What’s Inside Every Computer Case

By | August 1, 2014

Computers seem and really are complex machines; however, if you know and understand their various parts, specific operation, and dependencies they becomes less complex. As with anything you / me find interesting it will eventually become second nature.

Inside computer cases and laptops alike is an assembly of components working as one to perform tasks and calculations producing information you request. Although laptops have the smaller framework you can get an idea of their operations which is basically the same.

As you know Computers are vehicles that allow us to access information provided by millions of web servers’ interconnected throughout cyberspace ergo WWW or the Internet. Our dependency on these machines in this day age is enormous.  So, let’s examine the anatomy of our mechanical friends.

A Little History
The Hard Drive – Secondary Memory
RAM – Primary Memory
DVD (Digital Video Disk) Drive
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Motherboard (Mobo)
Sound Card
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)
Full Disclosure

A Little History

I’d like to tell you a story, well, not a story, but a fact I learned while attending college. It was about an American computer scientist named Grace Hopper. She was the first woman to graduate Yale with a Ph.D. (1934) and one of the computer programmers that converted huge computers into large digital computers and a whole lot more.

You know when something stops our computers from running right or efficiently we may say, “It must have a bug.” Well, that saying didn’t manifest out of thin air because the original bug was a moth, yes, an actual moth.

It was found between relay #70 panel F which caused a hardware fault in the Harvard Mark I (1944). Mark I was a room size machine, 55 feet long, 8 feet high, weighed 5 tons complied of 760,000 pieces, and ran by pre-punched paper tape performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Ms. Hopper coined the word “bug” and the Information Technology community adopted this term ever since. She is the first person to actually debug a computer. Imagine that?

I must note as history would have it some say she was involved, but she did not actually discover the moth, but instead was the person who publicized it. You decide.

It’s an interesting story nonetheless. In any case Ms. Hopper pioneered the evolution of data processing. Today’s computers in comparison to a room size computer are a fraction if not minuscule of the size of their 1944 predecessor. They’ve morphed into convenient teenie tiny things now known as the “personal computer.”

 


What’s Inside Computer Cases:

The Hard Drive – Secondary Memory

Hard drives are the corner stone of computing and its responsibility is data storage. It permanently (until deleted) stores large amounts of information you save, such as documents and files, programs, and applications. The information saved can consist of but not excluded to Microsoft Word and Excel files, game save files, pictures, videos, and music.

Inside a computer

A hard drive doesn’t distinguish the data stored because its only concern is what space the data will occupy. It measures space in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB), and terabytes (TB). Let’s say you purchase an 80GB hard drive that will translate to approximately 80,000,000,000 bytes. A couple of the major hard drives manufacturers include names, such as Seagate and Western Digital.

The larger the hard drive the more information can be stored. Today drives come terabytes; at the time I’m writing this article Western Digital unveiled a 10TB hard drive. 10TB is approximately 10,000,000,000,000 bytes. What are the possibilities with this much space?

Western Digital Hard Drive


RAM – Primary Memory

Memory is an important part of computing because these chips hold the operating system and applications. Ready Access Memory (RAM) chips are volatile meaning the information it holds at the time is lost when the system is shutdown.

Let’s us say you’re typing a Word document and you forget to save it to the hard drive and something disrupts Word or it closes abruptly. Well, that’s too bad because all the hard work you just put into that document is forever lost – gone – kaput. In order to retrieve that document later down the road you must give it a name by saving it to the storage area which is your hard drive.

In another scenario, if you were to shut down the computer without saving your document the data is lost too. RAM needs power to keep the application or program currently in use operational. So, keep in mind you’re working on RAM whenever you open any application, such as Microsoft Word, a browser, or a game. They all open in RAM Let’s say you open Internet Explorer, Word, or any application for that matter it will open in RAM memory.

RAM comes in many flavors like Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), Double Data Rate SDRAM (DDR), and Rambus DRAM. Take my computer for instance, I have a Dell Windows 7 64bit desk top computer and it has 2 slots for RAM. Each chip is 2GB, so my computer has 4GB of RAM installed; however, I can upgrade 192GB of memory.

I’m not a power user requiring enormous amounts of memory to play games like Tour of Duty, rendering 3D graphics, or even use specialized programs which are all hardware-intensive. So, I’m good with my measly 4GB for now.

RAM chips

 


DVD (Digital Video Disk) Drive

The DVD drive is a 5.25 inch drive bay inside the computer. It controls the DVD discs you insert in its bay. This hardware device helps read, write, install software, audio, video, and large applications, and files. It’s an optical drive which means it uses laser light or electromagnetic waves used to write data to or from optical discs.

The DVD drive can play and record on a various formats: DVD-RAM, CD-RW, DVD+R, DVD-ROM, DVD-ROM, DVD+RW and more. What you see below is a DVD disc which is essential to install operating systems, games, and programs.

DVD compact disc 


Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The CPU chip is a microprocessor (accepts digital data) and the brains of the outfit. It’s latched and glued onto the motherboards via a socket. If purchased as one unit then it’s already attached. It’s called the brains because it executes the instructions, carries out calculations, and controls the input / output (I/O) devices.

The keyboard and mouse are input devices – monitors and printers are output devices. Input signals are data received by the system board and output signals are data sent from it. If purchasing a CPU separately ensure that it’s compatible meaning it supports all the specifications of the motherboard’s circuitry.

Here’s a list of computer microprocessors, but not at all inclusive: Intel, ARM, AMD, IBM, and Hitachi.

Example of a CPU

 


 

Motherboard (Mobo)

A motherboard is the base of the computer structure. It’s where all the components interconnect through chips and pathways forming digital communications.

here’s a north bridge and south bridge called chip sets which facilitate communications between the CPU and memory. Some pathways lead directly to other components leaving the CPU free to direct data to other components which are considered the nervous system. Motherboards basically support one type of CPU chip, so ensure both are compatible.

Motherboards dictate the typed of hardware and the amount / limit and type of RAM that can be installed. This leads me to say “Always choose a motherboard that can be upgraded.” You may have 4GB now and want to upgrade to 16GB or want to install a better PCI or PCI2 graphics card for faster transmission speeds. Never over extend the intended capability of a motherboard it could destroy the circuitry.

motherboard-289477_1280

For example Intel’s Advanced Technology (ATX) is the latest model. It comes with a MPGA CPU socket, DDR RAM slots, PCI slots, AGP slots, Primary and secondary IDE interfaces, SATA connectors, 20 and 24pin ATX power connector and Ports.  Microprocessor sockets – i7, i5, i3 Duo, Quad Core, Core 2 Duo, and Pentium-IV.



Sound Card

Some computers come equipped with an integrated (built onto the motherboard) sound hardware which is responsible for audio. It outputs it to headphones, speakers, and inputs it via microphone. Integrated is good, but if you want quality sound (subjective) most choose to upgrade and install dedicated sound cards.

Such as Creative Sound Blaster PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect). This is due to integrated hardware is basically not shielded well, so you end up with some annoying hissing.

Sound card


 

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

he Power Supply Unit is another very important hardware component. The responsibility of this device is converting Alternating current (AC) coming from the wall outlet and convert it to Direct Current (DC).

You see each component requires a different voltage to operate. This is called switching which AC is incapable of producing. The various voltages are 3.3 and 5 volts used to power digital circuits – 12 volts used to run disk drives and fans. For example when you press the power button it sends a 5 volt signal to the power supply to turn on the system.

The PSU circuitry is incased in a square metal box with wires with connectors at each end. The connectors are plugged into its perspective device. The PSU will no doubt have more wires that will not be of use, so, tuck those away to avoid interference with other components.

1. The 20 or 24- pin is connected to the motherboard. It’s the largest of the connectors.

2. A 12V connector connects to the motherboard. Older motherboard models use a 4-pin connector.

3. Graphic cards have 6/8-pin connectors. It will be labeled PCI-E connectors.

4. Hard Drives are connected by Molex 4-pin connectors, but today’s hard drives are SATA drives and use thinner plugs.


Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)

There’s a battery in the computer that stores the start up data called the Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor a/k/a CMOS. The basic  input and output information (BIOS) uses it data held in  the CMOS battery to start the computer.  It keeps the  Real-Time Clock (RTC), such as the system time and date and the system hardware settings. As you can see it’s no bigger than a dime.

Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor

Inside computer cases was the Floppy drive which used a 3 ½ disk. It was king of storage media. Once was a necessity in the design of the computer system, but by 2003 Dell ceased designing their computers with floppy drives I think that was the catalyst of its demise. Reason being it had limited storage capacity.

Today’s applications require much more space than the floppy offered. Photographs with high-resolution or MP3s could not be stored on a floppy due to its lack of available space; however, CD-R drive / DVD drives and of course USB technology could. In comparison the USB can store up to 1000 times more than the floppy.


Full Disclosure:

The links / banners on windowsregistrykeys.com are affiliate links, which they have granted this website the honor of advertising their merchandise. I will earn a commission if you click on the link or make a purchase using that link. If you make a purchase, the price you pay will be the same whether you use my affiliate link or go directly to the vendor’s website. By using my affiliate links, you are helping support this site and I genuinely appreciate your patronage.

Back to Top


36 thoughts on “What’s Inside Every Computer Case

  1. Kathy

    This is a really good tip especially to those fresh to the
    blogosphere. Short but very precise information… Thank you for
    sharing this one. A must read post!

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Thank you Kathy, I’m elated you were able to take away something I shared.

      Best regards,

      Wanda

      Reply
  2. Yong

    Hi I am so thrilled I found your site, I really found
    you by accident, while I was researching on Aol for something else,
    Anyways I am here now and would just like to
    say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and
    a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also
    added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Hello Yong, thanks for visiting and bookmarking my site. It’s a work in progress and I enjoy every minute.

      Cheers!
      Wanda

      Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I appreciated your interest, Brad.

      Thank you,

      Wanda

      Reply
  3. MarvinT

    Hurrah! After all I got a blog from where I be capable of actually obtain helpful information concerning
    my study and knowledge.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      That’s great MarvinT. As they say “Knowledge is Power.”

      Wanda

      Reply
  4. Nicole

    I simply couldn’t leave once i started reading. I feel you know that you’re taking about and I can trust you, so if you wouldn’t mind can I contact you to find out information about what’s best for my computer? 🙂

    Reply
  5. Arron

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for computer components and Viola!

    Reply
    1. Wanda

      It’s very interesting to know how computer components interrelate isn’t it?

      Thanks for visiting.

      Wanda

      Reply
  6. Leonard

    I have read so many content on the topic of what’s inside computer, but I totally enjoyed your detailed insight. Keep it up.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I’ll do my best Leonard.

      Thanks for stopping by,

      Wanda

      Reply
  7. Kareem

    You’ve covered a lot of ground and I here to tell you it’s appreciated. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I tried to input as much as I could to make it less complicated. I hope I succeeded.

      Thanks.

      Wanda

      Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Wow! Thanks, Bonnie. You’ve made my day. Please keep coming back for more interesting articles.

      Amazed.
      Wanda

      Reply
  8. Jacinto

    wonderful put up, very informative. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already! I see that all computers have the same basic components.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Yes, these components are the common devices inside, but as you purchase newer models so does the enhancements. What constantly changes also is the software which communicates with the devices. Good deduction, Jacinto.

      Reply
  9. Tamie

    When someone writes an post he/she retains the thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user can know it. So that’s why this post is outstdanding.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      A good writer always keeps his readers in mind so not to lose them in translation. It appears I’ve done a well enough job of that by your statement.

      Thank you for your comment.
      Wanda

      Reply
  10. anita

    I have to say I haven’t been disappointed yet by reading your material. Me not been technically inclined find your site elevating. Thanks so much Wanda.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I try to make it interesting and informative without too much technical jargon. It’s good to read I’m not doing a bad job. Lol!

      Thanks

      Wanda

      Reply
  11. Terrilyn

    Keep on writing, great job! You know what you’re talking about. I know. I’ve been to your site a few times now and tried some of the tasks. They’ve all worked. I’m still learning about my pc here. Color me grateful!

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I will keep my content up to date and simple, Terrilyn.

      Color me grateful too!

      Wanda

      Reply
  12. Maryann

    This website really has all the info I needed about this subject
    and didn’t know who to ask. It always confused me about primary and secondary memory in a computer. Now I’m clear.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      That’s great news, Maryann. There’s lots more to grasp on my site. Keep reading.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Wanda

      Reply
  13. Efron

    After checking out a few of the articles on your site, I honestly appreciate your way
    of blogging. I added it to my bookmark website list and will be
    checking back soon. Please visit my web site as well and tell
    me what you think.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Thanks for the invitation. I intend on visiting very soon and leave a comment as well.

      Thanks,

      Wanda

      Reply
  14. rhonda

    Remarkable techniques here. I am very happy to see
    your article and learn about tech stuff in plain language. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Yes, Windows is full of fascinating yet helpful strategies. Keep reading, Rhonda.

      Thanks for dropping by,

      Wanda

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*