Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition
Publisher: Maker Media, Inc
Final Release Date: December 2006
Pages: 432

This popular Build-It-Yourself (BIY) PC book covers everything you want to know about building your own system: Planning and picking out the right components, step-by-step instructions for assembling your perfect PC, and an insightful discussion of why you'd want to do it in the first place. Most big brand computers from HP, Dell and others use lower-quality components so they can meet their aggressive pricing targets. But component manufacturers also make high-quality parts that you can either purchase directly, or obtain through distributors and resellers. Consumers and corporations alike are opting to build rather than buy PCs to ensure high quality and compatibility.

The new edition of Building the Perfect PC shows you how to construct a variety of top-flight systems with the latest technology, including AMD Socket AM-2 and Intel Core 2 processors, that are Vista- and Linux-ready. The book includes several new options, including:

  • A Budget PC you can build for approximately $350 that offers performance and reliability similar to that of mainstream systems
  • A full-blown media-center system that runs Linux and MythTV or Windows MCE with multiple tuners and HDTV support
  • A fire-breathing high-performance gaming system
  • A fast, low-power, low-heat, low-noise, Small Form Factor system (the size of a shoe box)
  • A low-cost SOHO (small office, home office) server system with a 2 terabyte (2,000 GB) disk subsystem that's suitable for a residential environment rather than a server closet

Regardless of your technical experience, Building the Perfect PC will guide you through the entire process of building or upgrading your own computer. You'll use the latest top-quality components, including Intel's Core 2 Duo and AMD's Athlon X2 CPUs. And you'll know exactly what's under the hood and how to fix or upgrade your PC, should that become necessary. Not only is the process fun, but the result is often less expensive and always better quality and far more satisfying than anything you could buy off the shelf.

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oreillyBuilding the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition

(based on 5 reviews)

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Perfect Supplement for the Perfect PC

By Frank M.

from Akron, OH

About Me Designer, Developer, Maker

Verified Reviewer


  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Well-written


  • Not a sub for MB guides

Best Uses

  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about oreilly Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition:

Authors Robert & Barbara Thompson have written an amazing guide for anyone with intentions of building their own PC. We are the lucky ones since we are dedicated PC users. Such building is not possible for Apple Mac computers as far as I know.

This book is a great supplement for the usual motherboard User Guide but should not be considered a substitute. The authors do briefly suggest reading the user guides, but then turn around and say with their experience they do not even bother with the guides. That is not good advice since they can't possible cover all of the details for the different motherboards.

The most valuable part of the book is help in choosing and buying components, and how to design a perfect PC. There is also a general section re troubleshooting after assembly. Most helpful to me was a final checklist before "the Smoke Test" for the Gaming PC. That was the PC I was already building when I acquired the book for review. Each PC described has such a final check list.

Many color photos and detailed descriptions for all of the models are very thorough. There is something for almost everyone. This edition has 6 different PC's for your choice. Included are a Mainstream PC, SOHO Server, Gaming PC, Media Center PC, Small Form Factor PC, and a Budget PC.

By time of writing this book in 2006 the ultimate processor was the Intel Core 2 Duo. In mid 2010 I was already building my Gaming and all purpose PC using the new Intel Quad Core i5 processor. However, the book was very helpful in many ways except for helping to choose many of the newer components. With plans for building another all purpose PC early next year I am looking forward to the new 3rd edition of this book with estimated release In December 2010.


Another winner!

By csanders41

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition:

When I received my copy of "Building the Perfect PC" and started reading it, the thought that pop in my head was my newest home-built unit was almost 2 years old. I need to start putting something new together.

I've been in the pc business since 1981 when I purchased my first computer. It was a Commodore 3031 with two floppy drives. (5 1/4). I built my first computer in 1988 and since that time many more. They were use for home use as well as the work place.

This review is the third one I've written for Robert and his wife and the comments are the same on each publishing. When you buy the book the timed saved of making mistakes of what not to buy, will more than pay for the time and cost of the book.

The clarity of thought and sequence of ideas presented my Bob and wife simplifies the process and the results will speak for themselves.

The book allows a newbie or seasoned builder to know all the latest whiz-a-mug-jiggers that are available to use as components of a new PC. Any one that starts the process of building a PC needs to research what work with what. The book saves many hours of reading and research for the magic answer to the perfect PC.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Building the PC that YOU want

By Gary Berg

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition:

Building the Perfect PC, second edition is a welcome update, covering some of the changes in technology since the first edition came out, such as socket 775 processors Core Duo, AMD X2, etc.

This book takes the approach of having multiple "projects", so you can see the tradeoffs between PCs built for different purposes. Want to build a server; the Thompsons will tell you what priorities you should select and how to meet them. Want to build a budget PC _ a parts list that comes to $350 for a fully functional PC you can build yourself.

The book starts out with some basics, such as what you will need to build a PC and how to choose components. Each project lays out the analysis, component selection, and assembly processes, including places where you have to be careful when assembling that particular project.

I've built several PCs based on the first edition of this book; I'm looking forward to building more using the second edition.


Thompon makes it look SO easy...

By Ken Mitchell

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition:

Robert Bruce Thompson makes it look SO easy... that it actually WAS easy.

I've got 25 years of experience in using and maintaining my own PCs, since my first Apple II+ and all through the PC/DOS and Windows days. I'm pretty good with software, but my wife knows to stuff her ears with cotton whenever I'm about to crack the case on the machine. Incompatible hardware, the spider's nest of wires in there... how can a person possibly understand all of that stuff? But I needed a new powerful PC and could only afford a low-end box. This book convinced me that I could build one easily and get a high-end system for a low-budget price.

"Build the Perfect PC" is a cookbook for computer builders. In the first couple of chapters, RBT discusses WHY to build your own PC, how to select suitable components, and some pitfalls to avoid. Then in the following six chapters, he and wife/photographer Barbara demonstrate in exhaustive and excruciatingly clear detail the step-by-step process of putting the theory into practice. The "Mainstream" PC, the SOHO server, the gaming machine, the "Home Theater" system, the cigar-box .. excuse me, "Small Form Factor" PC, and the all-important budget PC; each one painstakingly detailed.

Yes, but does it work? CAN you build a powerful machine cheaper than a Big Box store? You bet! And it WAS easy. And here I am, typing this review on the machine I built this weekend. And no cuts, scrapes, bruises, and I didn't turn the air blue with frustration, because there wasn't any. With apologies, to GEICO, it's so easy that a caveman could do it.

I gave this book a "5" rating only because O'Rielly doesn't have a choice for "6" - but it deserves it. If you are interested in building the ultimately PERSONAL computer for yourself, step one is to buy this book, read it cover-to-cover, and take lots of notes. You won't be sorry.


Building the Perfect PC (2nd) - review

By cwclark

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly Building the Perfect PC, 2nd Edition:

Cordwainer Smith's telepathic Martian Scientist politely introduces himself to his American visitor as a Lotan, among other things. And, answering the obvious question, that a Lotan was an Arhat. To many people the workings of a computer, hardware or software, are equally transparent as our exiled Martian's answer. The Thompson's 'Building the Perfect PC' aims to clarify what the some of Computer industry's hardware Arhats are.

The book's chapters (Fundamentals, Choosing and Buying and building 6 types of PC) take the reader from the asking the most important question, why build a PC yourself, to closing up the Budget PC case in the last chapter. Each chapter progresses the same way, clearly showing the reader *a* method to determine what one wants, how to select components to meet that need, alternates or restrictions and slapping the thing together. The writing style is *not* corporate-speak. The Thompson tell you what they thinks and why but also gives marginal room (literally, you'll see) to advice from others and a few dissenting opinions. The book is written (surpirse) and photographed entirely by the authors. Assembly was done on the kitchen table on a sheet, just to show the reader one can assemble a PC at home. And that if you get one's Wife to do the assembly for the photos she can't complain about the use of her sheets.

There is inevitable repetition, one learns how to open the case 6 times. Repetition is necessary if the chapters are to stand alone so don't worry about it when you come across it. The text is descriptive as text can be (how many ways are there to write "take the screwdriver in your gripping hand, unscrew the screw and drop it in the most inaccessible crevice of the case"?) and there are plenty of pictures (see below).

One clear mistake is the Thompson's opinion that once the voltage of the power supply is set correctly you can't, really, hurt anything. This opinion could stand some revision. We recently set fire, *accidentally set fire*, to a hard drive by shorting the contacts on the drive behind the Molex power plug. This prevents the PC from booting and should be avoided. And, no, we did not use a screwdriver.

Which brings us to the best photo in the book, one lone Phillips screwdriver in figure 1-1. The entire arsenal of tools one needs to assemble a PC. Minus the explosives needed to open blister packaging, but that activity is not assembly. It would have been better to show one with a bent blade and a scorched handle, just to make a point, but one can't have everything. The screwdriver on the cover is not the same one illustrated in figure 1-1. The one on the cover is fancy.

The author's own photography is excellent in terms of content and there are many photos in each chapter showing all stages of assembly. And, surprisingly to this reviewer, all are in colour for a book of this sort. Maybe we are just out of date. Most are on the same page as the relevant text, very Tufte-like. Well done. But. Exposure problems make some of the illustrations close to unusable. The content is there but many are too dark to make out clearly. Cameras are very good at making a white sheet look 18% gray! Chapter 8 seems to be affected most, figure 8-52 shows a black SATA plug being attached to a black drive. All we can see are fingers and a bit of green motherboard. Channeling Hotblack Desiato are we? C'mon O'Reilly, give Bob a couple of flashes and Photoshop elements. Seriously, the next edition of the book needs to rectify this issue, luckily the tools are readily available for the home-based author. Building the Photo-Processing PC, anyone? Hmm...that's actually a pretty good idea, come to think of it. We own 8 cameras of various types but *no* computer games. There is a market there.

The cover fell off as we were leafing through our review copy looking for figure 8-52. Serves us right.

The book takes the mystery out of PC components and assembly for the non-initiate, always a good thing, and may even surprise more knowledgeable people. Good reading and recommended.

We still don't know what an Arhat is.

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