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What to look for in an assembled PC
Sachin Lele
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March 30, 2005

ot too well versed with the hardware jargon but need a computer? For starters, read Ask these 3 questions before you buy a computer.

Once you are sure what you need one for, get cracking. Here is a basic guide to get you started.

ImageDo note: while all potential buyers will benefit from this piece, it is mainly targeted at individuals opting for an assembled PC.

An indicative price list at the end will help you budget accordingly.


The large circuit board into which the Central Processing Unit, memory boards and peripheral cards are plugged is referred to as the motherboard.

It is the most vital part of any computer as it holds and connects all your peripherals and add-ons to give you upgrade options and support for future technologies.

 What you must know:


Processor chips are primarily available in two brands -- INTEL and AMD.

The Intel chips range from the very basic Celeron chip to the Pentium series to the advanced Centrino processor.

AMD has a chip called Athlon, which is slightly cheaper than the higher end Intel chips.

Most users prefer Intel Pentium chips to Athlon as the latter heats up soon and isn't as efficient as a Pentium 4 chip. Also, the Athlon chip based systems need extra fans to cool the system. 

The most preferred chip is the Pentium 4 2.4 GHz.

You might want to consider the Athlon chip with the motherboard would cost you about Rs 3,000 less than its INTEL counterpart.

What you must know:

Random Access Memory

RAM is the amount of memory available for use by programmes on a computer.

The RAM chip comes in capacities of 128, 256, 512 MB, even 1 GB. Most computers function efficiently with 256 MB RAM, though a 512 MB RAM does offer you an edge.

As a thumb rule, always go in for a minimum of 256 MB RAM.

The cost difference between 256 MB and 512 MB is around Rs 1,500.

The latest memory technologies in use are DDR RAM, RD RAM and the latest release of the DDR2 RAM.

What you must know:

Hard Disk Drive

HDD capacity counts for a great deal.

A 40 GB hard disk is sufficient disk space but you may choose an 80 GB variant.

The brand SEAGATE is a very reliable brand for hard disks and is preferred by most computer manufacturers and assemblers.

What you must know:


Monitors are computer screens available in varied sizes, the most popular being the 15" and 17".

You can choose between a flat panel plasma screen and a regular desktop monitor.

A 15" monitor costs around Rs 4,800 and the 17", between Rs 5,800 and Rs 6,800, depending on the type.

The Dynaflat type monitor is preferred to the conventional CRT type, which is technically referred to as the Cathode Ray Tube.

The plasma screen monitor is highly priced at about Rs 15,000 plus.

The various brands for monitors are Samsung, Mercury and LG, to name a few. Samsung is the preferred alternative for monitors and is also the leading peripheral components dealer.

What you must know:


These include the keyboard, mouse, web cam, printer, scanner, joystick, etc.

Samsung and Microsoft are the preferred brands.

Choose an optical mouse over the usual one. The price difference is marginal. The same applies for the Internet keyboard.

Don't opt for a wireless mouse or a keyboard as the sensors get spoilt with time. Besides, you have to charge the batteries every week.

Web cams can cost from anywhere between Rs 1,400 and Rs 3,500.

For printers and scanners, Hewlett Packard is the market leader. A domestic colour printer might cost around Rs 5,000, though the cartridges are a tad expensive at Rs 2,500 each.

What you must know:

Voltage stabilisers and Spike guards

If your locality has frequent power failures or severe voltage fluctuations, opt for a voltage stabiliser. This will prevent any damage that could reduce the life of your machine.

A voltage stabiliser can cost from Rs 350 to Rs 500.

Regardless of the locality and the power supply, opt for a spike guard. It will provide four power plug points for your computer and peripherals.

A spike guard is also called a transient suppressor. Buy one in the range of 5-15 amp. It will cost Rs 150.

Here is a component price list to give you a rough estimation of current market prices. 

Intel motherboard with P4- 3 GHz

Rs 13,000


Rs 1,850

120 GB Seagate Hard disk

Rs 3,900

1.44 FDD

Rs 325

17" Samsung monitor

Rs 5,400

Multimedia Keyboard

Rs 375

Optical scroll mouse

Rs 375

ATX cabinet

Rs 1,100

10/100 LAN Card

Rs 350

GeForce 128 MB VRAM

Rs 2,500

Samsung CD writer

Rs 1,400

Samsung DVD writer

Rs 4,000

TV Tuner card

Rs 1,900

Assembly Charges

Rs 750

In a later piece, we shall tell you how to upgrade your PC and also talk about Video Cards, Sound Cards, Graphic Cards, Speakers and Optical Devices.

Note: The recommendations and suggestions are purely at the author's discretion.

Image: Uday Kuckian

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