the Perfect PC by Robert Bruce Thompson & Barbara
Fritchman Thompson, ISBN: 0-596-00663-2
Bull, February 2005, send
by: O’Reilly, go
to the web site
US, $43.95 CA, £20.95 UK
just bought that new game and found out that your
doesn't have the horsepower to run it. Or
maybe you want a Small Office/Home Office (SOHO)
server. What about a Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
to handle your home entertainment needs. You want
a new computer, but you're not sure you trust your
local big-box retailer. Maybe you like a challenge
and have thought about building your own PC, but
you're not sure where to start. You aren't necessarily
looking to save money but to get the computer that
you want, and to get the satisfaction of doing it
yourself, without having to mortgage your house.
Enter Building the Perfect PC by Robert Bruce Thompson & Barbara
book begins by discussing the fundamentals of building
a PC—design criteria, component selection,
things you need, and a general overview of motherboards—then
talk about how to select the appropriate components.
The remaining five chapters apply that information
to building five different systems: a Mainstream
PC, SOHO server, Kick-Ass LAN Party PC, Home Theater
PC, and a Small Form Factor PC. For each system,
they describe their requirements and design criteria.
They then go over each component needed and describe
what they selected and why they chose that piece
over others. They also give what they consider good
alternatives if your budget or requirements differ
That portion of each chapter is useful on its own, but
can be found on the Internet, although they've done a great
job of compiling and discussion various options. What really
makes this book an excellent resource is the 20-30 page
section of each chapter in which the authors detail the
building process. This section of each chapter describes
the installation of each component of the system. Key steps
are illustrated with very clear photographs showing the
process. Each step is discussed, including suggestions
as to the easiest order to connect cables and things to
be aware of. Prior to each step, the authors discuss any
considerations that should be made beforehand.
The authors do not claim to do it perfectly each time.
They candidly discuss assumptions that got them into trouble,
such as assuming the appropriate power cords would be present
on the power supply for their system. They also identify
those manufacturers who they feel provide the best components.
They never put down a vendor, but they are clear about
which vendors they like.
Cons: Some terminology is not readily defined. At several
points, they discuss selecting a processor and mentioning
the differing amount of L2 cache without actually defining
photo illustrations and clear, concise instructions really
make this book. The authors’ style
is very conversational, with the occasional joke thrown
in, as well as a dig at each other once in a while.
like this can get dated very quickly. The authors provide
a web site where
they list any updates they've made to the configurations
discussed in the book. They also have a message board where
visitors can discuss their experiences and ask questions.
While I didn't examine the site closely, it does appear
that the authors take an active role in the discussions.
If you've been thinking about building your own PC, but
have been intimidated by all the options, Building the
Perfect PC should be at the top of your parts list. You'll
find that building one isn't as hard as it seems, and can
be extremely rewarding. Highly recommended.
Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org