Computer hardware refers to the physical parts that make a computer work. It includes the CPU (Central Processing Unit), motherboard, hard drive and random access memory.
The hardware of a computer is a vital part of its operation and without it, you wouldn’t be able to run the software that makes computers so useful. But how do you know what hardware your computer has?
A CPU is the electronic machinery in a PC that executes instructions given to it by computer programs. It executes these instructions by completing mathematical and logical calculations.
CPUs are used in all modern computers, laptops, tablets, phones and other devices. They use billions of transistors to run your software and complete calculations.
A CPU consists of an arithmetic-logic unit (ALU), processor registers that supply operands for ALU operations, and control units that direct the flow of data within the ALU. It also includes an internal clock, which synchronizes all CPU components.
A motherboard is the primary component of a computer that connects all the other components together. It physically supports different components like a backbone, acts as a control center like a nervous system, and moves voltage like a circulatory system.
A typical motherboard has several connections for connecting external devices to the PC. These include a USB port, which provides power and data to peripherals such as mice, keyboards, digital cameras, and other computers.
Modern motherboards also offer a variety of Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) slots, which provide a high-speed serial expansion bus that can be used to add devices such as graphics cards, solid-state drives, network adapters, and RAID controller cards.
RAM (pronounced ramm) is the physical hardware inside your computer that temporarily stores data. It’s a critical part of your PC that allows you to access the information you need on demand.
It’s also the fastest way to get information off of a hard drive. That’s why most computers today have at least 256MB of RAM installed.
Modern memory modules are available in a variety of sizes, including 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16+GB models. Each of these sizes has its own size and capacity, which you can use to determine how much RAM your system needs.
The video card is a specialized piece of hardware that enables computers to display images and video at high speeds. It includes a dedicated random access memory (RAM) chip to store information about images, and a specialized processor chip called the GPU.
In a computer, the graphics card receives instructions from the CPU regarding what needs to appear on the screen. The GPU then runs those instructions through its own processing unit, updating onboard memory about which pixels need changing and how.
Video cards are usually installed in a computer’s expansion slot on the motherboard to increase its capabilities. They are usually faster than the integrated video chips in some modern computer systems, and may be useful if you frequently use graphically intensive applications like photo editing or video games.
The Hard Drive is the main storage device for a computer. It stores data, programs and other files that you have created or downloaded.
It is a mechanical system that relies on spinning platters to store information. The platters are surrounded by magnetic material that differs depending on what type of hard drive you have.
Usually a read/write head sits across the platters to write new information and read old information. A disk controller or interface board controls the read/write heads and communicates with the CPU.
A computer case (also known as a chassis or tower) is a metal enclosure used to house and protect pc hardware. These enclosures come in a variety of sizes and materials, and are often used to build a gaming PC or other computing device.
A typical desktop case opens by lifting the top, and is usually composed of a front panel with buttons and lights representing current power status, hard drive activity, and other internal functions. In addition, it is typically equipped with multiple 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch expansion bays for optical drives, floppy disk drives, and other media devices.
A modern computer case is designed to withstand physical damage while still providing the space required for advanced computer systems. In addition to preventing external intrusion, the enclosure helps shield the internal components from radiations and airflow needed for optimal cooling.