Some Computer Basics
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the guts of your computer, this article will go over what makes up a
computer and what some of the components do. When shopping for a computer you will want to be a little f
familiar with the main parts that will affect your work, such as, processor speed, hard drive size, RAM (random
access memory referred to as just memory), CD drives, and card readers.
Most computers today will come with just about everything you could possibly need. The average user would
be happy with an ‘out of the box’ computer… this is what you would get if you go to an electronics store and
buy what they have in stock. It will come with a nice size hard drive, usually 1 or 2GB memory, a duo core
processor, and at least a CD-RW (CD burner). If you are into gaming though, you will need a bit more memory
and a better than average video card. And if you plan on making movies…you will need to look for a DVD
So having said all that, let’s get to the guts:
Motherboard: allows all the parts of your computer to receive power and communicate with one another. The
shape and layout is called the form factor. The form factor affects where individual components go and the
Shape of the case.
CPU: Also known as the central processing unit or microprocessor. The CPU executes a collection of machine instructions that tell the processor what to do.
RAM: (random access memory) simply referred to as memory. Memory directly controls how fast the
computer can access instructions and data, and therefore has a big effect on system performance. It also
controls how much data the computer can have readily available.
Hard Drive: stores changing digital information in a relatively permanent form. Hard drives give the
computer the ability to remember things.
Card Readers: read cards like SD (secure digital), CF (compact flash). An example of these cards are the
ones found in digital cameras and some cell phones. Card readers can be either internal or external to a
computer so don’t panic if you don’t have one… you can pick one up just about anywhere for under $20.
USB ports: used for plugging in peripherals like printers, scanners, digital cameras, or jump/ thumb drives.
LAN port: (local area network) this port looks like your modem port (a phone line plug) but is a little
wider, and is used to connect to networks like businesses or to high speed internet connections like satellite etc.
Modem: standard phone line port. This port is used for dial-up access or pc faxing. Most computers come
with faxing software built right in.
Some you may not pay much attention to but can put you ‘out of business’ if they go out:
Power supply: provides power to motherboard, hard drive, CD rom and other components. This is where the power cord for your computer plugs in on the back of your computer (desktops).
Fans: there will be at least 2 fans (possibly more)- one inside the power supply and one over the CPU. Fans keep computer components from overheating. Without them some components like the CPU get too hot and will burn up,