Components of a Computer

By Mahjub, Mostafa, Cody

Graphics card

Graphics cards are also known as video cards that are part of a computer, responsible for generating a feed of output images to display either to your computer's screen or to an externally connected display (a monitor or television). The importance of graphics card is that it displays everything you see on the monitor or screen and is in charge of the resolution as well as quality you get. For example you will need it for gaming.
To determine this you have to look at the memory bandwidth and memory clock speed for higher resolutions, texture units, rop and core clock speeds for frame rates as well as power consumption. The more processing cores that the GPU has, the more powerful it is. The larger the memory interface, the faster the textures can be processed.
If you are looking for a cheap but an okay graphics card for going on the web and watching videos, my recommendation would be Nivida Geforce GT610 since its very cheap for your needs and will do exactly what you need. It will cost around $60-$70. If you are looking for a much better graphics card for the minimum specs like video editing, gaming or rendering I would go with the Radeon R9 270X which can give decent quality for gaming. It has 2GB of memory and can be good with video editing as well as rendering but it is definitely not the best. That will cost around $200-$220. If you are looking for the best high-end graphics card that can render fast, play games at max settings and never give you any issues with performance, then I would say go for an Nvidia GTX Titan and that card will cost you around $1800. People who usually edit movies that you watch on TV or in the movie theaters use such graphics card like that one to give them a smooth rendering since they are doing a lot of hard, intense 3D editing. The Nvidia GTX Titan has 2688 cuda cores and 6GB of memory which is more than perfect for intense video editing and hardcore gaming.

Motherboard

The motherboard itself is a printed circuit board that allows the CPU, RAM and all other computer hardware components to communicate with each other. It is important because it is the equipment that connects all the computer parts together to work and make a computer. It is the most important part of the computer because without it you won't be able to connect anything together.
There is really no specific measurement for a motherboard. Power regulation, PCI layout, supported DIMM frequencies/size, aesthetics, NB/SB cooling, quantity/location of fan headers and of course the back panel come to mind first.
The cheapest motherboard that you can get is an Asus M5A97 R2.0 since it has all the features needed for anything to be done. There is not really much of a difference between an average or a high-end motherboard, that is why I would recommend an Asus Corsair V Formula-Z which supports up to 32GB of RAM and 3 x PCI 2.0 x16.

Ram

Random Access Memory or volatile memory is used by the system to store data for processing by a computer's central processing unit (CPU) also known as the processor. RAM stores the data in memory cells that are arranged in grids much like the cells are arranged in a spreadsheet from which data in the binary form of 1's and 0's, that can be accessed and transferred at random to the processor for processing by the system's software. It is important in a computer because when a computer runs a program, the microprocessor loads the executable file from the program into the computer's RAM. Some programs contain a large amount of data that needs to be loaded onto the RAM in order to properly function. If there is not enough space in the memory, this can cause the computer to run slowly.
RAM is usually measured in Mega-bytes if the memory is less than 1 Giga-byte. Otherwise it is measured in GB (Giga-bytes). Usually in RAM what makes one better than another is the capacity of the memory. So let's use gaming as an example. 4GB would give less performance than a 8GB of RAM. As I mentioned, some programs contain large amount of data that needs to be loaded on RAM in order to be functioned. Therefore you need more RAM for a high quality game to give you better and faster performance.

If you're not willing to spend much on ram, then I'd recommend buying G.skill Ripjaws Series 4GB which will be more than enough for surfing the web, watching the movie, and it can even play most game on medium settings. This will cost you $44 only.

If you're willing to go for something a bit higher and can be more than enough for gaming and will do fairly good with video editing, then my recommendation would be CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (4 x 2GB) and it can run all games at max settings depending also on what graphics card you're running and processor as well.

If you're looking for something much higher and the best in stores, then I would recommend going for 16GB+. So you have 3 options which are 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB. Since we're talking about the best ram out there, I would go for G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 64GB (8 x 8GB) which will cost you around $674 according to NewEgg prices.

Sound card

A sound card is an expansion card or integrated circuit that provides a computer with the ability to produce sounds that can be heard by the user either over speakers or headphones. It's importance is to give you the ability to hear sound coming from the computer through speakers or headphones.

A sound card isn't any different than any other sound card as they all produce the same sound coming out of a computer unless if it's made mainly for music. Therefore some sound cards produce better accurate 3D positional audio and cinematic surround sound.

If you really aren't that interested in sound, then I recommend spending $19 on Diamond Multimedia - XtremeSound 5.1/16 Bit and it will deliever all the sound that you need from a computer in a very cheap price.


If you want something a bit better for music and more realistic type of sound, then my recommendation would be Asus Xonar 7.1 which will cost you around $80. More than that, you won't find anything better.

Keyboard/Mouse

In a computer a keyboard is a technological device that helps users input characters by typing on the buttons/keys. A keyboard helps the user type words and create documents, search the web, etc. The keyboard is a very important part of the computer because without the keyboard it would be a hassle to use a computer since the keyboard is a needed piece of equipment for easy input and control. In addition, the standards for keyboards are primarily based on the quality of the keys, in addition to how strong and durable the keyboard can last.


A mouse is a smaller input device used to navigate around the computer and without the mouse/curser the user will not be able to move around the computer. The style of the mouse has very similar qualities and standards as the keyboard and it is certain that the higher quality mouse has better movement without randomly freeze on the screen as well as multiple surface use [on glass…etc.].

When comparing keyboards the cheaper ones are always of less quality than the more expensive high end kinds. The cheap budget types only contain standard keyboard features connecting to the computer using wired USB technology.


As for the cheaper or average ones the chances of the mouse temporarily freezing is greater so the durability and quality is lower and the movement is not as sufficient or satisfying [not fast enough]

An example is Insignia USB Keyboard (NS-PNK5001-C) priced at $24.99 from Future Shop. Whereas the average types has more features and functions including anti-ghosting capability, LED backlighting and programmable G-keys for gamers. An example is Logitech USB Gaming Keyboard (G105) priced at $69.99 from Future ShopThe high end types provides personalized typing features with automatic sensor that adjusts the key illumination and wireless connection from up to 10m away. An example is Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Wireless Keyboard (K830) priced at $99.99 from Future Shop


Cheaper ones such as Logitech Corded M125 Optical Mouse (910-002247) priced at $9.97 provides standard mouse feature connecting to the computer using a USB cord. Medium price mouse such as Logitech Wireless Optical Mouse (M325), which connects to the computer wirelessly, allows more precise scrolling and fits comfortably into your hand. The high end mouse is usually designed for gaming to provide ultra-precision on different surfaces using laser and optical sensor. It also includes multi-color LED lighting and has improved battery life. An example is Razer Mamba Elite Wireless Gaming Mouse priced at $159.99 from Future Shop.

Monitor

The monitor is an output device that displays the video and graphics information generated by the computer. It basically is the whole visible screen of the computer that displays what the user is currently doing. The monitor is very critical to the computer since without the monitor the user cannot view the data on the computer. It can be connected to the computer using either an HDMI, DVI or VGA port.

A monitor is mainly judged based on its size, clarity(resolution), and whether the screen causes vision fatigue or not. A cheap budget monitor is smaller in inches and the quality or resolution is not as advanced. An example is HP 20" IPS LED Backlit Monitor with 1600x900 pixel resolution priced at $99.99 from Future Shop. On the other hand, the average monitor has a longer and wider screen, contains wide viewing angles and Flicker Safe dimming technology which alleviates eye fatigue. An example is LG 23" Widescreen LED IPS Monitor with 1920x1080 pixel resolution priced at $169.99 from Future Shop.Furthermore, the high end and expensive monitor material is technologically and visually advanced compared to an average and/or a low budget monitor. Some of the qualities about the advanced monitor is that the screen length is even wider and longer, it comes with ultra-HD and features 10-bit color with 10.7 billion display colours and a 170-degree horizontal viewing angle suitable for gaming usage. An example is Asus 28" 4K Ultra HD Monitor priced at $699.99 from Future Shop.

Speakers

Speakers are one of the most popular audio output devices in the computer system. Some types of speakers are created specifically to hook up with the computer, in order to listen to videos on the computer, while other types are meant to connect with other kinds of technology. It is an important part to the computer because with speakers the users can listen to things on the computer like music, YouTube videos, etc. If speakers were not accessed than there would be a lot of inconvenience since it will be difficult for the users to listen to anything on the computer.When comparing computer speakers, the cheaper types only have a power switch, volume control, and headphone jack on front panel. An example is Logitech Z150 2.0 Channel Computer Speaker System priced at $24.99 from Future Shop. Also, the quality of speaker is not as clear and advanced as the more expensive and high profiled types. Meanwhile, an average speaker is slightly more advanced and has more qualities. The average priced speaker has better sound with higher watt output (25-watt) and frequency range (48Hz-20kHz) and a subwoofer. An example is Logitech 2.1 Computer Speaker System priced at $64.99 from Future Shop. But in the end, all the expensive types are more enhanced with high watt output (over 200 watts) which is great for music, movies and games. It also met strict performance standards (THX certification). The expensive speakers contains, realistic sound images, and provides high quality hearing for a very large range.An example is Logitech 2.1 Channel Computer Speaker System priced at $199.99 from Future Shop.

USB 3.0

The USB 3.0 is the third generation USB, which was created in 2008 and is made to transfer data from one piece of technology to another. There are many USB types mostly used to connect technological devices together in order for it to function on the computer. It is a key component because without USB drives it would make it very difficult and inconvenient since the users cannot transfer the data from one machine to another. The third generation USB is more advanced than the first and second generation for many reasons. The 3.0 version has added a new transfer called, “SuperSpeed”. This newly developed transfer is capable of transferring data up to 5GB, it can also process data more than ten times faster than the second generation. In addition, the third generation has a much higher storage and can process a lot quicker than the previous generations. The USB connectors are easily distinguishable from their 2.0 counterparts. The USB ports are either in blue color or with the SS initials on the plugs.

HDD

HDD stands for "Hard Disk Drive". A hard disk drive was first introduced on September 13th, 1956. This is the computer's main storage media device which could permanently store all data on the computer. It is a device that stores all software installed on a computer including all the data files that are created and used by this software. For example photos, music and videos. The HDD consists of a rigid disc that is made with non-magnetic material which is coated with a thin layer of magnetic material. When the disk spins at high speeds the magnetic head that is mounted on the moving arm, is used to read and write data. Average as well as the best hard disk drives are operated at a speed of 7200 RPM (revolutions per minute). The reason why it needs to be in a computer is because without a hard drive, the computer or laptop won't be able to boot up since a hard drive contains the operating system in it (e.g Windows xp or windows 7) as well as all the memory for the computer to run.


What makes a hard disk drive better than another? well there are many different models of hard disk drives that varies in performance. Judging by the speed and amount of memory that can be stored, you can determine which HDD is better than the other. When I refer to the speed, I am referring to the transfer rates of the hard drive. Long transfer rates would considerably slow down your computer when transferring large files. When you take a look at the hard drive, try to look for the amount of memory that can be stored as well as the RPM in the specifications. The higher the RPM, the faster the transfer rate will be for transferring files. Many new hard disk drives hold up to more than 1TB (Terra Byte) for a cheap to average price and can go up to 6TB which is more expensive but not too expensive compared to solid state drives. Therefore hard disk drives are really cheap for the amount of space it gives.


If you are a person that wants to spend little amount of money on hard disk drives and would rather spend more money on other things or other components for your computer, I suggest that you should buy the WD Blue SATA 3.5" hard disk drive for $59.97 or $60 on TigerDirect. It has a storage capacity of 1TB and an RPM of 7200. It is an AMAZING deal because this seems to be an average and close to best had disk drive for only a low cost of $60. I also have to note that a 3.5" HDD is compatible for a computer only due to it's size and a 2.5" HDD is compatible only for a laptop due to it's size. If you are a person who does not want to be cheap and spend an average amount of money hoping to get a decent hard disk drive, the Toshiba 2TB 3.5" hard disk drive is for you! It has an RPM of 7200 as well like any other with twice the amount of memory than the HDD I mentioned earlier. This hard disk drive ONLY costs $92! The surprising thing is that you are still paying less than $100 for twice the amount of memory and getting an HDD from a good Brand that you know and heard of for less than double the amount of money compared to the cheapest hard disk drive I mentioned. If you have a high budget and want to get wheat seems to be the best or one of the best models for an hard disk drive, I recommend getting the WD Green 6TB 3.5" hard disk drive. This is for $322 for TRIPLE the amount of memory from the average hard disk drive model I mentioned earlier. Another hard disk drive is a Seagate 4TB Barracuda 3,5" desktop (computer) hard disk drive for $160. So for around $100 you could get a 4TB hard disk drive it you consider it an expensive buy.

SSD

SSD stands for "solid state drive". It can be described as an oversized USB stick. Unlike a hard disk drive, an SSD has no mechanical parts moving around which would result in less noise. While an HDD uses a mechanical arm along with a read and write head to move around and read information from the right location on the storage platter, an SSD has information stored in microchips. This makes the solid state drive overall faster than the hard disk drive since it does not need to use mechanical parts moving around to get information. Solid state drives use NAND based flash memory. It is a non-volatile type of memory. Meaning that you can turn off the disk and it won't clear or "forget" what was stored on it. Solid state drives rely on an embedded processor (like a brain) called a "controller" which performs a bunch of operations that are related to reading and writing data. Without a solid state drive which is a hard drive, the computer won't be able to boot up since the operating system is stored in it.


The controller of an SSD is an important factor to determine the speed of an SSD. This is because the controller represents the read and write speeds for the solid state drive. You will have to look at the capacity of the drive, the maximum data transfer rate, warranty (if concerned) and reliability.


If you are willing to buy a solid state drive with a low budget, go for the Kingston Technology SSD Now v 300 60 GB for $57. It is 2.5" for a laptop and has sequential read speed of 450MB/s as well as a write speed of 50MB/s. The maximum transfer rate is 56MB/s with a three year warranty. If you are not satisfied with this option, with a extra $13 you can get the 120GB version of the Kingston SSD with the same maximum data transfer rate of 56MB/s as well as the same sequential read/write speed. With an average budget you will be able to get a Samsung 2.5" solid state drive for $180. It has 250GB of storage and a maximum data transfer rate of 600MB/s. The sequential read speed is 540MB/s and a write speed of 410MB/s along with a warranty of 90 days. If you have a lot of money to spend, you can but the Crucial m4 512Gb SATA 2.5" solid state drive for $329. Has a read transfer rate of 415Mb/s and write of 260MB/s. Another option is the $300 Samsung 500GB 2.5". Maximum data transfer rate is 600Mb/s along with sequential read speed of 540MB/s and write speed of 410MB/s. Warranty is also 90 days.


So you can see that solid state drives are just like hard disk drives. But there are many advantages of a solid state drive. SSDs draw less power (2-3 watts) which results in a 30 minute battery boost. HDDs draw 6-7 watts therefore using more power. Solid state drives take 22 seconds to boot up while an HDD takes around 40 seconds. With no moving parts, the solid state drive does not make noise when it is running and does not vibrate as hard disk drives do. Also solid state drives have a faster file copy per second and write speed, generally above 200MB/s and up to 550MB/s for cutting edge drives while hard disk drives range from 50-120MB/s. SSDs are 30% faster than hard disk drives in opening files. A important advantage for an solid state drives are safe from any effects of magnetism. What I am trying to say is that HDDs have magnets in them which can happen to erase the data on it. SSDs don't have magnets in them so it's safe from any of it's data being erased.

Network Card

A network card is a physical interface between the computer and network cable. Data is sent from the computer and is converted into a form that can be used by the network cable which transfers the data to another computer and controls the data flow between the computer and cable. Also translates data coming from the cable to into "bytes" so that the computer's CPU can read it. This is why a network card is an expansion card inserted into an expansion slot. Network cards act act as an interface between a computer and network cable. The purpose of a network card is to prepare, send and control the data on the network. It has two LED indicator lights. The green light shows that the card is receiving electricity. The orange (10MB/s) or the red( (100MB/s) indicates network activity. Without a network card, you won't be able to access wired or wireless connection to connect to the internet or access files form another computer from the same computer.


There really is no way to judge which network card is better than another because it depends on what you are using the network card for. Different network cards have different amount of ports and either support wired or wireless connection. Also different network cards have different BUSES (interfaces). In the past the interfaces were ISA and LBA, we are talking about nearly 40 years ago. Now the new interfaces are PCI, PCI-E and PCI Express. Both wired and wireless network cards use these interfaces. There are also USB adapters which pick up wired or wireless connections. Some of them have an ethernet port at the back. But there is one way to determine which netwrok card would be better than another which is the data transfer rates or speeds. Also each network card has system requirements. So you need to check what operating system you have which meets with the requirements.


With a low budget you can get the $6.99 Tenda internal network Interface card .This network card supports wireless connection and the interface is PCI. The system requirement is windows 98 and up as well as Mac OS. SO this network card seems to be fairly old, but it is worth it for it's very cheap price. Another option is the TP-Link 32-GB PCI network card which is just like the first network card I mentioned but this one is wired instead and is external rather than internal. If you have an average budget, you can get the $24.18 Vantec 4-port USB network card which is essentially a card that has 4 USB 3.0 slots. Three are external and one is internal. The card Bus is PCI Express. The data transfer speeds are incredibly fast up to 5GB/s which is ten times faster than the USB 2.0 version. This is great for large data transfers and backups. If you have a high budget, go for the TP-link 300MB/s wireless PCI network card. It supports from Windows 2000 to Windows 7. The wireless network speed is up to 300MB/s makes it ideal for online gaming, video streaming and internet calls. It uses MIMO technology which makes the signal strength stronger and resulting in a wider wireless coverage to provide better performance and stability. It is also capable in linking a PSP (Playstation Portable) for online gaming if you have Windows XP operating system. It turns out that this network card happens to be the best with no problems at all with a five out of five rating on Future Shop.

CPU

CPU stands for "Central Processing Unit". It is also simply known as the processor. It was first developed by "Intel" with the help of Ted Hoff in the early 1970's. In a computer, the CPU is responsible for handling all the instructions that it receives from hardware and software running on the computer. The processor is placed and secured in a compatible processor socket which is found on the motherboard. Normally the processors produce a lot of heat since it is the "brain" of the whole computer so that is why it is covered with a heat sink (fan) to keep it cool and work smoothly so the computer doesn't happen to freeze because the processor was overheated. A CPU is in a shape of a square or a rectangle depending on it's size. They also have a notch located on one of the corners so the the processor can be placed into the socket along with the arrangement of hundreds of pins on the processor to match the ones on the socket. In a processor the primary components are the ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) and the CU (Control Unit). The ALU performs mathematical, logical, and decision operations and the CU directs all of the processor operations. Over time the speed (known as Clock speed) and capabilities of the processor have dramatically been improved. For example the first microprocessor which was the Intel 4004, released on November 15th 1971 had 2,300 transistors that were able to perform 60,000 operations per second. The well known Intel processor with 3,300,000 transistors is capable of performing 188,000,000 operations or instructions per second. Imagine what the i7 intel processor is capable of.


To determine which processor would be better than another you have to look at the clock speed of the processor as well as the amount of cores it has. There are not many different brands for CPUs, in fact we only tend to look at Intel or AMD since they have been working on processors for many years.


If you want to buy a processor for your computer and you have a small budget, I recommend you to but the Intel Pentium G3258 Anniversary edition for $75. It has 2 cores and a decent 3.2 GHz frequency. When it is overclocked (method of setting the component to perform faster than the original speed by tweaking the settings to get an overall performance boost usually on CPUs or video cards) , you can pull 4.5 GHz of performance. This particular processor is easy to overclock and comes with an integrated video card. It has low power consumption of 53 watts and you can upgrade the processor to higher end Intel i3, i5 or i7 using firmware updates. If you have an average budget, go for the Intel i5-4570 for $200. It has 4 cores and has 3.6 GHz. Over clocking will become more expensive so it is better to overclock the Intel Pentium G3258 instead. This processor has great CPU performance and is recommended to get a good video card to balance the performance. Produces 84 watts which results in less noise, Also has an integrated video card. Unfortunately the video card is underwhelming with very weak performance which can't be matched to a gaming PC, so you would have to but a different video card. If you have a high budget, go for the Intel i7-5960x for $1100. Has 3 GHz and 8 cores. When overclocked it will have 16 cores and 3.5 GHz. It is easy to overclock this processor. It has outstanding CPU performance that can handle any graphics. At 140 watts resulting in lower power consumption, less heat and less noise compared to the AMD FX-9590 220 watts. It supports 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 ideal for online gaming. Unfortunately the pack doesn't come with a CPU cooler so you would have to buy your own and there is no integrated video card, so you would have to by that as well making it really expensive but is really worth it.

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Hard Disk drive:

http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/category/category_tlc.asp?CatId=8

http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-a-hard-drive-types-function-definition.html#lesson

Solid State drive:

http://www.storagereview.com/ssd_vs_hdd

http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-ssds/

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/781914-what-specs-makes-one-ssd-better-than-another-daw-work.html

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http://www.futureshop.ca/Search/SearchResults.aspx?type=product&page=1&sortBy=relevance&sortDir=desc&query=solid+state+drive+controllers

Network Card:

http://en.kioskea.net/contents/378-network-cards

http://www.futureshop.ca/Search/SearchResults.aspx?path=ca77b9b4beca91fe414314b86bb581f8en20&query=network+cards

CPU:

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cpu-technology-explained/

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http://www.hardware-revolution.com/best-cpu-apu-processor-september-2014/