do they really do anything special over that? I've heard of "Ivy/Sandy Bridge" which is, if I remember correctly, what they call the fact that the processors work in tandem well. Do they work together better than other processors together, or is it just cool words to sucker in buyers? Also, that "turbo-boost" stuff which is just an internally built over-clocking device or something, does it have the same effects of normal OC'ing, like extra heat and slowly overworking the hardware, thus reducing it's lifespan? Or is it special in that it can OC somewhat without hurting the machine?
Honestly, are processor's as easy to read as "cores at a certain speed," or are there other things to keep track of, like how a graphics card is more than JUST "video memory at a certain speed" as there's things like PhysX and the latest level of shadow/light processing to keep track of (Forgot what they're called.)?

Graphics card: I'm pretty sure, from what I remember, that AMD has caught up to Nvidia now, and have graphics card comparable to the memory, speed, processing and software that Nvidia produces. Am I wrong on this? Either way, I just need "general information" for graphics card, as graphic card sites generally list all the info and don't hide anything (At least Nvidia does.) from consumers like other companies do. So a simple search on a hardware testing site like tomshardware (Got any alternate sites to recommend?) should answer all my questions, yes? If so, then moving on.

Sound cards: I know nothing about these, as I never looked at one, and the last one I had that wasn't integrated was, I believe, with my first computer and it was a Soundblaster 16/Pro, which was "the thing" back in the day, but not anymore. What should I be looking for? I want to play 5.1 (Or possibly 7.1 sound in games in the future.) surround sound. It needs to be able to handle games that have distortion effects as well as "3D sound," whatever that means. Other than that, I really can't think of any questions. Pretty vague, sorry.

Network cards: Nothing known about these, either. I once installed one in my computer, but it was just one my dad gave me as a gift, and never told me what brand or anything else about it. The one in my laptop right now is an integrated Nvidia one. I would like to have a dedicated network card, though. What makes a network card better or worse than another network card? What specifications should I be looking at? Sorry, again vague. In fact, I think the rest of these are going to be pretty vague. I apologize in advance.

RAM: We're up to DDR3 now, right? From what I remember, these are significantly better than DDR2 sticks. I also remember being told RAM has 2 different speeds for different things, and that one was good to have as a high speed, and the other was better as a low speed. I can't for the life of me remember what it was called, and I could be totally wrong about it. Uh... guess I'm just looking for "general information" here.

Fans/Ventilation/Tower: A tower is the basis for everything that goes comfortably in your computer and keeping it alive, as well as how easy/hard it is to access and clean/perform maintenance on the computer. So it has to be a good, roomy size that doesn't have a dust collecting type material it was made out of, and have ventilation and room for lots of nice fans (And for me, gotta look classy/epic.). What makes a fan "quality?" Are there fan speeds I should be aware of, or how big the fan is? All I know is that all the fans I've had in the past collect dust really fast and need cleaning within a week otherwise my computer will start to run hot. What makes a tower good to meet those qualities? Sorry, I'm not one of those types that can look at a box and understand. I'm the type that asks "why?" Also, is there anything else I can use for cleaning my computer other than canned air? It seems a bit strong to me, as I worry it might chip off small pieces or ruin wires. Plus, something that's cheaper and safer would save me money in the long run

Power: Since I generally get computers with small sized internal HDD's and get a lot of externals, I probably should learn what wattage would be needed to run a computer with lots of USB splitters, external HDD's/SSD's, high-tech keyboards, mice, headsets/speakers and anything else I connect to it like gamepads/joysticks, external wifi connectors, iPad, etc, on top of a cooling system (Though I know nothing about those and probably won't be getting one yet, anyways, but should at least make sure I can connect one and have power for it.). What wattage would that require, and are there any other specifications I should be looking for?

HDD: I know SSD's are out. Faster access and storage speed, as well as smaller in physical size, at the cost of more money. As far as I can tell, drives are the easiest to buy for out of the entire list here. Unless there's something I should be aware of?

CD/DVD/Blu-Ray: Computers inevitably need a disc player. And for me, I burn discs. Is speed all I need to worry about here? Not that it matters as much, as I always burn at the slowest speed to ensure my data gets backed up correctly. Or should I be looking at firmware, software and other things? Do Blu-ray drives also have the +/- disc system? Well, not that it matters, I'm sure a Blu-ray read & RW drive is way too expensive, but one can dream, right?

I'll probably, hopefully, have more questions after I get some responses. Thanks for your time and sorry for the wall of text. =P

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#2 dc3

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:31 PM

If you are thinking about building a computer and want to learn more about choosing your components I would suggest posting a topic in the System Building and Upgrading forum.


As for purchasing a computer for your mother, the only criteria you have given is that it be capable of running CorelDraw. The system requirements are listed below.
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows® XP, with latest service packs installed (32-bit or 64-bit editions)
  • Intel® Pentium® 4, AMD Athlon™ 64 or AMD Opteron™
  • 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 750 MB hard disk space (1 GB for typical installation without content). Up to 6GB needed to install extra content
  • Mouse or tablet
  • 1024 x 768 screen resolution (768 x 1024 on a Tablet PC)
  • DVD drive
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 or higher

As you can see, most any new computer would meet the system requirements to run CorelDraw. If she is only going to be using this for the usual types of activities like E-mail, photos, pictures, get online, etc., then it still holds true that any new computer will be able to do these.







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#3 hamluis

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:46 PM

<<What would be recommended for a computer that will run CorelDraw (Whatever the latest is, I wouldn't know.) on Win7?">>

http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4260069&cid=catalog20038&segid=5700006&storeKey=us&languageCode=en#tab5

Any system produced in the last 5 years or so will meet those requirements. Windows will have similar requirements, except it needs more RAM (which is a good thing), 4GB will do the job.

Louis

#4 SirMaximusOwnage

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:44 AM

I can find the system requirements and what not, but my mom says that CorelDraw can also do 3D graphics design or something similar, mainly used for architectural purposes, in her experience. So I had assumed that it would need higher requirements if any graphics were to be done.

This isn't in the system building or buying a new computer as I'm not sure what I'm doing yet, and I feel with general knowledge, I can help myself, instead of relying on others to help me every time I need to shop for a computer or hardware. I just can't wiki for information, so I thought I would ask here.

#5 dc3

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:44 AM

A good way to learn would be to start reading the posts in the System Building and Upgrading forum.

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