The first step in optimizing your PC is to find out precisely what hardware components you have, and what their various capabilities are.
This is known as your System Specifications, and to find out the specific details of your hardware you require an appropriate set of tools. Information about your system specifications is vital both for using this guide, and for general PC usage and maintenance.
For example you must know the model and chipset type of your motherboard before you ca n upgrade your BIOS, or install the correct motherboard drivers; you must know the full capabilities of your graphics card if you want to know if it can run Vista Aero or again to update its drivers; or you may have a complex problem which you wish to resolve yourself or provide details of to a Technical Support person.
This chapter covers the tools you need and the methods you can use to obtain all the relevant system information.
There are several good free system information utilities to choose from, including some comprehensive ones built into Windows Vista.
A combination of these programs will tell you everything you need to know about your system specifications and ca pa bilities, and I recommend you download and install as many of these programs as possible:
WINDOWS SYSTEM INFORMATION TOOL.
You can access the Windows System Information Tool by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>System Information, or go to Start>Search Box and type "msinfo32" (without quotes) and hit Enter.
The Windows System Information Tool presents a range of basic information about your system.
Unfortunately much of it can be a little difficult to comprehend or may not be quite what you're looking for. Some of the more useful pieces of information include the IRQ allocations under Hardware Resources>IRQs; the listing of your hardware components by type under the Components section; a listing of all the system drivers loaded up and their status under Software Environment, System Drivers; or recent Windows errors under Software Environment, Windows Error Reporting.
In general the System Information Tool is best used by medium to advanced users who can comprehend the interface and the information much easier than a beginning user. Its major advantage is that it is a free and built-in utility that anyone can easily access.
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