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Inside The Computer

Do you know what's inside the computer case? At this point you’ve seen what a computer is and you know what they look like on the outside. You have learned that a desktop computer isn't a single component called "computer", but the sum of many working together. Now let’s take a closer look at what they look like on the inside. I’ll explain each component so you can understand why they’re there and what they do.

A look inside the computer

Think of the components inside the computer case as one big puzzle. It may seem challenging at first glance, but soon you realize that each part fits together logically like the pieces of a puzzle would.


As the name implies, the motherboard is the main circuit board that allows the communication of every part inside the computer case. Each component inside the case must connect to the motherboard in one of two ways: directly, or indirectly.

Processor / CPU

The processor also known as the CPU (short for Central Processing Unit) controls the execution of all programs. The processor can be thought of as the brain of the computer because every command goes to the processor and then the processor executes the task. Every time you open up a program, use the keyboard, or even click a button in your mouse, you send instructions for the processor to carry out. The processor speed is measured in ‘hertz‘. A hertz is a unit of frequency; one complete cycle per second is a hertz.

System Memory / RAM

The system memory also known as RAM (short for Random Access Memory) has the function to hold data that is being currently used by an application or software running on the operating system. Because it is random access memory, once the application or software is closed, the resources borrowed from the RAM will go back to it and thus the name “RAM”. The memory is measured in bytes. Example: 512 MB (Mega Bytes), or 1 GB (Gigabyte).

Video Card

This is what creates the images that you see on your monitor screen. They are connected in a special slot of the motherboard. There are types AGP, or PCI Express. The latter is a newer technology which means it gives a faster connection. Many current motherboards come with a built in video to connect a monitor into it, but this built in technology is not very powerful for today’s demands. To get higher end graphic results, an external graphic card must be installed.

Sound Card

The sound card is the one responsible for what you hear. All you need is to make sure you have speakers on your computer and that the sound card software is installed. As in the case of the video card, many motherboards have built in sound, but you can always install a dedicated sound card for better quality. That being said, I believe it is worth mentioning that it is almost irrelevant to install a separate sound anymore. This is because the ones that are integrated into the motherboard are of very good quality.

Network Card

The network card is response for allowing computers to communicate and share resources over a network. It is also responsible to give you access to the internet. Once again as in the case of the video card and sound card, many motherboards have built in network connections so you won’t have to install a separate card.

Hard Drive

Like the memory, the hard drive or hard disk is also measured in bytes although it is meant for a much bigger purpose since it is not a Random Access Memory. The hard drive is meant for storage and is the one device that will house all the software that is installed including the operating system. In other words, every piece of software that you see in a computer is installed and stored in the hard drive.

Optical Drives

These drives are called optical because of lasers that can read data on disks like CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-Ray discs. The different optical drives available are CD, CDR, CDRW, DVD, DVDR, DVDRW, and also the new Blu-Ray players.

The extra “R” and “RW” just simply means that these types of players are capable of writing and re-writing a disc. What is known as CD or DVD burning meaning you can copy information or data to a CD or DVD in the commodity of your house. These were not available in the early times of computer technology for the general public. As time went by they became accessible to everybody.

Floppy Drive

This drive reads and writes floppy discs which are used for storage. Floppy drives are now a technology of the past and you won’t see them in computers anymore. The maximum capacity of a floppy disk is 1024 Mb (megabits) or also read as 1 MB (megabyte).

Power Supply

It supplies the power that the computer needs. It is always located in the back and separate from all the other components inside the computer case and it connects to everything insde that is not directly connected to the motherboard. The motherboard also connects to the power supply and that’s how it powers the components that directly connect to it.

Many computer cases come with a power supply already installed when you purchase one. However, if you’re building your own computer, you may need to buy a separate power supply with a bigger wattage capacity depending on the requirements of what you want to build.

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