Computer Hardware/Devices/Components

  • Hard disk drive (a.k.a. hard disk, hard drive, HD, HDD) – Primary storage device for your computer.  This is where all programs, games, documents, files, etc. are stored on your computer for long-term storage.
    This is most like the long-term memory 
    in the human body.
  • RAM/memory – Very high speed, temporary memory that is used when you are using a program or application.  Nothing can be stored to your RAM permanently due to the fact that all contents of  your memory dissappear as soon as you turn off or restart the computer.  It is generally recommended to have at least 2gb of RAM on your computer for optimal day-to-day use.  While it doesn’t hurt to have more than 2gb of RAM, it is unnecessary to have more unless you will be using your computer for high-end gaming, video editing, graphics work, etc.
    This is most like the short-term memory in the human body.
  • Video Card (a.k.a. video adapter, graphics card, GPU, 3D Card, etc.) – The video card’s purpose is to process any visual elements of the the programs and applications you use into an image that you can see on your monitor.  However, modern video cards can do much more than this.  Most, if not all video cards today have a GPU (graphics processing unit), which is similar to a CPU, but is entirely focused on processing graphics.  While the GPU relies on the CPU for instructions, it allows the CPU to focus on non-graphical code versus having to work on both graphical AND non-graphical code.  This relieves a significant amount of stress from the CPU.  Today, basic video cards are often integrated into the motherboard to save costs and still provide a decent level of performance for most users.  Video cards will also have RAM dedicated just for graphics.  This amount of RAM, along with the speed of the graphics processor (GPU), can have a tremendous impact on the performance of your computer.
    This is most like the eyes and visual cortex of the brain in the human body.
  • Network Card (a.k.a. NIC, network interface card) – This device allows you to connect a network cable to your computer and communicate to other computers, printers, etc.  There are many different technical terms associated to network cards, some of which is listed in the Computer Terms section above.
    This is most like your mouth and vocal cords.
  • Sound/audio Card – This is what your speakers would plug in to.  The sound card converts digital signals from programs and applications into an analog sound that you can hear over your speakers.
    This is most like the mouth and vocal cords in the human body.
  • Processor/CPU – The CPU is the main processing center for the computer.  There are hundreds or maybe even thousands models, speeds, and uses for CPUs, however, they all essentially do the same thing.  This is where all the programming code in programs and applications are processed.  Decisions such as “When the user hits a letter on the keyboard, a certain letter should be inserted into the document.  When a user hits a letter on the keyboard AND is pressing the Shift key, a different letter should be inserted into the document.” are evaluated in combination with the programmer’s code.
    This is most like the brain in the human body.
  • Motherboard (a.k.a. mainboard) – This is the backbone of your computer.  Practically every component of your computer will connect to the motherboard in some way.  The motherboard allows every device to properly communicate with every other device on the computer.  Depending on how the computer will be used (or its target demographic), other devices are permanently integrated to the motherboard such as a sound card, graphics card, etc.
    This is most like the spinal column and nervous system in the human body.
  • Power Supply Unit/PSU – The place where you plug in the power cord to your computer is actually the back of the power supply.  This is a little metal box that helps to properly regulate and distribute power through the various components of the computer.  A proper, high quality power supply is absolutely essential to the smooth and crash-free use of your computer.
    This is most like the heart and blood in the human body.
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