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October 8, 2004

"Building the Perfect PC": Wait No Longer for Your Just-Right Machine

Sebastopol, CA--With the abundance of off-the-shelf computer systems that fit any budget or requirement, some people might wonder why you'd want to build your own. They don't understand that for many computer users a ready-made system is about as satisfying as popping a frozen dinner in the microwave when you you'd rather have real food instead. Sure, it works, but it's not exactly what you need or want.

There's a lot to be said for a computer that has exactly the quality components you choose, by the manufacturers you choose, rather than the conveniently bundled assortment made for your price point. As Jerry Pournelle of Chaos Manor (www.jerrypournelle.com) notes in his foreword to Building the Perfect PC (O'Reilly, Thompson and Thompson, US $29.95), there are two reasons why you build your own system. The first is if you want the highest possible performance: "When new and better components come out, it takes awhile for the system builders to change over. And the first ones to come out with the latest in high-performance command premium prices. If you're interested in building a really screaming machine, you need this book," says Pournelle, "because building that kind of system is tricky."

The other reason for building your own system, Pournelle continues, is to get the best performance and quality for your money, and to customize your high-performance system for your specific needs. "You can fudge on some components, but you're better off paying a premium for others," he notes. "Bob and Barbara Thompson offer great advice on which is which."

Authors Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson apply their considerable hardware expertise to teaching you everything you need to know to select the best components and assemble them into a working PC that best matches your own requirements and budget--even if you have no training or prior experience. "Rather than using a straight cookbook approach, which would simply tell you how to build a PC by rote, we spend a lot of time explaining why we made particular design decisions, chose certain components, or did something a certain way," explain the authors. "By 'looking over our shoulders' as we design PCs and choose components, you'll learn to make good decisions when it comes to designing and building your own PC. You'll also learn how to build a PC with superior quality, performance, and reliability."

Not that they skimped on the how-to, the Thompsons assure readers. Each project chapter provides detailed assembly instructions and dozens of color photographs that illustrate the assembly process. The book shows how to make the following five complete systems, with full descriptions of all components and their various options:

  • Mainstream PC: This PC emphasizes performance and reliability at a reasonable price--a good system that won't break the bank.
  • SOHO Server: Above all, this PC must be reliable; price and performance are secondary considerations. This server must be up 24/7.
  • Kick-Ass LAN Party PC: This PC focuses on performance and reliability over price. A fast CPU, great graphics card, and a stable system stand between you and humiliating defeat.
  • Home Theater PC: Quiet and reliable with fast video and lots of storage. You don't want it to be louder than your TV and you don't want to run out of storage while recording your favorite show.
  • Small Form Factor PC: A small, unobtrusive workhorse. Size and reliability are key with this system, but noise level, performance, and price are also significant.
  • Straightforward language, clear directions, and extensive illustrations make this guide a breeze for computer builders of any level to follow. If you've yearned for a quality machine with high-end components that suit your needs, then Building the Perfect PC will put you where you want to be: in control of your computer system.

    Additional Resources:

    Building the Perfect PC
    Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
    ISBN 0-596-00663-2, 332 pages, $29.95 US, $43.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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