Introduction to the Beginner Series
Hello readers! This is the beginning of what I'm calling the Beginner Series. It will go through basic topics from computer hardware, to learning how to use operating systems, and up to where you can be ready to read the rest of these blog posts. The inspiration for this series is my younger brother learning about computers in class. Well, sort of. He's been asking me a lot of questions, so I thought I'd set up some posts to build young (and old) beginners.
This post will cover common hardware. It will be broken into the following categories:
- Internal PC Components
- Input/Output Peripherals
- Mobile Devices
Internal PC Components
Whether you're building a custom computer, upgrading a computer, or trying to troubleshoot a computer, it's important to know the internal components.
Let's identify some very common internal computer components.
This is a motherboard. This is the main board that allows for communication between other crucial components in a system. It holds your CPU (Central Processing Unit), RAM (Random Access Memory), and more. We will discuss more about the motherboard in a future series, but this is what you should know for now.
This is a PSU (Power Supply Unit). This is what takes the AC (alternating current) from the outlet on a wall and converts it to low-voltage DC (direct current) power to power the computer components.
This is a CPU (Central Processing Unit). This is what people commonly call the "brain" of the computer. This is the piece that carries out instructions. Essentially, it's doing a lot of math. The most common CPUs you will find in the world are Intel, AMD, and ARM.
This is RAM (Random Access Memory). This is a type of "quick" storage. When you hear memory, think RAM. This is what we call "Volatile" storage. When power is gone, so is the information on the RAM (well mostly...but that discussion is for WAY later). You usually need more RAM if you have more applications open because of how much data needs to be quickly accessed.
This is a video or graphics card (GPU - Graphics Processing Unit). This is a processor (sometimes called a dumb processor) that is specialized to perform display functions like rendering images, animations and video. This is what outputs to the computer monitor.
There is all types of storage. We will cover common types of storage devices that you will probably interface with in current times.
This is an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). This is probably the most common storage device used today. This uses magnetic storage on physical rotating disks or platters. Today's internal hard disk drives use SATA. There's different form factors including 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch. This is where you'll store your OS (Operating System), your applications, and files.
This is an SSD (Solid State Drive). This is similar to the HDD, but it is not mechanical. SSDs usually have faster write and read speeds. This is because the data is stored on flash memory chips which retain data even when there's no power. While the SSD is usually favored, it is currently more expensive than the same size storage in an HDD.
This is a USB (Universal Serial Bus) Flash Drive. It is also known as a thumb drive, pen drive, jump drive, or memory stick. It is connected to the USB port and allows for portable storage. They do not have moving parts.
This is a DVD (Digital Video Disc). Most computers are moving away from using DVDs to just using USB flash drives. Some DVDs are ROM (Read-Only Memory) which means that the DVD can be written to once and then it can only be read and not written to. DVDs are limited in that a single-sided, single-layer is 4.7 GB (Gigabyte) and a double-sided, double-layer is 17.08 GB.
The input/output peripherals are how you interact with the computer and how it provides information to you.
This is a monitor. This is an output device used to display information in picture format. Most monitors connect to the computer using either HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DisplayPort, VGA (Virtual Graphics Array), or DVI (Digital Visual Interface).
This is a computer mouse. This is an input device. It allows you to control the cursor on-screen and allows for selecting using clicking of buttons on the left and right-side of the mouse.
This is a computer keyboard. This is an input device. It has characters on it that you can use. In the United States, most keyboards have ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) characters.
This is a printer. It is an output device. It takes the electronic data from the computer and generates a hard copy/physical copy. This could be images or text.
It should be noted that storage devices are also peripherals, but they were separated.
Networking is how computers communicate with each other. At your home, school, or office, you're on a LAN (Local Area Network). If you connect to the Internet, then you're connected to a wide range of interconnected networks.
The items here are often found in an All-In-One device for consumers (non-enterprise).
This is a router, switch, and wireless access point.
A router is a device that connects networks and forwards data between them.
A switch is a device that connects other devices on the same network.
A wireless AP (Access Point) allows a wireless (Wi-Fi) device to connect to a wired network.
A modem is a modulator/demodulator. It allows for a computer to send and receive data over telephone, cable, or satellite connections. When using telephone lines, it converts between digital and analog signal.
This is an ethernet cable or network cable. This is the medium used to carry the signal between the modem, router, computer and other network devices.
Here are some common cables seen today.
This is an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable. It is used for transmitting audio and video.
This is a DVI (Digital Visual Interface) cable that is used to transmit video to a monitor or other display.
This is a displayport cable. It is used to transmit video and can carry audio and other types of data.
This is a VGA (Video Graphics Array) cable. It is used to transmit video. This is becoming obsolete.
Here are the common types of USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectors.
Image from: https://www.mycablemart.com/store/cart.php?m=product_list&c=26
While most people think of computers being the typical "desktop", there are more devices that are computers.
This is a smartphone. It functions as a portable computer as well as a cellular phone. Pictured is an Apple iPhone that runs the iOS operating system.
This is a smartphone. It functions as a portable computer as well as a cellular phone. Pictured is an ASUS smartphone that runs the Android operating system. Android is based off of the Linux operating system.
This is a tablet. This is an Apple iPad. It functions like the iPhone running the iOS operating system, but does not have cellular phone functionalities.
This is a tablet. This is a Samsung tablet that is running a version of the Android operating system. It does not have cellular phone functionalities.
This is a laptop. This is a portable computer with a keyboard attached. They can run on battery or plugged in.
This is a netbook. It is a smaller version of a laptop usually with less powerful components. It's typically used for basic word processing and internet browsing.