Thursday, September 27, 2007

Learning How to Build a Computer

There are three primary methods of learning to build your own computer:
(1) the classroom,
(2) from a website, or
(3) a how-to book. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Learning in a classroom setting is the time honored way for knowledge to be passed on. While PC building techniques are usually taught as part of electronics courses at your local community college, sometimes adult learning classes will be devoted to the subject as well.

Classrooms provide a structured framework, giving you hands on training with an instructor there to guide you and answer questions. The drawbacks are that you are usually placed in a group of five or six people, where one or two try to hog all the “hands on” time, and constantly ask the instructor questions designed to show how much they know, rather than shining any light on the process. Also, the classes can sometimes be quite expensive.

Websites devoted to the subject offer free information, and occasionally advice in the form of chat rooms and bulletin boards. If you decide to take this route, be aware that some websites are right up to date, and others are “cobweb” sites, posted years ago.

The instruction online can vary from good to incompetent, and it can be hard for the first time computer builder to know the difference. I recommend judging the quality of the writing itself. If the points they’re trying to make aren’t clear, go to another source.

How-to books are a low cost alternative, with a higher caliber of writing and instruction, prepared by professionals. You’d probably be required to purchase one of these if you took a class. Unlike the classroom, you can absorb the material at your own pace, and whenever you have the time.

It will require initiative, because there’ll be no one there to set goals for you, or require you to take a weekly quiz. The subject itself is so fascinating however, that I believe you’ll have no problem motivating yourself.

Michael Quarles is the author of the book "Building a PC for Beginners".

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