What Are the Components of a Computer?

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Computers use an array of components working virtually seamlessly to process information and to communicate with other devices. The programmable nature of computers allow users to upgrade, customize and develop applications. At the heart of your computer is the motherboard and central processing unit (CPU).

Motherboard and CPU

  • The motherboard offers ports, bays, power outlets and other connections to bring all devices installed on the computer to a central location. The CPU processes all data sent to the motherboard. The motherboard and the CPU are the heart and hub of information for all components and peripherals connected to your computer.

Hard Drive

  • Hard drives store data indefinitely. Data can be added or erased from the drive an unlimited amount of time. Hard drives stored data in sectors on a rotating platter. Your computer uses the hard drive's read/write head to access these sectors of data.

Ram

  • Random access memory, or RAM, allows your computer to store data temporarily and frees the system up to process other tasks. Ram is installed into special RAM bays on the motherboard.

Video Card

  • Video cards use a GPU (graphics processing unit) and RAM to process graphics much in the same way the motherboard uses a CPU. Video cards are often installed into one of the expansion bays on the motherboard, but they may come built in the motherboard.

Sound Card

  • Sound cards, like video cards and network cards, may come built into the motherboard or installed into an expansion bay. Sound cards process audio both incoming and outgoing and often contain three externally accessible ports--one for audio out, one for audio in and one for a microphone.

Power Supply

  • The power supply uses a 20- or 24-pin connector to send power to the motherboard and, subsequently, every component attached to the board.

DVD/CD-ROM Drive

  • The DVD/CD-ROM drives uses a laser lens to read grooves in DVDs and CDs. The drive processes the grooves as simple 1s and 0s and send the data to the CPU for processing.

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