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Basic Computer Hardware

After this training you will be able to identify and have a basic knowledge of what lies beneath the cover of your computer.

Workshop Agenda
Definitions Demonstration Hands On
Feel free to ask questions throughout
(Please be aware that specific situations involving hardware often require hands on testing and evaluation)

Static Charge Buildup of electricity on people or objects that can damage the circuits on a circuit board and must be dispersed prior to touching a circuit board.

Cards Flat plastic wafer boards containing circuits, capacitors, and other electronic devices that plug into the motherboard. Different cards perform different functions such as, networking, modem transmissions, temporary memory, video, sound, etc

Connector (Plug) An object at the end of a cable that connects the cable to a device. Most cables have two or more connectors. Typically one goes to a device and the other to the motherboard or another card.

Drive Device for reading or writing data, hard disk drive, floppy disk drive, compact disk drive are various types.

Jumper Small plastic cover with a metal core used to connect electronic circuits to set certain functions of a device.

Mother Board The main circuit board inside the computer to which all other components attach.

Mount Bracket or slot that holds a device in place.

Power Cables Small round cords (typically black, yellow, and red) that originate from the power supply and end in connectors.

Power Supply Receives electric power from a power cord plugged into a wall outlet. Can retain a dangerous electric charge even when unplugged.

Processor A computer chip that processes the commands sent to the computer.

Ribbon Cable The flat, wide cable, typically gray, that connects devices to the motherboard. The red edge denotes pin number 1.

Riser Board A board extending from the motherboard with multiple connectors available for efficient placement of other cards, typically only found in proprietary systems.

Expansion Slot Architectures



(Industry Standard Architecture)

The primary structure for expansion slots used in computers prior to the early 1990s. Typically made of black plastic and only accepting ISA cards. Utilizes a 32-bit bus.


(Peripheral Component Interface)

The common structure for expansion slots used in computers today. PCI began to replace ISA structures in the early 1990s. Typically made of white plastic and only accepts PCI cards. Developed by Intel. Utilizes a 64-bit bus.


(Advanced Graphics Port)

Expansion slot structure for video cards supporting 3D graphics. Older video cards come in both PCI and ISA structures. Typically made of brown plastic and only accepts AGP cards. Developed by Intel.


(Random Access Memory)

Refers to the temporary memory of a computer that is available only when the computer is turned on as opposed to permanent memory such as the hard drive or other disk or tape storage. The RAM comes in the form of small cards that plug into the motherboard.


(Single Inline Memory Module)

One of the earlier forms of RAM. Must be used in pairs of identical RAM cards.


(Dual Inline Memory Module)

A form of RAM newer than SIMM.

Newer RAM structures

DRAM (Dynamic RAM) A form of RAM newer than DIMM. SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM) A form or RAM newer than DRAM. DDR SDRAM (Double-data Rate SDRAM) A form of RAM newer than SDRAM.

Required Tools
Flat and Phillips Screwdrivers Paper Pencil/Pen

Please pay close attention to Wes while taking copious notes and asking questions. You will be dismantling and reassembling your computers soon.

Important questions
What is the name of the device or card? What does the name mean? What device/card goes where? What ribbon/power cord connects to which device and where does the other end attach? When do you need to replace a device or a card?