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This chapter describes the basic structure of a personal computer, along with a list of tools needed by a PC technician, and some general advice on computer repair.
Figure 1.1 shows a typical personal computer.
Figure 1.1: A typical PC system.
Some terms are commonly misused. The most basic of these is the computer itself, which is the box containing all the main components. All peripherals are connected to the computer. The computer is not the modem, hard drive, or CPU. These three terms represent individual
Case: The cabinet that holds the main components of a computer.
A box-shaped device that converts wall-outlet AC power to
Motherboard (system board, main board, desktop board):
The large printed-circuit board to which all other
Expansion slots: Slot connectors on the motherboard for attaching various components. Motherboards typically have several expansion slots.
Central processing unit (CPU, or processor):
The chip that
Random access memory (memory, or RAM): Chip assemblies that store data for very quick recall. The main memory in a computer requires constant power to be able to hold data. Every task performed by a computer requires the program and data to be loaded into memory.
Hard drive (hard disk drive, HDD):
A device that stores data on permanently
Basic Input Output System (BIOS):
A program that works as soon as the computer is
Floppy disk drives (floppy drives, FDD, diskette drives):
Devices that store data on removable magnetic disks. Virtually all floppy drives sold since the mid-1990s have been of the 3.5" variety. These floppy disks are enclosed in a thin, hard, plastic shell. Because of this, they are sometimes
Ports: Connectors, usually on the back of the computer, to which peripheral devices can be connected.
A device that allows the computer to access a telephone line for the purpose of faxing, Internet access, data transfer between computers, or other telephone-
Monitor (display): A device resembling a television that displays the computer's video images.
Sound card (multimedia device): A device whose primary function is to allow a computer to play and record sound. A sound card can either be a separate card that plugs into an expansion slot, or a component built into the motherboard.
Video card (video adapter, graphics adapter, display adapter): A device whose primary function is to generate a video signal ("picture") to be shown on the monitor. A video card can either be a separate card that plugs into a slot on the motherboard, or a device built into the motherboard.
Network card (network adapter, network interface card, NIC):
A device that connects the computer to the network. A
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