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A Beginner's Guide To Computers: Parts Of A Computer & How Computers Work

Updated on April 27, 2015

Parts of a Computer

A computer is made up of four essential parts: the system unit, monitor, keyboard, and mouse. It would be very hard, if not impossible, to operate the computer if one of these were missing. You could, of course, still use the computer without a mouse if you memorized all the keyboard shortcuts, but the graphical nature of most programs nowadays has made the mouse an indispensable part of the computer.

The system unit is the main part of the computer where all the action takes place. It houses all the components that make your computer run. Many people mistakenly refer to it as the CPU when in reality the CPU is just a small chip inside the system unit.

Understanding The Parts Of Your Computer (For Kids)

What's Inside Your Computer?

The term "computer" has also been loosely used to refer to the system unit. The system unit is composed of the following main components:

The most well-known processors are probably the Intel Celeron family, Intel Pentium family, and now the Intel Core family. To put it simply, the Celeron series is for those who use their computers mainly for word processing, using programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel; the Pentium series is for those who are into multimedia such as music and video; and the Core series is for computer users who do a lot of multitasking.

Memory cards can be 128MB (rare nowadays), 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB. A lot of older computers can hold up to 1GB of RAM only. Newer ones however, can have as much as 2GB and even 4GB (by using two 2GB memory cards). The more memory your computer has, the faster it will respond. But not all motherboards are equipped to hold large memory cards so read the manual first and check the maximum RAM your motherboard can support.

The more common hard disk storage capacities are 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 250GB, 400GB, and 500GB. It's always a good idea to choose a hard disk with a large capacity especially if you want to download and store movies - an average high quality DVD movie can take up more than 4GB of hard disk space!

Motherboards usually have a LAN port for networking and internet, an internal modem for internet connectivity, and built-in USB ports for your USB devices such as printers and flash drives. Newer motherboards also have 4-6 SATA ports for your SATA devices such as hard drives and one IDE port for your CD/DVD drive.

Looking Inside A Computer

Take a tour inside the computer and see the main parts of the system unit.

Now that you know the parts that are inside your computer, it's time to learn how these parts interact with each other when you turn on your computer.

How Does Your Computer Work?

This video illustrates and explains in layman's terms what goes on inside your computer.

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    • profile image

      grace matthew 23 months ago

      i love this page so much

    • profile image

      jen 3 years ago

      I learn more about you how to handle and care the computer

    • profile image

      Damas 3 years ago

      I appreciate ur work Susan,it is my first time in this site bt am addicted to it.U have really broaden my mind concerning computer basics,keep it up baby.

    • varun haridas profile image

      varun haridas 4 years ago

      the computer new generation

    • Emmanuel Marosi profile image

      Emmanue Marosi 4 years ago from Madang, Papua New Guinea

      Incredible!

    • profile image

      AccountPending 4 years ago

      Thank you very much, I'm doing a report for school so this helped a lot! I'm definitely going to dirict my friends over here to learn about your hub! Rating 10 out of 5 stars!

    • profile image

      jewel 4 years ago

      this helped me a lot !! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • treevas1 profile image

      treevas1 5 years ago

      computer is computing our mind ... :)

    • profile image

      fakrudin 5 years ago

      good job

    • profile image

      chris 5 years ago

      thanks a lot

    • profile image

      kadex018 5 years ago

      nice hub! i wish that i met you someday.. i love you so much

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks. I'm used to teaching kindergarteners hence the simple language. :)

    • profile image

      terence 6 years ago

      You have some very well put practical points made here. As you may see from my Hub I am interested in computers and one of the biggest barriers to getting people to use computers is the jargon and the complexity and this really helps.

    • profile image

      sheena mae abo 6 years ago

      i love you

    • profile image

      michelle nillama 6 years ago

      thanks verry much ..................... i would like to learn more about the computer............

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, everyone. :) And wizdom, what do you mean?

    • profile image

      wizdom 6 years ago

      its important 4 me to know d relevance of csc to human society

    • profile image

      seanokeng 6 years ago

      thanx 4 help

    • profile image

      Emima 6 years ago

      itz very useful for me to know the detailed xplanation abt the computer

    • profile image

      MDF Recovery 6 years ago

      You have done a fantastic job here for the beginner.... Keep Writing....

    • profile image

      nakachwe 6 years ago

      you people have helped people

    • okmom23 profile image

      Donna Oliver 6 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

      Thank you for a great hub!

    • profile image

      ecinev_11 7 years ago

      thanks ..

    • lindsays5624 profile image

      lindsays5624 7 years ago

      You have some very well put practical points made here. As you may see from my Hub I am interested in computers and one of the biggest barriers to getting people to use computers is the jargon and the complexity and this really helps.

    • profile image

      Julie Rhea Juaner  7 years ago

      I'm overwhelmed!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Martin K. Glad you stumbled upon my article. :)

    • profile image

      Martin K 7 years ago

      Hey Susan Great Post, I'm a techie myself, I stumbled upon your site and it caught my attention. I really respect your approach to your client's , it's rare to find this kind of service on the net. (I use the same ethics on my site) You mentioned (Negatively) that sometimes you oversimplify, I say "Oversimplifying is underated" Trust me, Keep doing what your doing, there's nothing wrong with simplifying. I love the Vids, Nice, simple, Easy to understand, This is truly and Excellent Post for the newbie learning computer basics. Good Work.

    • profile image

      mr weed 7 years ago

      this websit helped a lot on my question

    • profile image

      juan 7 years ago

      so helpful, thanks!

    • profile image

      TANMAY 7 years ago

      THAT COMPUTER IS THE GREAT INVENSION IN THE WORLD BECAUSE

    • profile image

      mike 7 years ago

      helped a lot thanks :)

    • gramsmith profile image

      gramsmith 7 years ago

      You have posted very helpful information for beginners.Now they can easily handle their computer's............

    • profile image

      sisters oregon 7 years ago

      Great Hub very informational!

    • profile image

      abigail 7 years ago

      computer of parts

    • profile image

      Network management tools 7 years ago

      Thanks this is like step by step of learning, Though we all use computer but most of us do not know about its components and how they work.

      Your guided tour is surly gonna help people like me.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, Rajkumar. It has been fixed. :)

    • profile image

      Rajkumar 7 years ago

      Nice ya,

      Plz check out there is little confusion in RAM

      2GB and 4MB u mentioned Its 4GB

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, Elizabeth. Glad you found it helpful. :)

    • profile image

      Elizabeth_Reynera 8 years ago

      ..,hi susAn!just want to say that hubpage contains valuable informations! ..,ahm'keep up the good work..!

    • profile image

      BETH 8 years ago

      ..,elow! Its been so niCe! goOd job susAn1

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 8 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      I guess laptops and notebooks are more convenient and practical to use rather than desktops that are bulky and have lots of wires and connections LOL... I would rather buy a laptop or notebook as replacement for my laptop than buying desktop computers which depreciates sharply as time goes by...

    • profile image

      jade 8 years ago

      thankyou for makin the facebook

    • profile image

      BOITUMELO RASEEPE 8 years ago

      THANK YOU FOR BEING HELPFUL

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi, md. I'm guessing you would need a computer with high specs to run certain programs? :O I use a few resource-heavy programs such as Adobe Premiere CS3 and my Intel DG31PR motherboard, Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33GHz processor, 3GB RAM with 1TB hard disk does just fine. :)

      Thanks, klenn. Keep coming back. :)

    • profile image

      md 8 years ago

      how can i build a pc very suitable for making architectural design like those used by engineering student????

    • profile image

      klenn 8 years ago

      wow! its so nice,,, this is my first time in this web sites but i am very appreciates,,,because the explanation is very clear,,,

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, Jonty. :)

    • profile image

      jonty 8 years ago

      wow .... this is awesome hub .... very nicely explained ... very informative ..... well written ..... keep up the good work ..... god bless u ......

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, BadCo. You just made my day. :D

    • profile image

      badcompany99 8 years ago

      You said I was good at humour but you young lady have a skill of taking a topic, making it short, interesting and full of all the facts, so you have a talent my friend ; )

    • sepiroth profile image

      sepiroth 8 years ago from Bohol

      Nice hubs, Teacher Susan, I have also hubs about cmoputer troubleshooting hope you liked it too....

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, frogyfish. I'm glad my geeky-ness could be of service. Hehe. :D

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Thanks for this hub, Susan Ng. I have bookmarked it for future use. Like you said you're a wonderful 'geek'. Wish I was....:-) And thanks for your nice words on my hub too!

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, jhiivan and Computer_Nerd. :-)

    • Computer_Nerd profile image

      Computer_Nerd 8 years ago

      This is a very good hub! Perfect for anyone who wants to know more about computers without reading a novel about the PC.

    • profile image

      jhiivan ngaosi 8 years ago

      ur so awsome and ur hub is nice too,,,,good job

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi, liliam. Have you tried doing a search on Google Images? :-)

    • profile image

      liliam 8 years ago

      susan I need information pictures of the parts of the computers but it has to be very modern with the web cam

    • profile image

      karl 9 years ago

      thanks for helping

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Haha! Welcome to my kindergarten class, William. :D

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      On behalf of all computer dummies, I just want to assure you, Susan, that there's no such thing as "too simple." Please keep writing for us kindergarteners.

    • pjdscott profile image

      pjdscott 9 years ago from Durham, UK

      This is a very precise and useful hub. Sometimes people get scared by the technology and jargon, but you have explained it beautifully. Great stuff.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I'm so happy you think so, Pete. :) I was worried it would be too simple for grown ups. I'm actually in the process of making our school's computer handbook and it's going to be used by kindergarteners, so I tend to oversimplify things a bit. :P

      Thank you, thank you. :)

    • WeddingConsultant profile image

      WeddingConsultant 9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Susan you are awesome. And your hub is great too! This is a great beginner's guide to a computer.

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks, Earl. :)

    • Susan Ng profile image
      Author

      Susan Ng Yu 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You're welcome, William. Glad I could help. :)

    • Earl S. Wynn profile image

      Earl S. Wynn 9 years ago from California

      Very very nice. A beautiful comprehensive overview of modern computer technology, put together so seamlessly and with such skill that I can only marvel at it's artifice. Excellent work!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Thanks, Susan. I've used computers for a long time, but only for word processing. Since I joined HubPages I've been trying to learn the basics, but it's going very slowly. This basic information helps.