“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Saturday, December 12

13. Picking the Right One: Computer Genres

Desktops: I'll begin with the desktop because it's the old-man of the PC computer set. Generally a desktop will include some sort of box, called a central processing unit (CPU) that will sit on your desk or floor. The CPU is the guts of the computer. All the major hardware, such as the processor, RAM, and hard drive will be located there, along with all the accompanying paraphenalia. This unit will usually come with a monitor, though you might have to purchase this seperately. It will also come with a keyboard, mouse, and some cables. If you don't plan on having to be mobile with your computing, the desktop is a great solution. This is the easiest of the categories to work on yourself and to modify and upgrade after you've bought it. Generally, you can open the case and replace any component by yourself. This makes things exceptionally handy if a piece of hardware dies. You can generally buy replacement components at most major retail stores, such as Wal-Mart or Best Buy, not to mention the bajillions of places online.

Apple's desktop models are also easy to open and work on, though theirs isn't quite as friendly (even if they are dead sexy). You can easily violate your warranty with Apple if you do this, so be sure to read up on what's allowed and what isn't before you tinker if you're still under warranty. Of course, this holds true with some PC manufacturers as well (Yes, I'm looking at you, Dell).

One big advantage of the desktop market is the wide variety of components to personalize and customize your desktop. You can buy virtually anything you can think of to “bling” up your computer. There are cases made in almost any configuration you can imagine. You can get lights to light up just about anything in your case, from the fans to the wiring. You can order custom made cases with custom paint jobs. There are more flashing/bubbling/blinking/spinning thingamabobs than you can imagine for every variety of case. The variety is staggering, and makes a street-rod convention pale by comparison. Most enthusiats end up customizing their own “rig”. There are even competitions for customized cases much like car shows!

For hard core gaming enthusiasts, nothing really beats a desktop. You can get the most bang-for-your-buck out of a desktop, and it's really the only genre of computer you can build yourself.