What is Computer Hardware?

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Computer hardware includes all the physical parts from which your computer is built. It is computer equipment such as your case, power supply, motherboard, memory, CPU, disk drives, disks, keyboards, mice, printers, monitors, etc.

This hardware is made to work along with your computer software - operating systems (OS) and programs.

The hardware consists of:

- Case

- Power Supply Unit

- Motherboard

- CPU (Processor)

- Memory (RAM)

- Storage Devices - Hard drive, optical storage such as CD/RW and DVD/RW drives

- Input Devices - Keyboards and Mice, Multimedia Devices, Scanners, Web Cams and Microphone

- Output Devices - Monitors, Printers, Speakers

There are many other computer hardware but those listed above are the main components.


This is the 'slave' of your computer system. It just does its job day-after-day without requiring any attention or maintenance.

It protects the inner components of the system, keeps them cool and prevents them from causing radio frequency interference (RFI). These are important functions that are oftentimes overlooked. Learn more about the computer case here and click here to view a variety of computer cases. icon

Some cases are supplied with installed power supplies.

Power Supply Unit:

The power supply unit converts alternating current (A/C) to low voltage DC current for use by the different internal components. Most are multi-voltage to be able to switch between 230 volts and 115 volts.

The power supply unit (PSU) provides regulated DC current at different voltages that are required by the different internal components of the system.

Depending on what your system will be required to do, you will need to obtain a power supply unit (PSU) that is capable of safely supplying the total power requirements of your system plus reserve power for future upgrading.

Ensure that there is adequate cooling for your PSU with minimum noise. Some PSUs provide modular wiring - you only use the cables required thus eliminating that 'mess' of wiring which clutters the innards of your system, preventing proper cooling. Read about the power supply here and click here to look at a variety of power supplies. icon


Inside the case, one very important computer hardware is the motherboard (system board/mainboard). It's that rectangular or square board with integrated circutry that connects all the other components of your system be it internal components or peripherals that are connected through ports or expansion slots. Click here to learn more about the Motherboard and click here to browse motherboards. icon

Below are the components directly connected to the motherboard:


The CPU (Central Processing Unit) also known as the microprocessor or processor is the 'brain' that controls the internal activities of your computer.

Just like the human brain processes information and directs the body to perform certain actions, this computer hardware processes instructions and directs the operations of the computer.

It is always kept cool by a heat sink/fan assembly Click here to learn more about the CPU and you can view some CPUs here. icon

Memory (RAM):

Memory (RAM) Random Access Memory is mounted on the motherboard and is a very important part of your computer. Computers use RAM to keep temporary instructions and data in order to complete its tasks.

Whenever a computer application is worked on, it is loaded into memory. This then allows your computer's CPU to quickly get instructions and data which are stored into memory. There are different types of memory such as ROM, (Read Only Memory), RAM and 'cache' memory. ROM is non-volatile memory while RAM is volatile which means ROM remains in memory unlike RAM which dies whenever the system is shut down. Click here to read about Computer Memory and view a variety of memory here. icon

Storage Devices:

  • Hard Drive - This local computer hardware is usually named Drive 'C' and it provides permanent storage for your computer.

    The storage of your information on your hard drive is measured in bytes. It is best to purchase as large a hard drive as you possibly can afford since your applications along with your other files can take up a lot of space. Click here to read about Computer Hard Drives and you can look at a variety of hard drives here. icon

Storage Devices also consist of other drives such as:

Input Devices:

Main Output Devices:


Computer hardware needs software to interact with.....without software your hardware is useless!

Click here to learn about Computer Software.

Click here to learn how to build your own cheap computer using cheap computer parts.

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