A computer case is a metal and plastic box that contains the main components of a computer, including the motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), and power supply. The front of the case usually has a power on/off button and one or more optical drives.
Basic Parts of a Computer
Computer cases come in many shapes and sizes. A desktop case lies flat on a desk and the monitor is usually placed on top of it. The tower case is tall and is mounted next to the monitor or on the floor. All-in-one computers come with internal components built into the monitor, eliminating the need for a separate case.
computer monitor display -The monitor works with the video card inside the computer case to display images and text on the screen. Most monitors have control buttons that allow you to change your monitor’s display settings, and some monitors also have built-in speakers.
Newer monitors usually have liquid crystal displays (LCDs) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes). They can be made very thin and are often called flat-panel displays. Older monitors use electron-beam tube (CRT) displays. CRT monitors are much larger and heavier, and they take up more desk space.
The keyboard is one of the main ways to communicate with your computer. There are many different types of keyboards, but most are very similar and allow you to do the same basic tasks.
Click the buttons in the interactive section below to learn about the different parts of a keyboard.
keyboard If you want to learn how to type or improve your touch typing skills, check out our free typing tutorial.
Mouse display – The mouse is another important tool for communicating with computers. Widely known as a pointing device, it allows you to point, click and move objects on the screen.
There are two main types of mice: optical and mechanical. An optical mouse uses an electronic eye to detect movement and is easier to clean. A mechanical mouse uses a rolling ball to detect movement and requires regular cleaning for proper operation.
Alternatives to the mouse
There are other devices that can do the same thing as a mouse. Many people find them easier to use, and they also require less desk space than a traditional mouse. Below are the most common alternatives to the mouse.
Trackball: The trackball has a ball that can rotate freely. Instead of moving the device like a mouse, you can roll the ball with your thumb to move the pointer.
Touchpad: A touchpad, also called a trackpad, is a touchpad that allows you to control the pointer by making motions with your finger to draw. Touchpads are common on portable computers.
front of your computer case
The back of the computer case has connection ports that are designed for specific devices. The placement will vary from computer to computer, and many companies have their own special connectors for specific devices. Some ports may be color-coded to help you identify which port is being used with a particular device.
Click the buttons in the interactive box below to familiarize yourself with the back of your computer.
Computer case back cover
Other types of ports – There are many other types of ports, such as FireWire, Thunderbolt, and HDMI. If there are ports on your computer that you do not recognize, you should consult the manual for more information.
Peripheral devices that you can use with your computer
The most basic computer setup usually includes your computer case, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, but you can connect many different types of devices to additional ports on your computer. These devices are called peripherals. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
Printers: A printer is used to print documents, photos, and anything else that appears on your screen. There are many types of printers, including inkjet, laser and photo printers. There are even universal printers that can also scan and copy documents.
Scanners: A scanner allows you to copy a physical image or document and save it to your computer as a digital (machine-readable) image. Many scanners are included with the universal printer, although you can also purchase a separate flatbed or handheld scanner.
Speakers/headphones: Speakers and headphones are output devices, which means they relay information from the computer to the user-in this case, they allow you to hear sound and music. Depending on the model, they may connect to an audio port or a USB port. Some monitors also have built-in speakers.
Microphones: A microphone is a type of input device or device that receives information from the user. You can connect a microphone to record audio or to talk to someone else over the Internet. Many laptop computers have built-in microphones.
Webcams: A webcam or webcam is a type of input device that can record video and take pictures. It can also transmit video over the Internet in real time, allowing you to video chat or video conference with someone else. For this reason, many webcams are also equipped with a microphone.
Game controllers and joysticks: A game controller is used to control computer games. There are many other types of controllers you can use, including joysticks, although you can also use a mouse and keyboard to control most games.
Digital Cameras: A digital camera allows you to take digital photos and videos. By connecting the camera to your computer’s USB port, you can transfer images from the camera to your computer.
Cell phones, MP3 players, tablets and other devices: Whenever you buy an electronic device such as a cell phone or MP3 player, check if it comes with a USB cable. If it does, it means you can probably plug it into your computer.
Inside your computer
Have you ever looked inside a computer case or seen pictures of the inside of a computer? The small details may seem complicated, but the inside of a computer case really isn’t that mysterious. This tutorial will help you learn some basic terms and understand a little more about what goes on inside a computer.
Watch the video below to learn about what’s inside a desktop computer.
Motherboard for desktops and laptops – The motherboard is the main circuit board of a computer. It is a thin plate that houses the processor, memory, connectors for the hard drive and optical drives, expansion boards for video and audio control, and connections to ports on your computer (such as USB ports). The motherboard connects directly or indirectly to each part of your computer.
CPU – The central processing unit (CPU), also called the processor, is located inside the computer case on the motherboard. It is sometimes called the brain of the computer, and its job is to execute commands. Whenever you press a key, click a mouse, or start an application, you send instructions to the CPU.
The CPU is usually a two-inch ceramic square with a silicon chip inside. The chip is usually the size of a thumbnail. The processor is placed in the motherboard CPU socket, which is covered by a heat sink, an object that absorbs heat from the processor.
Processor speed is measured in megahertz (MHz), or millions of instructions per second; and gigahertz (GHz), or billions of instructions per second. A faster processor can execute instructions faster. However, the actual speed of a computer depends on the speed of many different components, not just the processor.
Operational memory (random access memory) Operational memory
Memory is the short-term memory of your system. Whenever your computer performs calculations, it temporarily stores data in RAM until you need it.
This short-term memory disappears when you turn off your computer. If you are working with a document, spreadsheet, or other type of file, you need to save it to avoid losing it. When you save a file, the data is written to your hard drive, which acts as long-term storage.
RAM is measured in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). The more RAM you have, the more tasks your computer can perform at once. If you don’t have enough RAM, you may notice that your computer runs slowly when you have multiple programs open. Because of this, many people add extra RAM to their computers to improve performance.
Hard drive and solid state drive – A hard drive is where your software, documents, and other files are stored. A hard drive is designed for long-term storage, which means that data is still retained even if you turn off your computer or unplug it.
When you run a program or open a file, the computer copies some data from the hard drive to RAM. When you save a file, the data is copied back to the hard disk. The faster the hard disk, the faster your computer can start and load programs.
Power supply The power supply
power supply – The power supply in your computer converts power from a wall outlet to the type of power your computer needs. It sends power through cables to the motherboard and other components.
Most computers have expansion slots on the motherboard that allow you to add different types of expansion cards. These are sometimes called PCI (peripheral component interconnect) cards. You may never need to add any PCI cards, since most motherboards have built-in video, audio, networking, and other features.
However, if you want to increase the performance of your computer or upgrade the capabilities of an older computer, you can always add one or more cards. Below are some of the most common types of expansion cards.
Video card video card
The video card is responsible for what you see on your monitor. Most computers have a graphics processor (GPU) built into the motherboard instead of a separate video card. If you like to play graphics-intensive games, you can add a faster graphics card to one of the expansion slots to improve performance.
The sound card, also called an audio card, is responsible for what you hear through your speakers or headphones. Most motherboards have built-in sound, but you can upgrade to a dedicated sound card for better sound.
Wi-Fi card – A network card allows your computer to communicate over a network and access the Internet. It can connect either with an Ethernet cable or a wireless connection (often called Wi-Fi). Many motherboards have built-in network connections, and a network card can also be added to an expansion slot.
Bluetooth card (or adapter)
Bluetooth dongle – Bluetooth is a short-range wireless communication technology. It is often used in computers to communicate with wireless keyboards, mice and printers. It is usually built into the motherboard or included as part of a wireless network card. For computers that don’t have Bluetooth, you can buy a USB adapter, often called a dongle.