What’s in your PC?

Computers are finely tuned machines with many components that all work in harmony for all your Facebook driven needs. But What’s going on under the hood that allows an everyday user to hit ‘like’ on your bff’s post?

Now don’t worry, this will be a basic rundown of the more major components inside of your pc. There are a handful of main components inside of each computer, whether it’s a big tower that sits next to your computer desk collecting dust or the tiny phone small enough to fit in your pocket. The main components consist of:

The power supply
The motherboard
The graphics card
The hard drive


The Power Supply

Also known as the PSU, the power supply is the driving force of all the components to your computer. Without the PSU, there will be no life when you press that on button if your computer doesn’t have a PSU. Power supplies come in many sizes, for laptops or phones they can be very small and efficient, for desktops they can be very huge and powerful. The main job of the PSU is to turn the power coming in from your walls into nice and clean energy friendly enough for all the delicate computer components.

Power Supplies are measured in Watts, the more Watts your PSU is measured in the more power hungry and powerful components it can handle like graphic cards, hard drives, or CPU’s.


The Motherboard

Sometime referred to as the Mobo, the motherboard is the spine of the machine. Its main jobs include proper power distribution and proper data distribution. The motherboard is what connects all the different components together. If anything needs to be happen it must go through the motherboard. Attached to the motherboard is a plethora of different components like the chipsets, network interface controllers, USB bus, etc.

The motherboard has its own simple operating system called a BIOS, an abbreviation of Basic Input/Output System. This allows certain features to be monitored and controlled, you only see the BIOS when your pc first boots up. Other than that, it usually runs silently.


An abbreviation of Central Processing Unit, the CPU usually sits smack dab right in the middle of your motherboard, usually with a big hunk of metal and a fan strapped to it. The CPU is the decision maker, it tells the components what to do and when to do it. This component is very power hungry, so much so that the PSU has its own dedicated power connector just for the CPU and a fan to keep everything cool. On devices like cellphones or tablets the CPU will not have a fan, instead it’s heat distribution method is the shell of the phone, that’s why your phone or tablet gets hot when you play games or watch a lot of Netflix.

The CPU is one of the main deciding factors of the speed of your machine. The speed will be designated as a number followed by ‘Ghz’ (Gigahertz). Your CPU may have a 3.5Ghz clock speed. Another big speed factor is the number of cores your CPU may have. The more cores you have the more tasks it can handle at once. Your CPU might say it has 4 cores or that it’s a quadcore CPU.


An abbreviation of Random Access Memory, sometimes referred to as memory or RAM. You can usually find it directly to the left or right of the CPU. RAM is what is known as volatile memory, volatile memory is computer storage that only maintains its data while the device is powered on. This type of memory is expensive compared to Non-Volatile memory. The upside is that this type of memory is extremely fast.

The main job of the RAM is to give the CPU any data it needs as fast as possible. While the computer is in use the CPU will find data it accesses frequently and puts a copy of it on the RAM allowing for very fast access times of frequently used data. This is why switching from tab to tab on Google Chrome doesn’t make you reload the page every time. This should also be a reminder to the people who have tons of tabs open in Chrome to close them out, this can cause a massive performance drop because all your available RAM is taken up by Chrome tabs.

RAM is considered the easiest of these components to upgrade/replace with the most noticeable performance change. Adding or upgrading RAM can decrease start and loading times to a certain extent. The more RAM you add the more Chrome tabs you can open.

The Graphics Card

Sometimes called the GPU, this device can be found towards the bottom of your motherboard. On most consumer grade computers this component is built into the CPU. This devices strictly handles graphics. Its job is to take the role of displaying the picture on your monitor or screen. Mostly found in high end gaming computers or editing work stations, this product can be the most power hungry thing in your PC. This allows for fast rendering in a game or editing machines.


The Hard Drive

Also known as the Hard Disk Drive or HDD and others including by not limited to: Hard Drive Disk, C Drive, Mechanical Drive, Solid State Drive, SSD, and spinning drive.

The HDD is a form of Non-Volatile memory. Non-volatile memory (NVM) is a type of computer memory that can retrieve stored information even after having been power cycled (turned off and back on). The downside is that the access speeds are very slow compared to Volatile memory. The upside is that this storage medium is rather inexpensive.

Everything you do on a day to day basis on your computer in some way gets stored on the HDD. Everything from word documents to photos and videos. The operating system (OS) even gets stored on the HDD. This is why having HDD malfunctions can be the single most devastating thing to happen to any user. This is also why us at On-Site Computing recommend backing up all of your important data to a cloud storage solution so that in the event of a HDD failure your data can still be recovered. For any questions or concerns please contact us about backing up your data or for recommendations to best fit your backup needs.