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Different Hardware

and
Components
of a Computer
Information is funny stuff. The information for the web page you are looking at is recorded on a hard disk
inside a computer located in New Britain, Connecticut. The information was copied from that physical
device to other physical devices perhaps hundreds of times before it got to your computer where your
web browser is using it to display these words on your monitor. Clearly information is something different
from the devices used to store and transmit it.
A computer system consists of both hardware and information stored on hardware. Information stored on
computer hardware is often called software.
The hardware components of a computer system are the electronic and mechanical parts.
The software components of a computer system are the data and the computer programs.
The term computer hardware refers to the physical computer components basically, the parts and
pieces that can be touched or moved, whether inside or outside of the computer. Below is an example of
a computer with several common computer components:
Here are the common computer components in a little more detail.
A. System unit
The system unit is the core of a computer system. Usually it's a rectangular box placed on or underneath
your desk. Inside this box are many electronic components that process information. The most important
of these components is the central processing unit (CPU), or microprocessor, which acts as the "brain" of
your computer. Another component is random access memory (RAM), which temporarily stores

information that the CPU uses while the computer is on. The information stored in RAM is erased when
the computer is turned off.
Almost every other part of your computer connects to the system unit using cables. The cables plug into
specific ports(openings), typically on the back of the system unit. Hardware that is not part of the system
unit is sometimes called a peripheral device or device.
1. Motherboard: The motherboard, also called the logic board or mainboard is a squareshaped board with electrical circuits printed on it that houses all major components such as
the RAM chips, PCI slots, processor, batteries, sound cards, video cards, USB ports and all
other internal circuitry. Motherboards are available in different hardware configurations and
designs.
2. CPU: The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the brain of the computer. CPUs do two major
things: performing mathematical and logical operations (in other words, making the computer
do stuff), and retrieving and carrying out instructions from the computer's memory.
In personal computers, the CPU is a small, square chip with many little metallic pins sticking
out of it called a microprocessor, and is attached directly to the motherboard. Since they
create a lot of heat, modern CPUs have a heat sink and small fan attached to keep them
cool.
3. RAM: RAM, which is an acronym for Random Access Memory, is the primary storage device
of your computer. Although all your software applications are installed and stored in your hard
drive, each one of them needs to make use of the RAM when it is being used. More the
number or the size of the applications being run, greater is the RAM requirement of your
computer.
4. The Sound Card: A sound card processes and plays sound files. It can work with both the
internal and external speakers to provide sound. Of course, the better the sound card and
speakers are, the better the sound quality.
5. The Graphics Card: A graphics card, or video card, processes and outputs images to the
computer's monitor. Less expensive graphics card are integrated directly into the
motherboard, but more powerful cards come as a separate component that you can replace
without having to change the entire motherboard.
The graphics card receives information from the CPU about what to display, decides how to
use the pixels on the screen to display that image, and sends that information to the monitor.
For 3-D images, the graphics card first creates everything out of straight lines, called a
"wireframe," and then fills in all the lighting, texture and color. In a fast-paced game, it has to
do this around sixty times per second.
6. The Network Interface Card: a network interface card lets you connect your computer to a
network. It can be a local one, like a LAN, or the Internet if the computer connects to
a modem.
The most common network interface cards are Ethernet cards that use a cable to connect the
computer to a network hub like a router, but there are also wireless network cards that have
antennae instead of a cable port. Many newer computers have a network card built in to the
motherboard.
7. Fans: Most computer cabinets make use of at least two fans a processor fan and a cabinet
fan. Their main purpose is to lower the internal temperature and keep the processing

components as cool as possible.


8. Cables: Last but not the least, the connecting cables. Internal cables which are used to
connect the hard drive, CD/DVD drive, floppy drive, etc. are of two types a data cable and a
power cable. Each one has a different physical structure and a different function. If you are a
newcomer to computers, you should always refer to the computer manual while going about
connecting the different cables.
B. Storage
Your computer has one or more disk drivesdevices that store information on a metal or plastic disk. The
disk preserves the information even when your computer is turned off.
1. Hard Drive: The hard drive is where the computer stores data for long-term use. Hard drives
have a hard, disk-shaped platter made of a magnetic material, and use magnets to store data
on the platter. The magnetic material allows the computer to easily erase and rewrite the data
whenever it needs to.
Hard drives store data as files. The data might be codes for the characters of a text file, the
color of a pixel in an image file, or even a part of a song. The capacity of the hard drive is
determined by how many bytes it can hold. For example, a 40 gigabyte (abbreviated GB)
hard drive can hold 40 billion bytes.
It is also referred to as a secondary storage device. Hard drives can be internal as well as
external. Internal hard drives are housed within the computer cabinet whereas external ones
are detachable and are connected through a USB port using an external power source.
2. CD and DVD drives: Nearly all computers today come equipped with a CD or DVD drive,
usually located on the front of the system unit. CD drives use lasers to read (retrieve) data
from a CD; many CD drives can also write (record) data onto CDs. If you have a recordable
disk drive, you can store copies of your files on blank CDs. You can also use a CD drive to
play music CDs on your computer.
3. Floppy Drives: Once a common part of each and every desktop computer, very rarely does
one find floppy drives in todays computers. However, there are a few situations where using
a floppy drive becomes inevitable (and I vouch for that) hence mentioning them in this list
becomes necessary.
C. Monitor
A monitor displays information in visual form, using text and graphics. The portion of the monitor that
displays the information is called the screen. Like a television screen, a computer screen can show still or
moving pictures.
There are two basic types of monitors: CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and the newer LCD (liquid crystal
display) monitors. Both types produce sharp images, but LCD monitors have the advantage of being
much thinner and lighter.
D. Keyboard
The keyboard is similar to a typewriter it has all of the same keys, along with additional keys for different
uses. However, instead of typing onto paper, the text and characters appear on the monitor and operate
the computer.

There are many types of keyboards, some with many keys and others with fewer keys, but all of them
function in the same way but it also has special keys:

The function keys, found on the top row, perform different functions depending on where they are
used.
The numeric keypad, located on the right side of most keyboards, allows you to enter numbers
quickly.
The navigation keys, such as the arrow keys, allow you to move your position within a document
or webpage.

E. Mouse
The mouse is an input device that functions as a pointing device. It is a small plastic case that fits under
your hand. It is a relatively new addition to the computer, earlier keyboards served the purpose of mouse
as well. The mouse has made it easy to feed instructions in the computer.
A mouse usually has two buttons: A primary button (usually the left button) and a secondary button. Many
mice also have a wheel between the two buttons, which allows you to scroll smoothly through screens of
information.
F. Printer
A printer transfers data from a computer onto paper. You don't need a printer to use your computer, but
having one allows you to print e-mail, cards, invitations, announcements, and other material. Many people
also like being able to print their own photos at home.
The two main types of printers are inkjet printers and laser printers. Inkjet printers are the most popular
printers for the home. They can print in black and white or in full color and can produce high-quality
photographs when used with special paper. Laser printers are faster and generally better able to handle
heavy use.
G. USB Ports
USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports in simple terms, are the ports which we use for connecting our MP3
players, digital cameras, flash drives, etc. to our computer. Today, most computers come with a minimum
of 4 USB ports although certain high end machines can have up to 8 or even 10 USB ports
H. Speakers
Speakers are used to play sound. They can be built into the system unit or connected with cables.
Speakers allow you to listen to music and hear sound effects from your computer.
I. Modem
To connect your computer to the Internet, you need a modem. A modem is a device that sends and
receives computer information over a telephone line or high-speed cable. Modems are sometimes built
into the system unit, but higher-speed modems are usually separate components.
J. The Router

Routers are devices that connect one network with another and decide how to best transport information
between them to make sure that the data gets to its destination quickly and accurately. Your home router
connects your home network to the network of your Internet Service Provider, or ISP.
A router is like a post office, where the "mail" messages are data packets sent between your computer
and servers in cyberspace. The packets get sent to the router, which reads the "address" on them to see
where they're supposed to go and sends them there efficiently.

Reference:
http://chortle.ccsu.edu/java5/Notes/chap01/ch01_3.html
http://www.itsavvy.in/computer-components
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/pc1.htm
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/computerparts#1TC=windows-7
http://www.carnegiecyberacademy.com/facultyPages/computer/computers.ht
ml

Different Hardware
and
Components

of a Computer

Computer Hardware and Fundamentals


Engineer Allan Verzo

Pantaleon, Ann Rio R.


BSCpE II-1