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Motherboard image

The motherboard, or main board as it is sometimes referred to is one of the main components of a computer.  

The processor, memory, hard drives and DVD connect to this board.  The board may also have inbuilt graphics capabilities and your monitor may connect directly to it, or a graphics card may be fitted to the board via an expansion slot.  If your board has inbuilt graphics you may be able to fit a better graphics card, provided you have a spare expansion slot on the board.

The board also has an external panel which provides for the connection of such items as the keyboard, mouse, printers and external hard drives.

Hard disk drive image Memory chips image

Hard disk drive

The hard disk drive is where the operating system (the software) e.g. Windows 7/10 is stored, along with other applications you may have and where pictures and other files are saved.  These drives vary in capacity.  When you start your computer files are read from a boot sector of the disk, which will eventually display the operating system desktop on your monitor.


This is the area of the computer where the processor stores data it is processing.  The memory is also know as RAM (Random Access Memory) and is often referred to as the “working memory”. Some computers are only capable of accessing memory up to about 3.5GB, whereas newer (64 bit operating systems) can access and use much larger memory capacities and provide improved performance.

Power Supply image

Power Supply Unit

The power supply unit (PSU) takes the mains power and provides the internal power supply to the motherboard, hard disk drives, DVD and graphics cards if appropriate.

Graphics Card

These can also be referred to as the video cards.  The cards send graphic information to be displayed to your computer screen.  Some computer motherboards may have inbuilt graphics, which eliminates the need to have a graphics card. Inbuilt graphics will probably be less powerful than the graphic capabilities of a dedicated card.  You should be able to fit a graphics card on your motherboard, if you require more powerful graphics.

Graphics card image Processor image


The processor or to give it its full name Central Processing Unit (CPU), is responsible for the execution of commands from the computer’s hardware and software e.g. the operating system and applications running on the computer.  The processor is cooled by a cooling system which can be a fan or a liquid based system.

Components which make up a Computer




Operating System

Windows 10 is the latest operating system from Microsoft.  This is responsible for the display and functionality of the computer, storing files, copying files, displaying information and controlling the way things look.  Modern systems are 64 bit (previously 32 bit) and allow for faster processing, enabling larger amounts of memory to be used.  The operating system is stored on the hard disk drive inside your computer.

Programs or Apps as they are now referred to

These are packages which are installed after the operating system and perform dedicated functions e.g. word processing, spreadsheets, email, Internet, graphics design….. the list goes on.


These are bits of software written specifically for a particular component on the motherboard, or component attached to the computer.  They make these components work but sometimes can cause conflicts.