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An Overview of Computer Parts

If you are planning to either build or upgrade your computer, you will need to have some degree of familiarity with the various components of a PC. This is also the case if you are buying a computer, since knowing something about computer hardware will help you to buy the perfect machine for your needs. The following provides a brief overview of the different components of a desktop computer.

The motherboard is one of the main components in any computer. All of the other components connect to this. If you are buying a new computer, it is not so important which motherboard it has. However, if you plan to upgrade your memory or processor, you will need to take care in purchasing a compatible motherboard.

The CPU, or central processing unit, is the brain of any computer. Today, most processors have 2, 3 or 4 cores, making them far more powerful than older CPUs. The CPU market is dominated by two brands; Intel and AMD. Each company builds CPUs to suit all budgets. The speed of a processor is measured in gigahertz (GHz).

RAM, or random access memory, is where frequently used data is stored on your computer. All of the programs that are running, including the operating system, are stored in the RAM. There are various different types of RAM available, the latest standard being DDR-III memory. RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB).

Graphics Card
A graphics card is rather like a miniature computer in itself. It provides a processor and memory which are used for rendering 3D graphics in video games and 3D graphic design applications. Cheaper computers have integrated graphics chips, while computers used for playing games need a dedicated graphics card.

Sound Card
These days, most computers have integrated sound chips on the motherboard. However, audio enthusiasts may choose to install a dedicated sound card in their computer. This provides better sound quality and more audio-related features.

The hard drive is where all of your programs and personal files are stored. Hard drive space is measured in gigabytes or terabytes (1000 GB). Computers usually have a DVD drive as well, since this makes it easy to watch films and install software. Blu-Ray drives are also available for those who want to take advantage of the latest in high-definition home cinema.

Power Supply
The power supply (PSU) is what the power cord plugs into at the back of your computer. The theoretical maximum power of a PSU is measured in watts. Computers with more powerful processors and graphics cards require a high quality power supply with a high wattage.

Other Components
Other internal components can include a wide variety of add-in cards that add extra functionality to a computer. For example, a television card allows you to watch TV on your computer, complete with a remote control. Other essential components in any computer include heat sinks and fans for cooling. For enthusiasts who want the very best in performance, water cooling solutions are also available.


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