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PC Hardware Help - Featured Guides & Articles
Hardware Installed In A Modern PC
A complete computer system is primarily made up of the tower, a keyboard, mouse and monitor; Basically everything the average person thinks of when they receive a prebuilt PC right out of the box. The actual hardware components that are required to build a functioning PC are much more complex. Technically, you need to be aware that the entire system and computer tower itself is made up of the following individual PC components:
It's the most important PC hardware component of the computer; the CPU, which stands for Central Processing Unit. Without it, there would be no computing at all. It will also decide what other PC hardware components will be required to finish the build. If you're familiar with processor brands, there are basically two: Intel and AMD. The brand and type of processor you get will determine your type of motherboard. The processor you purchase will also be a major determining factor for how "fast" your computer is going to be.
This large slab of PVC and electronics connects everything together. The motherboard you purchase is determined by the processor. Almost all motherboards are built for a particular brand and type of processor and it will say so on the box or manual. This complex array of electronics mounted to a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) also has the slots for your RAM, video card, various expansion cards, your DVD drive, SSD, and hard disk drives. It's also where your mouse, keyboard, network equipment and other PC hardware input/output devices will be connected.
Short for Random Access Memory. To put it simply, this is where the computer temporarily keeps and processes data before storage. The more RAM you have, the more temporary storage there will be for applications. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer will be. There are many types of RAM but the most common today is called DDRAM. Research thoroughly or seek outside help when shopping for the best RAM for your motherboard that's also fully compatible.
Case & Power Supply
The case (tower) houses all the PC hardware components. PC cases come in different shapes, sizes, colors and designs unlike the simple beige boxes of old. For simple home use, many prefer smaller and slimmer casings. If you plan to use several hard disks, optical drives and other expansion cards, you may require a more expensive and larger full tower case to properly fit a large amount of PC hardware and a high wattage PSU to power it all efficiently. PC cases are often sold along with the power supply unit (PSU). The job of the PSU is to feed power to your motherboard, hard disks, GPU, and any additional drives or components that don't draw power directly from the motherboard.
Storage Drives (SSD/HDD)
The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is the computer's main storage unit. It's where we keep our operating system, programs, or application and their data such as music, videos, photos, documents, databases and spreadsheets. It may come in the form of a older spinning platter HDD (relatively slow, but cheap with high capacity) or a SSD (Solid-state Drive). SSD's are much faster, but come with a premium price and generally much lower capacities.
Video Card (GPU)
Some motherboards don't have video built-in or if they do, they will need to bite off a chunk of your RAM as video memory. If you don't want to share your RAM with video or plan on doing any PC gaming, then you'll need to purchase a dedicated video card with a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) capable of rendering modern games at high resolutions with stable FPS.
After putting your PC together, here's the rest of the computer components you will need:
Monitor - What's a computer without a monitor? Monitors come in different sizes and like TV sets, their screen real estate is measured in diagonal inches. LCDs (Liquid Crystal Display) are the most common type of computer monitors in use today. The three main LCD panel types are TN, IPS and VA. If you're building a unit on a tight budget, you could temporarily get a used bulky CRT unit that comes cheap/free these days or you could purchase a small flat LCD which is okay for home and office use. Larger screens with high resolutions are best for gaming, movie watching, CAD applications and spreadsheet intensive users.
Keyboard - There's not much to be said about keyboards except that you could choose between a PS2 and USB connection, purchase one with extra shortcut/macro keys for convenience, and choose a larger or smaller keyboard depending on your desk space and personal preference. Advanced typist and gamers may want to consider a mechanical keyboard; they use individual switches under every key to provide a much more pleasing typing experience. You also have more options with mechanical keyboards, as you can choose between three switch types (clicky, tactile, or linear) with various actuation forces depending on the amount of resistance you prefer.
Mouse - There are many varieties of mouse styles to choose from. You could go with a USB, PS2 or even wireless connection. Most modern computer mice are optical, meaning they translate the movement of your wrist using a laser or LED light source. There are many specialty mouse designs for specific applications, such as gaming mice, that usually include extra buttons to which actions can be mapped and quickly accessed.
Operating System - A computer is as good as a paperweight without an operating system. The assembly route you've taken will require that you install one yourself. Feel free to choose between Windows and various Linux distributions. Windows is familiar and easy to use but it will cost you while Linux is completely free and easy to use but technical support won't be so easy.
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