Haynes Build Your Own Computer book review

Manual upgrade

Haynes Build Your Own Computer

As a journalist, engineer and car nut enthusiast, I can easily find myself spending hours upon hours poring over technical documents and workshop manuals, among them tomes published by Haynes. This time, however, I’m looking at something less mechanical and more digital: the latest in Haynes’ Build Your Own Computer series, written by Kyle MacRae and Gary Marshall.

Haynes Build Your Own Computer

Practical electronics: tech know-how made easy

The first thing that is immediately obvious when you open up the 5th edition of Build Your Own Computer is that – unlike your typical Haynes manual with its very informative, but entirely dry and bland writing style – MacRae and Marshall have a literary approach that is at least semi-conductive and will keep you flowing through the pages.

The second thing you notice – as you flip back to the publisher’s information to be sure that you are actually reading a Haynes book – is that the inside title page depicts scenes of great horror no new PC builder should ever see; in this case, an open hard disk with its platters exposed to the world. Surely, this is not something to show a novice?

Haynes Build Your Own Computer

Graphic detail

Back to the actual content though and reading the first chapter on “Choosing the Perfect PC” reveals this book is not written to expand upon the existing knowledge of an experienced PC builder – it really does break everything down to the basics. Fortunately though, even reading it from a position of experience, I did not feel patronised. In fact, I actually rather enjoyed the sections which discuss the evolution of modern computing technologies.

There is a phenomenal amount of information crammed into the 162 pages of this book, which covers everything from which websites to look at for further reference and trusted vendors – who may well have paid to be included, but are, by popular opinion, excellent choices as well – to detailed illustrated instructions on the actual building of two different PCs. This edition walks you through choosing the hardware for both an Intel-based workstation and an AMD-based HTPC.

Haynes Build Your Own Computer

Processing information

Once you’ve bought the hardware and built the machine(s) there are also guides for connecting your peripherals and installing the necessary software. Sorry *nix folks, only Windows is covered though. Finally, there’s a short guide on free software and even an appendix on BIOS beeps and error codes.

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