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How Computers Work. The Four Basic Operations The Boot Process Hardware Components & Their Functions Differences in Portable Devices. The Four Basic Computer Operations. Input – Getting data from the outside world into the computer Processing – Manipulating the information

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how computers work
How Computers Work
  • The Four Basic Operations
  • The Boot Process
  • Hardware Components & Their Functions
  • Differences in Portable Devices
the four basic computer operations
The Four Basic Computer Operations

Input – Getting data from the outside world into the computer

Processing – Manipulating the information

Output – Presenting data from the computer to the outside

Storage – Efficiently and inexpensively holding data for later use.

the boot process
The Boot Process

The Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) setup program loads and runs

The Power-On-Self-Test (POST) runs

The Operating System loads

System Configuration

System utilities load

pc components
PC Components



Power Supply



Hard Drives

Removable Media Drives

Video, Audio Functionality


Mouse, Keyboard

the processor
The Processor
  • Single core vs. Dual core
  • Intel vs. AMD
  • Trade-off between price and speed
    • The newest, fastest processors are always overpriced. Best "bang for the buck" is with the next step down.
system memory
System Memory
  • How much?
    • Single core or dual core processor
    • Types of applications
  • What kind?
    • Types
      • SDRAM
      • DDR SDRAM
      • DDR2 SDRAM
    • Motherboard and CPU must support.
choosing a power supply
Choosing a Power Supply

Enough power for high class video cards

Special connectors available for SATA Hard Drives and PCI-E video cards

Motherboard may have a 20-pin or 24-pin main connector


Hard Drives

How much, based on applications used

What type (SATA or PATA)?

Optical Drives

CD Burner, DVD-ROM, DVD Burner (Single Layer or Dual Layer)

How many? Two really make copying disks easy.

Floppy Drive?

hard drives
Hard Drives
  • IDE (ATA)
    • EIDE – ATA2 aka Fast ATA
    • ATA3 – Ultra ATA - Improved interface, hard drives can report status information to the MB.
    • Two devices per channel (or cable)
  • SATA – Serial ATA
    • One device per channel
  • SCSI – Many devices can be daisy-chained.
choosing a motherboard
Choosing a Motherboard
  • Supports the chosen Processor
  • Storage connectors ( PATA [aka IDE], SATA150, SATA 3.0)
  • Memory type and amount
  • Built-ins (Video, Audio, LAN)
  • Graphic Card support (PCI-e, AGP)
  • PCI Expansion slots
  • RAID support
factors in choosing a case
Factors in Choosing a Case

4 Form Factors


Mid-Size Tower

Full-Size Tower

Little, Teeny, Tiny Cases (VSFF)

External and Internal Drive Bays

Front (Top) Panel Multi-Media Connectors

Cooling System (can also add-on)

  • Made up of two components
    • Monitor
    • Video card or circuitry
  • CRT
    • Cheaper
    • Takes up more desktop real estate
    • Can tire your eyes
  • Flat Panel
    • More expensive
    • Saves space
    • Sharper Image
video cards
Video Cards
  • PCI
    • Fits in a standard expansion slot
    • General purpose video
  • Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
    • AGP 2X/4X, AGP 4X/8X, AGP Pro 4X/8X
  • PCI Express (PCIe)
    • PCIe x1, PCIe x4, PCIe x8, PCIe x16
replacing a video card
Replacing a Video Card
  • Make sure you don't buy too much card for the monitor.
  • It doesn't matter if the original video was built-in to the motherboard. Installing a video card and loading drivers "takes over" from the old video.
  • Get a card the motherboard supports.