i Know HOW

Dedicated to The Telegraph KnowHOW

Building a dream machine

Posted by iKnowHOW on December 1, 2006

Buy a Windows Vista-ready PC if you want to enjoy an eye-popping multimedia experience

Buy a Windows Vista-ready PC if you want to enjoy an eye-popping multimedia experience

Are you planning to buy a PC any time in the near future? If so, wait and think before you rush to your computer vendor. You do not want your machine to be obsolete a month or two after you buy it.

So what should you consider before buying a PC? Do you want to use it just as a typewriter and browse the Internet once in a while? You would probably say “yes”, but believe me you will rue the day when you realise what you actually wanted was something that would give you an eye-popping multimedia experience. This is because as you get familiar with your computer, you will want do more with it. First, you will want to listen to music, then watch DVDs and, finally, edit your movies shot with your handycam. If that is not all, you will then want to run some killer applications and also play games to while your time away.

To do all this you need your machine to have power. You can make a pretty powerful machine without burning a hole in your pocket if you choose the various parts that make up your computer carefully.

Two months from now, Windows Vista will be launched. You have to take this into account when you go for a new PC. Windows Vista will be a big resource hog. You will need at least 2GB RAM if you want to run Vista smoothly. Your processor speed should be above 1GHz.

And to top it all, you will have to invest in a separate graphics card with at least 512 MB memory if you want to run the Home Premium version of Vista.

Powerful processor

Here are some guides to build a Vista-ready computer. Let us first consider what processor you should buy. Intel is now back in the reckoning after having given way to AMD for the past few years. Intel’s new range of desktop processors are up to 40 per cent faster than its counterparts. A good processor for those on a budget is the Intel Core2 E6300. It has a 2MB L 2 cache and clocks 1.86GHz. This will cost you around Rs 8,800. Those who are willing to spend more can go for a Core2 Duo E6700 CPU.

Motherboard

To match the processor you need a good motherboard. There is a very confusing array of motherboards from Asus. If you are looking for high definition audio quality and integrated Wi-Fi, you could go for the Asus P5B Deluxe. It is based on the Intel 965P chipset. This motherboard will last you several years should you decide to upgrade your PC in stages. I suggest you spend the Rs 11,000 and future-proof yourself. Of course, you will get other motherboards based on the Intel 945P chipset which are cheaper. The Intel 945P is a pretty powerful chipset for personal computing. It supports 1066MHz FSB (Front Side Bus), PCI Express graphics and dual-channel DDR2 memory, and Intel’s dual-core CPU for fast multitasking. Combined with the Intel ICH7 that provides four Serial ATA II ports and PCI Express interface, the motherboard is an excellent foundation for a powerful desktop. The motherboard is the core of your PC and so take an informed decision.

Memory

Don’t be stingy on your RAM or else you will regret it. Buy at least 2GB of RAM. The products from Simmtronics or TwinMOS are good and inexpensive. You will need to spend around Rs 12,000 for 2GB. Or you can buy 1 GB for Rs 6,600 and upgrade later. Make sure you buy DDR2 RAM.

Graphics card

You will want to play movies and games on your computer some day and for this you will need the hardware to display these properly on your computer. Leadtek offers graphics cards at affordable prices so that you can indulge yourself in gaming and movies. WinFast PX7900 GTX TDH Extreme is HDCP ready and has 512 MB memory. HDCP stands for High Definition Digital Content Protection. It is a technology developed by Intel that allows Windows to play protected DVD movies. This technology was developed to prevent the unauthorised distribution of digital video through copying. There are cheaper options available that will set you back by around Rs 3,300. Do not go for an onboard graphics solution as this will slow down your PC by drawing resources from your RAM. To get the full effects of Windows Vista, the graphics card must support DirectX 9 with a WDDM driver. It should have at least 128 MB of graphics memory (minimum), with Pixel Shader 2.0 and 32 bits per pixel.

Hard Disk

Over the last few years, the cost of hard disks has come down drastically. Choose between Seagate and Western Digital. Western Digital’s SATA II HDD 200 GB will give you lots of space to store your videos, music and podcasts. This will cost you around Rs 4,000.

Now that you have got the essentials in place, you can decide on your DVD writer, monitor and speakers. The Asus DRW-1608P3S 16X DVD Writer costs around Rs 2,250.

Samsung’s LCD 17 inch monitors come for around Rs 10,500.

Altec Lansing has the best speakers. Prices range from Rs 2,700 upwards, depending on the model you choose.

The keyboard, mouse and the cabinet will cost you around Rs 2,000. So for around Rs 54,000 you can have a pretty good gaming and multimedia PC that will last you at least till 2009 comfortably. Most of all, it will be Windows Vista capable and you will not fret in the years to come as programs get more complex and more resource hungry.

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