Everyone saying "get some hardware experience"?!?!

TmwaddellTmwaddell Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
I have read all over this site people saying that the test is so much breezier with some hardware experience under your belt. A lot of people say they have bought a really old (ghetto) pc and tinkered around inside it. Now here is what i need to know:

Is it worth me buying an old PC to try and get some hardware experience?

I have built 2 PC's in the past year for myself. They have both been really easy as they are such easy and new components to work with. My current pc (that i like to fool around with overclocking and the like) is:
-Antec P182 case
-E6420 LGA775 core 2 duo processor @3.16ghz
-Asus P5K-e
-WD Caviar 500gb 7200rpm
-2x Radeon 3870's in crossfire
-Thermaltake Toughpower 700W PSU
- the other basics like DVD/RW, TV card ect

I guess i am worried that when i get my A+ and manage to get my first IT job as a technician, (hopefully at a chain called PC World or somewhere basic) i will be dealing with very different hardware than i am used to handling. The average PC i would be dealing with probably would be a lot different (and cheaper) than my builds have been. I am an AMD virgin aswell, having not used any of their processors in my builds. This complete lack of experience with certain mainstream brands and types of hardware concerns me.

So shall i just go on Ebay and look for a really cheapy AMD pc to get to grips with? Or does anyone have any other suggestions as to what i can do?
Studying for my A+, N+ and MCSA.


  • TmwaddellTmwaddell Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    And unfortunately i cannot afford the time to find a part time job working with computers because i am already studying for this course, caring for my sick grandfather and juggling my old job, so extra time is an issue for me.
    Studying for my A+, N+ and MCSA.
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,163 Mod
    To answer your question in short: you'll be spending a lot of time reading for the exam, and the hands-on practice will be to reinforce underlying theory. It won't matter if you're working on old Pentium IIs or brand-new quad-core AMD machines. The speeds and models change practically every month, so be ready to learn about new processors, memory, motherboards, etc. Your experience building machines will help you, as will any other hands-on work you do with equipment you buy.

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  • TmwaddellTmwaddell Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks. What you said makes sense, and i must learn to constantly adapt to different technologies.

    I just had an idea regarding getting some more experience. I think i am going to build a really basic PC using parts that i would never usually use. Perhaps a motherboard with a different form factor, an AMD processor, a riser card, IDE connectors ect. A really nice and basic system that i can install an old version of windows on like 2000 (never used that operating system before IN MY LIFE).
    Studying for my A+, N+ and MCSA.
  • KGhaleonKGhaleon Member Posts: 1,347
    If I were you, I would get a job doing computer work for a repair shop or do your own work on the side. Makes getting that experience much easier. I had to work in a dusty, sleazy, uncomfortable PC repair shop in the worst part of town for a long time. I have nightmares about the stuff that happened there.
    <_< >_>
    Present goals: MCAS, MCSA, 70-680
  • TmwaddellTmwaddell Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    lol, yeah i was thinking about doing a bit of work on the side by myself at home. Just a small bit of work for friends and family should get me some experience. Infact, i am currently trying to fix my friends Sony Vaio laptop which is giving him all sorts of problems.
    Studying for my A+, N+ and MCSA.
  • jjohnstonjjohnston Member Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I just recently passed three A+ exams. 601, 602 and 604. While plenty of experience naturally helps it CAN also hinder you a little bit. Not to sound like a maverick technician, but the right way or the correct answer is not always the CompTIA way. For instance, Apple OS X isn't really a proprietary version of Linux, it actually is a version of Unix, but when taking the A+ exam you have to answer that it is Linux. Also, common sense questions make up a good percentage of the tests. Alot of them basically customer is always right type stuff. Which is one reason why a 'seasoned' technician may find answering alot of those 'service oriented' questions correctly a bit difficult. Just keep in mind the attage that 'the customer is always right' when answering. Even if you do know that if the customer is almost never right, which is a more logical explanation for why you are there to fix what they more than likely broke. Also this is the reason I didn't take the Depot Technician test, supposedly it has the largest number of customer service questions.

    My successful strategy consisted of alot of studying of course, make sure the book you have is a recent edition. The book(s) I used were:

    CompTIA A+ Exam Cram (Exams 220-602, 220-603, 220-604) (Exam Cram)
    CompTIA A+ Practice Questions Exam Cram (Essentials, Exams 220-602, 220-603, 220-604) (2nd Edition) (Exam Cram 2)

    There is also the A+ ExamPrep book by the same people, the book is alot longer and thorough. I found the Cram version sufficient. Most of my strategy consisted of reading the highlighted portions, taking the practice tests at the end of each chapter and re-reading any sections I got wrong. The Practice Test book has a sweet cd with it that lets you install a really good practice test software.

    Another good reference is http://itpro.comptia.org. A $100 annual membership gives you several benefits, probably the biggest of which is the 'Books 24x7' which has almost every IT book ever available online. There are other advantages too, none of which are worth the hundred bucks, but after the first couple hundred dollars you spend on IT books which go out of date rather fast, you'll find a solution like Books 24x7 to be a sweet find.

    As far as the work experience, try www.onforce.com. Sign on with them as a service professional and start taking on work orders in your area. You'll probably only get $40 work orders for power supply or cd rom drive replacements, but it will give you a broad range of experience and let you get your sea-legs. Knock out 25 work orders as soon as you can and you'll start to get more money along with more choice. The money isn't great at first, but it will more than pay for the gas and unlike friends and family, it does atleast pay you something.
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    Tmwaddell wrote:
    And unfortunately i cannot afford the time to find a part time job working with computers because i am already studying for this course, caring for my sick grandfather and juggling my old job, so extra time is an issue for me.

    Perhaps for the time being take care of your family and revisit this career path down-the-road.

    There are times when our wants and current situation clashes, so do what is important first.
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • somedudefromthenetsomedudefromthenet Member Posts: 54 ■■□□□□□□□□
    It is a good thing that you take care of someone who needs help.

    My advise to you would be to read the technical specs (datasheets) of computer parts and from there you can figure out which is compatible to what and how they match, what is their operating temperatures (min,max,burnnn), operating voltages, memory size and speeds, etc.. You do not need to dig too much, just the basic specs. You can visit the manufacturer's websites for those infos.

    Other websites you can go to are D.I.Y. forums; google can provide you with tons of links by searching for "how to assemble computer" and most of them provide many basic troubleshooting techniques that will help you with your pursuit for the cert.

    Check the Comptia website for the objectives of the exam, it will show you on what type of hardware of software you need to practice on. On the software side look for the "VMWare workstation" and use that to build a virtual computer on your computer so you can install WinXP there and play with it.

    You have plenty of time even though you are taking care of someone. You have access to the internet - a very powerful resource.

    Lastly be positive... In the real world as long as you know the concepts and what needs to happen, Brands are just a minimal detail. That is why the always come with Datasheets/Technical Specs so you would know what are they compatible with.

    "If you can fix the engine of a FORD automotive engine, you already have an idea how to fix engines of other automobiles". icon_wink.gif

    Overclocked Admin
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