Computer Components: A Basic Guide

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posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 07:45 AM
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This guide is intended to help those who are not very familiar with the internal components of a typical computer system understand what each part represents. Even those with advanced knowledge of computer hardware can use this as a check-list when they are building their own computer or buying a new one. Operating System (OS) information is only included for Windows as this is the most widely used. Nevertheless, the hardware components are the same and can still be useful for MAC/Linux/Other users.

1. The Processor


Commonly referred to as the CPU (central processing unit). The brain of the computer. This is the component that sends/receives messages to other parts of the system and is critical for the overall functioning of the computer system.

Casual users: do not worry too much about the numbers, most modern chips will do the job. Intel and AMD are the major competing brands. Intel is more expensive, but is considered by most experts to be the superior choice. The brand you choose will affect the other parts of your system as they need to be compatible.

Advanced users: decide whether you want to over clock. Ensure your choice of CPU is compatible with other system parts such as the motherboard. For example, an LGA 1155 processer is only compatible with a socket 1155 motherboard. Keep in mind that the newer LGA 2011 processors tend not to come with their own fan and you will need to purchase a cooler separately.


2. The Motherboard


Also referred to as the mainboard, or simply board. This is the piece of hardware that holds all of your internal components together and allows them to function as a system.

Casual users: do not worry too much about the features. Just make sure it has USB 3.0 connectivity, a sound card, a LAN port, and at least one PCI-express slot if you are planning on using it for gaming.

Advanced users: perhaps the most important choice which will affect almost everything you want to achieve with your new system. You might want to consider USB 3.0 connectivity, multiple PCI-express slots (for CrossfireX/SLI setups), extra slots for sound cards, network cards or other devices. Take note of the number of DIMM slots and the maximum memory capacity that the board supports.


3. Random Access Memory (RAM)


A form of memory the computer uses to store information and carry out functions in real time. It is the amount of information a computer can openly handle at any one time.

Casual users: Most modern computers should come with at least 4GB of RAM. 2GB is fine if you are only using the computer for basic tasks.

Advanced users: If you are running 32-bit version of Windows, then anything more than 4GB is a waste. If you are running a 64-bit version, then 8GB should suffice, though you may wish to go as high as 16-32GB depending on how heavy your use will be. Generally the more the better.


4. Storage Device


Solid-state drive (SSD) – a newer, faster and more expensive flash-based type of long-term storage. Typically these are a lot smaller in capacity than HDDs, and are good for running the Operating System (OS) as well as your favourite applications and games. Due to their typically small size, they are best complemented with an HDD to store extra data.

Hard-disk drive (HDD) – the standard mechanical form of long-term storage. Modern HDDs are still decent on their own, but they generally are slower at reading and writing data compared to SSDs.

Casual users: most modern drives have more than enough space for the casual user and most new computers will come with at least 500GB of storage. Be aware if your OS is running off an SSD or HDD as this will limit the amount of space you can use to install/run applications. SSD is a luxury for the casual user and is not necessary.

Advanced users: you may want to use an SSD for running your OS and a few games. Keep the HDD for photos, documents, mp3s and videos. Keep in mind that the capacity of the SSD/HDD will be lower than advertised when formatted, as well as space for the OS files that run the system.


5. Optical Drive


Devices such as CD-ROM/DVD/Blue Ray readers and/or writers. These are used for reading and copying data from CDs/DVDs/Blue Ray discs. Typically the OS will be installed via a disc and some applications too.

Casual users: don't worry too much, but make sure the drive can at least read DVDs (most games/software will come on DVDs these days.)

Advanced users: decide whether you want to be able to watch Blue Ray discs or make your own discs. Having a drive that can Read (view) Blue Ray discs is a cheap alternative to a standalone player.


6. Power Supply


Also referred to as the PSU, this is the component that provides the energy needed to power up the overall system and any peripherals.

Casual users: While a very important component, don't worry to much about this because most modern computers will come with a power supply that can handle the other parts. Modern computers have at least a 550W power supply.

Advanced users: If you are going to use a moderate range card and only a few devices, then go for a 650W supply. If you are using lots of peripherals, then go with a 750W supply. If you plan to use a high-end video card then you will need at least 850W. If you are going CrossfireX/SLI then I recommend at least a 1000W supply.

7. Video card


Also known as the graphics card or GPU, this device will determine the picture/video/3d application quality/performance of the system. Most modern computers come with a graphics processor built on the motherboard which is fine for non-gamers and basic users. Most motherboards will also come with an expansion slot that can be used to add one or more graphics cards. Older boards use the PCI/AGP interface, while the vast majority of newer ones use the faster PCI-express (PCIe) interface.

Casual users: the in-built GPU on the motherboard will be sufficient for basic use. If you using the computer for watching movies then you might want to invest in a separate graphics card.

Advanced users: an important decision, cards range from as little as $60 to as much as $1500, so the choice is yours in terms of how much money you want to spend and what you will use the system for.

8. Case


Also known as the computer tower or chassis, this is the part that holds (and protects) your motherboard, cables and other components, and gives you easy access to peripherals.

Casual users: not an important decision. Just be weary of which ports you will have access to at the front of the case (eg. USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports), and which you will need to reach around the back to access.

Advanced users: Ensure your case complements the motherboard's I/O front connectors. Also consider if your video card will fit in the case, if you want a side window and how much room there is for liquid cooling radiators and other accessories/expansions.

edit on 26/10/2012 by Dark Ghost because: formatting




posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:01 AM
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More! Feed me!


Thanks



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:29 AM
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I really appreciate the effort here, but a small question pops into my mind:

Who on earth would go to a conspiracy related message board in order to learn about basic PC hardware ?

I really don't get it. There must be a gazillion websites out there that even have Videos and interactive stuff on these very topics.

That's somehow like ordering motor parts in a washing salon.



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:36 AM
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reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


I don't know, in the Off Topic Computer Help section of this board, there seems to be a lot of computer related threads. Coincidence? I think not.



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:37 AM
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reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


What if a Google search on computer components brings them here, then they stay for the conspiracies?



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:38 AM
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reply to post by Dark Ghost
 


But what about the Modem? You know, that big box that everything connects to?
Although I have heard it called a compluter before as well.



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:44 AM
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Originally posted by network dude
reply to post by H1ght3chHippie
 


I don't know, in the Off Topic Computer Help section of this board, there seems to be a lot of computer related threads. Coincidence? I think not.


Coincidence? Perhaps not. Conspiracy? Hmmmmm....



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:45 AM
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reply to post by network dude
 





But what about the Modem?


That depends on what modem you are talking about. A modem that allows you to connect a phone line directly to your computer via a standard phone cable, used for dialup internet, is either a stand alone card, or integrated directly onto the motherboard of your desktop / laptop. They've been an onboard feature for something like 10 years or more now.

But if you are referring to a telecommunications modem from your ISP, that's a completely separate device like a router or switch, and in a lot of cases, the telco modem IS integrated into the router they supply you with.



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 10:40 AM
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reply to post by phishyblankwaters
 


I was making a very poor joke. Some of my customers are of the less educated variety and they call the CPU the modem. I started out trying to correct them, then I thought about it, and decided I would just play by their rules. After all, they were the ones paying me.

Nice to see you around again.



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 07:03 PM
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The brand you choose will affect the other parts of your system as they need to be compatible.


What parts of the system (other than the motherboard) are dependent on the brand of CPU then?

edit on 26-10-2012 by PhoenixOD because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 08:20 PM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


Well in terms of which brand you choose (Intel or AMD), it's mainly just the motherboard that needs to match the processor. My wording at that part of the guide was not ideal and I apologise for any confusion. What I meant to say is there are other things you need to check for compatibility and keep in mind (not related to the brand specifically).

There are also other things you should check for compatibility/keep in mind, such as:
- the custom CPU cooler (air fan or liquid cooler) matches the socket processor you have
- the motherboard supports the type of RAM you are using (same type, number of pins, speed)
- the motherboard supports CrossfireX/SLI setups (if you want dual graphics cards)
- the video card has outputs that match your current monitor
- extra expansion cards (such as sound cards, network cards, TV tuners etc.) match those available on the board
- most modern moderate-to-high-end video cards will cover an extra expansion slot (typically below the one it is inserted into) on the motherboard
- check there are enough USB ports for external devices you plan to use (including keyboard and mouse)



posted on Oct, 26 2012 @ 10:31 PM
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Originally posted by PhoenixOD

The brand you choose will affect the other parts of your system as they need to be compatible.


What parts of the system (other than the motherboard) are dependent on the brand of CPU then?

Nothing really... except maybe the video card. If you have the wrong motherboard you may not be able to have multiple video cards set up in SLI (nVidia) or Crossfire (ATI)... typically if you want ATI cards, you'd get an AMD processor and a motherboard designed for AMD processors. If you wanted to have nVidia cards then you'd get an Intel CPU and a corresponding motherboard.

Personally I think AMD/ATI is by far supreme... and cheaper.
edit on 26/10/2012 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 27 2012 @ 01:00 AM
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reply to post by Dark Ghost
 


thanks for this, been weighing my options for a new computer and I plan on doing a lot of gaming. Awesome thing is I have had a toshiba satellite laptop that I got for around 1100 new like over 5 years ago and it still works like a charm, except for the battery which died about 2 years ago, so lost mobility.



posted on Oct, 27 2012 @ 07:48 AM
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Originally posted by H1ght3chHippie

Who on earth would go to a conspiracy related message board in order to learn about basic PC hardware ?


People like me who are lazy and don't want to go to 10 different websites to get 10 different bits of information. People like me who know there are some pretty fart smuckers around here. People like me who realize there is more to this forum then conspiracies, political garbage and kids wanting help with their homework assignments. This is a pretty well rounded forum with very informative "cliques" and, if you ask me, they need to change their name from "Above Top Secret" to "Deny Ignorance." Change the motto to the name and vice versa because it is more apt now then when it all started back in the computer stone age. Do that, and you think there are a lot of members now?

C'mon Simon, get with the program.



That's somehow like ordering motor parts in a washing salon.


No, but it's not. I'm going to deny ignorance and pretend you didn't say that. Besides which, what the hell is a "washing salon"? You from England or something?

People who come here from England are somehow like people ordering a Philly Cheese steak in a pub.

OP, I think what you did was great and I'm going to link this thread in my signature. But first I need to drug myself some more to get rid of this virus. See you in a week, I'm gonna go hibernate.




H1ght3chHippie........................don't take it personally. I'm sick and I need my mommy. I get technical with computers when I'm bedridden. Don't ask why.
edit on 27-10-2012 by Taupin Desciple because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 27 2012 @ 02:18 PM
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So, No monitor mouse or keyboard?



posted on Oct, 27 2012 @ 04:01 PM
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Originally posted by H1ght3chHippie
I really appreciate the effort here, but a small question pops into my mind:

Who on earth would go to a conspiracy related message board in order to learn about basic PC hardware ?

I really don't get it. There must be a gazillion websites out there that even have Videos and interactive stuff on these very topics.

That's somehow like ordering motor parts in a washing salon.


Believe it or not, that's exactly how i found this place.
I had a virus that was eating my files bit by bit. It was specifically targeted to seek out and exploit a weakness in a certain brand of firewall software. It attacked the hard drive at a very low level, changing ones to zeros, etc..

Anyway, I found a writeup here at ATS in the Tech forum...Instructions on how to get rid of this manually, written by a member. If you look at my join date, that's the day I was able to save my data files from turning to Swiss cheese.



posted on Oct, 28 2012 @ 12:23 AM
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reply to post by Dark Ghost
 


S+F for a very comprehensive yet simple layout for PC's. I know when I built my current PC, I started with the motherboard, then a compatible CPU and memory, then a graphics card, then finally storage. I built my PC from almost all used parts for around $700 when a brand new comparable system would've cost me at least $1500.

I want to upgrade to the new i5/i7 architecture now but that'll probably be a ways off when prices come down.



posted on Oct, 28 2012 @ 01:08 PM
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nice post!

people should be more aware or educated on the technicalities of computers...not just on how to navigate through facebook lol

more power to you op!





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