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Book details of 'Upgrading and Repairing PCs (13th Edition)'

Cover of Upgrading and Repairing PCs (13th Edition)
TitleUpgrading and Repairing PCs (13th Edition)
Author(s)Scott Mueller
PublishedAugust 2001
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Score: score: 2.3 **---  Vote for this book

The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Upgrading and Repairing PCs (13th Edition)':

Reviewer wrote:
Scott Mueller takes seriously his role as the acknowledged guru of Intel-compatible personal computers and does an admirable job of making his books compete with Web sites about hardware. He does this by releasing a new edition of Upgrading and Repairing PCs every year, or even more frequently, and by overshadowing the sites with sheer volumes of information. The latest edition of Mueller's respected book, the 13th, is positively massive--more than 1,500 pages of dense text and pithy illustrations, in combination with a CD-ROM that's nearly full to capacity with information. Plus, for good measure, Mueller and his team maintain a companion Web site for late-breaking hardware information. As you would expect, this edition is updated to include information about the latest hardware developments, including the Intel Pentium 4 and Itanium parts, as well as advances in optical storage technology. Mueller, aware that no computer ever really goes extinct, has kept his page count under control without sacrificing his depth of legacy coverage by putting older material--including the complete text of five previous editions--in Adobe Acrobat format on the CD-ROM. Other refinements include clearer line drawings and other illustrations, and an increase in the amount of how-to video (in Windows Media Player format) on the CD-ROM. The series of videos walks the viewer through the process of building a PC from the case up, and though it's sometimes hard to pick up on details (he plugged that thing into what?), the videos do inspire confidence. The volume of data is staggering, and it's surprisingly easy to navigate. Gamers and others concerned with extracting every last bit of speed by overclocking and otherwise stressing their machines will probably be happier with the information they find on the Web. Mueller is mostly concerned with building fast but reliable systems and doesn't touch on really out-there hardware--like water-cooling systems for AMD Athlon processors--at all. That's fine, because he covers the hardware mainstream with near-absolute thoroughness. Buying this book is like buying a library; every hardware enthusiast needs one. --David Wall Topics covered: Intel-compatible personal computer hardware (and, to some extent, the operating systems that run on it) from the dawn of PC time (about 1985 through the present day). Processors, motherboards, video systems, storage devices, peripherals--everything that goes inside, attaches to, or communicates with a personal computer chassis is covered here. Readers become more than qualified to build systems from bare metal, and to diagnose and replace components.

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
There are all kinds of computer help, repair, maintenance, troubleshooting, and upgrading books on the market. A great many try to give you a quick overview of what you need to know. With the personal computer market expanding its options on a pretty much daily basis, though, generally what you need is more in the line of an encyclopedia. *Your* particular problem tends to be the one left out. This book, however, leaves very little out. Chapter one is a short history of the PC since the first IBM PC in 1981, or actually slightly before. The defining characteristics, and components, of a PC are given in chapter two, including a very realistic overview of the market and major players. Microprocessor information is given in chapter three. However, this chapter is unlike any I have ever seen in another repair or troubleshooting book. There are tables and lists of detailed processor specifications, including the most important for any upgrader--the socket sizes and specifications. The chapter proceeds through conceptual material first and then in turn through all kinds of individual processors, so at first run it can be a bit confusing. The motherboard is covered in chapter four, with form factors, chipsets, interface connectors, and bus sockets. In this edition, the BIOS gets space of its own in chapter five. The various types and functions of memory, with attention to practical as well as theoretical details, are described in chapter six. Chapters seven and eight look in detail at the IDE (Integrated Drive electronics) and SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) interfaces. General principles of magnetic storage are given in chapter nine, with specifics of hard and floppy disks, removable storage, and optical drives in ten to thirteen, successively. Drive installation is covered in chapter fourteen. Display hardware is outlined in chapter fifteen, with information on both monitors and adapters. Audio hardware is a new addition in chapter sixteen. Chapter seventeen provides useful specifics on I/O ports, dealing with serial and parallel ports, port replacement technologies, and storage interfaces. Keyboards and mice are covered in significant detail in chapter eighteen. Chapter nineteen, entitled "Internet Connectivity," looks at a broad range of communications hardware. It provides a good deal of information, and has improved substantially over past editions. Local area networks, in chapter twenty, fare well. Chapter twenty one gets into the area that possibly causes the most trouble, and therefore has the greatest potential for usefulness, in PC hardware: power supplies, the NVRAM (better known, if slightly inaccurately, as CMOS) battery, and even UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems. There are some interesting points about portable computers in chapter twenty two. Chapter twenty three looks at building a system, and, while there is some duplication of material covered in earlier chapters, there is a good deal of new content as well. Diagnostics, testing, and maintenance provides a lot of very practical advice, although the sequence of topics in chapter twenty four can be jumpy at times. (Given the scope of the rest of the book, the dismissal of viruses in a single paragraph is disappointing: and unfortunately consistent with what I have seen in all too many computer retail and repair shops.) File systems and data recovery are covered well in chapter twenty five. The appendices in this edition are rather curtailed. However, the CD-ROM contains full versions of the sixth, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth editions, so missing chapters, such as those on printers and software troubleshooting, can still be found. I can say with assurance that none of the books on upgrading or repair of personal computers has had the scope of this one. This is not simply due to the size, although that certainly helps. The material is readable and clear, and there is very little fluff. Certainly some sections are not quite up to the overall standard; in particular, more recent technologies tend to have hastily assembled entries; but for the central unit itself, the book is without peer. I can readily agree with the rather effusive book jacket comments: they are not, as I first thought, mere hype. For anyone involved in computer maintenance and repair, be it in a retail or technical support role, this reference has immense value. And for serious hobbyist users, it can provide a great deal of interest, as well as definite help when you need it. copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998

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