In the last two Computer Upgrade Guides that I have posted, I discussed the main processor, RAM, storage and graphics. This third part of the guide will now discuss the other important parts that need to be considered when upgrading – namely, the motherboard, the casing and power supply.
Motherboard – There is constant competition among motherboard manufacturers to insert more and more features on to their products as a way of enticing more customers. Asus has recently bumped up the level of competition by deciding to include 802.11g WiFi as well as transparent SATA Raid backup as new features on its top of the line motherboards. Other manufacturers are not intent on being left behind and are currently putting new features that will make it easier for overclockers to manipulate the individual settings of their CPUs and memory in order to extract more juice from these parts.
A year ago, Intel introduced its BTX form factor standard as the next evolution after the relatively old ATX standard. Surprisingly, the BTX standard has not yet reached the level of acceptance that Intel was hoping for it. But the new standard is still being supported though, especially by Dell and Gateway, which are still coming out with computers using BTX.
There are many form factors that are available to the consumer and it really depends on what they want to use their computers for. Currently, there is a trend towards using micro ATX motherboards among a growing number of computer buyers, especially those who are willing to forego some features that they think they will never need. The Micro ATX boards are becoming popular because of their compactness, a big come on for people who want to maximize space in their homes and offices. Micro ATX boards result in very compact systems that still doest not scrimp on expandability especially when compared to smaller machines. Of course, the level of expandability that is being discussed here can be no more than slots for extra hard drives as well as one or two vacant slots on the motherboard.
PC case and power supply – When you talk about heat generation inside a computer, the main culprit has always been the processor. With processors getting faster, the natural by product of this increased performance is more heat. Recently though processor companies have begun developing processors that are producing less heat and also require less power. Unfortunately, other PC parts have begun to generate more heat most specifically the graphics card and the storage devices. For example, a 7200 RPM hard drive will generate a very large amount of heat along with the graphics cards that are running some of the most demanding games today. Because of these issues, it is important that you buy a computer case that has the necessary airflow inside to help cool down the PC parts.
Buying a good power supply is also crucial because you need a steady load of electricity running through your computer peripherals. This is quite important because a power supply that delivers too high or too low a current can actually damage the PC’s different parts. When shopping around for a power supply try to look for ones that have a greater efficiency rating of at least 80 per cent.