About Computer Hardware

What is computer hardware? It is everything that your computer is physically made up of. If it is attached to your computer and you can touch it, it is probably computer hardware.

There are a lot of components that make up your computer. So we will start with the most common and basic computer hardware and move on from there. I am going to briefly describe each one so you have a basic understanding of what it is used for.

Computer Cases

The computer case is what holds all of the parts for your computer. It protects the computer hardware from dust, static electricity, moisture, and general wear and tear.

It also has the very important role of keeping your computer hardware cool. Cases come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. It is important to keep in mind the size of all your parts when purchasing a case. Technically you do not have to have a case to run your computer but I highly recommend against it.

Power Supply

The power supply does just what it sounds like, it supplies power to all of your parts. When choosing a power supply, you need to make sure it is the right size to fit in your computer case and that it has enough power for your needs.


It is called a motherboard for a reason. You can not have a computer without one. This is where all of your other parts plug into and allows them to operate as one machine. The motherboard is extremely important and effects almost all of the other parts for your computer.

CPU (processor)

The CPU is the brain of your computer. It processes all the information and tells the other parts what to do. Your CPU effects your computers speed more than any other piece of hardware. There is a lot to consider when buying a CPU. You need to make sure it will work with your motherboard for staters. Also deciding on what speed, price, and features you want from your CPU


RAM stands for random access memory. This is the memory where your current applications are running from. For example, when you are playing a computer game and a new level loads it is loading from your RAM not your hard drive. Your RAM also has a lot to do with the speed of your computer. As a general rule, the more RAM the better.

Video Card (graphics card)

The video card is what displays all the graphics and objects on your screen. This is what you monitor plugs into your computer through. Video cards are one of the most expensive parts of your computer next to your CPU. If you are a computer gamer the video card is extremely important to you.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is the main storage on your computer. Everything that is stored or downloaded onto your computer goes here. With every passing year programs, games, and applications get larger and larger. For this reason, you will need a decent sized hard drive. I would say 40 gigabytes at least. There are also different speeds for hard drives.

Sound Card

The sound card is the part of your computer that your speakers plug into. Most newer motherboards have onboard audio, so this is more of an optional part. Using the onboard audio will slow your system down a little. If you want good audio, such as surround sound, you will most likely want a sound card.

DVD and CD (players/burners)

DVD players are just what the name suggests, they play DVD’s. CD players play CD’s. DVD burners both play DVD’s and record (write) to them. CD burners both play CD’s and record (write) to them. DVD players/burners can also play CD’s. DVD’s have a lot bigger storage capacity than floppy disks or CD’s.

Floppy Drive

Floppy drives have been around for a long time. They are not used that much anymore, but considering how cheap they are,(around $12) you should get one anyway. They are good for boot disks and some hardware/software still come with floppy disks.


This pretty much covers the basics of computer hardware. There is a lot to know about each piece, which I will cover more in-depth in each parts own page. If you are planning on building your own computer or having someone build it for you with your specific computer hardware, you should take the time and go through each one.