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What Makes Up A Computer
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There are numerous brands of computers out there, each one promising to be the absolute perfect match for you (without knowing the slightest thing about you). From laptops to desktops, the sheer amount of information and technical specifications (specs) can cause your head to spin and keep you scratching your head for hours on end. Here, we’ll set about explaining the basics of a PC’s technical specs, what they are, and what to expect. You won’t be a computer whiz, but at the end of the article, you should be able to look over a computer and understand its basic specs.

First, there’s the Operating System, commonly abbreviated OS. A very simplified definition is that the operating system is how the computer runs. There are three major Operating Systems for computers, Windows OS, Linux, and Mac OS. Unless you intend on purchasing a Macintosh, you’re most likely going to be using a Windows OS, no matter what brand of laptop you choose to buy. Nearly every new laptop with the Windows OS comes with Windows 8, and making sure that the computer you’re looking at has Windows 8 is a handy way to make sure the rest of the computer is up to date as well.

Next, there is the central processing unit (referred to as a CPU or a processor). The processor is a physical piece inside the computer that does whatever you just told your laptop to do (open a browser, play a game, etc). Basically, the better the CPU, the faster your computer will run. When you’re searching for a new PC, you’re generally going to see a lot of Intel processors, and at the time of this writing, some of the biggest processors are i3 Core, i5 Core, and i7 Core (it can get more complicated than that, but for purposes of the article, we’ll leave it at those three). An i3 processor would be best for just general computer usage (browsing, video watching, etc), whereas the i5 would be for more intensive processes like editing or game playing. As you may guess, the i7 core processor is an upgrade from the i5, and can handle even more, but will cost more.

After your processor, the next piece of equipment that will decide on the speed of your computer will be your RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM works by keeping the ‘memory’ or files you need to use immediately on hand. For example, if you’re searching looking through pictures and on Photoshop, the program that you aren’t immediately using is being held on the RAM. So, if you’re using Photoshop and then click to your pictures, your RAM immediately lets you see them, without loading them from your hard drive, which would take some time. In a computerless example, if you’re working on a car, and your friend is next to you holding tools, he’s your RAM. He can immediately hand you those tools, without having to go and search for them. The more RAM you have, the more memory that can be held at one time, which increases your ability to multi-task (since you can have more programs open).

The Video Card comes next, which will either be one of the most important things in the computer, or one of the least important. The Video Card, quite obviously, plays a major factor in how video and other graphics appear on your screen. If you just need a computer for internet browsing, email, and Youtube videos, then you don’t really need to give any thought to this piece. Most general computers come with a card like the Intel HD Graphics Card, which is perfectly fine for anything up to an HD video, but isn’t strong enough to handle many games. If you’re into gaming laptops or computers, you’ll have to search for something heavier.

Lastly, there is the sound card. Very similar to the video card above, the sound card does exactly as it says. It controls the audio quality of your computer. Nearly every computer comes with a suitable card for listening to music or watching movies, but you may need to do a fair bit of shopping around if you’re into video or audio editing and you need something stronger than the average sound card.

Look at you, on your way to becoming a computer whiz! The list above are some of the most basic and important components of the hardware (and in one case, software) that makes up a computer. Hopefully, after reading the list, you now have an understanding of what each thing does, and in the future, when you’re shopping around to buy yourself a new PC, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when looking, rather than having to listen to an employee’s sale talk.


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