Computers come in many different shapes and sizes but the components are basically very similar. In this article I’m going to examine the components that make up a basic computer. Whether your going to build or buy your next computer it’s a good idea to be familiar with the components that are needed to make it work.
The motherboard is the most important component in the computer. A motherboard can be compared to a road map. The components that connect to it are the cities and the copper paths between them are the roads. Motherboards come in many different styles determined by the speed desired, the components that will connect to it and the case it will be installed in. Apple calls the motherboard a logic board which describes it well.
CPU (central processing unit)
The CPU is the brain of the computer. A more common name for the cpu is a processor. This is in fact what a cpu does. It processes information. The cpu is a fairly large IC (integrated circuit) that is filled with semiconductors. Cpu’s come in many different speeds with many different functions. In a computer environment the cpu is mounted on the motherboard.
A hard drives major function is to store information. It stores the operating system and every file used by the computer. People who use large amounts of data need large capacity hard drives. People who need the largest drives are gamers, video editors and anyone who stores lots of movies or large pictures. Hard drives come in a few different speeds. As a general rule laptops use a 5,400 rpm drive while desktops use 7,200 rpm. High end computers use 10,000 rpm or solid state hard drives. In the future all hard drives will more than likely be solid state because they have no moving parts to wear out.
Common optical drives include cd, dvd, blue ray and many variety’s of each. Today the blue ray drives are the most advanced in that they will play high definition video and they also have a very large storage capability. Blue ray media will hold 25GB on each side of the disc.
Add in cards
Motherboards have expansion slots to take advantage of the many add in cards available today. Some add in cards include video, audio, memory and ethernet just to name the most common ones. Some of the lower end motherboards have some or all of these functions integrated. As technology advances you can upgrade your computer as easily as changing or adding a plug in card.
While there are many different components available for computers today these are the most common. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the basic components in your computer as this will be helpful in basic computer operations. Quite often while running a computer these components are referenced by the operating system in error messages and maintenance programs so if you are familiar with the computers components your one step ahead.