See I really like the stuff on ibuypower also. I just kinda wish I knew WTH I was looking at.
For instance, isn't more watt usage a bad thing? Why are 800 watts more expensive? I mean aren't we trying to save energy? Yes I'm serious, I have no clue why I would want to use more electricity.
The when it comes to my hard drive. Cool lookit that a Terebyte! Now umm, whats the cache and rpm numbers mean next to it?
Won't all network cards connect me at the same speed? Isn't it my modem that matters to get me all the speed I need?
It's things like that which send me running away and logging onto gateway and HP sites.
It's part of the reason I started the topic half a page down of "shop a new PC for me" I'm guessing the same reasons this one was started, except that I still plan on playing on PS3 lol
I'll try to explain these as non-technically as possible; no promises, but I'll do my best. Power Supply Wattage
The Wattage on the Power Supply is the maximum wattage, not the wattage it will always perform at. It is typically expected that a power supply will lose its potency the more it is taxed, so if your system requires 400W to run and you use a 400W power supply, the thing will ALWAYS be at max capacity. As it starts to lose its power over time, you will have your system die off sooner, because once that 400W PSU is running at 300-350W, parts will start dying and frying.
Conversely, if you had, say, an 800W PSU, then at best it is running at 50% capacity. It will wear out much slower over time, and even as it does, will still have enough power.
Let's say you own a company and you want to produce 40 pictures a day. So you hire someone who can draw 40 pictures a day.
Over time, he's going to start to slack off; might have a bad day... you're going to end up with 30-35 pictures and your customers will be unhappy. You will lose money.
Conversely, if you hire a guy who can draw 70 pictures a day, not only is he more than capable of drawing 40 without breaking a sweat, but if he slows down over time, he's still not slow enough to hurt your bottom line.
The idea is that you WANT a power supply that will not constantly be running at max capacity, because you want to have room for it to run higher when needed, and you want to accommodate for any slowdowns. Hard Drives
Depending on the source, a Gigabyte will be used to refer to either 1000 Megabytes (MB) or 1024 MB. Again, depending on source, a Terrabyte (TB) is 1000/1024 GB. Read on here for more about this
Most common programs are only a few GB (although some games recently can get to 10-20GB). Pictures are typically only a few MB in size, music is approximately 1 MB per minute of music, depending on encoding. Movies and TV shows can take up several hundred MB, easily.
500 GB is usually more than enough for most people. You could get a TB or 1.5 TB HD, but here's the thing:
Go to "My Computer"/"Computer" and then look at your C drive. In vista/7, it will show you the usage statistics; in XP or older, you will have to righ tclick and click properties.
This will show you how much space you are currently using and how much is free. Do you already have a 500 GB HD and it's about 400 GB full? Maybe consider a 1 TB drive. Do you have a 250 GB HD and it's about 60-80 GB full? Then a new one with a 500 GB should be more than enough.
The cache size is roughly an indication of how much data the HD can transfer to/from RAM at once. Higher is better, but really high is really expensive.
Furthermore, your HD is basically some round pieces of metal with your data on them. A higher RMP means the disks spin faster, and therefore data is retrieved and written faster. 7200 RPM is fine. 10,000 RPM is faster, but will cost more, and 10K RPM drives tend to be smaller as well. Network connectivity
Your modem is a pretty big deciding factor, yes. Assuming you're physically connecting to your modem or through a router, your system will communicate with your network at whatever the slowest speed is. If your computer is 10/100/1000 and your modem is only 10/100, then 100 MBPS will be the fastest network speed you can achieve. Pretty much everything has gigabit ethernet on it though, and ethernet connection speeds are really more of a concern in large network environments (read: businesses) than home use.
If you have a file server or media server, then upgrading your entire network to gigabit ethernet may be a consideration. Your average user probably will never need to worry about it.
It's also worth mentioning that the max connection speed for an 802.11G network (wireless) is 54 MBPS, meaning that even if your router is only 10/100, your desktops may seem to be faster than your laptops. 802.11N is faster than 802.11G, but that's all laptop stuff.
Disclaimer: I kinda bent a few facts here and there to convey my point; there are a few things here that are not entirely accurate, but for the purposes of explaining the concepts to you, this should do. If you want to learn more, there's a wealth of information out there that explains these (and other) concepts far more technically. Edited, Jul 15th 2010 11:56pm by Mikhalia