1. Home
  2. Training Library
  3. Introducing Operating Systems | ITL3 A2.1 |

What different components make up a PC?

Developed with


Discover & Practice Online: Introducing Operating Systems
What different components make up a PC?


Task instructions
  1. Watch ‘How do operating systems work?’ and take notes in the Notes section on page 10 of your progress report. These notes will help you as you fill out your Progress Report.

  2. Watch ‘What different components make up a PC?’ and complete pages 3 and 4 of your Progress report.

  3. Watch ‘Precaution when making a PC’ and compete page 6 of your Progress Report.

  4. Watch ‘What is VoIP?’ and complete page 7 of your Progress Report.

  5. Watch ‘Why do you need a VPN’ and ‘What are Biometrics?’ and complete page 8 of your Progress Report.
It is always important to consider multiple solutions when you're approaching a task. Whilst watching these videos, you’ve designed and suggested an operating system to your client, but they aren't quite happy with it. They would like you to suggest an alternative.
  1. Research alternative operating systems to the one that you originally suggested. Think about:
    • How it's different to the one you previously suggested
    • How it fits the brief

  2. Complete page 9 of your Progress Report.


- So you probably know that PCs are made of loads of different parts. Some of them are key components and others are a bit more specialist. It can all be a bit intimidating at first. Think about it, you'll be benefiting from more than 100 years of technological development. All these parts have been made in such a way that you can configure them as you see fit. All these years of innovation ready for you to hold in the palm of your hand. It's a simple yet powerful idea. The best PC configuration is typically the one that tightly meets the requirements of the person using it. This will not only lead to user satisfaction but to financial efficiency too. So let's start by looking at the individual PC parts and what each part of the PC does. We'll start with the key parts of a PC. The central processing unit, commonly referred to as a CPU, motherboard, RAM, memory, and the power supply unit. Well, what do each of these parts do? Well, every PC needs a CPU. CPUs are often referred to as the brain of the computer. They perform all the logical functions of a computer. Different CPUs have different processing power. In current CPUs, this depends on the number of cores it will have. More cores means more processing will be done simultaneously. In simple terms, this means that it will be able to handle more intense programs with ease. If you were just using simple office applications like word processors, you wouldn't really need a high core count. On the other hand, if the main use of a computer is to deal with more intense programs, like developer environments, or video editing, then it will require more processing power. This is usually one of the most important components of a PC build and one of the most expensive too. So getting it right will get you on the right path to a suitable and efficient configuration. So it's useful to take some time to think about it when building a PC. Next, you'll need to consider the motherboard. All the components that you use in a PC connect to the motherboard. And when selecting a motherboard you'll need to take a number of considerations into account. First, you need to make sure that the motherboard can hold your selected CPU. As CPUs use different standards you'll need to ensure that the motherboard is compatible with the CPU. You should then check what is actually integrated on the motherboard. For example, some motherboards will have integrated networking cards while others might have more expansion slots and RAM slots than others. The last thing you need to consider is the form factor of the motherboard. There are two primary form factors, ATX and ITX. But there are also small variance on these too, like micro ATX as well as mini, nano, and pico ITX. The form factor will often depend on the size of the case that your PC will be put into. Next, let's look at the RAM. Ram, or random access memory, enables the CPU to temporarily store information whilst it's processing information, instead of storing it on the long term memory. Modern RAM components are known as DDR SDRAM, double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM. RAM components are long and slot into the motherboard. When placing RAM in the motherboard you need to follow the motherboard's instruction on where to actually place the RAM as the first RAM modules will normally have a specific slot to go into, with more modules going into different slots. RAM comes in gigabytes, normally doubling. So two gigabytes, four gigabytes, eight gigabytes, and so on. For the best performance, regardless of task, it's best to have two sticks of RAM that equal the total amount of RAM you'd like. So for eight gigabytes of RAM, use two four gigabyte modules. Next, let's consider the memory. Memory is where you'll store long-term the data, software, and operating system of the computer. The amount of memory you need is really dependent on what you'll be doing and you'll need to consider the work that will be done on the machine. As there has been a move to cloud computing and storage there isn't much of a need to host data locally, so it's also worth considering. More intense programs will have to have lots of storage available locally. You should also remember that most operating systems will need to have about 20 gigabytes of local storage to run on too. Last, you should consider the type of memory you'll use. Primarily, there are three different types. First, hard drives or HDDs. They run using spinning discs and are inexpensive so large storage devices are pretty easy to acquire. The drawback with HDDs is that they are slow to boot. The next type are SSDs or solid-state drives. SSDs are quick to boot but are a bit more expensive. The final type is a bit more of an adaptation of SSDs called M.2 SSDs. These are the fastest type. And whilst HDD's and normal SSDs use wires to plug into, the M.2 form factor plugs straight into the motherboard. They're quick but the most expensive type of memory. The last primary consideration you'll need to make is the PSU or power supply unit. PSUs handle the amount of power going to the components of your PC and have primarily two form factors, modular and non-modular. Although there are semi-modular variants too. The difference is that modular PSUs allow you to put the exact number of cables you need into the PSU whereas non-modular don't. You need to make sure that the PSU can handle the wattage of your PC and you'll need to calculate the wattage and make sure that the PSU can handle it. Given that we've now covered the main components of the PC you'll need to begin considering any other additional components that might be needed. For example, a video editor or animator will require a GPU or graphics processing unit to handle the video editing. This would be slotted into the motherboard's expansion or PCI express slots. Other peripherals might be rate cards if the computer was being used as a local server. You'll also need to consider how much the PC will need cooling. Simple office PCs for word processing might just require a case fan, whereas more intense workers might require heatsinks on the CPUs to keep it cool alongside multiple case fans or even a water cooling system. Although that might be a little excessive. Finally, it was mentioned briefly before that you need to consider if the case is big or small enough to fit everything into.