Saturday, March 21, 2009

Buying PC parts


I now need new parts. I have a fairly decent PC mini tower from Euro PC where they sell reduced price DELL machines. Got a very good deal a year or so ago and it's treating me well. It has 3GB of RAM so I thought I'd put a bit more juice in as Crucial is offering 2x1GB sticks of compatible memory for only £22 all in. Good deal, I thought, so I got 'em.

Also, the monitor (as with the other monitor - I have two) is a fairly old CRT by MicroScan. It (they) was (were) the daddy(s) in it's (their) day (awesome image quality and a built in mic), but one has now pretty much shutdown (goes horribly blurry after a minute of use) and the second seems on the way out. The behaviour to note here is the occasional twitch of the screen, as if there is a power surge, causing irregular distortions on the screen, making it look like a mobile phone nearby is receiving a txt message, when there isn't.

So, having ordered the RAM (at silly-o-clock this morning) thought I'd do some proper research into monitors (and can have it verified later by my brother, who is up on his monitor KB, by virtue of his profession) and post some links here for buying and, more importantly, decoding the jargon around the tech specs.

I'm going for a big monitor because I think one large one is better for viewing quality than two smaller one's. This is born out by the fact that the seperation between the two monitors makes split screen movie watching cruddy, to say the least. I'm not going for a projector, because this is a PC I develop code on and I'm not mental.

Some useful links:
Places to buy:

It's worth knowing that a high contrast ratio is good and a low one, obviously, is bad. This is because (if you look up the word contrast) the contrast ratio in monitors is the difference between the opposite ends of the colour spectrum. Meaning that if black is 1 and white is 20,000 then you have a contrast ratio of 20000:1 and it is better than 8000:1.

This only differs when you have a monitor with a dynamic range, usually printed as 8000:1 (dynamic). This simply means that the power output, and thus the brightness, of the pixels can be lowered, and thus dimmed, to give the impression of a darker colour. This makes sense because no lightbulb in existence can actually output "black". (American's are wrong when they refer to ultra-violet as "black light" - it's not black!) This can be a problem when a bright colour is near a dynamically dimmed colour, because the light edges will bleed into the darker areas.

It's also worth knowing that DSUB is the type of connector that monitors use, though this is not accounting for the number of pins. Therefore, if a monitor has a DSUB connector you can assume it is a standard VGA monitor connector.

Just for reference, here's what I decided to buy this morning...


Obviously, this is not what everyone will need, as everyone's system is different, but I plumbed for 2 x CT763270 1GB, 240-pin DIMM Upgrade for a Dell Vostro 400 Mini Tower System from Crucial's UK branch.


I finally (verrrrry long decision process) settled on the Samsung SM-2433BW Cream 24" Widescreen LCD Monitor - Glossy Black by Novatech. Decent size, decent inputs and decent quality. Any less money and it would have started to be a bad monitor with a limited life. I believe the sweet spot for monitors of this size is £250+, though I think £500 is way too much, unless you're a graphics person (I ain't!)

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