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Inside a PC

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on 6 February 2014

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Transcript of Inside a PC

What's gutted into a
personal computer?
You have been warned.
This might bore you.
I mean it.
STOP ignoring ME!
The central processing unit is commonly a microprocessor which does the calculations in binary in the computer. The CPU is made of electronic switches which either are on or off, this can lead to some quite complex calculations when you unlock its true potential. Most CPUs are based on the x86 or x64 platform which are 32-bit and 64-bit platforms respectively. I'd like to point out that 32-bit processors can only handle 32-bit intergers and programs which is why when the UNIX timestamp gets bigger than a 32-bit integer, your time will be reset to 1970. This is commonly known as the 2038 problem as that is the year where the 32-bit UNIX timestamps will run out. Though this should only affect servers and can be fixed by upgrading to a 64-bit architecture. This is commonly the most expensive part of the computer. You can get CPUs of all types, and there are 2 main desktop CPU companies. Each company have CPUs of all types, for example: for extremists, there is the Intel Core i7 4770k and the AMD, cheaper equivalent would be the AMD Phenom x4 or the FX-8350 4Ghz 8 cores. Also we have cheap solutions which draw little power for example: the AMD E350 and the Intel Atom, they use less than 30 Watts on a heavy load. Though they are really slow and sluggish, even an Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon will perform better. You can upgrade your CPU if you have enough technical knowledge, but I
do not recommend
it if you do not know what you are doing. Also if you have an Intel CPU, it will most likely
not work
on a motherboard with an AMD socket. Some motherboards like the Gigabyte GA-E350N or the Gigabyte GA-GC230D won't even allow you to take the CPU without some strain. Between the CPU and the CPU heat sink fan, there is something known as thermal compound which helps the heat from the fan or water cooling setup conduct with the CPU. The CPU normally has a heat sink fan on top which blows air on top, you can also use a liquid cooling plate. The CPU optimally performs in cool conditions so you must keep it cool. CPU speed is measured in Hz or Hertz. For example the AMD E350 CPU clock speed in GHz(GiHz) is 1.6Ghz.
Random Access Memory is temporary storage used to store application data and load programs. When a program is launched, it gets loaded into RAM. RAM speed is measured in Hz like the CPU, although for RAM, speed does not really matter a whole lot. Unless if you are running a server like LAMP with several requests a second. You can overclock a RAM like a CPU which means you change its clockspeed higher. I find it is easier to use a CPU for this example: An Intel Core i7's stock speed could be 3.4Ghz but is overclock-able to 8Ghz. You can also overclock your RAM, but is not really recommended as you might fail to boot. RAM uses nan-flash modules to store its data and fits into slots called DIMs on the motherboard. There are many versions of RAM, the latest version of RAM that is commonly used is DDR3. There is also DDR2 and DDR1. Also if you have a graphics card which we talk about later, it uses graphical RAM to load images, shaders and graphical effects which can be resource intensive. The RAM used on those daughter boards or expansion cards as I know them as is called GDDR5. Speaking of graphics, if you do not use a dedicated graphics card then you will benifit from faster RAM Laptops use a different type of memory called SO-RAM, it is different because DDR3 RAM cannot fit into the laptop's form factor. The amount of RAM you have is measured in bytes. For example most users use 2-4 GB of RAM but if you use heavy applications then you will need 8-16GB of RAM, *cough* mac users *cough* if you do intense video editing or gaming. Extremists would use 32GB of RAM. In design, companies like Corsair offer very fast and high capacity RAM which are intended for gamers with beautiful designs, they also include head spreaders which are for computers which are going to get very, very, VERY HOT!

The power supply unit is essential for the computer to run as it delivers power around the computer. There's a long cable called the 24-pin connector which plugs into the motherboard. Some CPUs require extra power so there is an 8-pin, 6-pin or 4-pin connector for the CPU on heavy duty motherboards. Optical and storage drives plug into the PSU for power using the SATA power connectors. If the device is particularly old then you will probably have to use the legacy molex connection. A power supply's output is measured in Watts, some cases come with power supplies. But what I do not like with power supplies which come with cases is that they are usually poor quality. There's a certifying scheme called 80+ so if you are buying a power supply, make sure it is 80+ certified. The good PSU manufactures like Corsair do have 80+ Bronze at least on all of their products. You need a power supply which can handle your hardware so a 430Watt PSU will be useless for a computer which requires 743 Watts.
Hard disk drives are means of storage which use magnetic platters that spin round thousands of times per minute, most commonly 5200 RPM, RPM stands for revolutions per minute, and if you do the maths then it's roughly 87 times per second. Though since HDDs aren't solid state, as in they have moving parts, they are incredibly slow compared to the electric circuits in the rest of the PC. The faster hard drives have a higher RPM. To handle the incoming and leaving data, HDDs have a cache or buffer for the data to come and leave the device. A hard drive's capacity is measured in bytes. You typically want to aim for a HDD with 1TB or 512GB. HDDs are usually more capacity than SSDs and are cheaper but are slower. FACT: HDDs will ALWAYS die, it's just a matter of when. The HDD connects to the mobo with a connector like SATA or IDE.
Solid state drives are solid state, so they have NO moving parts! This type of drive uses the same technology as a flash drive, it uses flash memory as well. These cost a lot more, since they cost so much then they come in smaller capacities. But as there is no moving parts, they are A LOT faster to run! The SSD connects to the motherboard like the HDD with SATA.
Optical Drive
The optical drive is a drive which is 5.25 inches width and can read DVDs, CDs and maybe even bluerays. They take in SATA power if you have a SATA optical drive and they also use a SATA cable to connect to the motherboard's bus. Quite a few other components can fit in a 5.25" form factor, like a fan controller or en external 3.5 inch HDD enclosure. Optical drives are dying out as most people can download software from the internet, but is important for the OS install.
This is a PCI-Express (x16) slot, here you can plug in an expansion slot like: a graphics card, a sound card, a network interface card... There are multiple technologies with PCIe 3.0 which allow you to link graphics cards together to boost your performance, like CrossFire(AMD/ATI) and SLI(nVidea).
Some motherboard form factors only have room for one PCI Express slot, an example of this form factor is called mITX. You get different speed PCI-Express slots, this one in this example is a x1 slot.
You can also get micro PCI Express as well.
CMOS Battery
The CMOS battery is a small battery in the computer which powers the real time clock and keeps a small, but constant current flowing through the computer. This allows the BIOS, working with the RTC to keep track of time and keep track of BIOS settings. CMOS stands for Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. The thing the CMOS is powering along with the RTC is the CMOS Memory. The CMOS battery is usually a lithium dry cell battery in the centre of the motherboard. If the CMOS battery is out of juice then the motherboard's BIOS will bark at you until you change it. CMOS batteries were designed to last 2 years off charge, but I have used a CMOS battery that has lasted 7 years.
North Bridge
The north bridge is responsible for linking the CPU, the RAM and the AGP, which is basically the integrated graphics on a motherboard which you sometimes see advertised. The north bridge is one component in the core logic chipset, the other being the south bridge. If you plan on overclocking, then the north bridge plays a key role in controlling the CPU's clock speed and speeding it up.
South Bridge
The south bridge, although equally important, is a little bit more exciting to talk about, the diagram to the right shows you what the south bridge does. The south bridge links the PCI express slots, the USB headers, the SATA headers and all of the IO on the motherboard practically, along with the BIOS. The south bridge is also connected to the north bridge. The south bridge MUST work with the north bridge in order to function.
I / O
Here are where the IO buses are located. IO stands for input output. This input and output is controlled by the south bridge and some connectors have a special bus for it, like a RealTek Ethernet jack or upgraded sound functionality.
Thanks for watching!
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A computer!
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