Computer Hardware

By Kate Jarvis

Hard Drive/SSD

A hard drive provides storage for documents, pictures, files and applications. They are vital to computers because otherwise, you would be unable to save things on the computer. Unfortunately, they are quite heavy. Inside them in a arm and a disk which spins. Because the arm moves, if you were to drop the hard drive, the arm would jolt and mess up what was being saved and the hard drive would probaby break. Newer computers and tablets (for example, from Apple) want something small that would not break as easily when dropped. This is where Solid State Drives (SSDs) come in. They are smaller and have no moving parts- therefore, they do not break as easily as hard drives. They are more expensive as they are newer, but they are perfect for tablets like iPads.

Optical Drive

An optical drive can read data using a laser to play just CDs, CDs and DVDs or CDs, DVDs and Blu Rays. On modern computers, you normally press a button on the side of the computer and a compartment comes out of the side of the computer for you to put a disk in. The computer can then play videos or enable you to play games. However, Macs have got rid of optical drives as you can now simply download movies, TV shows and games from iTunes.

Monitor

The monitor is another way of saying the computer screen. You can watch whatever video and graphic information is being generated by the computer through the video card. The word monitor, when not being used about computers means to watch something- for example, a heart monitor enables you to physically see someone's heart rate. In the same sort of way, on a computer monitor you are watching whatever is being generated.

CPU

CPU stands for central processing unit. It is like the brains of the computer- all of the main calculations are done there. It is the most important part of the computing system. The CPU is found in a chip called a microprocessor. Modern CPUs are small and square. They have pins on their undersides which connect them to the motherboard. Modern CPUs also have attached heat sinks and small fans which go on top of them to help get rid of heat that may upset the system.

RAM

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It makes space for your computer to read and write data to be accessed by the CPU. It is like the computer's memory. Adding more RAM to your computer makees it faster as it reduces the number of times the CPU has to read the hard disk- RAM is much faster than a hard disk. When the computer is turned off, the data stored in PAM disappears.

Motherboard

The motherboard connects all the parts of the computer together- it is sometimes thought of as the backbone of the system. Wires from the computer cases connect to the motherboard to power, reset and LED lights to work. They also contain the connectors to attatch them to additional boards. Different motherboards are needed for different parts like different kinds of RAM.

Inputting and Outputting

Input and output devices are pretty much what they sound like. Input devices put things in to the computer, whereas output devices take things out, in a way. A computer mouse and a keyboard are examples of input devices on a computer- a mouse sends information and instructions into the computer system to make it click on somehting or move something and a keyboard sends information into the computer to make it type letters or numbers. A screen is an examply of an output device because it brings the information out of the computer- eg. pictures or words- and then we can see it. These devices are very important.

Touch Screens

Touch screens are what makes tablets different from computers. You don't need a mouse or a touch pad- you just need your fingers. This does mean that you can't hover over buttons- you can only click. However, it makes tablets much lighter than computers because they need no keyboards. iPads, iPods and other tablets all have touch screens and there are also modern computers which look like normal computers, but the screens can turn around and go over the keyboard to make it look like it is a touch screen tablet. But how do touch screens work? Well, the pressure of your touch pushes two plates of a capacitator together, which changes the elecrtical change on the screen. New tablets can process more than one touch at the same time because there are capacitators in every place on the screen, unlike on old tablets.