Many people use a computer every day and are not aware of how it functions and what makes it work.
The inside of a computer is not a mysterious thing and can easily be worked on, upgraded or repaired if you know the basic-components that are part of it.
Each computer requires a power supply, which takes the electric from your home and converts it into a type of current that will work with your computer. The electric cord that comes out of your computer comes out of the power supply and plugs into the wall. The computer is made of various circuits, which all work together to save information and process it.
The first is the main board, or mother board, which gets its name from the fact that it is the mother of all the other circuit boards found inside your computer. Many computer companies such as Dell Computers, Compaq, and and Mac/Apple each have their own version of main boards, on board sound and so on so that it is sometimes necessary to purchase parts directly from them or from a warehouse.
You will usually find the main board, or motherboard standing up on the tower or lying down on the very bottom, if you have a desktop PC. It is the largest board in the computer and will hold the many other smaller boards which cause the computer to be able to do things.
Some of the items you may find plugged into the main board are the modem or network card, which will help you gain access to the network of computers known as the Internet. Another expansion card which you might see there is a sound card, although many motherboards now have what is known as on board sound and video, which means that rather than needing an expansion card, it is built into the motherboard, and another card is not needed.
Motherboard The motherboard gets its name because it is like a mother to all of the other circuit boards. Found at the bottom of a desktop case or the side of a tower case, the motherboard is the largest circuit board and has many smaller boards plugged into it.
It holds all of the most important parts of the computer.
The video card displays graphics that are shown on the monitor. There are also expansion cards for other computer components including the drives and ports.
The “mind” or brain of the computer is what is called the CPU, or central processing unit, which is a chip that determines how fast or slow your computer will operate as well as controlling the information that it will process.
The CPU generates a great deal of heat, so there is usually a small sized CPU fan either seated on top of it, or nearby to cool it down.
Another very important aspect of your computer is the BIOS chip. BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. The
BIOS chip wakes up the computer and when it is turned on, jogs the memory of the computer to tell it what it needs to do and what parts it has to do it with
ROM & RAM Have you ever heard the terms RAM and ROM? They sound very similar and are usually confused by
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM are chips that are inside your computer which will remember what you tell them and hold onto it for a time. When the computer is turned off, RAM forgets everything you told it and starts over again when the computer is turned on, which is what makes it so imperative that you save all of your work prior to turning off your computer so that you don’t lose what you were working on.
ROM means Read Only Memory. ROM is good at holding information but it is not changeable. It is burnt onto cds, and must be read, and is usually not changeable.
Ports are the places outside the computer that connect to your modem, video and audio expansion cards.
Disk drives are available in several different kinds, but what you will most likely have on your computer is a hard drive, where your operating system and software information is kept permanently, the cd drive where you add a cd and read the software from it, or a floppy, which is a small square disk that is also read.
The hard drive, however is hidden inside the computer because the disks are not meant to be removed. Information that you save on your computer is stored on these hard disks.
All of these components work together to permit your computer to read software, play games and work on graphics or other things that you use your computer to do.
If you subtract most of these components the computer simply won’t work. Keeping them in good condition is imperative and fortunately easily accomplished. To fix one of the parts of the computer that are not operational it will of course be necessary to determine which component isn’t working, however fortunately that too is easy to do.
In the next installment we’ll determine how to accomplish some hardware troubleshooting techniques.