Section 4 - Other Stuff

Go Team 2704 Computer Workshop

Other Stuff

These are items which aren’t part of the computer (i.e., not within the computer case), but you’ll likely need if you don’t already have.

Speakers

Do you have computer speakers? If not, some monitors comes with their own speakers though sound from monitors is often substandard. You can get reasonable sound from relatively cheap computer speakers ($20 - $40 or so), though you can spend several $100’s and beyond.

There are a couple of types to consider:

  • Plug-in. Most speakers plug into the audio output jack of the motherboard or audio card.

  • Bluetooth. Some speakers connect to the computer via Bluetooth. Advantages include being able to locate the speakers near the computer without using a physical cable, though you would typically need to plug them in for power. Another advantage is you wouldn’t need to rely on audio from the motherboard or require a separate audio card.

 

Monitor

If you don’t have a monitor, you'll need one or some device to see output from your computer.

 

If you do need a monitor, here are some things to think about:

  • Resolution.  Most monitors today offer 1920x1080 (FHD - Full High Definition) resolution which is sufficient for most purposes. Full HD has a 16x9 aspect ratio which is the same as TV's and most laptops. Getting a monitor with lower resolution is not recommended unless there's a need for a smaller monitor or cost is a real issue. Monitors with higher resolutions (e.g., 4K) will cost more and require more graphics computer power. A higher resolution monitor may be desirable for an ultimate gaming set-up or content creation. Wikipedia has a good article which outlines monitor resolution standards (listed below). However, note that the article lists a lot of historical standards which are now obsolete: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_display_standard

  • Display Connections. Your display connection will need to match what's available on your graphics card or motherboard. Here is a list of typical connection types:

    • HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface). This is a common standard for computer monitors, TV's, and many laptops. However, low end monitors may not have this connection. HDMI supports both audio and video. The newer HDMI standards support resolutions beyond FHD at high refresh rates. HDMI is sufficient for most uses.

    • DisplayPort. This is a newer type of connection which supports higher resolutions and refresh rates. Like HDMI, it supports audio in addition to video. Higher end monitors often have DisplayPort connections in addition to HDMI connections. However, as noted above, HDMI is sufficient for most uses.

    • DVI. This is an older standard which supports video only. It can only support up to FHD resolution.

    • VGA. This is the oldest of standards and only supports an analog signal. As such, there is signal degradation at even moderate resolutions such as FHD. Not recommended.

Like computer cases, you may want to take size into consideration - especially how much space it will take up.. Many entry level monitors are 20" - 22" diagonally with Full HD resolution, which is sufficient for most uses. A larger monitor (with higher resolution) may be desirable for some applications such as high-end gaming or content creation.

 

Does the monitor come with a cable for the desired connection? Many monitors will come with a connection cable for DVI. But most users prefer to use a HDMI cable which often must be purchased separately.

 

When buying a monitor, it's a good idea to go to a store and look at them as visual quality can vary significantly. 

 

Mouse

If you don’t have a mouse, you’ll need one (or something similar). Again, more flexibility and better feel can be obtained at higher cost. A gaming mouse may be desirable for precision pointing and/or flexibility on tracking speed. Like keyboards, you may want to consider a wireless option.

 

Keyboard

 

You’ll need a keyboard if you don't already have one. Keyboards with a better feel and response can be obtained at higher cost. In addition, you may want to think about whether you need or want media keys (volume, play, stop, pause, etc...). You can also get mouse-keyboard combo's which may cost less than buying separately. You may want to consider a wireless keyboard (e.g., Bluetooth).

 

Power Protection

What are you going to plug your computer and associated components into? Here are the options:

  • Wall outlet. A wall outlet doesn't offer any protection such as surge protection. A nearby lightning strike can cause a voltage surge which can damage electronic equipment such as computers.

  • Power strip. A power strip just provides more outlets, but doesn't provide any more protection than a wall outlet.

  • Surge protector. A surge protector can help protect your equipment. See discussion below.

  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Provides power for a limited time period during a power outage. Most will also provide surge and over/under voltage protection. The larger the battery capacity (rated in VA) the longer the run-time will be during an outage. Matching UPS capacity to power requirements of the hardware should also be considered.

 

Surge protectors can offer varying levels of protection. Here are some things to consider:

  • Energy dissipation. More Joules (energy) of dissipation is better. Most manufacturers list this specification.

  • Over/under voltage protection.

  • Will the surge protector disconnect if it is no longer able to provide protection?

 

A students works on his computer build.