PC Hardware in a Nutshell
By Robert Bruce Thompson, Barbara Fritchman Thompson
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: October 2000
Pages: 526

PC Hardware in a Nutshell is a comprehensive guide to buying, building, upgrading, and repairing Intel-based PCs, presented in O'Reilly's concise "In a Nutshell" format. The three major thrusts of the book are:

  • Buying guidelines. In supplying advice on how to choose optimum systems and components, the book focuses on teaching the reader how to evaluate alternatives rather than on recommending specific products.
  • How-to advice. The book is loaded with practical, hands-on information about how to install, configure, and troubleshoot specific components.
  • Reference. Numerous tables and the topical organization let novices and professionals alike consult the book for the specifications and steps they need in order to perform discrete tasks.

In addition to covering the fundamentals and general tips about working on PCs, the book includes chapters focusing on motherboards, processors, memory, disks (floppies, hard drives, and optical drives), tape devices, video devices, input devices, audio components, communications, power supplies, and maintenance. The last chapter is a complete case study in building a PC from components.

PC Hardware in a Nutshell is supported by a web site that provides:

  • A depository of obsolescent or arcane material that didn't make the book but may still be useful to some
  • New and updated material that will appear in updated editions
  • Errata
  • A Mail drop for reader feedback and suggestions

PC Hardware in a Nutshell is a compact guide, accessible to the ordinary reader and invaluable for the seasoned professional.

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oreillyPC Hardware in a Nutshell
 
4.7

(based on 6 reviews)

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5.0

Excellent Reference Book

By U.Ravi Kumar

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

Excellent Book. Its a must have for every computer user. Many of us know how to operate computer but don't know the inner workings. This book not only gives information about the hardware but also enables the reader to build and upgrade their pc on their own. Every computer user should own a copy of this book. Excellent.

 
5.0

PC Hardware in a Nutshell Review

By Joe Pellerin

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

Let me start out with a huge thanks to O'Reilly. I'm not a big fan of large corporations or publishers – but I have come to trust O'Reilly implicitly wherever technical issues are concerned. Although I'm certain that they are not the "perfect" publisher, nor in the business for wholly (ha!) altruistic reasons, I AM amazed by the remarkable originality, diversity, range, quality, accuracy, and honorable business practices of this publisher. Oftentimes I wonder how they manage to maintain such a level, when their current library is so chock-full of tough-to-follow acts.

That said, PC Hardware in a Nutshell does not fail to meet up to these high expectations. Let me get the review portion of my review out of the way – simply put, this is the book I have been hunting for a couple years. That I did not immediately search the O'Reilly library only shows that I am a bit silly. I should have known better. End of review.

But I would like to carry this a bit further, and go out on a limb to discuss the only complaint prior reviewers have voiced: that the book is too "Microsoft-centric."

Rather than a weakness, I believe that this is actually a strength. Let me offer big kudos to the authors and publisher for realizing that a serious, yet accessible, compendium of computer hardware knowledge was necessary. The folks who register such complaints are those least in need of an in-depth introduction to PC hardware. These are the high priests of hi-tech, who rule the roost by virtue of their knowledge-monopoly on all issues technical. They would have you believe that if it was not hand-crafted from spare parts, duct tape, and copious amounts of solder and configured with the most obscure version of Linux, then it's only fit for a 4-year-old. They are, quite simply, dead wrong. Let them compile their own "PC Hardware for Only the Most Serious Tech Gurus", I say!

Thompson's very first point is that he intended the book to be of the most practical usability possible. The practical reality is that the people who desperately need such a compendium are poor fools, like Yours Truly, who are too technical to be satisfied with tutorials on how to use Microsoft Office, yet are not quite knowledgeable enough to get right under the hood of their PCs (never mind build a Linux box from spare hatpins and Reynolds Wrap). We, the "psuedo-techies", often do not come equipped with enough experience, knowledge, or confidence to take ourselves to the next level. We are the crowd who are using Microsoft products, yet would love to learn enough to understand exactly WHY Microsoft means "mush-mind" and Linux is God - but will never get there without a guide. This book is the guide, and to me it says, "Psuedo-techies unite! Power to the people!"

 
4.0

PC Hardware in a Nutshell Review

By Lee

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

Concise, straight to point and comprehensive.

 
5.0

PC Hardware in a Nutshell Review

By Joe Splace

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

I own many O'Reilly titles pertaining to Unix and I bought PC Hardware in a Nutshell as an afterthought. What a suprise! While it is MS-centric, it is still a very good read. It is hard to put down. This book has really changed the way I think about hardware in ways that I never even considered in my 20 years of messing around with computers. Come out with one for Unix and I'll snap that up, too.

I recommend this well thought out book to anyone upgrading, building or buying a computer. Thank you.

 
5.0

PC Hardware in a Nutshell Review

By Frank Wood

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

For the many people who are using MS software, this is a great book. It is extremely readable. I buy many books and manage to finish few of them. This one I have both enjoyed and finished. I look forward to the possibility of other books by the Thompsons -- either covering other PC related areas like net work adapters, DSL, etc. that they couldn't cover and keep PC HARDWARE IN A NUTSHELL to a reasonable length or possibly -- or some other area of consumer electronics.

 
4.0

PC Hardware in a Nutshell Review

By Darren Remington

from Undisclosed

Comments about oreilly PC Hardware in a Nutshell:

Overall, the book was worth the price. While much of the technical information about the hardware and architecture are available in other books, the case studies are unique to this book.

One thing I did not like was the MS-Windows centric view in designing the systems. Many of the readers who are going to bother building their own PC are going to be GNU/Linux users (like me.) It is apparent from the first chapter that the author is NOT anti-Linux, nor is he ignorant about its potential. I just would have liked to see more OS-neutrality throughout the book.

My approach to recycling PC hardware is just the opposite to the author's: When I build myself a 'bigger and better' PC, I load it with GNU/Linux and recycle the old one for my four-year-old son with MS-Windows 95. The only reason I do that is solely for the learning games that he has.

Other than that one complaint, I say again, this book is well worth the price.

Good job.

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