Comparison of computer hardware technologies?
November 19, 2008 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good website for generic computer hardware information and comparisons? By that I mean a website that compares, for example, different RAM technologies and their pros and cons -- as opposed to comparing brands. It needs to be updated frequently.

My husband and I are going to replace our computers within the year. We've always set up our systems from scratch, but it's been a while since we've had to do it and technology has changed a lot in the past three or four years. We haven't paid much attention since we haven't been in the market for new parts, but we're going to have to research now.

What I need is a website that compares and discusses different features of motherboards, RAM, and harddrives primarily. Other parts are a plus, like video cards or processors, but the options are more limited there and we already have a good idea of what to look for.

To be clearer, I mean a webpage that says, "This is how solid states harddrives compare to SATA drives," and things to that effect. "X technology is faster than Y if Z." "If you're going to buy X, you want to make sure it's this type of X." For example, I had to do some digging to find out that if I get a solid state hd, I probably want an SLC one. I've heard conflicting things about whether writing to a solid state hd wears it out or what. I want all this kind of information in one place with some confidence that it's correct. Wikipedia is sometimes helpful, but it's a little too objective and often not in-depth enough. For example, it doesn't typically say, "X technology is faster than Y, but realistically, it's not a huge difference."

It's also important that the resource be frequently updated. I want to start reading about it now, but we may not make purchases for months.

What I am not looking for is the typical benchmark comparisons of brands. That's easy to find once you've narrowed down the specifics of the hardware you want. I've looked at Tom's Hardware, which was the place I'd think to go years ago, but now it seems more focused on benchmark comparisons. If there is any of the cohesive generic information I've asked for there, it's not easy to find.

My apologies if something like this has been asked before; any search for computers or hardware turns up an overwhelming amount of questions. Google searches, too, return too many off-base results to be helpful.
posted by Nattie to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Tech Report
Ars Technica
AnandTech
posted by Class Goat at 10:00 PM on November 19, 2008


Those seem to be more along the lines of what I don't want. I'll try to be clearer. Those kinds of sites have lots of brand comparisons and news blips. There's some articles about technology but they're all along the lines of "this is a new thing and here are some things about it." That doesn't really help me find my bearings, since it doesn't tell me what else is available or comparable. It's also scattered across multiple articles. They seem to all be the same kind of site as Tom's Hardware, where they seem to assume you've already been following everything and only need to be informed to the newest thing.

What I want is a comprehensive comparison of technologies without any upfront brand discussion. "If you're going to put together a computer, here are your options for different kinds of harddrives and how they're different: IDE, SATA, solid state, etc. Here are your options for different kinds of RAM and how they're different," and so on. I mean, not so comprehensive as to cover things that are completely obsolete, just something any rational person would consider buying right now.

It needs to be a single article with that sort of presentation as the focus. I'm trying to get around the hassle of digging through tons of articles.
posted by Nattie at 10:30 PM on November 19, 2008


To clarify, when I say I want it to be a single article, I don't mean all types of hardware needs to be included in one article. What I do mean is I want one comprehensive article about RAM, one comprehensive article about harddrives, one comprehensive article about motherboards, etc.
posted by Nattie at 10:33 PM on November 19, 2008


I think Wikipedia is the best resource for what you want, if you are not willing to wade through the sites suggested above. They are surprisingly good at this kind of information, if a bit verbal.
posted by ghost of a past number at 10:36 PM on November 19, 2008


You could do with some simple Google searches.

i.e. SATA vs solid state.
or XDR DRAM vs DDR3.

I think the industry moves too fast for anyone to bother with writing comprehensive guides for particular components. There's not much incentive for someone to do that, which is why you see sites in the format of ones listed above (reviews are both more pertinent and attract more viewers).
posted by tybeet at 7:47 AM on November 20, 2008


It needs to be a single article with that sort of presentation as the focus. I'm trying to get around the hassle of digging through tons of articles.

I dont think what you want exists. Typically, things are compared via benchmarks and articles which address performance arent going to have eight paragraphs about "what a disk drive cache is" or "IDE vs SATA." Those are completely different concepts from performance and really arent appropriate in every article about drives. The wikipedia will tell you what SATA is or what RAID is.

"This is how solid states harddrives compare to SATA drives,"
What I am not looking for is the typical benchmark comparisons of brands.

Without benchmarks, any answer is meaningless. For instance, someone could write "SSD read time is 2.0 gbs while SATA is .8! Buy SSD." Err, what did they test? Sequential reading is different from random reads. Long writes are different from short writes. Using the drive for swap space is different from using the drive just as storage. Using the drive in a home pc is different than using a drive in a RAID array. Warranties are different. Costs are different. Expected lifetime is different.

That doesn't really help me find my bearings, since it doesn't tell me what else is available or comparable.

Generally, a good article with benchmarks includes competitor's products. These arent hard to find. You might need to do some googling to get what you want.

Honestly, I think youre completely overthinking this. For a personal PC you should be able to get loads of information from the linked to sites along with google searches and checking out reviews on newegg.com and amazon.com.

Perhaps youd be better off starting small like with the arstechnica buyer's guide.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:57 AM on November 20, 2008


Also, you really cant go wrong with using the latest technology for everything. Aside from legacy reasons (which you shouldnt have for a new PC), there's no reason to be using IDE or DDR1 ram or an AGP card. If youre really interested in the issues of the limitation of the PATA/IDE vs SATA then thats more of a curiousity thing than a shopper's concern. To use car analogy, thats like not being sure of what car to buy because none of them come with carburetors anymore. You dont really need to know why the engineers have started using fuel injectors and computer controlled everything. What you need to know, of all the new cars, which one suits you best.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2008


Also, you really cant go wrong with using the latest technology for everything.

This is true only for an ideal shopper, with infinite budget. For some components (e.g. processors), the best value for money for a home consumer is often one generation before the current one, with no significant drawbacks.
posted by ghost of a past number at 11:50 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


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