Computer Hardware 101

I can remember when my parents brought home a new Apple IIE computer. I was amazed and excited to play on this odd looking piece of equipment. However, when something was wrong with the computer we took it to a specialist and paid dearly to fix the unknown problem. Today, with technology advancing at a rapid pace, it is important for PC owners to understand the basics of hardware to stay current.

The first component is the motherboard. The motherboard is a flat square shaped object. All components of a PC, in some way, plug or attach itself into the motherboard. Motherboards are standard across the board but they do vary by CPU make and speeds. The next component is the CPU-Central Processing Unit, or better known as the brains of the computer. The CPU is measured by the clock speed in increments of MHz. A higher number of MHz, the better and most PC users prefer the Intel Pentium. However, I can say that the competition offers a comparable product at a reduced rate, such as AMD.

If you have a decent CPU and want to speed-up your system, you can always buy more RAM as an alternative to buying a new CPU. RAM-Random Access Memory is a PC component that assists the CPU in processing data, i.e. it assists the CPU in running programs. A good RAM upgrade can cost as low as $100 as compared to upgrading your CPU for $300. Also, RAM comes in different versions.

Next is the hard drive. Any data that is permanent will be stored on the hard drive. The hard drive is similar to a DVD burner. Information can be stored or erased on the drive. For example, assume you download a song from the internet. The song is permanently stored on the hard drive. The major companies in the hard drive industry are Western Digital, Seagate and Maxtor. Moreover, hard drives are categorized by storage size. An average storage rate is around 100GB and can range from $75 to $200. I personally have a 20GB hard drive and that comfortably satisfies my computing needs.

Another important PC component are the PCI cards, i.e. sound, video cards. These cards plug directly into the motherboard. Most PC users buy the middle-of-the-road brand but if you’re using your PC for gaming or other entertainment purposes, then upgrading may be an attractive option. Another PCI card that is important to note is the network card. This card allows your system to speak with others on a network. Again the middle of the road brand will work as good as the expensive brands.

You’ve probably have heard of input devices before. Input devices are any PC component that requires the user to (hence the name) input information or instructions into the system. The keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone, etc. are some examples of an input device. On the other hand, devices that yield information to the user are called output devices, such as a printer, or a monitor screen.

The computer is a fascinating tool that can facilitate many everyday tasks. The importance of having a PC at home is enormous and the need will continue to increase in the future. Understanding the basics in regards to Computer Hardware is necessary in today’s information world.

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