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The critical parts to a computer is everything that resides in the case, the motherboard, processor, Ram, Hard drive, and a power supply unit are the core fundamentals of a computer and general dictate how fast it will work. Other parts like graphics adaptors, sound cards, network adaptors are essential pieces if the computer is to be used for computer gaming. There are also several other input and out device that also help in the function of the computer, most importantly a VDU (visual display unit), keyboard, mouse and speakers.
There are several Processor type in existence, the most common and highly successful in the LG775 socket architecture. The processor does exactly what is say on the tin, it process's commands given to it through input devices and the OS, and is essentially the brain of the computer.
Other socket types would A and AM2 to use AMD processors, other Intel based sockets include 939, 754 and 478.
As technology is driven so fast, we are now utilizing multi core CPU's, which can be found with Dual and Quad core, These new design help to quicken machines since multiple process stacks can be executed quickly. This is acknowledging with the clock speed of a processor e.g. 3.0GHz. The higher clock speed dictates how many cycles the processor can perform. So an Intel Pentium 4 with hyper threading 3.6GHz with 800FSB will clock cycles at 3.6 million a second. In the case of the new quad systems say the Intel Core 2 Quad SLACR 95W Edition 2.40GHz will clock 9.6 million cycles a second.
Also with the processors the is a section know as Cache, which acts like as a memory device to store data that is consistently being accessed through cycles and other processing activity. In the case of our P4 stated earlier it has an L2 cache of 2MB which is not essentially a lot, though bearing in mind it is an old single core processor. As for an SLACR quad it packs 2MB of L2 Cache on each processor totaling to 8MB.
Ram (Random access memory)
Certainly a big step up form vacuum tubes, modern ram comes in all shapes and sizes. Ram size works to the power of two e.g. 256mb to 512mb and goes much higher by today's standards, Ram is also comes in several architectural style such as DDR, DDR2, DDR3, SDR and many more. RAM also come in the in the option of duel channel, the idea behind this concept is to eliminate bottlenecking, issues between CPU, RAM and other peripherals, this is better know as the Von Neumann Bottleneck.
There are also different types of RAM but the most common is the DRAM and SRAM types, DRAM generally being cheaper SRAM. The refresh rate of DRAM is thousands of time a second and SRAM's even higher.
RAM is considered to be primary memory, while secondary memory devices are CD's and DVD's, solid state technology like USB sticks, floppy and Zip disks, and Hard disk Drives.
Motherboard is the main circuit board that allows all parts to work together, and can utilize many attachment pieces through the use of cables and wires.
Motherboards are defined in several ways, which is by processor socket type, front side bus which relates to RAM and processors, and the standards of ATX, BTX and the subsequent micro version.
ATX and BTX generally mean what case should be used with that particular motherboard because of the back panel layout.
By today's standards most motherboards will come with DDR2 dim sockets, IDE controllers for hard drives, optical disks and floppy drives controllers. It would also contain processor socket, necessary power input blocks.
With modern motherboard they now contain RAID support as well as serial ATA connectors for hard drives and optical drive. A motherboard will also contain a chipset and BIOS to help the computer function correctly.
On motherboard there is a Northbridge and a Southbridge which communicates too specific devices, the Southbridge controls thing like universal serial buses, SATA and PATA connection types, PS2 controllers, fire wire controllers, and anything else that happens to be integrated to it. Where as the Northbridge controls the communication and speed between the CPU, RAM, and most third party GPU card.
Hard Disk Drive
A secondary memory resource the hard disk drive comes in wide range of form factors and access types. The most popular access type at the moment is SATA, which replace the PATA drive which is used with ribbon cables to work yet have also become obsolete.
Power supply unit
One vital part of a PC, this is what divides and sends power to parts of the computer, for example it would defiantly send power to optical drive, hard drive, floppy drives, and motherboards, though in recent years as graphic adaptors have gotten bigger, they now need there own supply of power.
Architectural standards of graphics card are PCI, PCI express and AGP, though over the last few year PCI has become obsolete for graphics adaptor, and AGP isn't as popular as PCI express.
Each modern graphic card has a GPU (Graphic processing unit) running at approximately 720MHz and usually supported with built in Ram, notably DDR2 or DD3 ranging from 128mb, 256mb, to 512mb usually running at 800MHz or ridiculously more if using DDR3.
The idea behind graphics card, is to free up processor resource by implementing a second system which is naturally the graphics card, or think of it as a sub system to the computer but deals specifically with graphical content, it acts like RAM, CPU Northbridge and a motherboard all found in one device.
While Sound controllers are generally built in to motherboards, third part sound card tend to be better, and usually have adopted better means of technology.
Sound card come in quite a verity, ranging from 2.1 to 7.1 surround sound to even HD audio.
Networking adaptors a not standard in motherboard, usually range from a 10/100/1000 Mbps connection type, and speeds can go as far as Gigabit. Networking adaptor are generally Ethernet based, especially when connecting a modem to a computer, or alternatively a rooter or hub.
Other mean of networking is the wireless, yet this type of connection is very controversial, wireless rooters and adaptor can be met with foul play since laptop users and other wireless networks can be connected to, and can ultimately lead to hack and more worse scenarios, yet this case only seem to happen with illiterate computer users.
A mouse is a sensory device that can be attach to a motherboard Via PS2 connection or the more common universal serial bus (USB).
Mice come in a wide range of models, from wireless, to infrared, to the standard ball and wire combo. The point on the mouse give the user the ability to interact with the graphical user interface, utilizing several combinations of command like double click, right click etc, and some mice are now utilizing more buttons.
A mouse is a good part of a computer to have, yet a computer can work without one with the use of a keyboard provided the user knows all commands of a keyboard.
The primary input device, a keyboard was design to have all letters of the alphabet, as well as number key ranging from zero to nine; it also has several other keys to help use with proprietary software.
The keyboard is essential peripheral devices, simple because to install an OS or interact with the BIOS you need a keyboard to do so.
This device helps users to interact with a computer through visual means, it can be use for a verity of task, to see word processing, watching video and all of a computers uses.
Modern monitors are now LCD flat screens, with lots of different resolution such as wide screen and 4:3, this device is connected to the graphics adaptor.
There is a wide range of optical drives from CD, DVD, HD and Blue-ray.
CD and DVD optical drives have the capability to read and write, while consumer HD and Blue-ray optical drives can only read at present and the switch from PATA to SATA is currently in work with a lot of manufactures.
Floppy and Zip Drives
Considered to be obsolete since the arrival of solid state technology, floppy and zip drive allowed media to be inserted in to them, however due to low capacity was there downfall. However floppy drive still have place in the personal computing world, since boot up floppy disc can help installation of devices, or even run programmes like memtest.
Of course the case it another important piece, because it hold the motherboard and all internal devices and components, each case is set up for the Motherboard standard such as ATX, and also leave room to accommodate a power supply unit which is fasten with screws.
But another good feature of high end case is that they are thermally sound, which means the mounted fans In the case help to ventilate heat coming from the processor, north bridge and other heat expending items.
However in some cases, water cooler units are add too high performance machine to keep heat down. Distilled water and an anti corrosive coolant is pumped around a system of water blocks which are strapped to key point on the motherboard, general replacing CPU heat sink fans, GPU fans and heat sinks, as well as the Northbridge heat sink.
These means of cooling are very effect and reduce wear and tear on certain aspect of a machine, there is nothing worse than a burnout CPU.
What would make an ideal workstation PC and gaming platform?
As software vendors and games industry progress so must the hardware. Programme like Maya and 3d studio max do not really require top of the range machine to use it, but running games is completely different story since games are consistently pushing the benchmarks for hardware acceleration.
The best way to build a gaming PC is to take a benchmark of most high maintenance game, currently this would be Crysis, while consoles can run it there has been much controversy of it running on windows. So firstly what are the specifications of Crysis?
- Windows XP or Windows Vista
- 2.8 GHz or faster processor (XP) or 3.2 GHz or faster* (Vista)
- 1.0 GB RAM (XP) or 1.5 GB RAM (Vista)
- 256 MB video card**
- 12GB hard drive space
- Sound Card - DirectX 9.0c compatible
Supported Processors: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (3.2 GHz for Vista) or faster, Intel Core 2.0 GHz (2.2 GHz for Vista) or faster, AMD Athlon 2800+ (3200+ for Vista) or faster.
** Supported chipsets: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT or greater; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (Radeon X800 Pro for Vista) or greater. Laptop versions of these chipsets may work but are not supported. Integrated chipsets are not supported. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required
Take from http://www.game.co.uk/PC/Action/FirstPersonShooter/~r328543/Crysis/
So what do these requirements mean in terms of hardware, obliviously the OS XP or Vista, 1-2GB of RAM, a video card with 256 MB ram supported and a sound card which is direct x 9.0c compatible, these are more than likely the minimal specification set out by the developers, so we need to up the game in terms of hardware and a perfect example of this is this computer.
Processor - Intel Core 2 Quad Pro "Energy Efficient SLACR 95W Edition" 2.40GHz with 1066FSB
Motherboard - Asus Maximus Formula X38 Socket 775 DDR2 Motherboard /Front Side Bus 1600 / 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Ram - OCZ 2GB (2x1GB) 1066MHz SLI-Ready Edition Dual Channel DDR2 x2
PSU - OCZ StealthXStream 600w Silent SLI Ready ATX2 Power Supply
Case - Thermaltake Shark
GPU - BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC 768MB GDDR3 HDTV/Dual DVI (PCI-Express)
Soundcard - Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Gamer 7.1
Hard Disk Drive - Maxtor Diamondmax 21 320GB SATA-II 8MB Cache
This computer set up would be an ideal set up to run Crysis, the general idea it to match clocking speeds with the RAM, mother board and processor, and simple not meshing the most expensive parts together just because it might not work due to technological differences.
This machine would boast a high intensive processing power combining mass storage of primary and secondary memory; this can also be said for the graphics adaptor as it also boast some very good DDR3 RAM. The computer may not complete use the SLACR power since a lot of multithread applications have not been written yet, but it doesn't hurt to have this processor and the user can easily define what it does.
The graphics card also utilizes Shader Model 4.0, and is completely compatible with direct x 10. The graphics card was also built for the new Microsoft OS in mind, and with the sound card it is merely and optional part, it can utilize direct x 9 but with new diver can easily be made to work with 10.
As for the Hard disk drive it capacity will do this computer justice since virtual RAM could play a big part, be since we have 4GB of it would only happen if there where a lot of background applications running. This device also has 7200RPM and 8MB cache making this an ideal choice for any computer user.
As for this machines upgrade potential, the motherboard could easily adopt the Nvidia SLI with a graphics bridge (generally supplied with motherboards) and double there real time rendering capabilities, but of course if this where to be done it would require a heavier PSU. As for processors, the SLACR is one top notch bit of kit but this machine can easily take a Kentsfield or even a Yorkfield Quad.
The only thing left to do is now specify which OS should be utilized with this computer, it needs to be a secure and stable, and since we are working with a personal computer we are limited to a few options
Microsoft XP 32/64 bit
This OS is a tried and tested one; originally it had a lot of holes and security risk but has supposedly become stable with service pack 2. However this OS can still catch Viruses, and require anti virus software to remain clean. The only problem with the 32 bit OS is windows will not recognize more than 3GB of RAM unless it is the 64bit version, and since our machine uses 4GB of RAM we would need to use the 64X edition.
Another problem with XP32 is that the OS can only partition so much hard drive space on install, software vendors have solved the issue, but once 64X can easly partion a C drive that has a capacity of 200-500GB.
With a 64 bit operating system in mind that would mean a lot of preparatory software would need to be made compatible with windows 64 bit, if not more so with device drivers. Anti virius programmes would be need to written for a the 64x OS, yet there are very few 64bit viruses at the moment, and if W64.Rugrat.3344 was anything to go by then 64 bit user are safe for the moment.
However software vendors have caught up and now offer a 64-bit range to consumers and for our workstation gaming rig, it would certainly befit us to have this OS.
Microsoft Vista Ultimate 32/64 bit
This operating system is very new and takes a fair amount of RAM to use, and the 32 bit version of this OS also suffers with the RAM problem like XP 32. Vista does consume a lot of RAM, and to counter this, a 64 bit version should be used.
Realistically Vista and XP are the very similar yet Vista eats RAM but has a very pretty GUI.
In conclusion it would be Logical to use Windows XP 64 bit edition, since the OS does not need to utilize a lot of RAM like Vista does, yet Vista wouldn't really harm our computers performance because of our clock times and the general turn around would be very fast.
Internet and Security
Our motherboard already contains networking adaptors, all that would be needed is to get a service provider to the internet, and on average a 2MB line is acceptable but not always the best.
However in the case of a household of computers, it would need require a network to be established, this can be done in very in variety of way, with wireless or hardwire rooters they can easy divide a connection up for five people.
Regardless of which operating system end up on our machine, windows user can utilize protection, such as windows firewall and defender, but these packages might not be the best available, antivirus packages like Norton, MacAfee, and AVG are all ideal third party software's for protecting your machine.
Windows firewall may not be the best but at least it will protect you from low level threats, but with zone alarm it would certainly add a good level of protection, making sure all programmes and other applications request an outgoing connection, this way it helps the user to grasp what is come in add out.
As for Malware and spyware there are tools to help the removal of these files. Basically spyware will gather information from your machine and then send it to a remote location, basic a James Bond sort of a programme, where as Malware will generally general damages specific targets on your machine.
Online Programmes for Games
When playing games online there is a diverse range of tools available to a gamer, if a user has possession of a microphone some games having built in VOIP option, programmes like teamspeak, MIRC and ventrillo are generally chosen since it can be utilized as a private chat line to fiend within the game.
Other means of communication in the messenger service provided by X-fire, which allow users to chat to people who aren't necessarily, play the same games they are. It also uses a join ability to help users track down there friend games online, and also has very crude VOIP options as well.
While these software's aren't essential to performance of the games or the computer they do help with communication across games genres.