For accurate graphics work such as photo retouching, graphics tablets are now the choice of many, with a pen or other tool being used on a special surface (the absolute market leader in this area being Wacom). Many mobile computing devices now also feature a touchscreen that allows the device used to control a computer to be a pen or finger directly in contact with the display. Touchscreens are now included on almost all smartphones and tablet computers, as well as many point of sale systems, and Wacom's lovely Cintiq.
There are four steps that nearly all CPUs use in their operation: fetch, decode, execute, and writeback. The first step, fetch, involves retrieving an instruction from program memory. In the decode step, the instruction is broken up into parts that have significance to other portions of the CPU. During the execute step various portions of the CPU, such as the arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and the floating point unit (FPU) are connected so they can perform the desired operation. The final step, writeback, simply writes back the results of the execute step to some form of memory.
Although the design of hardware differs between desktop PCs and laptops due to their differences in size, the same core components will be found in both. Without hardware, there would be no way of running the essential software that makes computers so useful. Software is defined as the virtual programs that run on your computer; that is, operating system, internet browser, word-processing documents, etc.

Depending on the form factor of the SSD you’ve purchased (2.5-inch, mSATA, or M.2), installation requires attaching the drive to the storage interface, then fitting it into the drive bay (if it’s a 2.5-inch SSD). If you’re looking for the largest capacity possible and have an extremely tight budget, a hard drive may be an attractive option. For instructions on installing your hard drive, consult its owner’s manual. Find out more about SSD installation with our guides and videos.


No matter which computer part you need, whether it's a motherboard or a video card, you're bound to find computer parts offers that will reduce the price you pay at checkout. If you're building a new computer, it makes sense to buy parts in order of importance and to consider the steps necessary to install them. For example, your motherboard and CPU are the most vital. From these parts, you need to find others that are compatible with them. If you're making a computer repair, first look at parts to determine compatibility with your setup before looking for computer parts deals. The last thing you want to do is snag a sweet deal on RAM that doesn't work with your system.

A flash drive is faster and uses less power than a hard disk. However, per byte, flash is significantly more expensive than hard drive storage. Flash has been getting cheaper, so it may take over niches at the expense of hard drives. Flash is much slower than RAM, so it is not a good replacement for RAM. Note that Adobe Flash is an unrelated concept; it is a proprietary media format.


A power supply unit, commonly abbreviated as PSU, does more than just supply your computer with power. It is the point where power enters your system from an external power source and is then allocated by the motherboard to individual component hardware. Not all power supplies are made equally however, and without the right wattage PSU your system will fail to work.
Random access memory (RAM) is fast-access memory that is cleared when the computer is power-down. RAM attaches directly to the motherboard, and is used to store programs that are currently running. RAM is a set of integrated circuits that allow the stored data to be accessed in any order (why it is called random). There are many different types of RAM. Distinctions between these different types include: writable vs. read-only, static vs. dynamic, volatile vs. non-volatile, etc.
RAM is built with a few chips packaged together onto a little card known as a DIMM that plugs into the motherboard (dual inline memory module). Here we see the RAM DIMM removed from its motherboard socket. This is a 512MB DIMM built with 4 chips. A few years earlier, this DIMM might have required 8 chips in order to store 512MB .. Moore's law in action.

Essentially, each file in the file system refers to a block of bytes, so the "flowers.jpg" name refers to a block of 48KB of bytes which are the data of that image. The file system in effect gives the user a name (and probably an icon) for a block of data bytes, and allows the user to perform operations on that data, like move it or copy it or open it with a program. The file system also tracks information about the bytes: how many there are, the time they were last modified.
Random-access memory (RAM) -- Even the fastest processor needs a buffer to store information while it's being processed. The RAM is to the CPU as a countertop is to a cook: It serves as the place where the ingredients and tools you're working with wait until you need to pick up and use them. Both a fast CPU and an ample amount of RAM are necessary for a speedy PC. Each PC has a maximum amount of RAM it can handle, and slots on the motherboard indicate the type of RAM the PC requires.
Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers and motherboard.[1] By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is "hard" or rigid with respect to changes or modifications; whereas software is "soft" because it is easy to update or change. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", which is software that is strongly coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but also among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface. The progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing.
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