Computer 101

The components of a computer

Selecting the right component is important to us for two reasons:

1. The choice of components ultimately determines how your PC performs.
2. The choice of components also determines how much your PC costs.

Before we go any further, let's look at the components that make up a typical PC.
Below are examples of each manufacturer components

ATX case and power supply ($50 to $300): The box or shell in which all components are assembled. The cases are available in many types and sizes, ranging from beige cases to funky colored cases. Most tower cases comes with drives bays available. The power supply installed in the case or separate, usually comes with Molex connectors for the hard drives and CD/DVD ROM and Berg connectors for the floppy drives. Also if you plan to pack your PC with components, consider getting a hefty power supply rated at 300 watts or more


Case Manufacturer: Apex, Antec, Enlight, and Lian-Li

Power Supply: Antec, Deer

Keyboard ($15 to $75): a device that lets you type information into the computer. Available in PS/2 or USB.

Keyboard Manufacturer: Belkin, Logitech and Microsoft

Mouse ($10 to $75): A small hand device used to interact with GUI such as Windows OS and X Windows by Linux. Consider USB models for the easiest hookup and versatility.

Mouse Manufacturer: Logitech or Microsoft

Monitor ($150 and up): the video display, on which we view our computer work. There are two types of monitors; a CRT model similar to a television or a Flat Panel screen that uses LCD technology.

Monitor Manufacturer: Sony, Viewsonic, Princeton, iilyama, NEC and Samsung

Motherboard ($100 to $200): A large circuit board that holds most of the other components. Buy a motherboard that matched your processor, with room for growth if you want to upgrade to a faster CPU later. Some motherboards have sound and network support built in. But stay away from models with built-in video. They're compromises, at best.

Motherboard Manufacturer: Asus, GB, Intel, Shuttle and Tyan

Processor ($100 to $600): The CPU is the brain of the computer. Choosing a CPU is perhaps the most important factor in how powerful your computer will run. "Boxed" retail CPUs normally include a fan or heat sinks and complete installation instructions; a less-expensive OEM version usually ships sans instructions or a fan. (A fan is a necessity and costs about $25.)

CPU Manufacturer: AMD or Intel

Memory ($75 to $200 for 256MB): Getting sufficient memory in your system is perhaps one the most important thing you can do for your PC. The newer models come in either DIMM or RIMM packages

Memory Manfuacturer: Rambus, Crucial, Kingston, Micron, Samsung and PNY

Floppy disk drive ($15 to $20): This device lets you save small information to your floppy disk.

Floppy drive manufacturer: Teac and NEC

Hard drive(s) ($90 to $250 each): The bigger, the better is still a good rule of thumb. Drives up to 80GB are readily available. And the newest and fastest 7200-rpm drives offer better performance. Consider outfitting your PC with two drives.

Hard Drive Manufacturer: IBM. Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, Western Digital and Fujitzu

($35-$75): The faster the better use for multimedia experience

CD ROM Manufacturer: IBM, Plextor, NEC, Toshiba

CD-RW drive (optional; $150 to $250): A CD-RW drive is a virtual necessity these days. If your budget permits, go for the fastest write speed possible.

DVD/BluRAY drive (optional, $75 to $150): Necessary if you want to view DVD movies on your PC monitor.

Removable-media drive (optional; $50 to $500): Choices range from 250MB Zip drives to 2GB Jaz drives, as well as tape-backup drives.

Manufacturer: Sony, Iomega

PCIe graphics card ($75 to $400): A small plug-in card containing specialized chips that generate the signals for displaying graphics in your computer. The higher end graphics support AGP and for normal computing you can buy a PCI video card.

Video Card Manufacturer: ATI, Visiontek, Intel, Matrox, Asus

Sound card ($30 to $200): A sound card is plug-in card that can capture, digitize and playback sound.

Sound Card Manufacturer: Creative Labs and Turtle Beach

Speakers ($39-$499): An output device used for amplifying and playing sound.

Speaker Manufacturer: Creative Labs, Labtech, Klipsch and Altec Lansing

Network card ($50 to $100): If you're connected to a network or have broadband Internet access, you'll need a 10/100 Ethernet card.

NIC Manufacturer: 3COM, Intel, Netgear, SMC and Linksys

Modem ($40 to $75): A necessity if you don't have broadband Internet access.

Modem Manufacturer: 3COM/US Robotics, Diamond and Zoom


Cable Modem or DSL ($75 and up): For high speed connection

Manufacturer: 3COM, Lucent and Intel


Ink Jet Printer ($50-$300): An affordable way to print

Ink Jet Manufacturer: Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark

Laser Printer ($199 and up): A fast way to print especially use for spooling capabilities

Laser Printer Manufacturer: NEC, HP, Xerox and Brother

Scanner ($50-$500) Use to scan text and graphics

Scanner Manufacturer: Umax, HP, Epson, Visiontek

Gaming or Joystick ($29-$99) For the serious gamers

Manufacturers: Logitech or Microsoft

Digital Camera ($199-$1000) Use for taking digital pictures

Digital Camera Maufacturer: Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Sony and Olympus

Projectors ($500-$3000) For doing a presentation

Manufacturer: InFocus, Epson

Microphones ($20) For speaking and listening to music

Manufacturer: Logitech, Veo, Micro, Intel

Drawing Tablet ($99-$799) For the artist

Manufacturer: Wacom

Uninterruptable Power Supply ($99-$599) Battery Backup in case of an emergency

Manufacturer: APC


Win 11 $99 Win 2022 Server $585

Operating system and software (free to $220 and up): You can save more than 50 percent by purchasing the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) version of the Windows operating system and of major software such as Microsoft Office. Local computer stores that specialize in building systems and online retailers such as TC Computers and Multiwave can sell you OEM software, provided you purchase a piece of hardware along with it. The only trade-off: You won't get any free tech support on OEM products from Microsoft. If you like, of course, you can opt for an alternative, such as Linux.


I would like to give special thanks to the following companies for their support, PC World, Microsoft, Logitech, Compaq, Altec Lansing, Red Hat, US Robotics, 3Com, Intel, AMD, Linksys, TEAC, Voodoo, Antec, Belkin, Samsung, QPS, Western Digital, Rambus, Crucial, Iomega, Creative Labs, Wikipedia and HP