A desktop computer is a mix of hardware and software put together for use at a single location. Unlike laptop & tablet computers, desktop computers have size and mobility restrictions. Because of this, they are generally used in one place and are not moved from one location to another.
The use of desktop computers has evolved from being the primary and only style of computer available to more of a specialty item or personal preference. The majority of computer users have moved to using tablets and small mobile devices for their computing needs. These smaller & lighter mobile products are perfectly tailored for todays most common use of the computer.
While not as prevalent today, desktop computers still have a place in our society.They are often used as workstations in offices and clinics. As far as expansion goes, they cant be beat. Desktop computers are versatile and highly customizable. From multiple big screen monitors to powerful cpu’s and high end graphics cards.
To build yourself a custom desktop computer, you will need a few fundamental computer hardware items.
1) Power Supply
The power supply is a exactly what it sounds like. This is the electronic devise that your PC uses to get the power it needs to operate. A power supply is essentially a power converter that takes electrical AC (Alternating Current) energy from your wall outlet and converts it to usable DC (Direct Current) energy for the PC. The Motherboard could not take a direct connection to the 110 volt AC power surging through your walls. This would surely fry the Motherboard and most, if not all, of its connected components. The computers power supply serves as a buffer, allowing just the right amount of DC power needed to safely and efficiently operate your PC.
The Motherboard is the main circuit board inside of your PC. All of your PC hardware components run through this board. The most common form factor for Motherboards is ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended). The CPU (Central Processing Unit) and RAM (Random Access Memory) are directly connected to this board by way of the CPU Socket and RAM Slots located on the board. Other connections you may find on your Motherboard include PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and PCI Express, IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics), SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment), & Floppy Drive. Motherboards also include a back plate area where you can connect a range of Integrated Peripherals including PS/2 (Personal System/2), DVI (Digital Visual Interface), VGA (Video Graphics Array), USB (Universal Serial Bus), HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface ), Serial & More. The Motherboard really is the “Mother” of all a PC’s hardware components. The connections you find on your motherboard is specific to the technology included in making of your specific board.
3) RAM (Random Access Memory)
RAM is actually a data storage devise. Storing the data needed for documents and running applications you are currently working, making it easier and faster to access. My favorite analogy when referring to RAM, is that you can think about RAM like the top of your desk and the paperwork that you may be working on. The bigger the desks top is, the more paperwork you can spread out and work on simultaneously. This makes your work faster and more efficient since you can lay everything out and see it all at once. Alternatively, if your desks top is smaller, you are more likely to stack the same papers on top of each other, making what you are looking for harder and slowing down your productivity.
4) CD/DVD (Compact Disc / Digital Versatile Disc) Player or ODD (Optical Disc Drive)
Your ODD allows your PC to access information that is stored on DVD’s and CD’s. PC users commonly find that needed software is stored on optical discs. Other media found on CD’s and DVD’s include music, movies, and documents. This form of storage is still widely used today but will eventually be replaced by its digital counterpart, the smaller and faster SSD devices like the USB Flash Drive.
“There’s a good chance your next computer won’t have an optical drive…”
Matt Smith – Digitaltrends.com
I have already moved my entire CD and DVD collection to digital storage and have managed to save a lot of room in the process!
5) HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive)
Hard Drives and SSD’s are the PC’s main storage devices. Storage capacity for these devices currently ranges from about 120 GB (Gigabyte) all the way up to 2 TB (Terabyte) and greater. If you have a lot of data (movies, documents, pictures, music, etc.) you will need a lot of storage. Likewise, less data equals less of a need for a larger storage device. Many business workstations can get by with smaller hard drives or SSD’s due to the fact that they may be working in a server environment with a folder redirection policy in place. In this type of environment, the central server needs plenty of storage space because it hosts all of the organizations user data.
6) CPU (Central Processing Unit)
The CPU or Central Processing Unit is just as it sounds, the central place in your PC where all data is processed. This is the part of your computer that carries out instructions and performs all of the basic functions needed by any given computer application. According to wikipedia.org, CPU functions include basic arithmetic, logical, control I/O (Input/Output). Many of todays CPU’s can actually be defined as a microprocessor. This means that within the CPU you will commonly find peripheral devices and other components of a computer. There are numerous CPU’s on the market today with various cores, speeds and integrated abilities.
7) Cooling Fans
The Cooling Fans located inside of your PC are designed to keep your machine running cool. Computers need to remain cool in order to operate correctly and efficiently. Cooling Fans prevent overheating, damage and malfunction. You will find Cooling Fans in a few locations inside of your computer. Usually, there is at lease one fan attached to the computer case. This fan is designed to push hot air out of the computer. Other locations where Cooling Fans are commonly found include the Power Supply and The CPU.
8) Computer Case
The Computer Case is the housing for all of your Computer Hardware. This chassis keeps all of your components safe and in place. Computer Cases come in an assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes. Most commonly, we find that our Computer Case is made up of an assortment of steel, plastic, and aluminum. Computer cases can also contain lights and other decorative items. Your Computer Cases size and shape is also dependent on your motherboards form factor.
Operating System Needed!
In order to operate Desktop Computer (efficiently), we need some sort of OS (operating system). Commonly used OS’s included Windows, OSX, and Linux. Computers that have the Windows OS installed are commonly referred to as PC’s. In addition to an OS (Operating System), a Desktop Computer is made up of numerous pieces of hardware.