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Building your own computer

The Case, Keyboard and Mouse

Full Tower. Hardly ever used, as it just so damn' big. But is used in industry to house servers, because the servers need space to put all their hard disks.

Full Midi TowerMidi Tower. Subdivided into Micro and Full Midi. The difference? Just the number of front slots into which you can add things like CDROMS, CD Writers, DVD Writers etc. The Full Midi has 3 or 4 slots; the micro just two. And because the height is so much lower on a micro, it can be a real squeeze getting the motherboard in too. Your case will come with a power supply. These days it should be 300W or higher, ideally AMD or Intel approved. See my note about the noise generated by this component.

Micro Case (two slots) Desktop. Not used much these days outside the office. These cases lie flat on your desk, and people tend to place their monitor on top. Might be quite a neat solution but your expansion potential is severely limited.

Aluminium: the latest craze is for aluminium cases costing 5 times as much as a plastic/steel one. Supposedly more rigid (so?) and transmit the interior heat to the outside better (so? that's what fans are for). My recommendation: Full (4 slot) Midi. You can then decide whether you want to pay extra for blue, orange or pink plastic bits on the outside to make it look pretty. Cases start at about 15, with the aluminium ones selling for over 100 and they don't even include a power supply!

If you want see some really fancy cases, including internal lighting, check out

Typical Keyboards
All keyboards will be "Windows 105 key" compatible these days. They start from 2 (two pounds sterling), right up to 100 for an "ergonomic" keyboards with a multitude of buttons to give you one-key access to things such as the Internet, the volume control, on-off button etc. Some keyboards are more "clackety-clack" than others. You must decide which one to buy.

My recommendation: Buy the most comfortable keyboard for you and don't pay for bells and whistles you'll never use.

Scroll Mouse
Mice have at least 2 buttons. But these days probably include a middle scrolling wheel which also doubles as a third button as shown in this generic mouse picture (you just press the wheel to click the button, or scroll the wheel to scroll your window). They can be with a mouse ball underneath or optical. Some optical mouse are picky over which surfaces they work. You also have cordless mouse which use infra-red (old way) or radio wavers (newer way) to communicate with a receiver which is plugged into the mouse port on the computer.

My recommendation: Use a scroller mouse with a cord from a major manufacturer. Try before you buy. Cut the cord only if having it drives you mad. Watch out for optical mice that don't work properly on your desk (the pointer jitters).

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