Basic Computer Hardware Components

By Lenna Allen

A computer is a complex system built from multiple components. Having some knowledge about these components will help you build your own computer or choose the right parts for a computer upgrade. Each component has a certain role in a PC, and a PC’s top performance is usually limited to the performance of its slowest component.

Motherboard

The motherboard, also known as the mainboard is the base for all the other computer components. The other components are installed onto the mainboard, and the mainboard provides communication between them. When picking a mainboard, make sure you take into consideration the processor slot, memory slot and video slot, as they need to match with the corresponding hardware.

CPU

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the ‘brain’ of a PC. It’s the component that does all the calculations and operations--the higher the frequency of the CPU, the more powerful it is. A powerful CPU can handle tasks much quicker and can process multiple tasks simultaneously.

Memory

Memory is also known as Random Access Memory. The RAM is used to hold the data that is being processed by the CPU. The amount of RAM installed in a PC has a great impact on its performance, so the more RAM you have installed, the smoother and faster your PC will perform.

Hard Disk Drive

The hard disk drive is the storage component of a PC. All data and files, such as music, documents, movies, games or other files are stored on a hard disk drive. Hard disks come with various storage spaces, and multiple hard disk drives can be fitted in one PC if necessary.

Video Card

The video card is responsible for the graphics part. It processes images, videos, 3D games and pretty much everything that is displayed on your monitor. Video cards are essential components in PCs that demand high graphics processing power, such as those used for gaming or video editing.

Sound Card

A sound card is necessary if you want sound output from your computer. Sound cards can be either separate components or directly integrated on the motherboard, and usually every PC has them.

Network Card

The network card is component used in order to establish a connection between multiple computers, or to connect to the Internet. Network cards, just the same as sound cards, can be either integrated on the mainboard or can come as separate components.