Computers come in all different shapes and forms but the main basic computer components that make up a computer pretty much stay the same.
Components can also be referred to as; hardware or parts. Throughout this website I will explain the various components in a PC computer, and try my best to give you the information you need to better understand how your computer works.
Some of this information is considered basic computer knowledge, but there is no better place to start with than with the basics. Knowing this valuable information can help you if you are going to buy, repair, maintain or even build your own computer
Every computer Consists of the following basic computer components:
- Computer Case – Where all of the components are stored.
- CPU – It is basically the brain of your computer. The CPU is a used to process everything from basic to complex functions in a computer.
- RAM – RAM is memory that attaches to the motherboard. RAM is hardware used to temporarily store and access data.
- Motherboard – A Motherboard is the most important component in a computer system. All of the other hardware in a computer system connect to the motherboard.
- Power Supply – A Power Supply is the sends power to all of the other hardware so they can operate.
- Hard Drive – A Hard Drive is used for permanently storing files and programs.
- Disk Drives – Disk Drives can be a floppy drive, CD drive, DVD drive or other possible file storage devices that are used in a computer.
- Video Card – A Video Card is the part of a computer system that converts binary code from the CPU so you can view it on a monitor.
- Monitor – The part of a computer that allows you to see what the computer is processing.
- Keyboard - A keyboard allows a computer user to enter text commands into a computer system.
- Mouse – A mouse allows a computer user to use a point and click interface to enter commands.
Whether you are using a desktop or a laptop, the basic hardware components of a personal computer are the same. A PC is a system of parts working together, and the physical parts are called hardware.
The computer programs that make the system operate are called software. Hardware components have been standardized over the years, so that regardless of the make or model of the computer, they will all have:
Hardware Components of a Computer
1: Monitor. The monitor is the screen where you are reading this, and it shows the information on the computer. Older computers have Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors which work exactly like television sets. Newer computers and laptops typically use Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD), and are much thinner. Recently, high definition televisions are being made with LCDs.
2: CPU or the Central Processing Unit. In a desktop, the CPU is the box next to or underneath the monitor. It is often called the “tower”. In laptops, the CPU is typically under the keyboard. Modern tablets and iPad can also be considered a computer, and the CPU is located underneath the keyboard. There are several components to the CPU:
2a: Motherboard. The motherboard is a silicone circuit board which connects all the electronic components on the computer. Ultimately, everything connects to the motherboard.
2b: Processor: the processor is usually in the middle of the board and is a circuit chip that actually does the calculations that gives the computer its name. Everything a computer can do is reduced to a series of on and off switches, which is called binary code. The processor is what uses the binary code to do all the processes in the computer.
2c: Hard drive: the hard drive is connected to the motherboard by a cable called an IED. The hard drive’s job is to store all the data that you want to save permanently. Hard drives are magnetic disks, which can be relatively easily replaced and swapped out.
2d: CD or DVD ROM. Most computers today come with a DVD/CD reading and writing component.
3: Peripherals: These constitute the other elements that you use to input information into the computer, such as the mouse and keyboard. Laptops include a small space below the keyboard which is a touchpad that replaces the mouse. Other components that a computer might have include a webcam, for taking pictures; speakers; and a microphone.
Older computers have floppy disk drives, which are practically obsolete, and are being replaced by small USB drives. Flash memory, such as SD and mircroSD cards which are also becoming popular, with special adapters that allow these cards to be used as USB drives.
While the difference between the terms hardware and software when referring to computers may seem confusing at first, it is actually a very simple difference.
Hardware refers to the physical machine and software refers to the programs that the hardware runs. You need to have the basic hardware components to run software but do not need software to have working computer hardware.
The basic pieces of computer hardware are a monitor so you can see software that you may be running, as well as a keyboard and mouse. The keyboard and mouse allow you to interact with software through the different types of inputs allowed by both keyboard (textual commands for example) and mouse (more centered inputs through mouse clicks).
All the stuff inside of the computer counts as hardware too. Here we are talking about the motherboard, CPU, RAM, expansion cards, the hard disk, and power supply.
In the simplest of terms the motherboard is what connects all the parts together on the inside, the CPU is like the brains of the computer, the RAM is the memory in which the CPU can perform functions, the higher the better, expansion cards include video cards useful for gaming, the hard disk is the amount of space you have to store things such as software on your computer, and the power supply is just that, the means by which your computer receives power.
Now software is a little simpler once all the necessary hardware components are intact and working together properly. Software is just simply programs that you can run on your computer such as Microsoft Word, Excel, any sort of video games, Photoshop and so on.
Each software is different in how it is programmed and how it runs on your computer. Some software use more memory than others, take up less hard drive space than others, and require different expansion cards or other types of hardware in order to run properly or even run at all; it is all dependent on what the program does and how it was developed.
The special type of software that acts as a mediator between the hardware and all other types of software is the operating system. An operating system is just that, the system in which your hardware operates various software. Windows and Mac OS are the major types of operating system but are not the only ones.