Beginner's Guide to Computers

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Cat in a Hat, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Cat in a Hat

    Cat in a Hat New Member

    Aug 13, 2006
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    This guide is made for all of you poor blokes who have no clue how a computer works, and for you desperate chaps who cannot get a game to run on your computer. Please read on to figure out how to use one of the most versatile tools on this planet. Also, ignore this guide if you have a Mac, they have a different architecture than what I am writing for. :)

    The Basic Workings of a Computer

    Here is the golden rule about how computers run, and it is true for all (known) computers out there:

    Computers do not think, they follow instructions and make calculations

    Now we can move on.

    There are 4 different groups of computers out there:

    1. Supercomputers- These are specially made for making certain scientific calculations, and they are many times more powerful than a mainframe.
    2. Mainframes- These are the room sized computers that run calculations 24/7.
    3. Servers- These are like small mainframes, you can find them at your school. they are the hearts of networks, and are usually stored on racks.
    4. Personal Computers- You most likely have one of these at your house or office.

    Chances are that you are using a Personal Computer right now.

    The basic setup for how a computer works is in the illustration below:


    Some types of ways you can input information into a computer are keyboards, mice, touch screen, CD Drives etc.

    Some types of ways you can output information into a computer are printers, speakers, monitors etc.

    Once you input information, it goes through processes that follow coded instructions inside the computer that I will detail later, and it comes out on the output end. There you have it, the basics of how a computer works.

    The Guts of Your Computer

    This section will detail the innards of your computer, and their importance.

    When data is input into the computer, it first passes through the RAM. Then it is processed in the CPU, and is either put out through an output device or stored on the HDD. But what do these terms mean? Please read below to find out.

    The CPU (Central Processing Unit), simply known as the processor to techies, is the most important part of your computer, nothing would work without it. It is the brain of the computer, it is the device that calculates and works on all jobs in store for your computer.


    The RAM (Random Access Memory) is where all the data that the CPU is using is stored, such as programs that are open.


    The HDD (Hard Drive Disk), simply known as the hard drive by techies, is where all the files that the CPU is not actively using are stored. It is usually much larger in capacity size than the RAM. You may ask why the files the CPU is working on aren't on the HDD instead of the RAM. Well, the RAM is SO much faster than the HDD that it allows for the CPU to work much faster. The RAM is faster because it is not a spinning disk; it is a direct connection on the Motherboard.


    The Motherboard is the spine of your PC. Everything is plugged into there. The HDD, CPU, RAM, everything.


    The Video Card is the device that allows for output onto a monitor or TV. It is also instrumental in playing games.


    The Sound Card allows for output into speakers, or input via a microphone.


    The PSU (Power Supply Unit) gives power to your computer, and is like the surge protector inside your computer.


    The CD or DVD Drive is where you put those CDs (Compact Discs) or DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) in; it allows them to play on the PC. It also allows for programs to be installed. most drives today also make (write/burn) discs (DVDs and CDs). DVDs hold 5 times the data than a CD.


    Floppy Drives are input devices that take 3.55 Floppy discs. These things are ancient and are being phased out.


    USB (Universal Serial Bus) Ports are found on all computers these days. These ports allow for the input/output of many devices such as external HDDs and iPods.


    Modems are devices where you can connect your PC to the phone line, allowing for VERY slow internet access via dial-up. It also allows for faxes to be sent with a fax machine.


    Ethernet Ports are used for making networks (When many computers are connected to each other). They are quite fast.


    The Frosting: Software

    I will assume that if you are a new user to computers, you will be using Windows XP Home Edition. This is your OS (Operating system). It is the interface that you will use to open programs like Games, Word, or Internet Explorer.

    A couple tips from me:

    1. Update your computer using Windows Update every week, and install Service Pack 2.
    2. Install an ad-ware fighter such as Microsoft Defender or Ad-Aware.
    3. Install anti-virus software such as Norton or Avast!
    4. Defragment your HDD every couple weeks.
    5. Use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer 6.

    Cut the Crap, How Do I Play Games on My Machine?

    So, you just got your brand new Dell working. You pop in the copy of "Doom 3" and you install it. However, when you run the game, the thing looks like shit, and is too choppy to play. You are like "What the fuck? I just got a new PC and it doesn't play Doom 3?” Maybe it is because that new computer was not built for it. Here is how you can upgrade your computer for the games you want to play.

    1. You will need a new video card. You most likely have "Integrated Graphics" from Intel or Ati. If you have integrated graphics named "Ati Express X200 or X300", you will be able to use a PCI-Express video card. PCI-Express is a kind of port on your motherboard for video cards at this time. Some other types of cards work in it too. If you have a PCI-Express port, buy the NVIDIA or eVGA 6800XT. You can buy this below at:

    This card will let you play most modern games at medium or high graphics settings. Your games will look relatively nice while playing without choppiness. If you have graphics similar to "Intel Extreme Graphics", you will have an AGP port on your computer. AGP is a port only for video cards, and is slower than PCI-Express. It is mainly used on older computers. You will most likely want to buy an Ati Radeon X1300 PRO. You can buy this below at:

    Please note that while these may not be top-of-the-line cards, they provide performance and value. Please no comments about my choices saying I'm an idiot for posting them.

    Now, there may be something else you have to upgrade before you buy one of those new video cards. These cards have little fans on them to keep them cool when they are on, and they have to be directly connected to your power supply unit. If your PSU is not powerful enough, the cards will not work. If you open up the side of your computer, and you find the big silver box that has voltage warnings all over it, you can find how many watts the PSU has. If it has at least 350 watts, you are fine, if not, you will need a new one with over 350 watts.

    Also, you will need some more RAM to load games faster. I recommend having at least 1 GB of RAM. Chances are, if you bought a cheap computer, you will have 256mb of RAM on it. If you bought one in the 600 dollar range, it will have 512mb on it. Either way, you will have to upgrade you RAM. You will have to make sure you buy the right type of RAM. To be safe, I recommend that you buy your RAM from Kingston, Patriot or Corsair. You should buy the Desktop PC3200 type if you have a relatively cheap computer.

    Next, you will need a pretty fast CPU. If you have a "Celeron Inside" sticker on the front of your case, you are in trouble. Celerons are the chip-maker Intel's "Crappy CPU Brand". You will need to replace it with a CPU that has a Pentium 4, D, or Core Duo chip with has a speed of over 2 GHZ. You will have to make sure the CPU is the right socket though. The socket is the port on the motherboard that the CPU is plugged in to. The socket differs with most computers, so please contact a techie at LWS to find yours. This guide is just for general suggestions.

    These tips should make your gaming experience much better.

    I am also known as SilentScope on most other forums, so if you see it there, I wrote it too :cool:

    Dear mods and admins, if you wish this can be stickied to help out any people with computers :)

    I have also requested that this be mvoed to the proper forum, sorry for posting it in the wrong area.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2006

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