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April 5, 2007 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find resources for learning about PC hardware!

I've had an interest in learning about basic PC hardware for a couple of years now and have successfully put together 3 systems by myself. Essentially, I understand the basics. I know what components make up your standard PC system and something about compatibility issues/judging the speed and quality of those components (though I am sure I could know more). I'm looking for a book or web resource that explains things comprehensively but a bit more in-depth than something like How to Build a PC for Dummies. In other words, I want to know more than what parts I need and how to put them together. I want something beyond simply explaining the concept of, say, why FSB speed is important, and something more akin to "here is what this really means and why it is important in the scheme of things." So -- less definition, more explaining. However, I would like something both readable and operating at my level. That is, geared towards the beginner/hobbyist. Thanks in advance for your time!
posted by theantikitty to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think you might find more answers than you thought by reading wikipedia.

The relationship between hardware and terms might not be explicitly stated, so understanding of the material will be required to see how everything fits in the scheme of things.
posted by PowerCat at 4:47 PM on April 5, 2007

I Recommend
(and ars technica in general.)

At some point, you're going to want to understand assembly language, since that's really what the computer is 'doing.' Not sure exactly how to go from 'beginner' to understanding assembly language, though, exactly. To understand assembly, you'll probably want to first get C (which is pretty much a glorified assembler anyway.)

Also, commonly used textbooks like this one may be good-- but, again, may assume more understanding of code than you have right now.

There may be some good class notes online for 1- or 2- level Computer Science classes, too.
posted by blenderfish at 11:21 PM on April 5, 2007

PC Tech Guide is pretty good.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 AM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: I'm surprised! I thought this was a question right up MeFi's alley. Thanks for the resources -- all of you! It sounds like what you're saying, blenderfish, is that there is no "in-depth" explanation of hardware without learning code? I'm still up for more books/websites if anyone else finds this.
posted by theantikitty at 7:25 AM on April 6, 2007

Learning assembler code, while an interesting and worthwhile exercise in its own right, is absolutely not a prerequisite for understanding most of what's on PC Tech Guide at least.

Best thing you can do is keep digging deeper into areas that interest you personally. Do that enough, and they'll eventually start connecting, and you'll find you've built a "scheme of things" that works for you. And keep building systems.
posted by flabdablet at 8:24 AM on April 6, 2007

As a professional operating system engineer, the books I most often find myself using are:These might be too much depth, but I figured it can't hurt ;)
posted by atbash at 4:23 PM on April 6, 2007

theantikitty, it's not that you can't learn the "in-depth" way without first learning code, but the process of gaining a real in-depth understanding will also give you some understanding of code, and conversely, the process of learning to write very efficient code necessarily includes learning some in-depth workings of the machine the code is to run on.

The two are not separate things; they're different facets and specialties within one.
posted by atbash at 4:37 PM on April 6, 2007

Side note -- I see that blenderfish posted a link to the 4th edition of "Computer Architecture" (my link to which was to the 3rd edition). Thinking about this for a bit longer, as a beginner you're probably *much* better off first trying to find a copy of the first edition, as well as their other book in this series, The Hardware/Software Interface. These can basically be thought of as a 3-book series in order of and difficulty.
posted by atbash at 4:49 PM on April 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all these additional answers! There's a whole lots of "in-depth" flying around in here right now. Looking forward to totally screwing up more PC systems (and fixing them) in the near future with your help. Thanks again!
posted by theantikitty at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2007

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