What Components Are Inside My Computer?
VideoJug gives you a quick guide to what components are inside your computer. Learn about the major hardware components found in your hardware tower with out help.
Step 1: The Major Components
The major components of a computer are:
The CPU or Central Processing Unit
RAM or the Random Access Memory
The Graphics Card
The Power Supply
The Hard Disk or Hard Drive
The Optical Drive - also known as a CD or DVD Drive
Step 2: Hardware and Software
All of these components are usually found within the tower of a desktop computer. They are referred to as "hardware". Hardware can be thought of as the actual physical components that go into the computer. "Software" refers to the programs and systems that operate within the hardware.
Step 3: The Motherboard
The motherboard is the “heart” of the computer. It is the largest and most fundamental component of a PC and every other component is attached to it in some way. This is because all the different components use the motherboard to communicate and work with each other.
The motherboard has a series of slots, sockets and connectors for attaching the components of a PC.
In most cases, the memory, accessory cards, and CPU are installed directly onto the motherboard. The drives and peripherals communicate with the motherboard through wired connections.
There are a wide range of motherboards to choose from. They differ in features, speed, capacity and the CPU supported. They also differ in size, shape and layout, this is commonly referred to as the "form factor"
Step 4: The CPU
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. This is the brain of the computer and is often referred to as the "processor" or the "chip". It is found under a heat sink and fan and sits directly on the motherboard.
The CPU directs, coordinates and communicates with the other components and performs all of the "thinking". It's not really thinking, what a CPU actually does is perform mathematical calculations. It is the software that people write that translates those calculations into useful functions for us.
Step 5: RAM
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and comes as modules in predefined amounts. It is also found directly on the motherboard and usually in one, two or four slots. The memory chips store information, temporarily, for short term use by the CPU. RAM is used to store information for files that are actually being used by the CPU at any given time.
The computer's RAM memory is an entirely different thing from the hard disk "memory". The hard disk stores information "permanently" for long term use.
Step 6: The Graphics Card
The graphics card or video card translates information into the graphics and text that appear on the monitor screen.
Most motherboards now include a slot specifically designed for the graphics adapter called the AGP slot. This stands for Advanced Graphics Port.
Modern graphics adapters usually incorporate some memory right on the card to improve their performance.
Step 7: The Power Supply
This supplies power to the other components, which is why it has so many wires coming out of it.
It is usually positioned at the back top corner of the computer case. The power supply has a fan built into it to keep itself and the computer cool.
Step 8: The Hard Disk
A hard disk - which is also called a "hard drive" - is much like a filing cabinet. The programs and data are stored on the hard disk and the computer accesses them as they are needed. When the computer accesses the hard drive, it is reading and moving the stored information into the RAM memory. That memory is the temporary workspace. However, the original file is still on the hard disk and is left undisturbed until the file is saved.
When the computer stores or "saves" information, it writes the data to the hard disk. That process results in the old file being replaced or modified with the new information. If you save data to a new file, or install new software, the information is written to