Computer Hardware and Systems

Practice Test

When this unit is complete you will be able to

Work Safely
Identify Computer Parts
Explain What these Parts Do
Install and Remove Parts
Install an Operating System
Identify Software
Install Software

Working Safely

You will work safely at all times.

Fire Extinguisher
No Liquids

Static Electricity

When working with hardware, we can damage components by touching them and releasing the static electric charge from our bodies.

We can use an Anti-static Mat, we can also ensure that we earth ourselves by touching radiators or piping before starting. It is also common to see people using anti-static bracelets.

Anti-static Mat

Anti-static bracelet
In the event of a fire a CO2 ( Carbon Dioxide ) fire extinguisher is available. We use this so that we do not risk electrocution.
C02 Fire Extinguisher

We never keep open liquid containers near computers.

Identify & Explain Computer Parts

Backing Storage

CPU ( Central Processing Unit )

An intel i7 CPU

The control unit ( CU ) controls the flow of data within the system. The control unit controls and monitors communications between the hardware attached to the computer. It controls the input and output of data, checks that signals have been delivered successfully, and makes sure that data goes to the correct place at the correct time

The arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) is where the CPU performs the arithmetic and logic operations. Every calculation that your computer carries out is completed here

The registers are where the CPU holds all the data and programs that it is currently using. The Data Register holds data. The Address Register references information in RAM

GPU ( Graphics Processing Unit / Graphics Card )

A GTX 970 Graphics Card
The GPU performs calculations that accelerate the ouput of graphical information - GPU’s are highly parrelleled


The information between each component flows through a Bus. Busses transport data, just like they transport people. Buses follow along lines, just like Buses follow along roads.


Two sticks of Corsair RAM

RAM ( Random-Access Memory ) is the main place for storing instructions and data whilst a program is being executed.

The more RAM a computer has, the more programs and operations it can handle at the same time.

Every memory location has a unique address so that once data has been stored there it can be found again later when it’s needed.

When your computer is turned off, you will lose all of your files.

Backing Storage

A Solid State Drive

This is where our files and documents are saved when not being used, this is where images and movies are kept.

Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives and USB Stick are all examples of backing storage.

For large data archive magnetic tape is still used, but are very slow.

When your computer is turned off all your files are safe.


Inputs are any devices that provide information from the outside world to the computer system. Below are some common examples

PlayStation 4 Dual Shock 4 Controller


Outputs are any devices that provide information from the computer system to the outside world. Below are some common examples


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A modern motherboard
All computer components interface with the Motherboard (MOBO). It allows components to communicate much faster than using external wires.

Power Supply

A Corsair 500w power supply
The power supply ( PSU ) provied constant current to the components within a computer system. They are rated in Watts i.e 500w

Install and Remove Parts

You will have the opportunity to remove and install parts in your class. You will shows that you can identify parts and also show where they should go, and, how they can be safely installed

Identify Software

There are three main types of Software

Application Software
Utility Software
Operating Systems

Application Software

Screenshot of Affinity Photo Software
Application Software is software that exists to meet the users needs.

Common examples include Games, Word Processors & Browsers

Utility Software

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Utility software is any software that supports the working of the underlying computer infrastructure.

Common examples include Anti-Virus & Archive Tools

Operating Systems

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Operating Systems ( OS ) are software which provides a platform for other software to run on. They make it easier for a user by taking care of many common tasks and communicate between different components on the users behalf

Common examples include Windows 10, MacOS & Ubuntu


CLI ( Command Line Interface )

A command line interface is where you type commands directly into the Operating System. The only thing you will see on the screen is text. Common examples of this include;

MS-DOS ( Microsoft Disk Operating System )

Screenshot of MS-DOS
MS-DOS was the most popular consumer OS up until the widespread adoption of Windows

Linux Terminal
Screenshot of Elementary OS terminal
The linux terminal predates the GUI. In Linux you can choose your preffered GUI.

It is still common for many Linux users to perform tasks in the terminal.

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Pico-8 is a modern IDE ( Integrated Development Environment ) that chooses to ape an older style of system.


GUI ( Graphical User Interface )

A GUI is any Interface which relies on graphical images. They require more advanced hardware to run and so were developed later.

Most OS’s adopt the WIMP ( Windows Icons Menus Pointers ) Model.

It is generally easier for a new or inexperienced user to learn how to use a GUI.
They can also be used by users who cannot read or type.

Common examples of a GUI include;

Windows 10

Screenshot of a fresh install of Windows 10
Windows 10 is the most recent version of windows. The computers at College use Windows 10.


GNOME is one of several GUI’s that can be chosen on Linux Distributions.


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MacOS ( Macintosh Operating System )
MacOS was traditionally found in the Design Industry, but, has increasingly become a popular consumer product.