Our computer knows us well – our likes, dislikes, even our deepest, darkest secrets – but some of us hardly know our computer at all. It is understandable though, as there are so many computer hardware components available today that it can hard for one to keep up. Find out more about the basic computer hardware below.
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Computer hardware basically refers to any physical components that make up a computer system. There are many types of hardware that can be installed on the inside and outside of the computer. For the computer illiterate, the inside of a computer is filled with a dizzying amount of circuits, cables, and connections that they want no part of if possible. Hence, to make things easier for non-techies here is an easy approach to the important internal hardware components that you should know about:
The motherboard is known as the electronic skeleton of the entire computer system as it connects all parts of a computer together. Various parts of the computer such as the CPU, hard drives, ports, expansion cards all connect to the motherboard directly or via cables for them to communicate with each other. In a desktop computer, the motherboard is mounted on the inner side of the case, opposite the most accessible side.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
If the motherboard is considered as the backbone of the system, then the CPU is the brains. It is responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands coming from the computer’s hardware and software. The CPU is also known by many other names including a processor, central processor, etc.
A modern CPU is usually small and square in shape. On its underside, there are usually many short, rounded, metallic connectors. The CPU is usually attached directly to the CPU socket on the motherboard.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
For your laptop to run, it needs to be able to store data, hence the function of memory. Random Access Memory (RAM) is a physical component that enables the computer to store data temporarily. A higher RAM will enable more information can be worked on at the same time, hence improving the total system performance of the computer. RAM enables your computer to load data faster compared to a hard drive, however, these data are not stored and will be erased when you turn off your computer.
Another form of memory that you can find in your computer system is a hard drive. Unlike the RAM which stores temporary data, the hard drive is where all permanent data is saved and stored. Hence, you will still be able to retrieve any data stored on the hard drive even after you have completely shut down your computer. Amongst the data stored in the hard drives include the computer’s operating system, essential software, and other files that are needed for the computer to run smoothly.
The power supply is a hardware that converts the power provided from the mains into usable power for many parts in the computer. Essentially, it converts alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC) which your computer components need to run normally. It is also used to control the voltage to prevent overheating.