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Parts of a computerBack  

So youíre in the store and some young kid is trying to sell you a computer but all youíre hearing is blah blah blah. ....RAM, ROM, CPU, HDD, DVD... Is that really English heís talking? Surely not. If youíve ever felt like that then here are some basics of the main components of a computer that may help you to understand a bit more of the jargon.

CPU

(Central Processing Unit) determines the speed that the computer is capable of processing information. Itís like the more office workers you have the more quickly you should be able to process information.  But then, maybe thatís not a good analogy.

RAM

(Random Access Memory) determines how much the computer is capable of doing at once. Apparently my wife has much more RAM than me. The computer can access memory in RAM extremely quickly compared to other forms of memory so as much as possible of recently used information is stored in RAM so it can be recalled again quickly when needed.

inside computer

HDD

The HDD (Hard Disk Drive) determines how much information or data the computer can store. This is where yourí Word and Excel files and music, photos and programs are stored. When a computer is shut down information in RAM is written back to the HDD before the computer is turned off. This is why when a computer shuts down abruptly when you are working on a document you will lose unsaved changes. (At this point I clicked save). Reading back from HDD compared to RAM is like when someone asks if you remember something that happened 20 years ago. It may take you a little while to recall it from your memory (HDD). However if they asked you the same question again a minute later (apart from thinking they must have alzheimers) you would recall it very quickly this time because it is fresh in your memory (RAM).

 

Motherboard

And then there is the motherboard which ties together all the computer components. It's the mother of all components hence the mother-board name. The motherboard is responsible for all communications between all other components so it is extremely important. (Does this remind you of someone in your family?) The motherboard determines what functionality the computer is capable of. Things like what sort of HDD it can use, how many USB ports and how much RAM and the speed that it can run at. Most modern motherboards today have extra features integrated that used to be separate add-on cards like video, sound and network interface.

 

There's obviously a lot more to a computer than this, but these are the main parts that it would be handy to know a little about before purchasing a new computer.