Computer structure: the components of a pc simply explained

Date: 06.03.2019 | Hardware

If you’re tired of having an off-the-shelf PC, you can protect your Assemble your own computer as well. However, the prerequisite for the dream PC "brand self-made" is a basic knowledge of hardware architecture, which is why novice users usually start with the Choosing the right components fail. Building a computer yourself is nevertheless not witchcraft. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about computer construction and function, we also explain what is going on inside your computer.

  • With the IBM-PC 5150 the first commercial personal computer was introduced in 1983.
  • Modern computers have different operating systems, but the basic structure is always the same.
  • To function, computers only need a minimum of equipment, which can be expanded as needed.

1. The structure of a computer at a glance

1.1. The processor / CPU – The heart of the computer

The CPU is the main processor in a computer and is responsible for centralized calculations.

The The heart of a computer is the processor, the so-called CPU ("Central Processing Unit"). It is located on a special socket on the mainboard and is equipped with an additional fan for cooling. The leading manufacturers of processors are AMD and Intel.

The CPU performs all calculations that are needed for the operation of the computer and has a control and arithmetic unit for this purpose. For this purpose, the binary system is used, which consists exclusively of 0 and 1, and with which all mathematical operations (z.B. Addition or multiplication) can be performed.

Good to know: The more computing operations per second a CPU can perform, the more powerful it is.

1.2. The mainboard – the brain

All components are connected to each other on the mainboard.

The motherboard (engl. "Mainboard" or "motherboard") is one of the basic components of the computer, because all other components are connected to it and interconnected. In addition to a processor socket and connectors for power supply and drives, there are also Slots for the main memory and various expansion cards are ready.

When selecting a mainboard, always make sure that the selected processor will also run on it. In other words The CPU has to match the slot on your motherboard.

Most current Intel processors require a socket 1151, modern AMD CPUs on the other hand need a Socket AM4.

Mainboards are used in the different variations and price classes offered. However, you should definitely pay attention to the following when buying a computer at least one digital interface (Display Port or DVI) and As many USB ports as possible for peripherals available are.

1.3. The main memory / RAM – The short-term memory

Several small RAM bars often provide more performance than a single large one.

The main memory, RAM for short ("Random Access Memory"), is the fast Temporary memory in which the operating system temporarily stores running processes and applications. Every program that you open in the course of your work on the PC first stores data in the main memory. When you shut down or restart your computer, it is automatically emptied and the space freed up again.

In current computer models, the size of the RAM is between 4 and 16 GB. Although there are now also modules with 32 or 64 GB, these are still very expensive.

You can easily determine how much RAM is installed in your computer via the system settings:

A total of 8 GB of working memory is installed in our test computer.

tip: Often, additional speed can be achieved if you install two small memory bars instead of one large one (for example, 8 GB twice instead of 16 GB).

1.4. The hard disk – the long-term memory

All pictures, programs and documents are stored on the hard disk.

The hard disk drive (HDD) is something like the long-term memory of your computer. It is the main storage medium on which all your pictures, programs and documents are backed up become. For example, when you start a program, the operating system fetches the necessary information from the hard disk.

For this purpose a magnetic memory system based on rotating disks is used, on whose surface the data are stored. During writing, this surface is magnetized without contact and the values are then converted back into comprehensible data during reading.

Another form of hard disks are the so-called SSDs ("Solid State Disks"), which based on flash memory and thus clearly more robust and less susceptible to mechanical errors are. For this reason they are mainly used in notebooks. Compared to conventional HDDs the access time is around five times faster, therefore the SSD should mainly be used to install the operating system and run programs that require high performance.

1.5. The graphics card – The interpreter

The graphics card serves, the processes of your PC converted into comprehensible images, graphics and characters, in order to then exchange them via an interface (VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort) to be displayed on a monitor. Traditionally, the CPU calculates the data and then forwards these to the graphics card, where they are subsequently converted.

The graphics card translates the processes of your computer into understandable characters, pictures and graphics.

The graphics card is either plugged onto the mainboard or is already integrated ("Onboard"). Most current models are also equipped with its own processor, The graphics card is equipped with a so-called GPU ("Graphics Processing Unit"), which is used, for example, in demanding games, in order to relieve the CPU.

1.6. The network card establishes contact with the outside world

By default, network cards have a single RJ45 connector.

The network interface controller (NIC) is the interface that allows your computer to connect to the Internet Connecting computers permanently to a network and exchange data. It is either plugged onto the mainboard as a card or is already installed on-board.

A distinction must be made between two types of network:

  • The connection to a LAN ("Local Area Network") is usually converted via cable over an Ethernet card.
  • For a wireless connection to a WLAN ("Wireless Local Area Network"), on the other hand, you need a corresponding WLAN card.

A conventional Ethernet card has In the normal case only one connection for a RJ45 network plug, meanwhile there are also special models, with up to six connectors.

Good to know: Many notebooks nowadays don’t even have a cable-bound network card anymore.The majority of connections are now made exclusively via WLAN.

1.7. You talk to your computer via the peripherals

To be able to interact with your PC, you also need appropriate input and display devices.

You transmit your inputs to your computer by means of keyboard and mouse. With it you move the cursor and type texts or commands with which you cause actions.

You communicate with your computer via keyboard and mouse.

The results are then displayed on a monitor, projector or beamer.

Good to know: In addition to the main components, you can expand your computer for more efficient use with various additional components. These include, for example, CD or DVD drives, burners, printers and scanners, card readers or loudspeakers. These components can be part of a computer, but are not absolutely necessary for its operation.

2. Simply explained: This is what goes on inside your computer

You have just learned about the most important components of a computer and are now rightly wondering what happens when you operate it. We will show you the processes inside the case with a simple example.

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