The main components of any computer
Here are the abbreviations and acronyms used in the transcript:
CPU – Central Processing Unit
GPU – Graphics Processing Unit
RAM – Randomly Accessible Memory
AC – Alternating Current
Part 1 – Simple Computer Components
If you work with computers you’ve likely heard terms like RAM hard drive and processor mentioned by tech support or others who are more interested in what goes on inside of a computer’s case if you’ve always wondered what the various components of your computer are for but I’ve never really had the time to look into it then this video is just for you while each one of these components is complex enough to spend a lifetime learning about I’m gonna give a very broad and general overview a typical desktop computer comes down to these seven essential parts:
- Power supply
- Hard drive and
- Graphics cards
These are the fundamental parts of any desktop computer. It may seem daunting at first so let’s separate these into two categories:
- simple ones and
- the more complex ones.
For starters let’s look at the case.
The case is nothing more than a big hunk of plastic that houses everything else.
Some of them have more or less physical space – some of them have different parts where you can put screws in or this or that but at the end of the day, all the case really does is provide a nice enclosed system for everything else.
Next up we have the power supply. This part of your computer almost always located on the bottom is the part that plugs into the wall and provides all of the other parts with the electricity needed to do their thing you can think of it as an extremely advanced AC adapter.
The last of the simple parts to mention is the motherboard. The motherboard is a wide and flat circuit board that all of the other components plug into. It’s the part that lets all of these components send electrical currents composing data between each other. While not particularly expensive the motherboard is arguably the most important component because without it you’d have nowhere to put anything else so that’s it for the simple components.
2) Complex Computer Components
Now, let’s move on to the more complex parts the ones that deal with data the four main components to keep in mind here are:
- Hard drive and
- Graphics card
Now, first things first. I’m going to establish some terminology. Keep in mind that “CPU” is also known as the “central processing unit” or “processor”. These terms all refer to the same thing. They’re clearly interchangeable. RAM stands for “random access memory” and is often referred to as just “a memory”.
A hard drive is often referred to as “a disk drive” or “storage’ and a graphics card is also known as a “GPU” or “graphics processing unit”. For this explanation I’ll be using the terms “CPU”, “RAM, “hard drive” and “graphics card”.
So, let’s start with the CPU. The CPU is where your computer does things. It isn’t really capable of storing very much data at all but it’s very good at doing things with data:
Quickly reading it, arranging it, doing the type of quick and massive calculations needed to run your programs. This is where most of your programs are essentially run from. It’s often referred to as “the brain” of the computer. I personally don’t like this description because really your entire computer is just a brain. It’s just the center part of your computer’s brain.
Basically everything that happens in your computer goes through your CPU at some point.
Now, let’s talk about RAM and hard drive at the same time because they have a very unique relationship which is probably why people often confuse the two. Your hard drive is where all of your data is stored. When your computer tells you you’re running low on space, it’s because your hard drive is almost full. All of the data that makes up your videos, pictures, documents, project files or the 3d worlds and models that make up a game are all stored here. While hard drives can store lots of data they’re relatively bad at accessing that data quickly. Everything is accessed through a tiny little wire here and because most hard drives are made up of spinning disks, your hard drive isn’t going to be able to constantly give your CPU the information it needs to run certain programs.
That’s where RAM comes in. RAM is another form of storage. Tt stores the exact same
kind of data as your hard drive but RAM sacrifices storage space for nearly instant accessibility unlike your hard drive which sends all of its data through a tiny little thin wire.
Your RAM is arranged in these long fence sticks that insert into your motherboard. Think about a storage unit. If you have a massive warehouse with only a thin doorway it’s gonna be difficult to get in and find what you need and get out if it’s kind of spread all over the place. You’ll have to go through a tiny door. But if you have a long wide storage shed that’s got a big massive garage composing an entire side of it, you won’t be able to store as much. But things are significantly easier to get to typically if your computer has a thousand gigabytes of storage space. In your hard drive it’s likely got about 16 gigabytes worth of RAM.
Here’s where you put the stuff you own but you aren’t currently using and this smaller one is
where you put the stuff that you are using and need to be able to get in and out of quickly.
When you run a program or a project file your CPU identifies what parts of data are needed for that program to run. It pulls them from your hard drive and then it stores them in your RAM sticks for quick accessibility. This is why when you start a new level of a game for instance it has to load. Anytime you see loading it’s loading the data that composes that level from your bulky hard drive into your RAM. From a user’s perspective just follow this rule of thumb:
RAM allows you to run intensive programs while disk space allows you to have more of these and programs installed. It also allows you to have more of the data they’re referencing
whether it be pictures, videos or mods.
And finally we get to the graphics card. With all of the calculations going on in your computer to turn a bunch of numbers that basically come down to ones and zeros into a constantly updated 3-dimensional world the final and most important and arguably most difficult step is to display that on your monitor. It’s possible for your motherboard to do this alone but it’s not gonna look good and it’s certainly not gonna be able to do much. Your graphics card is essentially an entire computer in and of itself dedicated to the sole task of figuring out what pixels need to light up on your screen in what color and at what time.
If you were playing a game that had a very busy and high texture world with lots of models and different angles and colors, your CPU is the thing that creates that world. It knows where the stuff is and it does so with data that’s been stored in your RAM which was loaded out of your hard drive. But it’s your graphics card that figures out what it’s supposed to look like based on where you’re standing in the world.
Without getting too off-topic here, if you’re somebody who likes math I highly recommend you look up “fast inverse square root” which is directly related to how three-dimensional worlds calculate perspectives. So that pretty much sums it up.
There are other components worth mentioning such as cooling systems or internal wireless cards but really those are extras. So, to summarize what I talked about so far:
The case stores everything in a physical box.
The power supply gives electricity to what needs it, the motherboard is the body that everything plugs into. The CPU does everything RAM stores data that is needed for quick access hard drives store everything that you have installed and the data that goes along with those programs well the graphics card figures out how it’s all supposed to look on your monitor.