Computer Hardware Components and their Functions

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In the world of computers, the notion of hardware or hardware is the physical components that make up a computer system. Hardware itself has different properties from software, namely that it can be seen, touched and in real form.

The types of hardware on a computer are not only focused on the inside of the computer, but all devices that support computer performance. In general, hardware is divided into four parts, namely input devices, output devices, data processing devices (processors), and accessory devices.

The input device is used to input data into the computer. Some examples of input devices include mice, keyboards, scanners, and webcams.

Data that enters through the input hardware, is then processed by a data processing device, such as a CPU or processor supported by the motherboard. After processing, the computer can then produce output from output hardware such as monitors, speakers, and printers.

In addition to input-processor-output devices, there are also accessory devices that support computer performance, such as LAN cards, hard disks, memory cards, card readers, and so on. More details about the hardware on the computer will be discussed in the review below.

What are types of computer hardware?

Computer Hardware Components and their Functions

1. Motherboards

The motherboard is a circuit board that functions as a place for computer components such as processors, hard drives, RAM and so on. In Indonesian terms, motherboard is translated as 'motherboard', or often shortened to mobo.

The motherboard itself consists of various components, such as power connectors, processor slots, north bridge controller, and memory sockets. The motherboard has a shape like an electronic circuit board that is useful as a place for data traffic. With the motherboard, all the devices in the computer are connected and can work together so that the computer can run smoothly.

2. Processor

Processor is an IC that controls the entire course of a computer system. Processor or CPU (Central Processing Unit) can be regarded as the brain of a computer, because it is in charge of performing calculations and commanding programs to be run by the computer.

Basically, the processor functions to process input data into output in the form of output. The processor itself is located on the motherboard.

There are three important parts of the processor, namely the Arithmatic Logical Unit (ALU) which functions to perform all arithmetic calculations according to program instructions, the Control Unit (regulator of data input and output), and the Memory Unit (data storage device).

3. Hard Disk

A hard disk or hard disk drive (HDD) is a computer hardware that functions as a secondary storage medium. In a hard disk there is more than one disk that serves to accommodate the data magnetically.

Unlike RAM which stores data or instructions temporarily (lost when the computer is turned off), the hard disk will store data such as music, documents, pictures, videos, etc. permanently (will not be lost even if the computer is turned off, unless deleted by the user).

In general, there are three types of hard drives on the market, namely IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics), ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment), and SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment). All three have their own uniqueness, the difference is in the rotational speed of the disc which affects the speed of data retrieval in the computer.

To install the hard drive, it is necessary to pay attention to the support of the motherboard. For example, if what we have is a SATA type hard drive, it needs to be installed on a motherboard that has a SATA port as well.

4. PC Cooler/ Heatsink

PC cooler / heatsink is a computer device that serves to reduce the heat generated by the computer. So that the process of cooling the heat generated by the computer can take place optimally, the heatsink must be installed on top of the processor, then also given gel or paste so that this heatsink can stick well.

Usually, the heatsink is also equipped with a fan that speeds up the cooling process. In computer equipment, the heatsink used is usually made of aluminum which has high thermal conductivity so that it quickly cools the device. Given the heat on the computer can damage other hardware in it, the role of this heatsink is very important.

5. Monitor

Monitor is one of the hardware that is classified as an output device that functions to display the results of data processing in the form of graphics. Each brand of monitor has a different size and resolution. The most common types of monitors today are CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors and LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors.

The quality of the monitor depends on several aspects, such as resolution, response time, brightness level, pixel pitch, and contrast ratio. Resolution itself is the number of pixels displayed by the monitor.

The more the number of pixels, the higher the resolution of the monitor. The response time (calculated in milliseconds) is the time it takes for a pixel to turn off or on. Pixel pitch describes the distance (in mm) between pixels on a monitor. The average pixel pitch should be less than or equal to 0.28 mm.

6. SSD

SSD or Solid State Drive is the latest innovation from its predecessor, namely the hard drive. SSD is a storage medium that uses solid state memory for data storage. SSD also has the same function as a hard disk, but is slightly different from a hard disk. The data on the SSD is stored on interconnected flash memory chips.

These chips have a higher speed and reliability than a USB Thumb Drive (UFD). In terms of price, SSD is more expensive than HDD even with the same capacity.

Compared to HDDs, SSDs have the advantage of faster access, more resistance to shocks, and less heat. It's just that, the price is more expensive, comparable to the advantages obtained and usually SSD has a capacity that is not too large.

For those of you who prioritize large capacity, choose a computer with HDD storage facilities. But if you are more concerned with protecting data from shocks, computers with SSD storage media can be considered.

7. VGA Card

VGA or Video Graphic Adapter is a hardware device that functions to process graphic data that will be displayed by the monitor. VGA also has a processor commonly called a GPU (Graphic Processing Unit). Usually this one hardware is needed, especially for gamers and designers. There are several types of VGA cards depending on the available slots on the motherboard:
  • VGA Card ISA: has a longer shape than other VGA, many old type motherboards are used with very small capacities. Used computers before the Pentium series.
  • VGA Card PCI: a newer version of ISA, used early pentium computers such as the Pentium II, III, and some older IV types.
  • VGA Card AGP: has a fairly large capacity (128 MB, 256 MB, etc.)
  • VGA Card PCI Express: divided into two types, namely PCI Express 16x (maximum bandwidth 4000 MB/s) and PCI Express 1x (maximum bandwidth 250 MB/s).

8. Optical Drive

Optical drive is a piece of hardware that functions to read (read) or write (write) data from a CD/DVD. There are several types of optical drives that you should know about, such as: CD ROM drives, CD RW drives, DVD ROM drives and others.

The speed for transferring data on the optical drive is symbolized by 'x'. For example, for CD-RW, there are 3 groups of numbers that are used to provide data transfer speed information, such as 48x, 32x, 52x.

The three numbers indicate the speed for different things, 48x which is located in the front indicates the speed of writing/recording data, 32x in the middle indicates the speed of reformatting (register write), while 52x indicates the speed of reading.

9. Power Supply

Power Supply is hardware that functions as a power supplier to other components such as the motherboard, processor, VGA, etc. The power supply is arguably the heart of the computer, so it is impossible for a computer to live without this one device.

Rarely do people pay attention to this hardware device because its position is closed to the casing, but the power supply or PSU is a component that affects the overall performance and durability of a computer system.

If the power supply does not work properly, the computer can become unstable or even be damaged by it. Choose a power supply that suits your computer's wattage needs, also make sure the power supply is not used, because electronic components have a limited time, so if you buy used, you only have a short life time.

10. RAM

RAM or Random Access Memory is hardware that functions to store data and instructions carried out by the processor. Unlike hard disks, RAM storage is temporary. So when the computer is turned off, the data and instructions stored by RAM will be lost/emptied unless the computer is in hibernate mode.

By using RAM, computer users can write and read data at the same time. There are several things to consider when choosing RAM. Choose RAM with a large capacity, because the greater the capacity, the faster a computer executes the commands given.

Currently, the minimum capacity you must have is 2GB of RAM (for computers & laptops), in the future the software will continue to develop and require a larger memory capacity. Also choose RAM that offers a lifetime warranty (lifetime).

11. Keyboard

The keyboard is a key board that is classified as an input device. The keyboard itself consists of a row of letters and numbers. There are various types of keyboards, including: QWERTY keyboard, DVORAK keyboard, KLOCKENBERG keyboard, Maltron keyboard, alphabetic keyboard, and Numeric keyboard.
  • QWERTY keyboard: The layout of the letters on this keyboard was first discovered in 1878. The QWERTY keyboard became the standard commercial typewriter in 1905. Until now, most computers also use a QWERTY keyboard.
  • DVORAK Keyboard: Invented in 1932, with an arrangement that emphasizes the right side of the finger that works more, thereby reducing typing fatigue.
  • KLOCKENBERG Keyboard: Separate keyboard between the left and the right. The two keyboards are separated by an angle of approximately 15 degrees which aims to make users comfortable.
  • Alphabetic Keyboard: Arranged in alphabetical order regularly A-Z.
  • Numeric Keyboard: To enter large numbers of numeric data so that it is more convenient. On a computer keyboard, located on the right, it is often used for example on a cashier's computer.

12. Mouse

Like the keyboard, the mouse is also classified as an input device. The mouse functions to move the cursor or point to the application you want to run. This device is called a mouse, because of its shape that resembles a mouse. Often the mouse is also referred to as 'the mouse' in Indonesian. There are many types of mouse, including: serial mouse, PS2 mouse, USB mouse and wireless mouse.

Douglas Engelbart was the first to develop a mouse made of wood with a single button. Then in 1970 the mouse was re-developed by him into a mouse that can indicate the X-Y position on the screen.

The mouse has many functions, including inputting and giving commands to the computer, as a mover of the pointer or cursor to the computer screen, to zoom in or out on the screen, to scroll pages on the screen, and so on.

13. Printers

Similar to monitors, printers are hardware devices that are classified as output devices. The printer functions to print the results of data processing in the form of text / images on paper (hard copy). 

At first the printer was only used to print documents, but as time went on, printers were increasingly developed for other functions. For example, there are printers that can also simultaneously function to scan documents (scanning), to send documents like a fax machine, to photocopying a document.

Printers are still very much needed, especially for printing academic, organizational, and office documents. Based on the technology used today, the most common types of printers are Dotmatrix printers, Inkjet printers and Laserjet printers.

14. Sound Card

Sound Card is a hardware device that functions to process data in the form of audio or sound. At first, the sound card was only a complement to the computer, but now the sound card is a device that must be owned by computer users. One of the most popular sound cards in Indonesia is the Sound Blaster, which is made by Creative Labs.

There are 3 kinds of sound cards when viewed from the way of installation, namely:
  • Onboard Sound Card: attached directly to the computer motherboard.
  • Offboard Sound Card: installed through the ISA/PCI slot on the motherboard.
  • External Sound Card: installed by connecting via an external port (USB/FireWire).

15. Scanner

Scanner is a piece of hardware that has a similar way of working as a photocopy. Slightly different from how photocopying works, a scanner functions to convert a hard file (hard copy) into a digital file (soft copy) that can be processed on a computer. Scanners also vary in shape with varied uses. Here are the kinds of scanners on the market:
  • Scanner Drum: as the name suggests, the shape of a tube resembles a drum. One type of scanner with a super high image resolution, can reach 24000 pixels per inch. Widely used to scan ancient documents, because it has minimal vibration so it doesn't damage any fragile documents. Even so, the size is very large and the price is very expensive.
  • Flatbed Scanner: Flat and flat, is the most widely used scanner in offices, photocopying businesses, and others. Suitable for everyday use, saving electricity and power, with good object resolution results.
  • Film Scanner: serves to scan negative film.
  • Roller Scanner: functions to scan documents by moving the document in a rotating manner like a printer.

16. LCD Projector

LCD projector is one type of projector that is usually used to display video or images from a computer on a screen or on a flat surface which is generally white. To display video/images, LCD projectors send light from a metal halide lamp and then pass it into a prism where the light will be scattered on three polysilicon panels, namely the red, green, and blue components of the video signal.

The LCD projector is a development of the previous projector technology, namely OHP (Overhead Projector) which displays data written on clear paper. In the past, this OHP projector was often used to display presentations in the academic and office world. Now OHP projectors have been completely replaced by LCD projectors that can read data from a computer.

17. Modem

Modem stands for Modulator Demodulator. The modem itself functions to convert digital signals into analog signals. Data from a computer in the form of a digital signal is converted by the modem into data in the form of an analog signal, when the modem receives data from outside in the form of an analog signal, the modem will convert it back into digital data so that it can be processed by the computer.

There are various types of modems that computer users can choose from, for example:
  • ADSL modem (Asymmetric Digital Subscribe Line): this type of modem allows users to access the internet using analog telephones in parallel.
  • Cable modem: this type of modem can receive data directly from the cable TV service provider
  • CDMA modem: this type of modem uses a frequency of 800 MHz (CDMA frequency), which is now being developed into the EVDO Rev-A frequency (equivalent to 3G).
  • Satellite Modem: a type of modem connected by a satellite terminal to communicate with the ISP.
  • GSM modem: modem from a cellular phone service provider.

18. NIC/LAN Card

NIC or Network Interface Card is a card that functions to connect a computer to a network, either a local network or an internet network. Currently there are two types of NICs known, including physical NICs (eg Ethernet NICs, Token Ring, etc.) and logical NICs (eg Loopback Adapters and Dial-up Adapters).

NIC is often referred to as a network adapter. Each NIC has an address number called a MAC Address, which can be changed by the user.

NIC works by converting parallel streams on computers into serial form, so that they can be transmitted over the internet network. Computers can interact with the NIC using several methods, such as: input-output mapped memory, DMA (Direct Memory Access), or shared memory.

19. Speaker

Speakers are devices made of metal, membranes, coils and magnets. Speakers have an important role in issuing processing results in the form of sound. Speakers can function properly if they are supported by a device called a sound card. Speakers as computer hardware have the following parts:
  • Bulkhead Cavity (Conus): useful for generating pressure waves caused by the movement of air due to the movement of the coil. These waves are then heard as sound.
  • Membrane: serves to receive magnetic induction which produces sound waves due to vibration.
  • Magnet: generates a magnetic field and induces the membrane.
  • Coils: transmit energy to the bulkhead cavity.
  • Casing: protects the entire inside of the speaker.

20. Webcam

Webcam is a digital camera that is connected to a computer. Most webcams today are integrated into laptop screens. Webcams are also usually used to take pictures and videos over the internet. There are various types of webcams that can be selected based on their use, for example:
  • Serial and Parallel Port WebCam: the oldest type of webcam and rarely found anymore, this type of webcam produces images with low quality and frame rates.
  • USB Webcam: this type of webcam can be used on all computers that have a USB port.
  • Firewire and Card Based Webcam: high frame rate, can produce 24-30 frames per second.
  • Network and Wireless Camera: A camera device that is directly connected to the network via a modem.

21. Card Reader

A card reader is used to read data stored on a memory card by transferring it to a computer. Usually, laptops already have their own card reader slot, the memory card just needs to be inserted into the slot to read the data in it. Unlike the computer that must be equipped with an additional external card reader which is then connected to a USB port.

To be able to read a memory card, the slot on the card reader must match the type of memory card. There are many types of memory cards, such as mini SD, micro SD, XD Card, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Micro, MMC, and RS-MMC. The difference between these types of memory cards is in their physical size and capacity. To be able to access data on a memory card, there are usually several slots with different sizes on the card reader that allow memory cards of various sizes to be read.

22. UPS

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a hardware device that is useful for storing electric current and then flowing it continuously on computer devices. UPS is very useful for those who use computers for work. 

With this tool, in the event of a sudden power failure, the computer will remain on for some time, allowing users to save their work. In addition, UPS also functions to keep computer hardware components from being damaged easily. 

A sudden power failure will cause the flow of current to the computer to be cut off, so the computer shuts down immediately. Computers that often turn off in this way will be more susceptible to damage, especially damage to the hard disk and other devices.

23. Joystick

Joystick is an input type computer hardware that has a physical form such as a lever that can move in all directions. By using a joystick, computer users are able to transmit directions both in two dimensions and three dimensions. Joysticks are generally used as complementary devices for playing video games. In addition, many are also implemented in motorized wheelchairs and trucks.

There are several things to consider when buying a joystick. First, make sure the joystick you are going to buy has a feature that is supported by the computer's motherboard. Also check the port used by the joystick, generally joysticks use a USB port and a parallel port. Also make sure the joystick is in good condition, complete, not defective, also has a warranty.

24. Microphone

Microphone serves to capture sound waves, then convert them into analog electrical signals that can be understood by the computer. Furthermore, this signal can be processed as desired. Based on its characteristics, microphones can be divided into 3 parts, namely:

  • Omnidirectional microphone: with sensitivity in all directions.
  • Bidirectional microphone: shaped like a figure 8, has a two-way sensitivity area on the front and back of the microphone.
  • Directional Microphone: only has sensitivity towards the front and small angles around it.
Sound waves hitting the diaphragm area on the microphone will make the diaphragm vibrate, then generate an electrical signal due to a collection of coils (wires) behind the diaphragm. This signal then flows to an amplifier or sound recording device on a computer or other electronic device.

25. ZIP Drive

ZIP Drive is a hardware device that functions as a storage medium in the form of a disk. Initially, the ZIP Drive was made with a capacity of 100 MB, then it was increased to 250 MB and finally 750 MB. ZIP Drive reached its peak of popularity in 1994, because at that time the capacity was still relatively large for a very cheap price. Some major computer suppliers like Apple and Dell even equip their computers with built-in ZIP Drives.

ZIP Drive began to experience a decline in sales in 1999-2003 because of the CD-R and DVD-RW which replaced its position as data storage devices with much larger capacities.


Those are some kinds of hardware or hardware on a computer that you need to know. The above hardware devices are the most common, there is also network hardware whose main function is used for network purposes, such as hubs, switches, access points and so on.

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