Basic computer parts overview

Knowing the basic computer parts will help you to understand how these parts work together and how they can be upgraded and maintained.

The main parts of a modern computer include the following:

Motherboard, CPU, Memory, Power unit, Hard Drive, Sound, and Video Cards, CD/DVD Drive, Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, and Case


Motherboard is the basic from all other components. It is the main circuit board that embraces the whole components of a computer system. No motherboard, no computer system. It controls the system.

The board itself has many individual parts fitted into it, such as processor, RAM, expansion slots and others. Read more...


CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. It is called “the brain of a computer” even some call it “engine”. It interprets and carries out the program instructions that run on a computer.

It has three components: Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), Control Unit and Registers.

CPUs are mounted directly on the main board.


Usually it is called primary storage, also named main memory. It closely related with the CPU. It holds program instructions and data required for the processor to use.

There are two major types of memory: RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory).

RAM is volatile in nature, means lose its data when the power shuts off whereas ROM is non-volatile, means its contents are not lost if the power is off.

ROM holds instructions and programs written by the manufacturer, which includes how the computer starts up when power is on.

Like the CPU, RAM is fitted directly on most common motherboards (ATX motherboard has RAM sockets on the board). RAM comes in different sizes (ex. 512 MB, 1000MB or 1GB). Read more...

Power Unit

The unit is responsible for supplying the necessary power to the computer. It converts the electrical AC power to the desired level of power required by the system. Read more...

Hard Drive

It is the most reliable storage device housed inside a computer. It stores all programs and data that are not currently required by the main memory.

Hard Disks are come with different storage sizes: 250GB, 500GB 1TB ...etc. Read more...

Sound and Video Cards

Sound card enables you to hear music and voice. Modern computers have onboard sound cards. However, you may look for well advanced sound cards if you want more sound support.

Video card allows and controls the information we see on the monitor. Normally, video cards are built with motherboard. But it is possible to plug it on the PCI slot of the motherboard when the upgrading need arise.

Video card is among the basic computer parts you should not skip. Read more...

CD/DVD Drives

CD drives enables us to read information from CDs and DVDs. Optical disks are the most common used media to distribute soft wares and application programs. We install these programs using CD drive. Currently, DVD drives are installed on computers.

There are varieties of disk types: CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW. They are preferred in terms of the size of data they hold, longevity and price. Read more...


It is one of the separate basic computer parts in desktop types which display the output from the computer. In portable computers it is built with the system (ex. laptops, notebooks).

Without the display, there is no way to interact with a computer. They are characterized by their diagonal size, refresh rate and resolution.

There are two types of monitors: CRT (Cathode Ray Tubs) – works like the traditional TV screen. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) – flat displays that use liquid crystal. Standard Monitor sizes range from 14” to 21”.

LCD monitors are more preferable than CRT in terms of eye health safety, power consumption and appearance. Read more...


It is an input device that helps to feed data to the computer. A user communicates with the computer with the keyboard.

Keyboard comes with a wide variety of type, size, and language. There are basic, multimedia, cordless or wireless keyboards available on the market. Read more...


It is used to point and select items on the monitor. Read more...


All the basic computer parts housed in the case, except the keyboard, monitor, mouse and speaker. Read more...


So far we have covered the basic computer parts needed to make it functional. These are just an overview to refresh our knowledge of computer components. There are additional but optional parts those could be added as the need arise.