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Build It. Fix It. Own It: A Beginner's Guide to Building and Upgrading a PC [Paperback]

Paul McFedries

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Book Description

May 19 2008 0789738279 978-0789738271 1

BUILD IT. FIX it. OWN IT.

A Beginner’s Guide to Building and Upgrading a PC

 

Build It. Fix It. Own It. is the ultimate beginner’s guide to building and fixing your own PC. With a friendly, knowledgeable tone, this book shows the beginning PC builder everything he or she needs to know to build a computer or upgrade an existing one.

We step you through the parts that lurk inside a PC, from the motherboard and power supply to the CPU, memory, hard drive, video card, sound card, and networking hardware. In each case, you will learn how the hardware works, what it does, what types of hardware are available, and what to look for when buying the hardware.

Then we walk you step-by-step though a series of PC building projects. We show you how to build five different types of PC: a basic business PC, a home theater PC, a high-performance PC, a killer gaming PC, and a budget PC. And if building a new PC from scratch isn’t in your budget, we show you how to resurrect  an old PC by swapping out a few key components.

When you have your PC built and running, we show you how to set up a wireless network and the BIOS and maintain your new rig.

 

Build It. Fix It. Own It. is the ultimate PC builder’s guide, even if you’ve never ventured inside a PC case before!

 

Author Bio

Paul McFedries is one of the industry’s most well known and respected technical writers and is a passionate computer tinkerer. He is the author of more than 70 computer books that have sold more than three million copies worldwide. His recent titles include the Sams Publishing books Windows Vista Unleashed and Windows Home Server Unleashed and the Que Publishing books Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista, Formulas and Functions with Microsoft Excel 2007, Tricks of the Microsoft Office 2007 Gurus, and Microsoft Access 2007 Forms, Reports, and Queries. Paul also is the proprietor of Word Spy (www.wordspy.com), a website devoted to tracking new words and phrases as they enter the English language.

 

Category     Hardware

Covers         PC Hardware

User Level    Beginner—Intermediate


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Product Details


Product Description

About the Author

Paul McFedriesis a full-time technical writer and passionate computer tinkerer. He is the author of more than 70 computer books that have sold more than three million copies worldwide. His recent titles include the Sams Publishing books Windows Vista Unleashed and Windows Home Server Unleashed and the Que Publishing books Networking with Windows Vista; Formulas and Functions with Microsoft Excel 2007; Tricks of the Microsoft Office 2007 Gurus; and Microsoft Access 2007 Forms, Reports, and Queries. Paul also is the proprietor of Word Spy (www.wordspy.com), a website devoted to tracking new words and phrases as they enter the English language.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Introduction

In this Introduction

  • Build It. Fix It. Own It!

  • Who Should Read This Book?

  • Conventions Used in This Book

  • Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world.

    —-Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits

    As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of "do it yourself."

    —Marshall McLuhan

    Home-made, home-made! But aren't we all?

    —-Elizabeth Bishop, Crusoe in England

The 1950s were a hobbyist's paradise with magazines such as Mechanix Illustrated and Popular Mechanics showing the do-it-yourselfer how to build a go-kart for the kids and how to soup up his lawnmower with an actual motor! Fifty years later, we're now firmly entrenched in what some people are calling the age of tech DIY, where geeks of all persuasions—and both sexes—engage in various forms of digital tinkering and hardware hacking.

One of the main thrusts of this hobbyist renaissance is that it's better to make something yourself than to buy it. When you purchase something, you're really only renting it until its inevitable obsolescence. However, if you make it yourself, you own it and you can delay (often for a very long time) obsolescence by upgrading and repairing the device.

Unfortunately, building most digital devices isn't easy for the beginner because it requires soldering skills, working with complex tools such as multimeters, and knowing the difference between a resistor and a capacitor. However, there's one digital device that doesn't require any of these skills or knowledge, and so can be built by any curious and motivated beginner, a PC:

  • All the parts you need—the case, power supply, motherboard, processor, memory, hard drive, expansion cards, and peripherals—are readily available online or from big-box retailers or electronics stores.

  • All the tools you need—really not much more than a screwdriver or two, a pair of needle-nose pliers, and perhaps a nut driver—are part of most people's toolkits or can be easily obtained.

  • All the techniques you need—inserting chips and cards, connecting cables, and tightening screws—are simple and straightforward.

Add to this the simple fact that building your own computer is much better than buying one because the machine you end up with is exactly the one you want, not some faceless machine designed for the masses and loaded with tons of crapware you never asked for and don't want. Besides, building your own PC is both educational and just plain fun, so it's no wonder that so many people nowadays are going (or would like to go) the build-it-yourself route.

Build It. Fix It. Own It!

Welcome, then, to Built It. Fix It. Own It., the book that will be your guide on this build-it-yourself path. This book will show you everything you need to know to build a computer or upgrade an existing one. Even if you've never looked inside a computer and wouldn't know a motherboard from an expansion board or a CPU from a GPU, this book will give you the know-how and confidence to build a computer with your bare hands.

To that end, the first part of the book takes you through the various PC parts: from the case, motherboard, and power supply, to the processor, memory, hard drive, video card, sound card, and networking hardware. In each case, you learn how the hardware works, what it does, what types of hardware are available, and what to look for when buying the hardware. The first part of the book also includes a chapter full of tips, techniques, and cautionary tales for purchasing PC parts (see Chapter 7), a chapter that runs through all the basic skills you need to build and upgrade a PC (Chapter 8), and a chapter on how to scavenge parts from on old PC (see Chapter 9).

The second part of the book takes you through a series of projects. The first five chapters show you how to build five different types of PC: a basic business PC; a home theater PC; a high-performance PC; a killer gaming PC; and a budget PC. Another chapter shows you how to upgrade an old PC and you then learn how to put together a network that uses both wired and wireless connections. The final chapter in Part II explains how to maintain a PC, from cleaning the components to updating the motherboard BIOS and device drivers to basic hard drive maintenance.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is aimed at budding computer hobbyists who want to try their hand at building a PC from scratch and at upgrading an old PC to get more life or performance out of it. This book should also appeal to people who have tried other books in the same field, only to find them too intimidating, too simplistic, or too cutesy.

To that end, this book includes the following features:

  • Buyer's guides that enable you to make smart and informed choices when purchasing hardware

  • Easy-to-follow explanations of key concepts for new users

  • In-depth coverage of all topics for more experienced users

  • Extensive use of clear and detailed photos to illustrate hardware and all building and upgrading techniques

  • Tips, tricks, and shortcuts to make building and upgrading a PC easier and faster

  • Real-world projects you can relate to

  • A friendly and lightly humorous tone that I hope will help you feel at home with the subject and keep boredom at bay

Conventions Used in This Book

To make your life easier, this book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of this book and out of building a PC:

Steps

Throughout the book, I've broken many building, upgrading, and repairing tasks into easy-to-follow step-by-step procedures.

Things you type

Whenever I suggest that you type something, what you type appears in a bold monospace font.

Filenames, folder names, and code

These things appear in a monospace font.

Commands

Commands and their syntax use the monospace font, too. Command placeholders (which stand for what you actually type) appear in an italic monospace font.

Pull-down menu commands

I use the following style for all application menu commands: Menu, Command, where Menu is the name of the menu you pull down and Command is the name of the command you select. Here's an example: File, Open. This means you pull down the File menu and select the Open command.

This book also uses the following boxes to draw your attention to important (or merely interesting) information:


Note - The Note box presents asides that give you more information about the current topic. These tidbits provide extra insights that offer a better understanding of the task.



Caution - The all-important Caution box tells you about potential accidents waiting to happen. There are always ways to mess things up when you're working with computers. These boxes help you avoid those traps and pitfalls.



Tip - The Tip box tells you about methods that are easier, faster, or more efficient than the standard methods.



© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Save yourself 50% on your next desktop Dec 27 2008
By P. William Bane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If a 63 year old retiree can do, so can you... with this book.

Building your own desktop is only slightly more difficult than lego blocks. If you read this book, you will see that the biggest problem you will have is your own greed for speed when you realize you can do it. While this book does not cover Intel's new I7, this book has chapters on numerous "builds" that convey how the building processes are 95% identical, so you can go on to a build using the (extraordinary!) I7 with confidence.

Numerous no-name computer assembler online sites specify their exact components: comparisons using (the essential) Newegg's prices show 50% margins -- all this $$ is yours if you have patience, can do lego blocks, and read this book and "Build your own desktop" blogs carefully. Trying to figure out Microsoft Word's formatting options is 10 times more difficult. Honest.

I have purchased 20+ Dell's and HP's over the years for myself and my children, and can say that the PC companies' product designs and especially their so-called "service" fail miserably to justify their 75% margins, and things are getting worse.

"Build a PC" by Scott Mueller is good as a second book (there are no others that are remotely up to date).

For what it is worth, I do not know either author, nor have I ever corresponded with either.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book July 22 2008
By RunninDiggler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was very good, though not the best PC Building book I've read. I chose this one because it was published recently (2008) and I wanted something that was up-to-date on current technology. The book did not disappoint in that area. Overall, the book did a nice job walking you through each component of a PC and giving you advice on how to select the right components. This book will definitely be of use to both beginner and experienced PC builders. With no prior knowledge, you will be able to build a great computer by following the advice in this book. My only complaint is that I occasionally still had questions about certain components after reading the section on those component. However, I do not feel like this significantly detracted from the usefulness of the book.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All You Need in One Package Dec 14 2008
By T. Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I had an old computer that was pushing the limits of what it could do in order to keep up with the latest software. When I went to the store, I didn't really have any idea what all of the numbers and letters meant on all of the parts. I was totally lost! After reading this book, I could walk into the computer store with confidence and ask specifically for the parts that I needed to make my upgrade. Since I was able to do that, I didn't feel so behind the technology curve after all. The money I paid for this book was definitely well spent.

The first 40% of the book covers the parts and tools necessary for building or repairing your own computer. This was the part that I found most useful as it covers the specs of the parts. This saved me from buying parts that would not be compatible with my older computer. The next 40% covers building computers. This is broken down into chapters for different types of computers, so you'll get plans and instructions for building anything from a budget computer to a high-performance gaming computer. The last 20% covers how to repair and maintain a computer.

If you're thinking of building your own computer or ugrading an older one, this book has everything in one package. The only downside is that if you just want to upgrade a computer, you won't be able to use the 40% that covers building computers. However, it might just inspire you to build your own someday.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great, and very accessible. Feb. 1 2009
By Jacob E. Koch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I made the mistake about 5 years ago of buying Anand Lal Shimpi's book about building your own computer. It was garbage for me because it was a bunch of nonsense computer history and technobabble. I built a computer after reading it, but it was pretty ho-hum and I didn't have much of a clue what I was doing. In fact, I didn't even understand that the PSU (power supply) was a separate component after reading the book!

Build It, Fix It, Own It was the perfect book for me. I'm a technology guy, but I don't give a rat's behind about a lengthy discussion on Front Side Bus and HyperThreading. I want the gist of what makes up a computer, and succinct explanations for how to buy and put one together. This book does that, and even mocks the ridiculous names given to computer parts (while still explaining them in simple terms).

If you want to build a computer, but don't want an encyclopedia of technobabble and computer history, this is your book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Out of Date Aug. 18 2009
By Mom in West Chester - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is thorough but as a novice trying to order parts and build a computer several major parts are now not available and the author does not provide much advice for how to figure out options that are available. This has turned out to be a lot more complicated than advertised. All of the components must work together and it quickly becomes a nightmare to try and figure out what goes with what. Would be nice to have some type of website you can visit to get updated recommendations as the components go out of stock, which is quickly!

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