PC repair services can be expensive, and if you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, then you may want to learn how to fix your PC on your own. But if you’re a computer newbie, then the learning process can seem intimidating. After all, there are so many parts in a computer, and it can seem like an overwhelming amount of information.
Stay positive! PC hardware isn’t nearly as complicated as many people think. Here’s a beginner’s guide to PC repair, along with links to resources that will help you learn more about computers.
Know the hardware components
There are two kinds of PC problems: software and hardware. If you want to learn how to fix hardware problems, then your first step should be learning about the components inside your case. Here’s a basic guide:
Motherboard: This is the big chipboard that every other component connects to. It contains the basic hardware that your computer needs in order to work properly. Most motherboards have on-board sound cards, for example, and some have on-board video cards as well. Essentially, they help send data to wherever it needs to go. You shouldn’t have to troubleshoot problems with your motherboard, but if there is a problem, then it can be very difficult to fix, and you may be better off simply buying a new motherboard.
Central Processing Unit (CPU): The CPU is the brains of your computer. While the motherboard sends data to where it needs to go, the CPU tells your motherboard where to send this traffic in the first place. It handles every process on your PC, and can come in single-core, dual-core, or even quad-core formats.
RAM: One or two sticks of RAM will be attached to your motherboard. Some high-performance PCs might even have four sticks. Upgrading your RAM can provide a big boost to performance, and it’s an easy upgrade for even novice PC users to make.
Power supply: As the name suggests, the power supply channels electricity to the components that need it most. It connects directly to your electrical outlet using a three-pronged port on the back of your case. If your computer is suddenly refusing to start up – or powers down after only a few seconds of use, then it could be a result of power supply failure. Fortunately, replacing the power supply isn’t as difficult as you may think – it’s simply a matter of plugging cords where they need to go.
Video card: Your PC may have a ‘discrete’ video card, which means that it is not built-in to the motherboard. Discrete video cards are important for gamers, or for anybody who wants a high-performance PC. Video cards usually plug into the PCI slot on your motherboard, and can easily be removed or added if necessary. If you’ve been disappointed about your PC’s performance while gaming, then upgrading your video card is a good place to start.
Optical drive: The optical drive reads DVDs, CDs, or Blu-ray disks. Cheap optical drives can break down, leaving your CDs trapped inside, so it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality one today to prevent problems in the future.
Case fans: If your PC is having heat problems, then you may need to upgrade your case fans, which suck cool air into your PC and blow hot air out. Over time, they can become clogged with dust, which is a leading cause of overheated PCs. Replacing these fans – or cleaning them out with a canister of compressed air – can help repair common PC performance problems.
Build your own PC
The best way to learn about PCs is to build one yourself. Order the parts from an online computer hardware retailer and then follow one of the internet’s numerous PC building manuals. Once you have all the parts you need, building your own PC shouldn’t take more than a few hours, and the experience you’ll gain in the process will give you the skills needed to repair any PC problems in the future.
Or, if you’re not in the market for a new PC (or aren’t confident enough in your abilities to put together a brand new one on your own), then you may want to take apart an older one. This is an easy, risk-free way to learn about PC hardware, and you can even upgrade your older PC while you’re at it.
Ultimately, the more you know about PC hardware, the easier it will be to repair any problems you run into in the future. If you want to avoid the high costs of PC repair services, then there has never been a better time to learn about the hardware inside your PC.