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"PC Hardware Buyer's Guide": Choose the Perfect Components for your Perfect PC

February 28, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--It's both a blessing and a curse: there have never been more choices in PC systems, and never more confusion surrounding them. Whatever you use your PC for, there are likely components specifically designed to do what you do exceptionally well. And although it's pretty easy to buy a cookie-cutter PC, loaded with whatever Dell or HP decided will appeal to the widest array of people, buying "off-the-rack" won't get you the features that matter most to you--or the best price. Features that avid gamers deem "essential" may be meaningless to a frequently traveling businessperson or a family who needs a good homework machine. Increasingly, even non-geeks are deciding to build their own personal computer system, both to save money and to tailor their system to their own needs.

Admittedly, it's a challenge. Weeding through information on scores of components produced by dozens of different manufacturers, each with unique strengths and compatibilities, can be overwhelming. Finding a single source of unbiased information has often seemed impossibly elusive to today's PC shoppers.

"When you build a system from scratch, you get to chose every component," says Robert Bruce Thompson, co-author of a the new book, PC Hardware Buyer's Guide (O'Reilly $12.95 US.) "That means you can get exactly the functions and features that you want, and at the best price. It also means that you have to sort through dozens of competing products for each component, and separate the marketing hype from the reality. We've done all that research for you. PC Hardware Buyer's Guide distills what we've learned in testing and using hundreds of products over many years."

Carefully researched and written, PC Hardware Buyer's Guide is packed with an enormous amount of unbiased information intended for anyone who wants to compile the perfect machine for their needs and budget. Veteran PC hardware authors Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson (authors of PC Hardware in a Nutshell and Building the Perfect PC) say that building your own PC is the best way to get the most PC for your money.

In their new book, they provide tips for ensuring that your components are compatible, determining what products have the best performance, and hitting the sweet spot of price and performance. The book starts with providing a piece-by-piece overview of all the components that comprise a standard desktop computer. Then the authors show how to choose the right parts for you, based on your particular profile (gamer, mainstream user, etc.). Their recommendations are based on which parts are:

  • Compatible with each other
  • Regarded as the best performing
  • Closest in line with your budget
  • For quick-lookup purposes, the PC Hardware Buyer's Guide includes a simple reference chart with recommended brands and models. Just refer to the chart and the guesswork is gone--it includes recommendations for cases, power supplies, CPUs, motherboards, memory, disk drives, graphics cards, audio components, and more. The authors even offer shopping tips. For example, "When buying locally, open the box from the bottom. If you need to return a non-defective product, it makes it easier to repackage the product with the manufacturer's seals intact, which can help avoid restocking fees."

    "We quickly found out why there was so much interesting information, but relatively little useful information in most PC hardware books," says co-author Barbara Fritchman Thompson. "Interesting is quick and easy to write. Useful is slow and hard, because you actually have to do all the stuff you've written about."

    The authors achieved ultimate usefulness in the new PC Hardware Buyer's Guide.

    Additional Resources:

    PC Hardware Buyer's Guide
    Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
    ISBN: 0-596-00938-0, 127 pages, $12.95 US, $18.95 CA
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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