When you're in the market for a new system, you need to gather as much information as possible about hardware and the system capabilities that will fit your needs. During my search for a new system, I came across several good sources of information.
Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson's PC Hardware in a Nutshell (O'Reilly & Associates, 2000), was invaluable during my search. The book is a high-quality reference about hardware and includes chapters about tools, processors, motherboards, power supplies, CPUs, and memory.
Although I don't agree with everything the authors wrote in the book (for example, they prefer the Pentium III processor to Advanced Micro Devices' AMD Athlon processor, despite the AMD Athlon's performance advantages), their arguments are well reasoned and their opinions are worth considering. If you buy, configure, use, or modify PC hardware, you need this book. For more information about the book, see the authors' Web site at http://www.hardwareguys.com.
You might also find Tom's Hardware Guide (http://www.tomshardware.com) helpful. The site contains a variety of information covering all aspects of computer hardware, and I found it useful when deciding which processor to include in my new system.