A massive 89 percent of American households have a computer, but far fewer of them know how computers actually work. The complex parts and how they work are still a mystery to the vast majority of us. Understanding how all of your computer’s parts work can make computer repair much more intelligible, and it can help you fix some simple issues yourself, too.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at how your computer’s parts work and what each component does. Are you ready to learn more about the inner workings of your machine? Then read on!
1. The CPU
The CPU is one of the most important parts of your computer. The CPU, which stands for Central Processing Unit, is the microchip that carries out the calculations that are necessary to run the programs on your machine.
While certain other components on this list can be scaled down, or in some cases eliminated completely, your computer can’t run without a CPU.
An old CPU is one of the most significant bottlenecks that your machine can have. If the CPU is slow, everything else will be slow. Your programs will lag and your machine will take longer to get things done.
If you want to play the latest games, edit photos or videos, or do other complicated operations, a fast CPU is a must. This means that it’s a very common and effective upgrade.
On top of the CPU, you’ll also find the cooler, another vital component. CPUs can generate a lot of heat, so effective cooling is a must.
2. The Motherboard
The motherboard is even more important than the CPU. This is because the motherboard allows all of the other components to speak to each other.
For your CPU to be able to load up programs from your hard drive, it needs to go through the motherboard. To access the RAM, your other components need the motherboard.
A motherboard is essentially a printed circuit board that all of the other components slot into. Without a motherboard, you can’t do anything.
While you usually only need to upgrade the motherboard if you’re installing newer components, they can also go wrong and require replacement.
3. Hard Drives and SSDs
Your system needs somewhere to store all the programs and other data that it uses. This is where hard drives and SSDs come in.
A hard drive is the traditional way to handle bulk storage on your computer. This component is made up of a spinning platter that your computer can read and write with a magnetic needle. The mechanism is fairly similar to how a record player works.
When you want to read or write data, your hard drive needs to spin up so that the needle can carry out the operation in the right spot on the drive.
SSDs are another bulk storage solution but these are similar to scaled-up flash drives, which means that there are no moving parts in SSDs. As there is no need to spin anything up, these drives are a lot faster than hard drives.
While they both have the same purpose, the way that they work and their speeds are very different. If you’re looking for a very impactful upgrade, swapping a hard drive for an SSD is one of the best ways to improve your computer’s speed.
Many people refer to your computer’s RAM as “memory,” which can get a little confusing for less-experienced users. While RAM is a type of memory, it’s very different from hard drives and SSDs.
RAM is short-term memory. Your computer uses it to store all of the programs and processes that it’s running right at this second. Due to its very high speed, this allows your computer to do its job far faster.
While you could technically turn on a PC without RAM, it’s not going to work. There are two important factors to consider when it comes to RAM, too. The amount of it and the speed it runs at.
Smaller amounts of RAM with a higher speed could be a better proposition than more memory at a lower one!
5. The Graphics Card
The graphics card, also known as the video card, or GPU, is an important but not always necessary part of your computer. If you’re going to be doing visually intensive tasks, such as gaming or video editing, a graphics card can make things run far faster.
This is because a graphics card comes with its own microchip and memory that focuses on visuals alone, which results in a big performance boost to these tasks.
Some CPUs now come with onboard graphics, known as integrated graphics, which can work in a pinch if you don’t have a graphics card. If you’re a hardcore gamer or need to edit photos or videos, however, a video card is vital.
6. The Power Supply
All of the computer components that we’ve mentioned so far require a consistent power source. The power supply converts AC power from your household sockets into DC power that your components can use.
Different power supplies can handle different amounts of power, measured in watts, and the amount of power your computer needs will depend on the parts that you have. A gaming PC will need more than a simple office machine, for instance.
Understanding Your Components Is Key to Computer Repair
If you want to be able to solve your common computer issues and carry out basic computer repair, you need to be able to understand your components. We hope that this article has helped you do just that!
However, there are some computer issues that only professionals can fix. If you’re having problems with your machine, we can help you, and are ready and waiting to meet you at any of our stores!