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Computers
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Going DIY

Last month I advised against buying a proprietary personal computer, where possible. I gave experience with a Packard Bell as an example. But going the DIY route is not so simple. Although the last ten years the numbers of component suppliers has mushroomed, many people still find it easier and simpler to buy off the shelf.
But try and look for a third party supplier. First, see if there is someone where you work who is knowledgeable about computers and can guide you. Perhaps where your organisation has an IT department there will be someone there who can give advice. And there are many computer specialist suppliers who can build a PC to your specifications. Here is a brief list of the basic components a third party builder would need to give you:
• Motherboard with onboard network, printer and modem connection; onboard sound connections; and at least two, preferably four USB ports;
• Central processor unit (CPU);
• Memory, at least 512 MB, preferably 1GB;
• Video card and Sound card (if not on board);
• Hard disk;
• Stiffy drive (optional);
• DVD Read/writer;
• Computer case with at least 350v power supply;
• Keyboard and mouse;
• Monitor;
• Speakers;
• Operating system.

To save money, if there is an onboard video connection, use that for the time being, with a view to upgrading to a dedicated card if you need more power later. An optional stiffy can always be added later too, as can a separate sound card if necessary.
However, if you still have to go the proprietor route (you would in any case if you wanted a laptop) I can say I have never had any significant problems with Mecer. I am also told that Dell is one of the few proprietary makes on the market that supplies separate disks of the full operating system, drivers and feature software, but check this point beforehand. Why I would prefer this is that it is far easier to load an optional program (for example, a movie viewer, or DVD writing software), or change operating system components if you have separate dedicated disks. Those all-in-one proprietary OEM* disks are a bit of a nuisance. By Nigel Benetton
Notes:
OEM – original equipment manufacturer. Such disks often include restore, setup and configuration software that is rather inflexible to use.
I’d recommend as large a monitor as you can afford: 17” or, better still a 19” with a high refresh rate (85MHz or more). I’d also recommend you buy a Microsoft ‘Ergonomic’ keyboard. It is curved to accommodate better the angle of your wrists. It is strange to use at first, but persevere and you will never want to go back to a flat keyboard again – it is just so much more comfortable. By Nigel Benetton

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.6 1st July, 2007
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