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The Right Computer
For You

By Kaif Brown, Maor Levy,

David Yoon


Table of Contents





pg. 1




Computer Needs









pg. 2




Importance of part


User Application


Video Card

pg. 4




Importance of part


User Application


Hard Drive

pg. 6




Importance of part


User Application







Importance of part


User Application



pg. 11


Summary of Report Findings


Work Cited

pg. 12



pg. 13



pg. 1



Buying a com
puter at retail price can be mysterious. If you have no clue about computer
hardware and are unsure of which hardware is most important for your primary use, you
could purchase the wrong computer. You may read all the specs and still not know why
or what y
ou are paying for.

You purchased the wrong computer if:

You over spent because your computer exceeds the requirements of your primary

You spent too little and your computer does not satisfy your primary use.

You can avoid spending blunders by learning

about important computer hardware and
customizing your purchase for your primary use. The most common usages for personal
computers are: home office, gaming, and media production. Each require a different
emphasis on certain hardware

namely, the central
processing unit (CPU), graphics card,
hard drive (HDD), and random access memory (RAM).

Become an informed purchaser:

Identify your primary use.

Learn which hardware is most important for that use.

Customize your purchase and buy the right computer for yo






The CPU is a one of the most important parts in a computer. This part is the main reason
why computers have advanced as far as it has up to the present because it acts like the
brain of the computer. There are pins and needles that receive electrical curre
nts that
allows the CPU to carry out instructions. As the technology has improved engineers have
been able to fit more and more pins onto the CPU chip and so have increased the speed of
a CPU processor. The brain retrieves any information to process it and

then sends it back
out. Its job is to make continuous calculations and execute instructions. The CPU is
housed in a microprocessor chip which is about 1 square inch or less.

How did it first start?

The computer ENIAC was made by J. Presper Eckert and Jo
hn Mauchly at the Univers
of Pennsylvania it consisted of 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighed 50 tons.

This was considered to be the first digital computer.

What products utilize a CPU?

Many computers have a CPU as this is an essential
Whenever someone hears of a specific
brand name like AMD, Intel, IBM they are the brains of
the computer. There are many names such as HP,
Samsung, Toshiba, Apple, Compaq, Gateway, Lenovo,
Dell, Sony. All these companies sell laptops, desktops,
and many ot
her devices.


For example if one were typing a paper the CPU would
fetch the inputs from the
human interface device, the
keyboard, and output it onto
the screen.

How it works?

CPUs are used to handle a lot
of data and execute
commands given by t
Operating system. Without a
CPU you don’t have a
computer. For our groups
purpose a CPU carries out
instructions so that the user
can play a game. It uses these
steps to carry out its


The CPU uses it ALU (Arithmetic/Logic Unit) to perform math
ematical operations like
addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Moving data from one location in memory to another.

Making decisions and jumping to a new set of instructions based on those decisions.

Importance of the Part

Explained in the definition the CPU acts as the brains of the computer utilizing all of the
computer parts together to keep executing instruction sets. The clock rate is something to
keep an eye on when looking at CPU speed. It usually tells you in Ghz or
Gigahertz how
fast it can go. The faster the clock rate of a CPU the more instructions it can execute. So
in terms of gaming the game will load faster and with the combination of the CPU and
Graphics card it will make the graphics of any game smoother and

User Application


When it comes to gaming experience on the computer one of the major points
of interest a user should pay attention to is how fast is the computer in question. Gaming
has evolved along with the increase in the speed of com
puter technology. Games are
more realistic using 3D graphics engines, They have become more immersive with
detailed world scenery and character designs. With all of that comes the need for a
powerful computer. Current games require on average at least 2GHz

of speed to have
adequate game graphics.

If you look at the graph to the bottom we see some benchmarks done for the game
Starcraft 2 and how fast the cpu clock speed was for each CPU listed along the left side.
The higher the number the more Frames per s
econd the CPU handled.


Video Card


A video card is the hardware component that is responsible
for handling all display capabilities in a computer. A video
card also is known as a graphics card, graphics adapter, or
video adapter. There is at least one video card in each
computer, and with i
ts help, we can see the graphics on the
screen when we use a computer.

Video cards plug into a computer through expansion
slots. The expansion slots are built into the main computer
board (also known as "motherboard"

another hardware
component that connects everything together; its job is to
make sure each component can "talk" with any other
component on the board). In other words, a motherboard is like
a big city with many streets and highways that connect all of

buildings together. Another important hardware part that
works with the video card is the CPU (central processing unit).
The CPU is the component that implements all the instructions
in the computer. It can send commands to any component in
the computer.
In other words, the CPU is like a control center
that takes data input and converts it to information output. It
does this through a very complex set of circuitry that runs sets
of stored instructions.

The CPU send information to the video card, and the v
ideo card's job is to convert
this information to a visual concept and present in on the screen. This way, users can see
the result of what the CPU sends. There are video cards with different speeds. The reason
for this is that faster cards can convert the

information from the CPU and present it on the
screen quicker. Because the user gets the information more frequently, the screen
presents more precise data. Slow video cards can result in a frozen picture because the
CPU tries to send information faster t
han the video card can convert it.

The majority of video cards have few output
connections for different types of display screens. The
most common connectors are VGA and DVI. VGA is
the older connector, and usually its color is blue. The
VGA port was fir
st introduced in 1987 as the standard
for computer screens, and it is still around today in
new computers. Today, the LCD screens (flat screens)
replace the big old screens we used to use call CRT. The new LCD screens are powered
by a more advanced and eff
icient technology. Therefore, the LCD connector (DVI)
replaces the VGA, and today more and more computers are manufactured with only a
DVI port.

Importance of Video Card:

Today, video card consists of a graphics processor and a memory chip for
operations. The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) provides the algorithms and
memory to process complex images. Also, it reduces the workload of the main CPU, and
Video Card Slots

Video Cards


provides faster processing. Different graphics cards have different capabilities in terms of
cessing power. They can render and refresh images up to 60 or more times per second,
calculate shadows quickly, create image depth by rendering distant objects at low
resolution, modify surface textures fluidly and eliminate pixilation. Refresh rate refers

how many times per second the image on the screen is redrawn. Most modern video cards
and screens support 60Hz which means that the image on the screen is drawn 60 times
every second. Refresh rate becomes important in fast moving video games, such as f
person shooter, where the action needs to look realistic. Highest refresh rates are better,
and of course, having a graphics card with the higher possible resolution and refresh rate
does not have any effect if your monitor does not support these capa

Two dimensional (2D) graphics are the kind of graphics displayed when you use a
web browser, check email or work on a spreadsheet. For 2D graphics the major factors
are resolution and refresh rate. Resolution is the amount of dots or pixels that make up an

image. It is traditionally measured in DPI (Dots Per Inch) but is now mostly referred to as
PPI (Pixels Per Inch). In other words, it determines how many little dots are used to draw
the image on the screen. For example, 640x480 means that the whole scree
n is drawn
using 307,200 little dots in 640 columns and 480 rows. The more dots that are used, the
finer the detail. Thus, higher resolutions provide for great detail and image quality.
Another factor is color depth. You may see it expressed as a third par
ameter such as
640x480x256. This means 640 columns x 480 rows x 256 colors. Color depth is usually a
number that is 2 raised to the power of a multiple of 8 up to 32 (2^8, 2^16, 2^24, or
2^32). Obviously, the more colors the greater the detail again.

ree dimensional (3D) graphics are what most games use. Of course, current
monitor technology still only really displays a 2D image, but the player is immersed in a
landscape where they can moved their characters head and see objects in all directions
and m
ove around within this world. This type of display capabilities requires intense
mathematical calculation to be done very fast. The value of a good 3D graphics card is
that it offloads most of this work from the computer's main processor and a specialized
processor on the graphics card handles these calculations. This allows for faster, slicker
looking graphics.

User Application

After reviewing the basic specifications of video cards, we can see why video
cards are a major consideration for two categorie
s of users.

Media Productions:

These users want to have best to handle large photo and video
files; on the other side, they are interested in resolution and memory capabilities.
Because they often work with complex files, they can let the video speed of t
card slip a little bit in a tradeoff for more memory capability. For graphic designs, it
is generally good to have higher resolution capability. Today, many high
displays can support 2560x1600 resolutions allowing for more visual detail.
Another f
eature that may be of interest is multi
monitor support. This allows the
graphics card to support two or more computer displays at once expanding the
graphical workspace.



Users who tend to play intensive games such as first person shooter will
be i
nterested in speed above all else. Most games are all about moving quickly in
the game's world which means computing the game's algorithms very fast. To do
so, the GPU needs to be quick enough to handle the computation and reduce the
workload of the main C
PU which allows the CPU to do other computation. The
chip is also an important consideration while selecting the a graphic card for
gaming. The gamer needs to remember to pay attention to the chip (GPU), the
onboard memory, and whether or not the graphics
card has an onboard cooling
system. The diagram shows the difference in performance between few video cards.

Hard Disk Drive


Hard disk drives (HDD) are the most important devices for computer data storage. They
are also referred to as mass storage devices. The hard disk drive, or hard drive, is a
fundamental part of modern computers. The hard drive is where all of yo
ur programs and
files are stored, so if the drive is damaged, you will lose everything on your computer.
Hard drives contain round, mirror
like platters. These small round disk
like objects are
made of either, an aluminium, alloy or a glass, ceramic compos
ite. Each platter has a
special magnetic coating enabling it to store data magnetically. A clean, polished surface
is critical to a proper functioning hard drive. Even the smallest spec of dust can damage
the data.

A hard drive is a permanent storage device, so even when the computer is turned
off the information will still be there. When you turn on your computer it starts the Boot
The diagram shows
results of the cards in the graphics tests

from 3DMark
Vantage (
computer benchmarking tool


Process which tells the computer to go to the hard drive for the Operating System. Th
operating system, program files, and all data files are stored on the hard drive.

There are many types of hard drives, and we distinguish them as follow:

IDE Hard Disk is an old technology, and it is being replaced by SATA hard drives.
IDE have slower d
ata transfer rate than SATA hard drives.

SATA Hard Disks have replaced IDE in
most shipping consumer desktop and laptop
computers as of 2009, and it will replace
IDE completly.

SCSI Disks are mostly common in servers
and supercomputers. Old technology tha
combined speed and the ability to connect
multiple hard drive on one bus (cable).

Solid State Drives (SSD) are new structure
of hard disk. The drive is built very
different than regular hard disks. SSD are
state of the art in computer data storage.
are very fast compared to SATA
Drives but they are also ridiculously

Importance of Hard Disk Drives:

The hard drive is very important because it stores most of a computer's
information including the operating system and all of your programs.
The hard drive
stores all the data on your compute such as your text documents, pictures, programs, etc.
If the hard drive goes bad, it is possible that all your data could be lost forever. Today's
hard drives are much more reliable, but are still one of t
he components most likely to fail
because they have moving parts. Having a fast CPU is not much use if you have a slow
hard drive. The reason for this is because the CPU will just spend time waiting for
information from the hard drive.

Another factor is
hard disk drives capacity. Over the last decade, the storage
capacity for hard drives has more than tripled in size. The amount of storage on a hard
disk is measured in gigabytes. Hard drive's capacity requirement is derived from the size
of your applicati
ons, but mostly the amount of data you need to store. Multimedia files
such as graphics, animations and video take up considerably more space than documents.

After reviewing the basic specifications of hard drives, we can see why they are a
major consider
ation for two categories of users.

User Application


Users who tend to play intensive games such as first person shooter will
be interested in speed above all else. This is why it is important to have a faster hard
drive that can load the game an
d graphics as quick as they need it. The performance
of a hard drive can also vary greatly from unit to unit. The data transfer rate to and
from the drive and its data cache can all play an important role in the overall
performance of a gaming system. In o
rder to take full advantage of fast seek times

and cached data, the hard drive must deliver data as fast as possible and that is
where the hard drive type takes over. In the last few years, manufactures introduce
SSD drive that are three times faster than
SATA hard drives. Therefore SSD are the
preferred type for high
performance hard drives. Why wait for a SATA hard disk
drive to spin up? Unlike regular hard disk drives, SSD drives have no moving parts,
resulting in a quiet, cool, highly rugged storage sol
ution that also offers faster
system responsiveness. In the diagram, we can see the comparison between in
performance between SSD drives and regular SATA drives. From the performance
score, we can see that SSD are much faster than SATA drives which is a ma
factor in gaming systems.

Media Productions:

media production users usually store all their movies and
pictures they created on the main hard drive for quick access. With today's high
resolution movies and pictures, it can take up a lot of the hard drive space. These
users need to buy a hard drive w
ith the maximum capacity they can get since speed
is not a concern for them. Regular SATA hard drive should be enough for the
speed, and today's hard drives come with very large capacity (up to 3TB of storage).
3TB hard drive can store around 600 high defi
nition movies or around two millions




Random Access Memory tracks and
stores data for any software or
applications actively running on the
computer. The amount of RAM in a
computer is measured in
gigabytes(GB). RAM is also cal
volatile or temporary memory
because data is not permanently
stored, yet it is constantly being
updated and accessed. In fact when
you turn off the computer the data
stored in RAM disappears and must
be written to permanent storage(i.e.
hard drive, CD,


USB drive) or else it will be lost. The active programs all rely on the central processing
unit (CPU) for computation of their data. The CPU is the brain of the computer system
yet it is limited in the number of operations it can compute at once. Therefor
e the CPU
relies on RAM to store data from active programs until it has a chance to compute the
data. Thus RAM is localized to the CPU for quicker and easier access to program data.
Note that RAM hardware is totally different from other permanent memory h
ardware. It
must be faster and that is why it is more valuable and costs more.

Importance of RAM:

Generally, all the data for any single application cannot be stored by RAM at once

mainly because RAM is shared by all active programs, but also because the size (in
gigabytes) of a single application may exceed the capacity of RAM. The idea is to store

RAM only the data that will be used by the CPU in the near future. Generally, you
cannot predict what data will be used but you can make assumptions based on previous
usage. If a particular program's data is used frequently we keep the data in RAM,
wise replace it with other data. This is an example of memory management.
Computer scientists have developed various memory management schemes that seek to
make the best assumptions to optimize RAM usage, although no scheme is perfect.

For most users mem
ory management is not the cause of slow running programs. The
problem is there are too many programs running, and there is insufficient memory. If you
want to run multiple programs simultaneously, you will need more RAM. You can
purchase RAM at any tech st
ore and it is very easy to install or replace. RAM is
hardwired onto cards that slide into slots on the motherboard. If you have empty slots,

just install the newly purchased RAM. Otherwise, replace the card(s) you have with one
of greater capacity (gigaby

User Application:

In most cases, when you first purchase your computer you will not experience slow
running programs, even for inexpensive systems. The manufacturer will give you enough
RAM to support a 'typical' system at purchase time

most computers will have
at least 1GB of RAM. However, as you begin to install more software and run more
programs memory demands increase. 'Non
typical' systems include computers intended
for gaming or media production, and they require more memory.

: Loading... Every gamer experiences the loading message. What occurs
during loading? The computer is fetching the data and information it needs from
disk for the next sequence in the game, and storing it in RAM. Remember,
accessing data from disk takes
longer than accessing from RAM. However RAM
has a much smaller capacity than the disk. This is why games are broken up into
levels or sequences. In between each sequence, the old data is removed and/or
written to disk while new data is loaded. Consequently
, gamers must accept load
time. However if there is more RAM, more data can be loaded, decreasing the
number of occasions the game needs to load.

Modern games are approaching reality. Fixed paths and single storylines are
becoming less common in order to
give the user more control of the game and a
dynamic experience. Ultimately, this means more information must be available
in RAM to cover all the possible outcomes of user controlled paths and storylines.
Gamers will need between 4

8 GB of RAM (Building

Media Production:
While games are designed to approach reality, media
production is intended to manipulate reality by editing visual and audio
information. It is analogous to gaming because the editor has control over what is
viewed. Professional editors use NLE (Non
linear Editing) software.
Imagine you want to make a movie (the same concept applies to making a song)
and have recorded your footage already. The finished product might be 2
8 GB of
data, but the total footage cap
tured could be 10 or 20 times this amount.

The NLE software will need to access several parts of footage at once, possibly to
merge clips, do split screen sequences, or transitions etc. The footage, however,
will be stored on multiple hard disks. The NLE
must load whatever footage the
editor intends to manipulate into RAM to be readily accessible. The original
footage is not modified, but the NLE creates a copy of edited footage and keeps
track of all the editing decisions that were made ("Non
linear Editi
Wikipedia). Therefore, the memory demand for media production is greater than
for gaming. Media producers will have between 4
32 GB of memory (Gary,




Word Cited

"Choosing the Best Computer Memory For Gaming PC."


linear Editing System" October 10, 2011


Decarlo, Matthew. "TechSpot

PC Buying Guide."

Editor: Juilo Franco. October 26, 2011.


Gary."Videoguys' System Recommendations for Video Editing." July 28,

Ralph, Nate. "Desktop PC Buying Guide: The Specs Explained." November 17, 2010.





(Arithmetic Logic Unit)

building block of CPU that performs arithmet
ic and other simple

Boot Process

the set of instructions executed when you first turn on your computer whi
you operating system.


(Central Processing Unit)

brain of the computer that performs operations for all programs
and applications.

(Cathode Ray Tube)

older box like monitors now
being replaced by LCD monitors.

(Dots Per Inch)

measure of screen resolution.

(Digital Visual Interface)

a newer technology that transmits of data from graphics card



common measurement of memory in RAM,

HDD and other storage devices.



measurement of CP
U speed.

(Graphics Processing Unit)

the brain of the graphics card that performs operations to
render data for monitor display.

(Hard Disk Drives)

mass storage device for

documents, programs, and data.

IDE drive

older type of hard drive now b
eing replaced

by SATA drives.


(Liquid Crystal Display)

newer flat screen monitors with higher resolutions and refresh


main circuit board provide interface between all components of the computer.


linear Editing)

type of

software used for video and audio editing

Operating System

most important computer program which provides security and ability to
operate the computer and its hardware safely.

(Pixels Per Inch)

asurement of screen resolution.

(Random Access


localized memory for programs actively running.

Refresh Rate

the rate at which a new image can be drawn to the monitor.

(Revolutions Per Minute)

measure of hard drive speed.

SATA drive

serial hard drive replacing the older IDE drives.


State Drives)

newer, more expensive hard drive which is more durable and f
than IDE and SATA drives.

(Video Graphics Array)

older, but still widely used technology that transmits data from
graphics card to monitor.


List of


VideoGuys Video Editing Specs

Memory Usage Graph

CPU Usage Graph

CPU Speed Graph

HDD performance

GPU Score