What Is Computer Hardware?

pc hardware

Computer hardware refers to the physical components of a computer system. This includes the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), random access memory, monitor, mouse and keyboard.

The motherboard is a hub that all other hardware runs through. It also determines what inputs and outputs your PC has. It’s an important upgrade to consider if you want to improve performance.


The CPU is the most important component of a computer system. It interprets and executes instructions from software programs so that you can do things like call friends, surf the web or play games.

The core of a CPU is called the control unit, which translates program instructions into electrical signals to be executed by other parts of the processor. It also contains a circuit called the arithmetic logic unit, which performs calculations and logical comparisons at high speed.

The CPU includes registers that supply operands to the arithmetic logic unit and store the results of those operations. It also contains cache memory that acts as a temporary holding place for data the CPU seems to use often, saving time compared to retrieving it from random access memory.


The motherboard is the hub of the PC, connecting all of the computer’s components and expansion slots. This includes memory, video cards and hard drives, along with the power supply.

Motherboards come in different sizes and types to match the specific requirements of desktop computers, laptops and tablets. They also have different connection standards. Some of these are obsolete now, like the ISA and EISA connectors that used to be standard in older desktop systems.

The most important part of the motherboard is the CPU, which coordinates all of the computer processes. The motherboard also has other chips that handle various functions, including memory, storage and graphics instructions. These are called the “motherboard’s chipset.” Older motherboards included two additional chips, referred to as Northbridge and Southbridge, that provided more support for the microprocessor.

Graphics Card

The Graphics Card is a computer hardware that creates images and transmits them to a display device. It is also called a video card and it can be an external component or built-in on a motherboard. Discrete graphics cards are usually connected to monitors via VGA, HDMI or DisplayPort connections.

The performance of a GPU is determined by its memory size, processor speed and how fast it can communicate with the computer’s system memory (RAM). The combination of all these factors equates to how many pixels it can rasterize per second.

In addition to being used for visual rendering, modern GPUs are more flexible and programmable than ever, enabling them to perform additional tasks such as video editing and high performance computing. For this reason, most games are designed to take advantage of the latest technology, which pushes GPU manufacturers to develop even faster models.

Optical Drive

The optical drive is where you insert CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray to listen to music, watch movies or create backup copies of data. Optical drives can be internal or external, depending on how they connect to the computer.

In order to read data from an optical disk, the drive spins it and scans its surface using a laser beam that distinguishes pits from lands based on how much light each area reflects or absorbs. The drive then converts this information into a digital signal representing 0’s and 1’s.

Optical discs are relatively impervious to environmental threats like power surges, making them well-suited for prerecorded audio and video content as well as for archival and data exchange purposes. Optical drives are commonly found in standalone devices like media players and portable video game consoles (which used the now-discontinued UMD format). They are also an integral component of desktop computers and laptops for software and multimedia distribution.

Power Supply

Power supplies convert AC power from a wall outlet into a steady output of DC power with varying voltages that are used to power components like CPUs, GPUs, and drives. Power supplies use components such as transformers, rectifiers, and capacitors to filter & smooth out the output DC power and eliminate any AC ripple known as noise.

The clean DC power is then supplied to motherboards & other devices through the PSU’s rails. Power supply’s can have one or multiple rails with various amperage capacities. Fully-modular power supplies allow the removal of each cable’s connector which can simplify PC build configurations & help with cable management.

SFX power supplies are smaller than ATX power supplies & are often utilized in small form factor (SFF) PCs using mini ITX motherboards. They are popular among builders who are concerned with desk space and cost.