Computer Hardware

Tom Kelliher, CS 102

Apr. 13, 1998

Announcements: Project groups, quiz on Friday.

From last time:

  1. Finished and published home pages.


  1. Shopping for a computer.

  2. A computer, defined. PC components. A computer, itself.

Reading assignment:

  1. Dave's Guide to Buying a Home Computer. (Definitely read this.)

  2. A PC Guide That Won't, Technically, Make Your Head Explode. (Optional.)

  3. Introduction to PC Hardware. (Optional.)

Shopping for a Computer

Things to consider:

  1. What do I want to do with the computer? Telecommuting? Word processing? Graphical design? Games?

  2. What software do I need?
    1. Personal productivity: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation graphics.

    2. Reference: encyclopedia.

    3. Internet clients: e-mail, browser.

    4. Personal finance.

  3. PC or Mac?

  4. Where do I buy it?

  5. What else do I need?
    1. Additional software.

    2. Printer, cable, paper, toner/ink.

    3. Monitor.

    4. Power protection.

    5. Removable media ( diskettes).

  6. Can I return it if I don't like it or if it's a ``lemon?''

  7. What about the warranty?

  8. Service and support?

  9. Recent pricing trends.

  10. The Intel premium.

A Computer, Defined

  1. Central Processing Unit (CPU):
    1. Controls all other hardware.

    2. Executes program instructions.

    3. Operates on data.

  2. Memory (RAM)
    1. Holds currently needed programs and data.

    2. If too little, backed up by disk storage.

  3. Input/Output (I/O):
    1. Communication with external world.

    2. Everything else: keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, network adapter, modem, disk, diskette, ...

    3. Storage: disk holds programs, data until needed. Virtual memory.

Operating systems --- the missing piece:

PC Components

  1. Processor generations: Pentium II, Pentium Pro, Pentium, x486.
    1. Clock speeds.

    2. What about MMX?

  2. Memory: the more the merrier, up to a point.
    1. What's the minimum?

    2. Temporary storage.

    3. When to upgrade: poor performance.

  3. Disk storage: permanent storage.
    1. When to upgrade: can't save work, install new programs.

    2. Disks are delicate.

    3. How much storage do I need?

  4. Video card and monitor.
    1. What size monitor?

    2. Dot pitch, resolution, refresh rate.

    3. How much video memory?

  5. Keyboard and mouse.

  6. CD-ROM and diskette drive.
    1. CD-ROM speed.

    2. The future? DVD and ZIP disks?

  7. Modem or network card.

  8. Printer.
    1. Ink jet or laser? How do they work?

    2. Resolution, speed, colors.

    3. Photographic printers.

  9. Extras: tape backup unit, power protection (surge protector, uninterrupted power supply), scanner, digital camera, TV tuner.

The Computer Itself

A Motherboard.

An inside look at a system unit.

A virtual shopping trip: Yahoo. (Packard Bell reviews, Compaq and the sub-$1,000 PC, Gateway 2000, Dell.)

How much software comes with it?

Thomas P. Kelliher
Wed Apr 8 10:03:35 EDT 1998
Tom Kelliher