O’Reilly news

New Edition of "PC Hardware in a Nutshell" Covers Windows and Linux Machines

August 5, 2003

Sebastopol, CA--Staying on top of PC hardware means keeping up with the latest specs on a huge range of different technologies. It's a monumental, time-consuming task, but necessary for any IT pro, or for that matter, for anyone who wants to buy, build, upgrade, or repair an Intel-based PC. The just released third edition of PC Hardware in a Nutshell (O'Reilly, US $39.95) by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson provides all the information you need in the practical, concise "In a Nutshell" format.

"There's not another book like this," says Jerry Pournelle in his introduction to the book. "If you do much with computers you need a good reference on hardware. Of course, there are massively larger books on the subject, but that's just the point; most of the time you're not looking for a long essay on the subject, you need information, and reliable judgment, both of which Robert Bruce Thompson is highly--I am tempted to say uniquely--qualified to give. It's really the best book on the subject."

A longtime favorite among PC users, the third edition of the book now contains information for people running either Windows or Linux operating systems. Written for novices and seasoned professionals alike, the book is packed with useful and unbiased information, including how-to advice for specific components, ample reference material, and a comprehensive case study on building a PC.

The Thompsons wrote the first edition of the book when Robert tried to find an answer to a simple problem--he wanted to buy a CD burner, and wanted clear information on how to choose, install, configure, and use a CD burner. What he found was an almost overwhelming amount of "interesting" information, but a surprising lack of "useful" information. "'Interesting' is quick and easy to write," says Barbara Fritchman Thompson. "'Useful' is slow and hard, because you have to weed through all the available information--with its varying degrees of reliability--and actually do all the stuff you write about."

In addition to coverage of the fundamentals and general tips about working on PCs, the book includes chapters focusing on motherboards, processors, memory, floppies, hard drives, optical drives, tape devices, video devices, input devices, audio components, communications, power supplies, and maintenance. Special emphasis is given to upgrading and troubleshooting existing equipment so you can get the most from your existing investments.

This timely new edition is expanded to include:

  • Detailed information about the latest motherboards and chipsets from AMD, Intel, SiS, and VIA

  • Extensive coverage of the Pentium 4 and the latest AMD processors, including the Athlon XP/MP

  • Full details about new hard drive standards, including the latest SCSI standards, ATA/133, Serial ATA, and the new 48-bit "Big Drive" ATA interface

  • Extended coverage of DVD drives, including DVD-RAM, DVD-R/RW, and DVD+R/RW

  • Details about Flat Panel Displays, including how to choose one (and why you might not want to)

  • New chapters on serial communications, parallel communications, and USB communications (including USB 2.0)

  • Enhanced troubleshooting coverage

"PC Hardware in a Nutshell, Third Edition" provides independent and eminently practical information in a no-nonsense manner with specific recommendations on components. Based on real-world testing over time, it will help you make intelligent, informed decisions about buying, building, upgrading, and repairing PCs in a cost effective manner. It's loaded with real-world advice that clearly delivers just the information you want, without your having to hunt for it.

Praise for the previous edition:

"A well written, practical guide to buying and using PCs. It's loaded with real-world advice presented in a concise style that clearly delivers just the information you want, without your having to hunt for it."
--Kirk Steers, PC World, February 2003

"One of the things that separates true techies from the rest is a willingness to dive into the guts of a machine to add new components...But given the ever changing nature of computer technology, to retain expertise in the area of PC hardware means keeping up with the latest specs on a bunch of different technologies. Or you can simply buy this book...easily the best of its type. It epitomizes what O'Reilly has come to be known for; publishing well-written books about technical subjects that users can easily understand and implement...a must-read...If you are looking for a good guide for when you are under the hood of your PC, or want to know what to look for in future upgrades, you can expect to save a lot of time of time and hassle by getting a copy of this book first. Highly recommended."
--Keith Schengili-Roberts, The Computer Paper, December 2002

"Do you want to know how to upgrade the memory on your computer? Or to add a video card or an extra hard drive? Husband and wife team, Robert and Barbara Thompson, run their own business showing people how to deal with hardware. This book brings together all their valuable advice into one resource. And it's much more than a quick reference. They provide a practical guide for those who wish to maintain, upgrade, and even build computers. It's full of tips and recommendations on the selection of hardware; advice on fitting; and warnings about what to avoid."
--Roy Johnson, Mantex.co.uk

Additional reviews of the previous editions

Additional Resources:

PC Hardware in a Nutshell, Third Edition
By Robert Bruce Thompson, Barbara Fritchman Thompson
ISBN 0-596-00513-X, 874 pages, $39.95 US, $61.95 CA, 28.50 UK
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

About O’Reilly

O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

Email a link to this press release