There are many different components that make up a PC (personal computer). Whether you are planning to build your own custom PC and choose each component or are simply curious about what makes that magic metal box work, we have listed the different PC components and what each one does. While there are separate pieces of hardware such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse, and any attached speakers, the PC components are the pieces of hardware that are inside the case.
The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the “brain” of the entire machine. The CPU controls the functioning of various other components and makes calculations that allow applications to run. The CPU processes instructions and extracts data from the hard drive.
CPU Cooling Fan
Because CPUs can get extremely hot while running, they need their own cooling fans attached. These fans usually either come bundled with the CPU or are purchased separately.
The motherboard is the main circuit board of the PC. It connects every other component to each other and allows them to communicate with each other. The motherboard regulates the power from the power supply unit and allocates it to each component to the level needed.
Graphics Processing Unit
The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), commonly known as a “graphics card”, is the component that renders the image to your monitor. Motherboards usually have onboard GPUs that are capable of displaying your operating system, but if you want to do tasks such as gaming, digital art, or video editing, you will need a separate, dedicated GPU.
RAM (Random Access Memory) is what provides the memory needed to carry out processing tasks. The more RAM, the faster your machine will work. RAM sticks are usually placed in specific RAM slots on the motherboard, in groups of one to four.
It is not just the CPU that needs cooling. Cooling fans placed around the inside of the case ensure that your machine doesn’t overheat in any area. Most PC cases include some form of internal fans.
Hard Disk Drive
The hard disk drive (HDD), commonly known as a “hard drive” is the component that stores data and files. A solid state drive is also an optional addition if you want to store the operating system and certain programs on a separate drive to increase machine speed.
Power Supply Unit
Power supply units, or PSUs, are what enable the PC to be connected to and powered by the mains. PSUs usually look like small cube or rectangle-shaped boxes. Power supply units usually have rocker switches that turn the PC on and off. For the PC to turn on, the mains switch must be switched on, the PSU rocker switch switched on, and the on/standby button (usually found on the top or front of the PC case) switched on.
Last but not least, the PC case is the outer shell that houses all of the above components. Cases come in many different aesthetic and functional designs. Some cases even have features like temperature displays and fan speed controls.