Computer Hardware

Written by Sarah Provost
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The term "computer hardware" encompasses all the physical machinery that comprises a computer. Software refers to the programs that make it run. Basic computer hardware includes a CPU, a hard disk, a monitor and a keyboard. A printer is usually next in importance, and a modem is necessary if you intend to access the Internet. Peripherals may include CD and DVD drivers, external memory devices and ports for expandability.

Purchasing Computer Hardware

There are two ways to purchase computer hardware. Most frequently, consumers choose a particular brand and model, which the company offers in a package, and then add upgrades as they desire. The other approach is to buy all the components separately and assemble them yourself.

The advantage of the first approach is obvious. It's easier, usually faster, and you don't need a lot of technical knowledge. A good salesperson will be very willing to explain the different components to you, or you can access information regarding a product from the brand's website. If you don't know a motherboard from a mortarboard, this is definitely the way to go.

If you have the capability, however, the second approach gives you much more control over the end result, since not everything in a manufacturer's package can be modified. You can also usually purchase components at a somewhat lower price. Don't forget, however, to factor in shipping costs, insurance, and most importantly, the investment in your time. This approach is best suited to those who enjoy the process as much as the result.

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