Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate - Information Technology/Hardware Specifications of a Computer System

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Hardware Specification of a Computer System

The hardware specifications of a computer will vary depending on what an individual user will be doing with it. A person that wants to use their computer for graphically intense games or video editing will need a totally different configuration than somebody that just wants to browse the Internet and type word documents. Take a look at this advertisement that was copied from an online store.

Intel 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 64-bit dual core CPU with 2MB cache. This high-performance CPU Running on an Asus P5GC-MX 945GC motherboard, a 500GB - 7200RPM SATA II hard drive, 2GB of DDR2-533MHz PC 4200 RAM, XFX GeForce 7300 GT 512MB DDR2 PCI Express Video Card and a 20X DVD±RW Dual Layer drive for burning your own DVDs and CDs, Microsoft Windows Vista

To the average user this computer ad probably seems a little nightmarish. Let's try to analyze some of this.

Intel 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500 64-bit dual core CPU with 2MB cache - The two major players in the processor arena are Intel and AMD. Intel makes the "Core Duo " and "Pentium" class of processors. AMD makes the "Athlon" and "Opteron" class of processors. The Pentium and Athlon processors are Intel and AMD's low end and cheaper processors and would be the ones to choose if you wanted a computer for nothing more than Web browsing and word documents. You would want to choose the higher end Opteron or Pentium Dual Core processor for gaming, graphic intense, or business oriented software tasks. You need not choose between AMD or Intel on any grounds but the price.

Compare the many forms and prices of the Intel Processors Here

Compare the many forms and prices of the AMD Processors Here

2GB of DDR2-533MHz PC 4200 RAM - RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it is the place in your computer where the software and data that is in current use are kept for quicker access by the processor. It is much faster to keep the processes in RAM than to read and write the data to the Hard Disk or other types of storage. RAM is the least expensive way to increase your systems performance The more that you have the better off you are when it comes to increasing system performance. RAM can also be confusing because there are so many different types. There is DDR, DDR2, PC4200, PC-3200 DDR, PC-2700 DDR, PC133, PC100, SDRAM, RDRAM, the list goes on and on. Your best bet would be to buy as much as you can afford when you are buying the computer to insure that you are getting the right type. It is recommended that you have at least one 512 Megabytes of the type of RAM your motherboard calls for.

Comparison of the Many Forms and Prices of Computer Memory

500GB - 7200RPM SATA II hard drive - The Hard Drive is where the data and applications are stored. The average size hard drive that most companies sell right now is 160 Gigabytes (GB). This should be plenty for the average user. A larger Hard Drive becomes important if you are into digital music or video editing so keep that in mind when purchasing. If you want to find out more about Megabytes and Gigabytes and how big of a drive you will need, you can check the definitions here If you are looking for a way to manage your hard drive, you can check out some of the best drive management programs we could find here

Compare the different SATA Hard Drives and Prices

XFX GeForce 7300 GT 512MB DDR2 PCI Express Video Card - The graphics accelerator or graphics card is the part of the computer that sends the information that you see on the monitor. Many new personal computers are now sold with a graphics accelerator built into the motherboard. It may be referred to as "onboard video" or "integrated video". Onboard video is fine for basic functions like Web browsing and typing documents but it will not be suitable for gaming or high end graphics applications. If you want to play games, especially the fast-paced kind, the most important thing is having a good graphics card, like the one advertised, do not buy a machine with "integrated video" for gaming or video processing. The integrated video solution shares your systems RAM which will degrade performance when it is used heavily. Your best bet would be to get a separate video card with at least 256MB of memory.

Examples and Prices of PCI Express Video Cards

20X DVD±RW Dual Layer drive for burning your own DVDs and CDs - The average person may not have much use for a DVD-RW (Digital Versatile Disk Reader Writer). They do hold a lot more information than a regular CD, 4.7 Gigabytes compared to 700 Megabytes, but they are a little more expensive. If you are into digital video then the DVD-RW is the way to go but everybody should at least have a CD-RW (Compact Disk Reader Writer) to keep his or her important data backed up.

10/100/1000 Ethernet card, V.90 modem - These are communication components that are fairly standard in most new computers. The Ethernet card is used for networking and/or "Broadband" Internet access. The modem is mainly for what is called "dial-up" Internet access. If there is an option, get them both.

Microsoft Windows Vista - This is an Operating System. The Operating System is the software that tells the hardware what to do. Windows Vista is loaded on most of the new computers sold today. If you have a choice, get the Ultimate version. It costs about two-hundred and fifty dollars but it has all the bells and whistles that an Operating System will ever need.

Microsoft Windows Vista Software and Resources


Basic Computer Hardware Specifications