A computer system consists of two major elements: hardware and software. Computer hardware is the collection of all the parts you can physically touch.
Types of Computers:
Before looking at the various components, it is useful to distinguish between two different types of computers: desktop computers and laptop computers
. A desktop computer consists of a computer case and a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse. As the name suggests, this type of computer is typically placed on a desk and is not very portable.
A laptop computer has the same components but integrated into a single, portable unit.
Let’s start with the computer case. This is the metal enclosure that contains many of the other hardware components.
It comes in various shapes and sizes, but a typical tower model is between 15-25 inches high. Want to know what’s inside? Okay, go get a screwdriver and let’s open it up. Seriously, if you are really into computers, the best way to learn is to actually get hands-on
. To save us some time, however, have a look at this desktop computer case. A computer enthusiast replaced the metal side panel with a transparent one, so we can have a look inside.
Computer tower with translucent side panel
Although that photo looks pretty cool, it is a bit hard to recognize the individual components, especially with all the connecting wires running through it.
This figure shows a more schematic version of a desktop computer, which makes it easier to point out the essential hardware components.
List of Computer Hardware:
Here are some common individual computer hardware components that you’ll often find inside a modern computer. These parts are almost always found inside the computer’s housing, so you won’t see them unless you open the computer:
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Hard Drive (HDD)
Solid-State Drive (SSD)
Optical Drive (e.g., BD/DVD/CD drive)
Card Reader (SD/SDHC, CF, etc.)
The motherboard is the component that unifies the internal hardware. You will need to ensure that the processor, memory, and other computer parts are compatible with the motherboard.
Though the motherboard can affect system performance, it can be difficult to quantify how much of an impact it has. Several important considerations include the maximum amount of memory supported, compatible processors, data interface standards, and expansion card slots.
The processor directly affects overall computer performance, more than other components such as the sound card or power supply.
When selecting a processor, some important considerations include the number of cores, the clock
ck speed of those cores, and the amount of cache memory.
RAM, or Random Access Memory (or “Memory” for short), is like your computer’s short-term memory. It stores data your computer needs quick access to help your programs run faster, and helps you run more programs at one time.
Thus, if you run a lot of programs at once, you’ll want a computer with more RAM. If you use virtual machines, you’ll want even more RAM, since it has to run its own programs in addition to yours.
The Graphics Card:
The Graphics card, or GPU, is a processor specifically designed to handle graphics. It’s what you hook your monitor up to, and it’s what draws your desktop and your windows on the screen.
Some motherboards come with a GPU already integrated, which is enough to manage your desktop, but usually not enough for playing 3D games. For those, you’ll need a dedicated graphics card, since it can do the legwork needed to draw those complex images.
The Hard Drive(s):
Your hard drive—not to be confused with memory (RAM)—stores all of your data, ranging from your operating system to your documents, music, and movies. If the RAM is your computer’s short-term memory, your hard drive is the long-term memory.
It stores the things you want to keep around for a while. The kind of hard drive you choose will be determined mainly by how much data you need to store, but certain kinds of hard drives (like solid-state drives) can also affect your computer’s speed.
The Optical Drive:
An optical drive, more commonly known as a CD or DVD drive, is what you’ll use to read CDs, DVDs, and even Blu-Ray discs. Not everyone needs an optical drive in their computer these days, but since you can buy one for about $20, there’s little
The Power Supply:
The power supply directs electricity to the other components in your machine. Generally speaking, if you have a high-performance computer with a fast processor, a graphics card, and a few hard drives, you’ll need a higher wattage power supply than you would if you were building a low-end PC.
This is probably the last component you’ll shop for, once you’ve nailed down your other parts and how much electricity they’ll require.
Computer Hardware Technician:
A Hardware Technician is responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of computer systems.
These professionals provide all essential IT support to large and small organizations.
They should possess relevant knowledge regarding the integration of hardware boards, random access memory, motherboard, processor and other essential components.
Usually, Computer Hardware Technicians work with different equipment such as desktop, laptops, servers, and computer clusters.
The desk technician may sometimes end up handling issues related to a wide range of peripherals that include both input and output devices
. There are also chances that the professionals who are involved in system administration will look into networking hardware such as routers, switches, fiber optics, and wireless networks.
The computer repair technician offers annual maintenance service, and upgrade the systems depending on the requests of clients.
They examine the systems to validate correct operations and identify errors. This job is all about balancing the technical and client support tasks by resolving any errors that occur.
Hardware Technician Job Description:
The Hardware technician’s primary responsibilities include the assistance, maintenance, and monitoring of the company’s computer systems.
They must track all documentation of hardware failure, installation, repair, and replacement. The technician will also design network capacity-building in consideration of present and future hardware requirements.
Support Technician also implements and take care of new computer projects and hardware installations.
They must possess knowledge of contemporary hardware equipment and IT-related duties. This professional assembles and configures all network components. They also collaborate with other departments to facilitate hardware acquisitions and deployment.
Electronics and Computer Hardware Technology:
The Electronics and Computer Hardware Technology program prepare students for employment in the areas of computer hardware and industrial, military, and consumer electronics.
Students acquire proficiency in analyzing, assembling, testing, and troubleshooting both analog circuits and computer systems. Students are trained in industry-standard codes and symbols for components, systems, safety devices, and procedures.
We offer a wide range of IT and telecommunications hardware and services for one-off purchases or as part of a total IT solution, including:
Communications equipment (landline phones including VoIP) (modems, routers, switches, wireless broadband devices);
Computing equipment (laptops, desktops, keyboards, electronic equipment, printers, scanners, copiers);
Fiber-optic equipment; and
Hardware services, such as maintenance (ie. Smart Net for Cisco products).