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Desktop PC Components Buying Guide

Speed up your desktop PC or just get better computing performance by upgrading your desktop pc memory (RAM), sound card, video card, CPU, or motherboard. You'll find a huge selection of PC components to fit all your upgrade needs on eBay Canada.

Boost Your Desktop PC Memory

Boost Your Desktop PC Memory

Adding more Random Access Memory (RAM) can result in an immediate, and often dramatic, improvement in performance. You'll often have faster response times for your programs and could even experience fewer system errors. RAM is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and requires no configuration.

Determine what type of RAM you need

Pull out your handy computer manual and find out what type of RAM your motherboard (mobo) supports. Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM) is the most widely used RAM and forms the foundation for both DDR and DDR2 memory. SDRAM operates synchronously with the CPU clock, a function that can reduce downtime during data transfer.

Double Data Rate SDRAM (or DDR SDRAM)is a faster version of SDRAM. In fact, DDR SDRAM is twice as fast, accessing data twice for every cycle of the clock compared to SDRAM’s data access speed of only once per clock cycle. DDR memory operates at effective speeds of 200MHz to 550MHz in which the clock is functioning at half this speed, but the data is transferring at the rated speed.

Choose your RAM speed

Programs, including operating systems, need a certain amount of RAM to run, with more RAM providing better performance. For example, Windows XP requires at least 128MB RAM to run according to Microsoft. Most people find the number closer to 256MB and see even better performance with 512MB RAM, 1GB RAM, or more. Therefore, it's a good idea to buy the fastest memory your motherboard allows. The following outlines the minimum memory required for typical usage.

  • Home users: 512MB of memory or more.

  • Home office: 512MB of memory or more.

  • Gaming: 1GB of memory or more.

  • Multimedia: 2GB of memory or more.

DDR memory types are categorized by motherboard manufacturers according to several features, including bandwidth or clock speed. The slowest form is the DDR200, equivalent to the PC1600. The DDR266 or PC2100 is faster, surpassed by the DDR333 or PC2700 and the upcoming DDR400, equivalent to the PC3200.

Some DIMMs, or sockets, also require you to install RAM modules in pairs. Know what your motherboard supports before you buy.

Ramp up your desktop PC with Rambus memory

A few Pentium 4 chipsets still require Rambus memory (RDRAM). RDRAM is available exclusively on motherboards equipped with Intel’s 850 or 850E chip sets.

Applications requiring hefty bandwidth, such as 3D gaming or video editing, benefit from RDRAM, but can cost nearly twice the price of DDR memory. RDRAM is available in PC800 and PC1066 speeds.

Upgrade your memory slots

You can also upgrade your memory by adding a Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM). This compact circuit board is outfitted on each side with memory chips. Electrical contacts line the bottom edge, where it plugs into an adjoining motherboard connection.

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Add a Sound Card or Video Card

Add a Sound Card or Video Card

Video cards and sound cardsfit neatly into open PCI slots in your desktop PC. Though many motherboards include onboard sound, and onboard video or a basic video card, upgrading can give you better and faster performance. Start out with the best video card and sound card possible when building your desktop PC from scratch.

Improve your desktop PC's video performance

Put a TV in your desktop PC or get lightning-fast video performance for your 3D games and movies with a new video card. Video cards go by many names, including graphics controllers, graphics accelerators, graphics adapters, graphics cards, graphics processing units (GPU), video boards, video accelerators, and video adapters. Whatever you decide to call them, video cards handle all the 2D and 3D calculations and rendering on your desktop PC.

You'll want your video card to have the fastest speeds possible for gaming. Look for an AGP 8x or PCI Express ATI Radeon, NVIDIA GeForce, or 3dfx Voodoo3. For multimedia machines, get an ATI or NVIDIAcard with VGA and/or DVI outputs. Make sure your computer's motherboard supports the type of card you buy (AGP or PCI Express).

Look for a video card that has a TV tuner if you want to watch television on your computer. Also, if you want to use two monitors with your computer, look for a video card that supports dual monitors.

Step up your desktop PC's sound system

The latest motherboards with integrated sound sport six-channel digital sound chips that support digital 5.1 sound reproduction. They are more than adequate for casual gaming and MP3 playback. If you want to produce music on your desktop PC, get a standalone sound card with plenty of connectivity and a high wavetable.

Sound cards work as a synthesizer, generating sounds, and can include a Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI interfaceto connect to electronic MIDI instruments. They also work as an analog-to-digital converter used, for example, in recording sound from a microphone, and as a digital-to-analog converter, reproducing sound for a speaker.

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Choose a New Desktop PC Processor

Choose a New Desktop PC Processor

The Central Processing Unit (CPU), or main microchip processor, sits on the motherboard, controlling the computer. It works as the brain of your desktop PC, doing all the "thinking."

Intel's Pentium 4 and AMD's Athlon XP are the two main choices when it comes to PC CPUs. Motherboard vendors sometimes list their boards by the type of socket that accommodates the CPU–Socket 478 for the P4, and Socket A for the Athlon. In most business applications, you won't notice a big difference between systems using the fastest Athlon and P4 chips.   

  • Desktop PC processor speed:PC processor strength is measured in megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz) (1000MHz equals 1GHz). The number appears before or after the processor's name, for example, Pentium 4 2.2GHz. The higher the number, the faster the processor executes instructions. For example, 1GHz processors are faster than 1MHz processors.

  • Desktop PC processor names: Intel and AMD use different speed naming conventions for their processors. Intel uses processor speed while AMD compares its CPUs to their Intel counterparts. When you see a 2.8 GHz Pentium processor, know that it's comparable to an AMD 2800+ processor. Higher numbers offer better PC performance.

  • Celeron PC processors & Pentium PC processors: Intel makes two lines of desktop PC processors: Celeron and Pentium. Celeron is an inexpensive, no-frills alternative to Pentium processors. You trade off some speed for a lower price.

  • Hyperthreading (HT):Hyperthreading (HT), an Intel technology, lets processors in the 3GHz and faster range work on two separate threads of data at the same time. Your software needs to be optimized for hyperthreading in order to see improved performance. More software is expected to support the technology in the next few years.

  • Dual processors:Some desktop PC motherboards support two processors that can take turns working with data. You will only see improved PC performance if the software you run is optimized for dual processing.

Games, digital imaging, and Internet applications are most demanding on a CPU. Productivity software such as word-processing software and home-finance software do not require as much processor power. Buy a desktop PC processor based on how you plan to use it. Suggestions include: 

  • Desktop PC processors for home users: 800MHz or faster Celeron PC processors, Pentium 4 PC processors, or AMD equivalent processors.

  • Desktop PC processors for the home office: 800MHz or faster Pentium 4 PC processors or AMD equivalent PC processors.

  • Desktop PC gaming processors: 3GHz Pentium 4 PC processors with Hyperthreading or equivalent AMD Athlon 64PC processors or Athlon XP PC processors.

  • Desktop Multimedia PC processors: 3GHz or higher Pentium 4 PC processors or AMD equivalent PC processors.

Clock speed can be an accurate comparison of relative PC speed as long as you are comparing the same model of processor.

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Listen to Your Motherboard

Listen to Your Motherboard

All components in your desktop PC system connect to the motherboard, also called a mainboard or mobo. The type of RAM and CPU you use will depend on your motherboard, which also includes onboard sound, onboard graphics, and a chip set. The chip set is essential for transferring data between the hard drive, memory, and CPU, as well as enabling all peripherals and expansion cards to communicate with each other and the CPU.

The chip set establishes the character and quality of the desktop PC motherboard. Manufacturers may add features such as FireWire ports and RAID controllersto distinguish each type of board, however only the chip set can determine RAM type and CPU type and speed for your desktop PC motherboard.

Learn the specifics of the chip set, such as Integrated Device Electronics controller speed, CPU type, and if sound and graphics are integrated. Use this menu of features to compare motherboards when assembling your own desktop PC system.

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Find Desktop PC Components on eBay

Find Desktop PC Components on eBay

Once you know what type of Desktop PC component you want, go to the Computers & Networking portal, click Desktop PC Components, and start searching for item listings on eBay.

  • Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down listings by item type. You'll find links for CPUs for Desktop PC, Memory for Desktop PC, Sound Cards for Desktop PC, and more. As you dig deeper into the site you'll also be able to narrow down your choice by brand.

  • Keyword Search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find a Kingston DIMM memory expansion card with 512 MB, type "Kingston 512MB DIMM Memory" (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click "Search title and description" to expand your results. Visit eBay's Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.

If you can't find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.

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Buy with Confidence

Buy with Confidence

Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you're buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.

Know your purchase

Carefully read the details in item listings.

  • Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.

  • If you want more information, ask by clicking the "Ask seller a question" link under the seller's profile.

  • Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.

  • Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.

Know your seller

Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.

  • What is the seller's Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?

  • What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?

  • Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?

Buyer protection

In the unlikely event that a problem arises during your transaction, eBay and PayPal are there for you.

  • Pay safely with PayPal: PayPal enables you to pay without the seller ever seeing your bank account or credit card numbers. In fact, PayPal protects buyers 100% against unauthorized payments from their accounts. Plus, with PayPal Buyer Protection, your purchase can be covered up to $1,250.

  • eBay Security & Resolution Centre: Visit the Security & Resolution Centre to learn how to protect your account and use eBay's quick and efficient resolution tools.

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