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Advancement of Computer Hardware

Updated on November 22, 2012

Introduction

Technology has advanced incredibly fast throughout the years, and recent improvements aid the next generation of technology upgrades. There are nearly countless possibilities for the advancements that we create on a daily basis which are designed specifically for school, work or even personal use. Two of the most difficult parts of adjusting to the new age of technology are exposure and knowledge. Being around technology as it grows and adapts will make the transition much easier just as understanding what that particular piece is used for. The impending advancement of modern computers in the home or workplace can be confusing without the proper information.

Computer Case

Source

The Case

The skeleton of a computer is the case. All of the computer’s hardware fits inside of the case in a certain way so that the parts do not get damaged and many case specific components can be utilized. There are a few types of cases for the personal computer: Micro Tower, Mini tower, Mid Tower and Full Tower. The micro tower holds about 4 expansion slots and like all cases offers certain connections like: USB, Fire wire and audio in and out ports though the number of USB and Fire wire are significantly less due to its compact size as well as up to 2 bays for drives. Only micro sized motherboards will fit in this square shaped case. The mini tower can offer 7 expansion slots and about 3 bays for drives and is compatible with ATX motherboards as well as micro motherboards and can be very light weight which can make this case useful if it will be transported. The mid tower can offer up to 7 expansion slots, micro sized motherboards and normal ATX boards will fit in this box. Mid tower cases offer more external features than most including USB and Fire wire ports as well as up to 7 expansion slots and between 3-5 bays for drives. Some mid tower cases are meant for gaming and come with a built in handle for transporting. The Full tower can offer up to 7 expansion slots though due to its significant size increase the tower can usually support upwards of 12 bays for CD/DVD/Bluray drives and 9 bays for hard drives. All cases have different amounts of external features and depending on the power needed and the location for the computer determines the true value of each.

Asus AMD Motherboard

Asus Crosshair Formula V
Asus Crosshair Formula V | Source

Motherboard

The motherboard, also sometimes referred to as the main board, is essentially the nervous system of the computer’s body as it connects the CPU to everything else. The motherboard is broken down in two categories: AMD and INTEL. The war of the processors continues and depending on which CPU is chosen determines what kind of motherboard can be used as each motherboard is designed specifically for one or the other. INTEL and AMD produce two entirely separate types of pin sets which make mix and match impossible. On the motherboard the expansions should be examined. The expansion for the video card will be a PCI Express or PCI express 2.0 whereas other expansions can go in the PCI normal slots which include sound cards and additional USB port card. The type of memory used should also be noted as well as the type of processor it allows, yes the decision is either INTEL or AMD but it does not stop there, there are other types that need to be compatible in order for it to work. For example if a socket type is AM3 only and an AM2 type is attempted to be used it would not be compatible.

AMD Processor

AMD Phenom II X4
AMD Phenom II X4 | Source

CPU

The brain of the computer is the processor, or CPU (Central Processing Unit) is a crucial part of any system. There are two primary companies that produce these processors: Intel and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). The Intel processor currently has available a single, dual and quad core processor, which means one processor, can designate each core to a task without losing strength. The Intel processor has a larger gigahertz output than the AMD but at the cost of some of the hyper-threading technology, Techfaq.com (2009) reports: “Hyper-Threading enables different parts of the CPU to work on different tasks concurrently”. AMD lacks slightly in the gigahertz area but normally makes up for it with the hyper-threading capabilities as well as also having a single, dual and quad core processor. Intel has been known for its involvement in the work and office field, giving that extra push to each application as it is initiated where as AMD has been known for gaming and high end multitasking. Both processor companies are creditable and reliable though the use of each is strictly up to the purpose of the machine.

Heatsink Fan

ARCTIC Alpine 64
ARCTIC Alpine 64 | Source

CPU Heatsink and Cooler

In order to keep the processor from overheating and destroying itself there has to be a heat sink attached which serve the purposes of the processor. The back of the processor connects to the bottom of the heat sink with a thin layer of thermal compound in between to help absorb and distribute the heat. The heat sink is then fastened and plugged into the motherboard for power. The purpose of this is to provide intense air flow to keep the CPU cool from overheating.

How to install a CPU

CORSAIR Vengeance

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) | Source

Western Digital Black

1TB, 64MB Cache
1TB, 64MB Cache | Source

Random Access Memory

The RAM has also upgraded tremendously throughout the ages, computer memory increases the processing speed as it acts as temporary memory and decreases data swapping for the computer. The forms of computer memory are: SDR, DDR, DDR2 and DDR3 standing for Single Data Rate and Double Data Rate, respectively. Ram that is compatible with the motherboard and having enough to support your data needs is crucial. Note: unless the operating system is a 64 bit the operating system will only use 3 gigabytes of the ram even if more is installed. RAM also aids in the rendering of video due to the swapping.

Hard Drive

Every computer regardless of purpose requires storage for all files and data swaps. Hard Drives come in all sizes though usually increments of 20 gigabytes. All programs, documents, images even browsing history require a certain amount of hard drive space. Hard drives come in all sizes from 20GB to over 1,000GB (or 1TB) the size should be decided upon by the need of the computer and the tasks at hand. The largest concern of a hard drive is having too little storage for all of the programs and user saved data.

GeForce GTX 690

GeForce GTX 690
GeForce GTX 690 | Source

Graphic Card

Graphics are another essential component of a working computer. Modern day motherboards are equipped with on-board video which can provide enough video capabilities for the average office use but something a bit higher end such as video games or video editing requires an additional card. There are two types of graphic cards: Radeon and Geforce. The Radeon uses an ATI chipset where as the Geforce uses the Nvidia chipset. The decision between the two is mostly personal preference as it is compatibility with the motherboard and if the processor is fast enough for the card also the RAM needs to meet minimal requirements. One advantage graphic cards have is the ability to use more than one at once as long as the motherboard supports the SLI link, SLI is “Scalable Link Interface” which allows two or more graphics processing units to be used, sometimes a gamer mid tower rig will have three of the same type linked together. Another advantage to the graphic card is the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) which shares the burden on the CPU to help the computer run more smoothly. Portnoy (2009) explains, “The graphics-processing unit (GPU) that normally handles only visual effects is taking over duties from the CPU, the computer's main chip.”

ASUS Xonar

ASUS Xonar DX 7.1
ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 | Source

Sound Card

The sound card offers more options for sound as well as better quality than most motherboards provide as default. Most sound cards are now capable of Dolby Digital surround sound of 5.1 and 7.1. The sound card fits snugly into the PCI expressx1 expansion slot and installs itself upon boot up of the computer. Sometimes for audio presentations in conjunction to a power point slide show the surround sound feature is a huge bonus as it will ensure everyone in the room will be able to hear your presentation.

Asus BD-Burner

Asus BD-Burner
Asus BD-Burner | Source

Disk Drive

As the age of downloadable content and removable storage is nearing the need for CD’s and DVD’s are nearing a standstill, but are still much needed. Home movies can easily be burned onto a DVD where as music MP3 files can fit on a CD without worry. CD/DVD burners on average will operate around the speeds of 24X for DVD burning and 48X for CD burning. Along with this genre of disk drive comes the Bluray. After the heavy battle of the titans between Bluray and HD disks, the Bluray reign supreme and with it comes massive storage on the disks and crisp high definition picture quality. Due to the data sensitivity of the Bluray disk the burner for the Bluray on average reaches speeds of up to 8X. Depending on the amount of layers on the bluray disk the amount they can hold is 25GB per layer. A CD is able to hold up to 650 MB where as the DVD single layer is 4.7 GB.

Corsair 750W

Corsair 750W 80 PLUS GOLD Certified
Corsair 750W 80 PLUS GOLD Certified | Source

Power Supply

The energy source in which powers the computer is the PSU or Power Supply Unit. The PSU needs to be large enough to support your: Motherboard, RAM, Video card, CPU, other expansion slots, Hard drives and whatever additional features the case offers such as lights and display screens. Power supplies also come in “80 plus certified” which is very high energy efficient while still giving off the same wattage. In order to choose the power supply right for the current setup the watts needed for all components should be taken into careful consideration. Having too little power going to the computer will cause some of the hardware to not function correctly or function at all. The power supply will come with the wires attached for connecting all components including motherboard and video card.

Conclusion

Building a custom computer can be beneficial so long as the proper knowledge is held strong. Thinking of the computer as a fully focused working body helps put things into perspective as the ever growing and changing nature of the computer never seems to end. The need of the computer varies from each person and what they decide to do with it; it is then up to that person to decide the components based on their own preference, compatibility and overall goal of the computer. Realizing the purposes and requirement of the computer case and all hardware inside of it is the first step into the advancing technologies of tomorrow.

Reference

Sean Portnoy - Popular Science; Apr2009, Vol. 274 Issue 4, p26-26, 1p

Techfaq.com - http://www.tech-faq.com/hyper-threading.shtml

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    • WestelCS profile image

      Tim Anthony 3 years ago

      This really is a great and exciting article. Thank you for updating. Technology really has changed a lot. And, that too in a very short span of time. I request that you publish an article like this for server grade hardware.