Computers: Understanding the parts of your computer
Computers are becoming part of our lives and nearly every household in UK now owns a computer. Sometimes the way people talk about computers can be very confusing specially if your are new to computers and never used one before. This hub will help you to understand what a computer is and I will introduce to you some basic parts of computers.
What is a computer?
A computer is a machine that is used to store and process data in electronic form. You can use a computer to carry out various tasks such as:
- Type documents
- Send and receive emails
- Calculate mathematical formula
- Programme and execute instructions
- Store information
- Create graphics and manipulate images
- Create presentation
- Browse the internet
- Create graphs and charts
- Create 2d and 3d Graphics
- Play games
- Watch movies and listen to music
- And so on.
Types of computer
There are various types of computer and here is the list of 10 most common types of computer:
1. PC (Personal Computer)
2. Apple Mac Computer
5. PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)
10. Tablet Computer
To find more information
on the types of computers please check the following websites: Types of computers
A desktop PC is a generic term used to describe a computer that is small enough to sit on a desktop. A desktop PC comprises the following parts:
- A base unit – this is the main part of the computer. It contains the brain of the computer which processes and communicates information with all other parts of the computer. Most base units will come with CD or DVD-ROM so you can install software programmes, listen to music and watch movies.
- A monitor – this looks like a TV and lets you see the software/programme and everything you do on you computer. Monitor comes in many different sizes and there are two types, which are CRT and TFT. The TFT monitors are known as flat screen monitor and they are lighter in weight and takes up less space. The CRT monitors are old style monitor, which are heavy and bulky and is going out of fashion these days as hardly any one purchase them.
- A keyboard – the keyboard is an input device used to type in information into the computer.
- A mouse – the mouse is an input device which is used to control what you see on your monitor. With a mouse you can click, select and move what you see on your screen.
- A Printer (optional) – this is an output device used to print out hard copy of what is displayed on your monitor. You can use it to print text and pictures.
- Optical Devices - It has become common for a computer to contain CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and BLU-RAY ROM or writing devices.
Laptop computers are small light weight and portable machines that can run on batteries so you can carry them or take them anywhere you like. Laptop computer are more expensive than desktop PC and comes in various style and size. Laptop computer has keyboard and screen built into the machine and it uses a touchpad rather than a mouse to control what you see on screen. You can also attach a keyboard, mouse or screen to a laptop computer if you wish.
Components of computer
The components of computer are what make up your computer. On a desktop PC, the components are found inside the base unit known as the case of the PC. The four most common components are:
- The Motherboard
- The Processor (CPU)
- The Memory (RAM)
- The Hard Disk/Drive
The motherboard is the foundation on which a computer is built on. It holds all the PC components together. This is the main processing central unit that brings everything together. It contains the computer's micro-processing chip and everything attached to it is vital to making the computer run. Motherboards come in all shapes, sizes, styles, speed and features.
CPU (Central Processing Unit) Processor
CPU which stands for central processing unit is the brain of the computer. Without a CPU you computer won’t simply work. It is the main chips that controls the operation of the maths function and ties all of your hardware together so it can do operation such as showing programs on your screen or sending text to a printer. The speed of CPU is measured in GHz (Gigahertz). Modern operating systems needs between 2GHz to 3GHz to run effectively, any less than this and your computer is likely to slow down.
To see how CPU works please go to the following website
Computer Memory (RAM)
Your computer has a memory known as RAM which stands for Random Access Memory. Computer memory or RAM is used to hold the information the computer is working on. When you power the computer on it reads all the information it needs to start windows operating system from your computer hard drive into memory. When windows operating system is loaded, the computer loads any programs or files you open from the hard drive to the memory. The reason for this is that computer memory or RAM is hundreds of times faster than the computer hard drive and this allow the computer to work faster. The more memory your computer has, the more programmes and files can be opened on your computer at one time.
RAM size is measured in mega bytes (MB) and Giga Bytes (GB) and for most computers these days 1GB ram is recommended but if you plan to do a lot of graphics or video editing on your computer then you should consider at least 2GB ram as these types of application take up more memory than typical programs such as word processor.
The speed of the memory is also important. RAM speed is measured in Megahertz or MHz and ranges form 400 MHz to 1000 MHz or 1 GHz and up. When buying a RAM you should get the fastest RAM your computer motherboard can handle.
Memory comes in the form of stick that attaches to the computer motherboard through memory slots and the memory sticks is made up of several individual memory chips that when added up combined to store the storage capacity of the memory stick. RAM comes in capacities of 128, 256, 512 MB and 1 or 2GB and up.
There are currently 2 types of RAM used in computers. The older types used in computers made in the last 4 years is called DDR and the newer type which has been around for last years is known as DDR2. The DDR2 is able to run at higher speed and therefore higher bandwidths. When you are buying RAM stick, it is recommended that you buy 2 sticks which are 512MB in size and is of same specification so that the total size adds up to 1GB or if you are going for higher size it should be 2 1GB size sticks so the total adds up to 2GB and so on.
further information about RAM, check here: What is RAM and how it works
Hard disk or Hard Drive (HD)
The hard drive is used to store all the information on a computer. All programmes, operating system and files are stored on the computer hard drive. When selecting a hard drive for your computer, you will need to consider two basic features. They are the hard drive capacity and the speed. The capacity is the size of the hard drive and is measured in GB (Gigabytes). 1GB is made up of 1000MB (Megabytes). When buying a hard drive, try to get the biggest hard drive size you can afford. For computer these days it is recommended that you have a hard drive with 300GB of space so that you have enough space for your computer programmes and files such as audio and video files.
The speed of the hard drive is determined by the rotation of the disc inside the hard drive and the amount of memory cache included in the drive. The rotation speed is measured in RPM’s or rotation per minutes. The average hard drive spins between 5200 to 5400 RPM’s and faster hard drive spins between 7200 to 10,000 RPM’s. The rotation speed of a hard drive is important because the faster the drive spins the more quickly data can be written and read from the drive. 10,000 RPM’s drives are rare and expensive and the capacity is limited. It is recommended that you go for a hard drive with 7200 RPM speed when considering buying one. The memory cache helps to speed up the accessing of information on the drive and the more cache you have the better it is. When purchasing a hard drive 16MB cache is recommended.
The hard drive connects to the computer through the hard drive controller on the motherboard. The most common hard drive controller is known as serial ATA or SATA. The SATA controller speed is measured in mega bytes or MB per second. When purchasing a SATA controller hard drives make sure your motherboard support SATA version hard drive. The older type of controller known as IDE or ATA is becoming less available and will phase out in the future. For this reason it is recommended buying an SATA II hard drive for your computer. Always check your motherboard specification before buying a new hard drive and make sure it supports the hard drive you are buying.
To find out more information about hard disc and how it works, please check the following website:
Here is a video which shows how a hard disk works:
So there you go few basic information about the parts of a computer. I hope you found this article helpful and if so please share it with other people whom you may think will benefit from it. Please look out for future articles on computers on my hub page.