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A Guide to Computer Hardware

Written on July 31, 2006 by Richard Millard


Today, computers are found in over 80% of American households. Nearly every mall and major electronics store makes computer shopping as accessible as buying a new toaster. However, a computer is significantly more complicated than your average toaster! I speak with a dozen people each day who are trying to make sense of Gigahertz, Wattages, Decibels, and everything in between.

Welcome to Computer Hardware 101, a basic overview of what-is-what in computers. Hopefully this article will leave you with a basic understanding of the nuts and bolts of your typical computer hardware, and equip you to make informed decisions about what you need in your next computer. Here's a short list of questions that I hope this article will help you answer:
  • What do all the part numbers mean?
  • What does each piece of hardware do? Which parts are right for you?
  • How can you figure out the bottlenecks in your current system?
Let's start by taking a look at all the major components that make up your standard computer. The first piece of hardware that we'll take a look at is the motherboard, Or you can jump directly to any page:

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