Understanding Desktop Computer Components

Understanding computer components is important when deciding if anything needs to be replaced or upgraded. Understanding the basic components like the motherboard and central processing unit (CPU), as well as the RAM and memory, is a good start when learning about desktop parts.


What's a Motherboard?

At the heart of your computer is a motherboard, a circuit board that contains the units that make your computer run, as well as connections to other elements. All the computer hardware parts within your machine—CPU, hard drives, video cards, and graphics cards—connect to the motherboard. While almost everything you do on your computer involves an interaction with the motherboard, you won't have to make a decision about selecting one unless you're building a system yourself. The right computer for your needs will have a suitable motherboard.


What's a CPU?

Considered the brain of your computer, the CPU is a small chip that's the control center for all your computer's operations. The CPU processor relays instructions to all the other units. CPU speed is important, but you might not always need the newest, fastest processor. If you're not using large spreadsheets or doing graphics-intensive work, you can consider a slower, less-costly processor. Balance speed, budget, and your computing needs to decide on the right CPU.


What's the Difference Between Memory and Storage?

Memory and storage both have to do with data retention. The difference is that RAM (Random Access Memory) keeps data only for the short term while storage saves it indefinitely. If your computer activities require frequent opening of programs and quick page transitions, look for higher RAM options. If you have many files, programs, and videos to save, opt for a substantial amount of storage. You can upgrade both storage and memory. Storage devices are internal or external hard drives, flash drives, or discs, while RAM computer memory comes in the form of memory sticks attached to the motherboard.


How Important Is Cooling?

When the hardware inside your computer runs, it produces energy, which creates heat. Too much heat inside your desktop's case can damage the parts inside. It's the job of fans and CPU coolers to disperse the heat. Most computers come equipped with enough cooling power to keep your desktop running smoothly. The exception to this is gaming laptops, some of which require cooling pads. If you're a gamer, pay extra attention to the cooling system of any machine under consideration.


Some enthusiasts want the most speed they can get from their desktop computer parts. Other computer users are content with the options manufacturers provide, but may want to change an accessory or two. Whether you want to replace or improve components, B&H Photo and Video's selection can offer the right desktop components to suit your needs.