What Is Computer Hardware?

Computer hardware (also known as computer hw) is the tangible devices that make up a computer system. Some examples are the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

The central processing unit is responsible for all of the sophisticated algorithms and programming that your computer does while running software programs. It also solves complex imagery and advanced graphical operations.


The central processing unit (CPU) is the ‘brain’ of your computer. It solves all the sophisticated algorithms and programming that your computer does while running software or browsing the web. There are many different CPU types, ranging from single-core models that handle tasks one at a time to multi-core processors that can muti-task. Intel processors are popular for their speed and power efficiency.

A CPU can be found in all kinds of electronic devices from tablets to desktop computers. It is important for anyone who owns or builds a PC to understand the role of the CPU and how it works. This guide explains everything about CPUs in a clear and concise way, plus answers your biggest CPU questions. It’s the ideal resource for responsible laptop and PC users.


Memory is the storage device that makes current data and codes available to programs instantly. It is volatile, meaning it clears out when you shut off the computer, but it can absorb new information as soon as you turn it back on.

Memory can be internal or external, depending on your needs. Internally, it is often preinstalled in the CPU or stored as a hard disk. A hard disk is a non-volatile device that uses stacked magnetic surfaces to store huge chunks of data in a non-erasable form.

Other internal hardware components include a monitor, a CPU and random access memory (RAM). Some hardware is designed to be upgraded by installing additional expansion cards for graphics or sound, or adding a larger hard drive for more capacity.


The computer’s storage is used to save files and programs on a permanent basis. Unlike memory, stored data remains intact even after the computer powers down. The storage is usually a hard disk drive or solid-state drive and can range in size from 150GB to a few more TB.

While memory and storage are often mistaken for one another, they work in very different ways. Memory is volatile and clears whenever the CPU shuts down, whereas storage is non-volatile and retains its contents until it’s manually deleted. Most PCs have both types of hardware and the best computer for gaming will typically have a high amount of RAM and large amounts of internal storage. Why are storage capacity options always stated in powers of two? It’s a matter of efficiency and internal addressing.

Graphics Card

The graphics card converts the binary data sent to it by the CPU into pixels, those tiny squares that create images on your monitor or computer screen. The more pixels an image has, the higher its definition—a high-definition image has twice as many as a standard one.

Modern GPUs are sophisticated devices that behave like stand-alone computers and are typically the most expensive component in a PC. They’re also extremely power-hungry.

A discrete graphics card slips into an expansion slot on a motherboard (previously, it was an AGP or PCI-X slot). It’s possible to link multiple cards together for better performance, but this is rare; most games don’t take advantage of more than one GPU. A graphics card’s form-factor determines whether it fits into a specific case and provides plenty of space for ports, as well as how well it looks.


The motherboard is a central circuit board that connects a computer’s functional components. It has slots for the central processing unit (CPU) and RAM installation and connectors for power supplies, case electronics and other peripheral devices.

Motherboards also contain a specialized chip that manages interactions between other chips. For example, it determines how much memory the CPU can access and controls the various interfaces that connect to the motherboard. These include PS/2 mouse and keyboard control, USB and ATA hard disk drive controllers and TV tuner cards. Motherboards also have slots that allow daughter boards to plug in and take some of the processing load off the CPU. This is why these smaller circuit boards are sometimes referred to as “daughter” boards.