Components of a Computer
Anirudh, Matthew, Buneet
Matthew: CPU, Optical drive, SSD, network adapter
Anirudh: Hard Drive, Monitor, speakers, Motherboard
Buneet: Graphics card, keyboard/mouse, ram, sound card
A video card is used to process images so they can be displayed on your monitor. A video card functions by connecting to the motherboard of a computer system and generates output images to display. This is important to a computer because video cards affect how well your computer handles certain programs or games. A better video card can output better graphics while weaker video cards won’t function properly with programs that operate outside their capabilities. So it’s important to make sure your video card is compatible with any software before buying.
The Attributes of video cards are its GPU core clock, memory, fillrate and pixel shaders.
Budget-conscious model: AMD Radeon R7 250X
- This video card has 950 MHz core clock, 4500 MHz effective memory core clock and 640 stream processors.
Average model of video card: AMD Radeon R9 270
-This advanced model of the video card has 925 MHz boost core clock, 5600 MHz effective memory core clock and 1280 stream processors.
High-end model of video card: AMD Radeon R9 290
-This high-end model of the video card has 947 MHz core clock, 5800 MHz effective memory core clock and 2560 stream processors.
Its short for Random Access Memory, ram is made up of small memory chips that form a memory module. These modules are installed in the ram slots on the motherboard of your computer system. The function of RAM is that it reads data much faster than reading from the hard drive each time you open a program. Running programs from the RAM of the computer allows them to function without any lag time. The more RAM your computer has, the more data can be loaded from the hard drive into the RAM, which can effectively speed up your computer. So it’s beneficial that you have lots of ram in your computer as this may be very important to your computer when you run programs so it does not lag.
The Attributes of RAM are its Memory (MHz), Energy (Volts) and speed (MTps).
Budget Conscious Model: DDR
- The memory of DDR could run at a lower clock rate (100-200MHz), using less energy (2.5 volts), and achieve faster speeds (transfer rates of up to 400MTps).
Average Model: DDR2
-This upgraded RAM refined the idea even further with an internal clock running at half the speed of the data bus; this meant it was about twice as fast as the original DDR (200-533MHz, with transfer rates up to 1,066MTps), but again used less power (1.8 volts).
High-End Model: DDR3
-Has an internal clock cut in half again, its speed about twice that of DDR2 (400-1,066MHz, for a maximum transfer rate of 2,133MTps), and power usage reduced even more over its predecessor (to 1.5 volts).
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 over speakers or headphones. The motherboard on most computer systems has an integrated sound card which is often sufficient for many users. Having a good sound card is important for your computer because some sound cards are weak and may not produce high quality sounds. However, to get higher quality sound you can upgrade to a separate sound card which uses better and more expensive components.
Budget conscious Model: ASUS Xonar Dgx Headphone AMP & 5.1 PCI-E Sound Card
Average Model: ASUS 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card (Xonar DX)
High-end Model: ASUS Xonar Essence STX
A computer keyboard is the set of typewriter-like keys that enables you to input data into a computer. Computer keyboards also have additional keys that provide the user with more useful tasks for using the computer. It functions by the user inputting data (such as words, numbers, code and etc.) and then the data you entered outputs on the computer monitor. A computer mouse is a device that controls the movement of the cursor or pointer on a display screen such as a computer monitor. It is also a small object that you can roll along a hard, flat surface. Its name is derived from its shape, which looks a bit like a mouse, its connecting wire that you can imagine to be the mouse's tail. This device functions by when you move the mouse, the pointer on the display screen moves in the same direction. The mouse usually has two functions which usually clicks or right clicks on screen depending on the program you are using. The newer computer mouse has a third function which includes a scroll wheel that can be used for scrolling through long documents.
Budget Conscious Model: PS/2 Keyboard with Mouse
-Old Stylized keyboard and mouse that both have a PS/2 round pin which can connect to computers
-The mouse has a roll function at the bottom
Average Model: Gigabyte KM5300 Black USB 2.0 Wired Mini Compact Keyboard Mouse Set
-Both the keyboard and mouse have a USB insert for the computer
-The mouse has a scroll function for scrolling through long documents
-Instead of the old roll function at the bottom of the mouse to move the cursor, it has a optical mouse that uses its light source to move the cursor
High-End Model: Logitech Wireless Laser Keyboard & Mouse Combo (MX800)
- Type comfortably, even in low light, with intelligent auto-illuminated keys.
- The new Laser Tracking for the mouse gives you precise control on every surface, even glass, where standard computer mouses would fail.
-It has the new wireless technology
-It has the wireless connectivity of 2.4 GHz
HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
Function: The hard disk drive of is a vital part of the computer. Its location can be either inside the PC connected to the mother board or outside the PC connected to the USB port of the computer. Its primary function is to act as an auxiliary storage device that stores data not directly saved to the CPU so it is separate from the computer’s memory. This data is retrievable even after the computer is powered down and is permanent unless deleted. The hard disk drive usually has a protective case that covers multiple discs that rotate rapidly for retrieval of certain information through the random access manner and it usually stores memory in Gigabytes (GB) and occasionally Terabytes (TB). Hard drives are usually located inside the PC but many users may also have an external hard drive to backup data or store information that is too large for the computer’s memory.
Attributes: When considering to buy a hard drive, the specs that make one model better than the other usually relies on the quantity of what the hard drive can achieve. First the user has to determine if he wants to buy an internal or external hard drive. Then he needs to check the amount of memory in the hard drive and the more the memory the more it costs. The rpm (revolutions/minute) is to be considered as it determines the speed and overall capacity of the hard drive. The physical size can and compatibility of the HDD can differ against models as the larger HDD’s often are more powerful in terms of performance and capacity as it shows the amount of megabytes/square inch. Finally to analyze the overall performance of an HDD, the average data access time (in milliseconds) can be compared.
Budget conscious model: Western digital 2.5 inch green hard drive (internal)
Features: Environmental friendly and power saver
Memory: 500 GB
RPM: IntelliPower (eco mode determines the RPM)
Size: 3.5 inch
Average model: western digital 3.5 inch blue hard drive
Memory: 1 TB (internal)
Size: 3.5 inch
Price: $ 123
High end model: Western digital high performance gaming black model 3.5 inch (internal)
Memory: 2 TB
Size: 3.5 inch
Features: Supports large amounts of information, capable of storing large gaming data
Price: $ 311
Function: The monitor is a vital output system of a computer and its primary function is to display the computer programs and its interface to its user. Monitors are the most important output system in the computers as they provide almost all the information for the user to see (i.e. open programs, information and messages to the user) and interact with using input systems. All monitors currently have a space efficient flat
screen LCD or LED screens as opposed to bulky cathode ray tubes in the past.
Attributes: When buying monitors, there are many attributes that determine a better model. The size of a monitor screen is something many users would want to consider as the larger the screen, the better the resolution and comfort of viewing. The sizes of monitor screens are very diverse and its size can range from 13 to 33 inches depending on company maker. The next attribute is the type of monitor and this includes determining if it is an old cathode ray tube model, a newer LCD screen model or a high end LED or OLED model. Finally the user can consider the special features when deciding between models. These can include if the monitor is touch screen, if it has a built in pc, if it supports gaming features such as 3d screen and if it has quality speakers and a good webcam.
Budget conscious monitor: Philips Soho 19 inch CTR monitor
Special features: Color monitor
Screen resolution: 1600x1200 pixels
Average model: Samsung LS24D590 24 inch LED monitor (aspect ratio 16:9)
Screen resolution: 1920x1080
Extra features: 17mm thick, Game mode, 3 USB ports
High end Model: Acer B296CL 29 inch LED monitor (aspect ratio 21:9)
Screen resolution: 2,560 by 1,080 pixels
Extra features: High audio speakers, 4 USB ports, adjustment and swivel angles and game mode options
Function: The mother board is the primary component of the computer in terms of processing and functioning. It is usually the largest circuit board in the computer and it contains and connects many fundamental computer components like the CPU and the RAM that are also in smaller circuit boards. These components rest on sockets found in the motherboard and one of the motherboard’s primary functions is to act as a circuit for these various parts. Essentially the motherboard is the heart of the computer that allows all the components to work together and function as one unit.
Attributes: When deciding to purchase this part, there are various attributes that can be weighed and measured to compare he various models. Firstly, the user can consider the amount of sockets and SATA cables included in the motherboard so multiple hardware (i.e. HDD’s) can be placed depending on the number of component sockets to increase quantitative performance of the computer. Users can also choose and select motherboards with on-board components like video card and graphics card depending on whether they want to buy a separate components. Users may also consider more advanced motherboards that come with specialized sockets for larger and more powerful graphics cards and also additional components like VMR cooling, extra fans and compatibility with advanced Intel processors. Finally, the amount of expansion ports is to be considered when comparing motherboards as it can impact how much multitasking is needed as preferred by the user.
Budget conscious model: Asus A55BM-E Socket (only on windows XP to windows 7)
Features: 3 expansion slots, 8 USB ports, 2 SATA ports
Memory: Max 32GB capacity
Special features: ASUS Power Design, ASUS EPU, Turbo, USB 3.0 Boost, and Disk Unlocker
Average Model: Asus A88X-GAMER
Features: CPU supports up to 4 cores, supports turbo core technology, VRA cooling supported, 14 USB ports
Memory: max 64 GB capacity
Special features: Gamer guardian system, AI Suite 3, USB 3.0 Boost, Disk Unlocker, Interactive Home Cloud, media streamer
High End model: Asus CROSSHAIR V
Price $ 284.99
Features: CPU supports up to 8 cores, AMD cool and quiet cooling technology, 22 expansion slots, and 4 SATA ports
Memory: Max 1.4 TB capacity
Special features: ASUS Power Design, ASUS EPU Turbo V, Ai Charger+, USB 3.0 Boost, Disk Unlocker, ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
Function: Speakers are output devices of computers that have the primary function of outputting sound to the user in the form of amplified electromagnetic sound waves from the sound card. The speaker exists as an optional component in the computer as it serves as an upgrade from the sound cards audio. Since the sound outputted by the sound card is not very high, the speaker increases the air pressure of the sound produced by the sound-card to output clearer and louder audio.
Attributes: When considering to buy a pair of speakers for the computer, there are certain attributes that can be weighed against various models of speakers. The first and primary spec to look for is the volume capacity of the speaker. The size of the speakers is to be looked at when buying speakers as larger speakers have the ability to produce more powerful audio. This determines the how loud the speakers can potentially output depending on the user’s reason for purchase. Next the user can look at the types of speakers that are available. Various types exist including simple twin 5 inch speakers to surround sound DJ set speakers that produce powerful and loud audio. Finally looking at where the speakers are to be placed is also to be considered as speakers can be simple and stay on top of the desktop table or they can be in the walls or above in the ceiling to provide a home theater sound quality.
Budget conscious: Multimedia USB Powered 3.5mm Stereo Speakers
Features: Built in volume control, glossy finish
Size: 4 inch high and 2 inch wide
Average: Bose Companion 2 Series II Computer Speakers
Features: 2.3lb Wires twin desktop speakers
Size: 3 inch width, 7.5 inch height
High end: New Logitech Z5500
Features: surround sound speakers, 6 speakers total, 505 watt sound system with wireless remote control
Size: (5 speakers) 5 inch height 3 inch wide, (1 speaker)10 inch high, 5 inch wide
Placement: Around room
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Solid State Drive
A Solid State Drive or SSD is a computer component that acts as a mass storage device, similar to hard disk drives or HDDs. Both provide the same function but SSDs are much faster but are also more expensive.
Unlike hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts as they work similar to flash drives. HDDs store data using a spinning magnetic platter while SSDs store data using NAND type flash memory. SSDs are much faster for this reason. NAND type flash memory is a type of non-volatile memory meaning that it will store data even if there is no electricity running through it. Typical SSD write speeds can range from 100-300 MB/s while the read speeds can range from 300-500 MB/s.
SSDs are not found in all computers. This is because typical users usually would not need the fast speeds SSDs provide. SSDs would usually be found in the computers of: high-end users, musicians, filmmakers, or any users that need to process or access large amounts of data. These users require the extra speed so their content can process faster. For example, filmmakers may need to transfer their data often so they will need the speeds of an SSD.
High-end users do not use SSDs for the same reason as filmmakers or musicians. Many of these put just their Operating System, video games, and frequently used programs on their SSD while leaving larger files such as videos or music on their HDDs. This provides a perfect balance as the speeds of the SSD should boot up the OS and programs much faster while the HDD can store large amounts of data.
SSDs can be measured in many different factors. These factors include their write speed, read speed, and storage capacity. Users planning on buying SSDs should consider all these attributes, but storage capacity is usually the most important. Write speeds and read speeds differ between SSDs and lower-end SSDs tend to have slower speeds than high-end SSDs. Storage capacity is the biggest consideration the user should make when purchasing an SSD, as this determines how much data the user can put into it. Users should keep in mind that SSDs have a limited number of read/write cycles so their drive will fail eventually.
Physically, SSDs are usually plain rectangular boxes that are covered on the top and bottom. There should be a SATA port and power port. SSDs are usually smaller and thinner than HDDs. SSDs come in the 2.5” form factor, meaning that it can fit into cases with 2.5” bays. It is easy to upgrade to an SSD if you have 2.5” bays and the installation process is nearly identical to a HDD (all you need is a SATA cable and power cable). Inside SSDs are the circuit board, SATA controller, and NAND flash modules.
SSD technology is constantly improving. Storage capacity should continue to increase while prices decrease. Perhaps SSDs will replace HDDs in the future.
Budget: Crucial MX100. The MX100 has a storage capacity of 128GB, with read speeds of up to 550 MB/s and write speeds of up to 150MB/s. $90 CDN
Average: Samsung 840 EVO Basic. This model has a storage capacity 250GB with read speeds of up to 540 MB/s and write speeds of 520 MB/s. $170 CDN
High-End: SanDisk Extreme Pro. This model comes with a storage capacity of 960GB and has read speeds of up to 545 MB/s and write speeds of 515 MB/s. $800 CDN
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The network adapter is responsible for connecting the computer to a network. This can be done wirelessly in the form of WiFi or it can be done with wires in the form of Ethernet. It is useful to connect a computer to a network because then it can communicate with other computers and transfer data. Without network adapters, you wouldn’t be able to connect to a router which means you wouldn’t be able to connect to the Internet.
Many network adapters today are built into the motherboard of a computer. There are also external network adapters that have the same functions but are plugged into a computer through the USB ports. Network cards that are installed separately into the motherboard are known as discrete cards.
Similarly to video cards, discrete network adapters are plugged into the motherboard through the PCI slots. They should have a section that sticks out from the back of the computer with Ethernet ports (wired), antennas (wireless), or both.
Networks adapters can be compared by checking whether they are wireless, wired, or both. The port speeds can also be compared but most cards have the same speeds.
Budget model/average model: Use the network adapter that is built into your motherboard. If this isn’t possible…
TP-Link TG-3269 – Wired ($10)
TP-Link TL-WN722N – Wireless ($15)
QLogic QLE3242-CU – Wired ($510)
ASUS PCE-AC68 – Wireless ($105)
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Computer Processing Unit
The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is one of the most important parts of the computer. All computer processes (computer code) are input, processed, and output from here. This means without a CPU, your computer just wouldn’t work. You can’t access BIOS or UEFI without a CPU, and you definitely would not be able to boot up your operating system without a CPU.
CPUs are able to process code/program instructions (inputs from software) and user inputs (keys on keyboard). Program instructions originate from the HDD or SDD (where the program and its data is stored) which is transferred to the RAM, where it is then sent to the CPU. The actual processing of information is done in a CPUs cores. Similarly to programs like Alice, cores MUST process instructions one by one. CPUs with multiple cores are able to process multiple instructions simultaneously. All modern CPUs contain at least two cores. Many programs today take advantage of the multiple cores of the CPU.
The speed that a CPU processes instructions is called clock speed which is measured in Hertz (Hz). Generally speaking, a CPU that can process one instruction per second has a clock speed of 1Hz. Modern CPUs today can process instructions at 4GHz which is 4 000 000 000Hz. Some CPUs today are more efficient and can process much more instructions per second, making it less useful to judge different CPUs by their clock speeds.
The memory cache of a CPU is where information is stored right before it is processed. When information is taken from the RAM, it goes to the cache. Larger caches can access and store more information for processing. If a CPU does find the required information in the cache, it must go back to the RAM and get it from there which takes much longer.
Not all CPUs are built the same. Some have different architectures, so they are built differently from each other, have different internal layouts, and function in different ways. For example, the architecture in Intel CPUs differ from the ones in AMD CPUs. For this reason, there are motherboards built for both AMD and Intel CPUs as they each require a different socket.
When purchasing a CPU, the main factors to consider should be the architecture (AMD or Intel), clock speed, and number of cores. High end users should consider having a greater number of cores with greater clock speeds for a faster CPU. They should also consider Intel because their architecture is generally better designed and more efficient. Users should also check if they need to use CPU-intensive programs which can include games or video editing software. Spent too much time on this.
AMD processors are generally much cheaper than Intel processors at the budget and average level models.
Budget model CPU:
Intel 4th gen. Core i3-4150 – 2 cores, 3.5GHz ($130)
AMD Athlon X4 760K – 4 cores, 3.8GHz ($110)
Average level model CPU:
Intel 4th gen. Core i5-4460 – 4 cores, 3.2GHz ($210)
AMD FX-6300 – 6 cores, 3.5GHzm ($130)
High-end model CPU:
Intel 4th gen. Core i7-5820K – 6 cores, 3.3GHz ($440)
AMD FX-9590 – 8 Cores, 4.7GHz ($300)
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An Optical disc drive (ODD) is the part of the computer responsible for reading and writing data to optical discs. Newer ODDs include DVD drives, Blu-Ray drives, and CD drives. ODDs will always be able to read information from a disc but some can also write information (burn) information to a disc. These drives can be installed by sliding it into the case’s 5.25” drive bay, and hooking up the SATA and power cable.
ODDs work by using lasers which are electromagnetic waves at specific wavelengths. Different discs use different wavelengths, for example Blu-Ray discs use smaller wavelengths than DVDs. To write info, ODDs use their lasers to “burn” ridge patterns onto spinning discs. These patterns can be read later by another ODD. Discs inside an ODD must be spinning/rotating so that the lasers can read or write info in different parts of the disc.
Discs used to be the most common method that software and media companies used to distribute their software, music, and movies. As a result, ODDs were essential parts to all computers. As the Internet became more widespread, the need for discs decreased. Today, laptops are starting to ship without ODDs and many computer builders choose not to include ODDs in their build.
Different optical drives have different read/write speeds, and the speeds depend on the number of revolutions an ODD can do per minute (RPM). Some optical drives are also able to read multiple disc formats. When users are looking to purchase an ODD, they should consider the read/write speeds and the disc formats. High-end models have faster read and write speeds and can support multiple disc formats.
Budget/Average: ASUS DRW-24B1ST. The reason I suggested budget users and average users buy same model is because this model should be enough for both categories of users. This drive supports both CD and DVD disc formats and is able burn data for both formats. The drive has write speeds of 24X for DVD+R, and 48X for CD-R. Its read speeds are 16x for DVD+R and 40X for CD-R. - $20 CDN
High-end: ASUS BW-12B1ST. This drive can read and burn Blu-Ray disc formats, in addition to everything the first drive could do. It has write speeds of 12X for BD-R (Blu-Ray) and read speeds of 8X for BD-R. - $120 CDN
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