Jim Aspinwall has been the Windows Helpdesk columnist and feature editor for CNET.com and is the author of three books on PC maintenance. A resident of Campbell, California, Jim is also an amateur radio operator, an electronics technician, and an OSHA-certified tower climber, maintaining radio transmission sites in northern California.
PC Hacksby Jim Aspinwall
Intel-and AMD-powered PCswhich account for more than 90% of all personal computersare powerful and expandable, and operating systems like Windows and Linux do a great job of running well on this hardware. But to maintain maximum stability and predictability, these operating systems don't push the hardware to its limits.That doesn't mean you can't.PC
Intel-and AMD-powered PCswhich account for more than 90% of all personal computersare powerful and expandable, and operating systems like Windows and Linux do a great job of running well on this hardware. But to maintain maximum stability and predictability, these operating systems don't push the hardware to its limits.That doesn't mean you can't.PC Hacks shows PC users like you how to get the most out of your hardware and software to make your PC experience more satisfying than ever. You don't need another collection of simple tips and command-clicks; you need PC Hacks, where you'll find proven techniques for enhancing performance and preventing problems with your PC hardware. This step-by-step, hack-by-hack guide, with invaluable tips and tricks throughout, will get you hacking the system board, CPU, BIOS, peripherals and operating systemeverything but the unhackable power supply!In PC Hacks, Jim Aspinwall, the Windows Helpdesk columnist and feature editor for CNET.COM and author of three books on PC maintenance, delivers basic to advanced hacks for overclocking CPU and video cards, tweaking RAM timing, selecting the best performing components, and much more. He includes suggestions for reusing an old PC to off-load work from newer systems as well as ways to prevent security hacks. He also offers many tips for avoiding common mistakesand for getting the system back up and running if something does go wrong.PC Hacks combines of the bestselling Hacks series style with the world's most popular computing hardware. Presented in a clear and direct format and covering both Windows and Linux operating systems, PC Hacks ensure that you'll hack and tweak your way to the best performance possible out of your trusty PC.
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A lot of books on the market take you through the inner-workings of Windows, Linux, [insert favorite OS here]. However, there are very few out there that go deep inside the PC itself and get down to the hardware level. In 'PC Hacks', the author takes us inside the PC to look at what can be done at the hardware level to tweak system performance and stability. First off, this book is not for the novice user. If you are not willing to 'risk a little' then you should not attempt the hacks set forth in the book. Many of them, if not performed precisely, can cause serious damage to your system -- some could even cause permanent hardware damage (such as overclocking your CPU). However, for those who are brave -- the rewards and adventure that await are well worth it. Covering topics such as upgrading your power supply, changing CPU voltage (overclocking), moving and changing disk partitions, even overclocking your video card (that was even a new one for me!) will have most dedicated PC geek up to all hours trying out different settings and tweaks. Even if you aren't ready to start messing with the voltage, the book provides a good handbook on topics such as 'Why should I worry if my paging (virtual memory) file is fragmented?' and 'Do I need to upgrade by BIOS?' that even middle-of-the-road users might fight well worth reading up on. There are a number of items that the author talks about that are merely informational, but could really come in handy the next time your system decides to stop functioning the moment you need it to the most. For those 'old timers' out there, this book comes close to the old Norton books of the mid 1980's that explained what went on under the hood of early PC's. For the younger users, it is a terrific way to explore the true 'hobbyist' side of computing and tweaking a system much like a car enthusiast tunes his engine.
Aspinwall takes you on an exploration of a PC that some users never venture into. His hacks tend to be hardware oriented. But there is one hack that is very well known in many computer books. Though it is usually so effective in improving system performance that he probably felt it prudent to include in this book. Namely, adding more RAM. Simple and cheap to do. The other hacks are more involved. Overclocking is heavily discussed. With warnings to install adequate cooling. Intel and AMD are leery of encouraging overclocking. Possibly because you might melt your computer doing so. Liability considerations. But if you carefully follow the author's guidelines, you should do fine. Of the software hacks, there are somewhat more that relate to the Microsoft operating systems, than to linux. Fans of the latter might grumble, but it's a fair assessment by the author of the market realities.