What Is PC Hardware?

Computer hardware is the physical parts of a computer that connect it to its software and external devices. Typical components include a central processing unit, random access memory, motherboard, graphics card, and storage.

RAM is temporary storage that holds application data and code while the CPU is running. It’s volatile, meaning everything held in it is lost when power is removed.


The motherboard is a central backbone that connects the other modular parts of the computer so they can work together. It has expansion slots for additional devices like video cards or sound cards that help with specific functions. It also has connectors for external hard drives and a power supply to provide electricity. It holds the CPU or central processing unit, which executes instructions that desktop programs send to it.

The motherboard regulates the flow of information between components through special circuits called buses and interfaces. It has ports that link to USB, SATA and audio equipment. It also stores the BIOS or UEFI chip, which is responsible for starting up hardware during the boot process and giving you a dashboard where you can adjust system settings.


When it comes to PC hardware, processors are the brains that run incredibly complex calculations and tasks. That’s why it’s important to understand what they do – especially when you’re looking for the right one for your homebuilt computer or buying components and upgrades.

Processors use clock speed to quickly take in information from a variety of sources, then temporarily store it in random access memory until you need it. They’re also used to perform arithmetic logic operations with integer (whole) numbers and manipulate floating-point (decimal) numbers. They may have L1 and L2 caches to help them speed up memory requests. This allows the CPU to avoid having to go all the way back to main memory every time it needs a piece of data.

Graphics Card

Graphic cards (GPUs) carry out the specialized workloads involved in generating rendered images for display. Whenever your computer processes data that needs to be displayed visually, like a spreadsheet update or characters moving onscreen in a video game, that information gets sent to the graphics card for processing.

It then turns that data into a raster image to be displayed on your monitor. This is where the card’s specialized hardware like shader cores and dedicated memory come in, producing an image, pixel by pixel, dozens and sometimes hundreds of times per second.

You should look for a card that has adequate VRAM, typically 4 gigabytes or more, for gaming purposes. You also need to make sure your system can support the card, including the correct wattage from your power supply unit and expansion slots on your motherboard.


RAM is short-term storage that allows your computer to access data quickly. It prevents other components from accessing slower storage, such as a hard drive or solid state drive, when they need to read information.

The most common form of RAM in a personal computer is DRAM. It is based around capacitors that are charged and discharged, allowing the microprocessor to store a “1” or a “0” on each memory cell. The cells need to be refreshed periodically, which uses a significant amount of power.

Newer forms of DRAM such as SDRAM and DDR SDRAM perform multiple data transfers in one clock cycle, allowing the memory to be more efficient. Other types of RAM such as ECC DRAM, can detect and repair errors in the data being stored in a memory cell.


A storage device is hardware that preserves digital data for long-term use. While computers can read input data from users, it cannot produce output without access to the information stored on a storage device.

The amount of storage space a computer requires depends on how it’s used. For basic tasks, a computer needs at least 4GB of RAM and 256GB of storage to work well. It’ll be able to run applications, multitask, and stream videos or music without slowdown or glitching.

In enterprise storage systems, hard disk drives (HDDs) are commonly arranged in fault-tolerant RAID arrays. However, SSDs are starting to take market share from HDDs because they consume less power and have faster performance. Storage devices can also be shared across a network for backup and disaster recovery.