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Basic Parts of a PC

This article is sponsored by PowerPC Online (external link). PowerPC specializes in computer repair, installation of drivers, hardware and programs, as well as in home computer training.

This article is for those who maybe don't have experience with what's inside of their computer and want to learn a little more. Knowledge of computers will later help when you need to upgrade your own computer with a new hard drive or extra RAM.

The main parts of a computer that we'll be focusing on are the Power Supply, Access Slots, Motherboard, Hard Drive, CPU, RAM, CD-Rom, and Floppy Drive.

First, let's look at two simple diagrams of the inside of a computer.

Computer diagram

Quickly, you may recognize some parts of you computer just from these simple diagrams. The first diagram is of a tower computer, which currently is popular for the home PC. The second diagram is a desktop computer, which normally is used for space as you can easily place the monitor on top of it and have the whole computer compact in one easy spot.

Power Supply

The power supply is vital to the computer as it is the source of power. The power supply is usually a small metal box in the top corner of a case (tower). You can see the power supply in both diagrams. How the power supply works isn't too important, but if you wish to know you can visit howstuffworks.com (external link).

Access Slots

Access slots or expansion slots are openings in a computer where a circuit board can be inserted to add new capabilities to the computer. Examples of drives that may go here would be modems, USB drives, networking cards, video adapters, and sound cards. These expansions are easy to install along with being very useful to your computer to allow you to do new things, such as network computers together.

Computer diagram

Motherboard

The motherboard has been an integral part of most personal computers for more than 20 years. The motherboard contains various circuit cards performing various functions all plug into many similar sockets on a common circuit board. Each circuit card performs a unique function in the computer and gets its power from the socket.

The motherboard contains many circuits and slots, but let's focus on some of the important ones. The motherboard is home to the processor (CPU) along with the access slots and RAM.

If we look at the diagram above I've labeled the parts of the motherboard that I wanted to discuss. The objects labeled 1 are the access slots. 2 is the processor slot and 3 are slots to hold memory (RAM).

CPU

The CPU, or processor, is the heart of your computer no matter what type (PC, Server, and Laptop). There are many brands for processors such as Intel and Athlon all with different processors for your computer. The CPU processes everything that your computer does, therefore the better the processor, the faster the computer.

RAM

Random Access Memory (RAM) is the form of memory contained in most computers. RAM is considered "random access" because you can access any memory cell directly if you know the row and column that intersect at that cell. When an application is running it stores its information in the RAM. When you close the application the information is deleted from the RAM. This is why you need certain amounts of RAM to run applications. The more RAM you have the faster your computer will be, and the more applications you'll be able to run without loosing speed.

Hard Drive

Nearly every desktop computer and server in use today contains one or more hard-disk drives. These hard disks do one thing well - they store changing digital information in a relatively permanent form. They give computers the ability to remember things when the power goes out.

A hard drive stores all your files and information in a permanent form unlike storing it in RAM (which is temporary). The larger your hard disk (drive) the more information and files you're able to store. Today's average hard drive is 40 GB although slowly 80 GB hard drives are becoming used more often.

CD-Rom

The CD-Rom is quite simple, it reads CD's. CD-Rom completely stands for Compact Disk Read Only Memory. The revolution of CD's is that they hold much more data than a floppy disk, although are not as flexible when it comes to rewriting and storing personal data.

Using CD-RW you can make your own CD's and use them more like a floppy disk. These are becoming more and more popular although you still need a CD-Rom to read them.

Floppy Drive

A floppy drive reads the popular floppy disk. Floppy disk are easy to use, rewritable, compact, and great for storing information. The floppy drive is simple and allows you to read, write to, and write over information stored on a floppy disk.

Now you have a basic knowledge of the parts of your own PC. In the future you'll be able to read more advanced articles and have an understanding of the parts of a PC.