Welcome to the Computer Section @ Chiro.Org! This page contains information about new and slightly older computer parts that can vastly improve the function of your office system.

 
   

COMPUTERS

This section was compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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Jump to:    The Parts of Your Computer           How Fast is Fast?

                     Some Cost-effective CPU/Mother Board Combination Packages

                     Build Your Own Box ~ How To Do It Yourself



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The Parts of Your Computer
 
   

[Central Processing Unit]

Central Processing Unit (CPU):   is the "brain" of your computer. It is that portion of a computer that controls and performs the execution of instructions and manages the flow of information through a computer system. CPUs are rated by their speed, the newest rated in gigahertz (GHz, 109, or 1 billion cycles per second). For most office functions, speeds above 1 GHz are more than sufficient.

The only real choices for CPUs are those manufactured by AMD and Intel. Refer here for more information about CPUs

[A Mother Board]

Mother Board:   is the heart of the computer; it is the docking space for most of the components of your computer, and it allows all the parts of your computer to receive power and to communicate with one another. Todays mother boards come with built in features like sound cards and USB and network outlets. Once you've selected your CPU you will select a board that fits that CPU. Refer here for more information about Mother Boards.

The newest features are SATA compatible boards, which significantly increase transmission speeds to your hard drive.

[Hard Drive]

Hard Drive(s):   is where the computer stores your data. If you install 2 hard drives, one to control the “operating system” (OS), and the second dedicated to data storage, you might never lose data after a “crash” again, especially if you do regular backups of your data to the 2nd hard drive.

SATA compatible mother boards (ASUS) make it easy to save data to both hard drives at the same time.

Operating Systems (OS)
[Operating Systems]

Operating Systems (OS) come in various flavors.

The most common OS is Windows. You can also purchase “open source” systems like Linux, Red Hat or others.

An operating system (OS) is a software package that manages computer hardware and provides common services for computer programs.

[RAM Chips]

System Memory (RAM):   is the place where the computer holds current programs and data that are in current use. The amount and type of system memory you have is an important contributing factor to overall performance.

In many ways, extra RAM is more important than the processor speed, because insufficient memory can cause a processor to work at 50% below it's performance potential. Some programs are well-known “resource hogs”, so providing more RAM is preferrable.   4 (or more) Gigs is the minimum for newer operating systems.

[Video Card]

Video Card:   a.k.a graphics card is an “expansion card” that contains the circuitry necessary to create a video signal that can be processed by your computer monitor. Remember that every image you are looking at is actually made up of zillions of tiny dots called “pixils”. High-end video cards have dedicated memory to represent 3-D imaging more quickly and accurately.

[Sound Card]

Sound Card:   Mother boards typically come with sound circuitry already built in, so an upgrade is not required. If you want surround sound for your DVDs and CDs, or 3-D sound for games, or the ability to mix your own Midis and music, an add-on soundcard may be just the thing for you.

[CD-Rewritable]

CD-Rewritable:   can record on one-time use (CD-R) or multiple-reuse (CD-RW) discs. You can make copies of existing information (music CDs, MP3s, computer programs, or data discs) or you can create “backups” of information already stored in your computer quickly and cheaply.

CDs can hold 750 MB (750 million bits) worth of data. That's about 500 of the old 3½" floppy diskettes !

[DVD-Rewritable]

DVD-Rewritable:   are now so inexpensive, it's almost pointless to add a CD-burner to your box! [Plus, new DVD recorders can also burn and read CDs] Blank DVD discs are now as cheap as 10 cents each. You can record on one-time use (DVD-R+ or -) or multiple-reuse (DVD-RW) discs.

DVDs hold 4.7 Gigs (4700 million bits). That's 6 CDs worth of data, all in one place !

[Computer Case]

Computer Case:   holds all parts of the computer. You select a box suitable to hold the mother board you have selected. On the front you see expansion bays for CD-RWs and DVDs, and on the back look for at least 5 expansion slots for adding things like modems, firewire ports, and extra USB ports.

For your convenience, make sure your new case has front-side outlets for USBs, headsets with microphones (for SkyPe), and perhaps even Firewire inputs. (for whatever you expect to use frequently.)

[Power Supply]

Power Supply:   distributes electricity from the wall outlet to the mother board and case fans via the wiring and sockets that come with the unit. Although many computer cases come with existing power supplies, gamers often upgrade to more reliable high-end power supplies.

[Floppy Disk Drive]

3.5inch 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive:   is an old, reliable, and easy way to copy up to 1.4 million bits of information onto a convenient, portable and low-cost media. CD-RW has all but replaced the need for floppies, but nothing is more convenient for carrying that last-minute Word file home in a hurry! The most recent popular method to carry files home are portable USB storage devices.

[Modem]

Modems:   connect your fax software directly to phone lines. This also used to be our primary access to the internet, until DSL became cost-effective and widely distributed. A modem still a necessary tool for any business office that faxes through the computer.

[Keyboard]

Keyboards:   are the way to input your data into the computer.

Do you know about Keyboard Shortcuts?

[Mouse]

Mouse:   The new “optical” mice rule! There used to be a little rubber ball inside old-style mice, and they had a tendency to drag dust inside the working parts of the mouse. Eventually this made the mouse work erratically. The new mice don't usually need a mouse pad either.

[Mouse]

Processor (CPU) Cooling Fan:   Keep your hard-working processor running cool with a fan/heatsink combination designed especially for your CPU. Many of the better CPUs now come with one attached.

The heatsink features ultra-thin fins and an extra-large heat-spreader to efficiently direct heat away from your CPU's sensitive die area. A high-performance ball-bearing fan blows cool(er) air down onto the heatsink and out over your motherboard for extra cooling.

[ATA/IDE Round Cable]
[SATA Cable]

ATA/IDE Round Cable:   I like the round IDE and Floppy cables, because they look cooler than the old flat “ribbon” cables, and because they permit much better air flow across parts that tend to overheat. This connects your hard drive or floppy to the mother board.


The newest advance in design also includes increased speeds of transmission. The SATA (Serial ATA) cable transmits at 150Mbps. This is huge improvement over the older ribbon or round cables which were rated at 100 or 133Mbps maximum.

NOTE:   You will need a mother board and hard drive that are designed with the new 7-Pin Serial ATA sockets.

 
   
How Fast is Fast?
 
   

First, you need to decide how fast a processor to purchase. That should be based on how you use your computer. If you are a “high-end user” you may use your computer for 3-D video games or auto-CAD presentations. These are uses which require very high-speed processing. The cost of your CPU, Mother Board, and System Memory (RAM) will be higher since you are looking for the newest and fastest technology available.

If you are an “average user”, you use your computer for word-processing, billing, internet access and e-mail. CPU speed should have minimal impact on your day-to-day needs. Once processing speeds rose above 1 GHz, the average user could not distinguish any real differences in speed. Think about this: If your Word 2003 program already opens in .75 seconds, why would you spend $300 to upgrade your system to make it open a little bit faster?

Internet speed is based on how you access those services. Modem dial-up is the wave of the past, and is limited by the slow speed of your modem. DSL is now prevalent and inexpensive, and offers high-speed 24/7 access. When I ditched “dial-up” and switched to DSL, I actually saved money on my monthly phone bill.

 
   
Some Cost-effective CPU/Mother Board Combination Packages
 
   

Package 1 is $160.00

CPU: AMD FX 4130 Black Edition 3.8GHz Quad-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor is $100 at MicroCenter

Mother Board: ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 Socket AM3+ AMD mATX Motherboard price is $60 at MicroCenter

This combination offers a very fast processor (3.8 GHz) with DDR3-1866 Memory compatibility, VIA VT1708S audio (8-Channel). More importantly, this is a SATA board (no more ribbon cables) which greatly improves the speed your box can move data from hard drive to access memory, and it is RAID compatible, which means it can save all data (simultaneously) to a second hard drive for immediate backup in the event of crashes. Remember that you must also purchase SATA hard drives.



Package 2 is $245.00

CPU: AMD FX 4130 Black Edition 3.8GHz Quad-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor price is $100 at MicroCenter

Mother Board: ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2.0 Socket AM3+ 990FX ATX AMD Motherboard price is $145 at MicroCenter

Dual Intelligent Processors 3 with New DIGI+ Power Control - Full Hardware Control. Total Performance Tuning; Remote GO! - One-stop PC Remote Control and Home Entertainment; USB 3.0 Boost - Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP; Network iControl - Real-time Network Bandwidth Control.



Comments From AMD:



The AMD64 core provides leading-edge performance for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications
  • AMD64 technology provides full-speed support for x86 code base without compromising performance


  • 40-bit physical addresses, 48-bit virtual addresses
  • Sixteen 64-bit integer registers

  • Sixteen 128-bit SSE/SSE2/SSE3 registers


  • AMD Digital Media XPress™ provides support for SSE, SSE2, SSE3 and MMX instructions

A high-bandwidth, low-latency integrated DDR memory controller
  • Supports PC-3200 (DDR-400), PC-2700 (DDR-333), PC-2100 (DDR-266) or PC-1600 (DDR-1600) SDRAM unbuffered DIMMs (socket 939); supports PC2-5300 (DDR2-667), PC2-4200 (DDR2-533) or PC2-3200 (DDR2-400) SDRAM unbuffered DIMMs (socket AM2)


  • Support for 64-bit DDR (socket 939) or DDR2 (socket AM2) SDRAM memory


  • Up to 6.4GB/s (socket 939) or 10.6GB/s (socket AM2) memory bandwidth

HyperTransport™ technology for high speed I/O communication
  • One 16-bit link up to 2000MHz bidirectional


  • Up to 8GB/s HyperTransport™ I/O bandwidth


  • Up to 14.4GB/s (socket 939) or 18.6GB/s (socket AM2) total delivered processor-to-system bandwidth (HyperTransport bus + memory bus)

Large high performance on-chip cache
  • 64KB Level 1 instruction cache


  • 64KB Level 1 data cache


  • Up to 1MB (socket 939) or 512KB (socket AM2) Level 2 cache
 
   
Build Your Own Box ~ How To Do It Yourself
 
   

There are a variety of "how-to" pages on building your own box. Here's a cross-section of them:

[Red Diamond]   Build Your Own PC at PCMechanic

[Red Diamond]   Build Your Own PC at Buildyourown.Org/UK/

[Red Diamond]   Build Your Own PC ~ An Illustrated Guide



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