A+ Tear-down. Part 1

I just realized, that all my posts about computers are all about software and OS’s, nothing that really let you learn about your PC. And see, they’re not really complicated machines, in fact, I heard that normal schools (in Washington), they even teach you how to take apart a computer and give you the A+ Certificate (Proves you know about computers). But what makes it even sadder is that most people in California don’t get that opportunity unless they take it themselves. So, in my quest to inform the people of the good side of computers, I will begin a series of posts that I myself have learned at school. Not enough to give away valuable tech info, but just enough so you will be able to have the confidence to take apart your own PC and put it back together again.

Now I understand that many of you will not do this, however, it is wise to know what goes on inside those well crafted machines. So I shall start at the beginning. All this info will be based on my A+ textbook, and actual real life experience.

The history of the computer begins with the abacus. Haha just kidding, no, I will get straight to the point. Ok, The outside of the computer is called the case. Once you open up the computer, or the case. you will see a lot of components. (opening up the case is a puzzle you may have to figure out on your own.) All the components are attached to the Motherboard. That is where everything has to connect or meet. If you pull it out and disconnect everything on it, it may look like this one. 

This is the older versions of the motherboard. (Warning! When you grab a motherboard you have the risk of giving it some static electricity (ESD Electro Static Discharge), you may not feel it, but it might, and the MOBO is very sensitive, do not grab MOBO after doing the boogie shuffle on a carpet! That warning aside…..) A PC you take apart may have one like this, or a little different, maybe more slots, or less and some  extra doohickies. Some of these you may recognize, some you may not. Let’s list them

Parallel Port: Back then, not all printers had USB capabilities, therefore they had to be plugged into the parallel port. Now outdated and useless. Could also be used for old huge scanners.

Power Supply: This is where the main power goes to and provides juice for all the components.

Memory Slot: This is where your ram goes in. (A tip someone told me is to fill the slots closest to the CPU first) There are many types of RAM so make sure you research what kind your MOBO can handle, even if it fits, it may not always work. Also RAM is very sensitive to ESD, so take extreme care when handling not to give it static shock. Also stop grabbing it from the tips!

Floppy Controller: This is where you attached your floppy drive data cable. Also outdated.

IDE Controller: This is where you plug in your CD or Hard drive. There are usually two. One Hard drives(1) and one CD Drives(2). You could mix and match, but the important this is that one hard drive is always a master and one cd is also a master. This may not make much sense. But as long as you remember to plug in one of each, you should be fine. In fact. you even have to set little jumper setting on the hard drives and the cd drives themselves so they know where they are connectec to. a slave or master. 

As shown here, this is the worst you may ever run into. However, i am forgetting that the newer hard drives do not have this problem. The newer SATA, not IDE, but SATA, allow you to plug it in, power and data, and it will work easily.

Sata (Serial ATA) looks like this. Even the power connector is different, but all still works the same way. You can configure the number settings in the computer BIOS itself. (BIOS = Basic, input/output system, of your computer, that is what keeps track of all your hardware, pretty neat no?) So if your motherboard supports Sata and has all those little plugs in there, then you have a newer MOBO. Here’s an example.

This one goes in there, just like that. :)

CPU Slot: This is where the processor goes in. Simple. When you install a CPU you just put in a small square die, (different MOBO’s have different styles and methods, just make sure the two are compatible!) on top of the CPU goes the heat sink, designed to draw heat away from the CPU because that thing heats up like a light-bulb!

AGP slot: This is where the video card usually goes in, the card is not shown here, but it fits in there like butter and allows you to view everything that goes on in your computer from your monitor. Usually you don’t see these anymore because they are outdated, but on old PCs this is very common. This is now being replaced by PCI-Express. a much better video card slot. Also sometimes used for super fast Solid State Hard drives.

A common Video Card. AGP is shown here.

PCI Slot: This is the older version of the PCI, not to be confused with PCI-E. These can usually handle audio and other peripherals, such as USB ports, Hard drive Raid and fan controllers. But don’t be surprised to see a video card plugged in here too.

CMOS Battery: This is the battery that holds your hardware settings when your PC is not plugged into the wall socket. It can go for about 2 years before dying (and not being plugged in) , but replacing it is easy, this only holds the BIOS settings, so if it dies, it’s OK, you just need to put your old setting back on manually. You usually never have to mess with this, unless one day you turn you computer back on and you find you always have to press F1 or set the time, then you probably need a new CMOS battery because the one you have, may not be holding on to your settings.

ISA Slot: These are the old version of the PCI slots, very outdated, they were for sound, parallel ports and even video cards too. but this where 8 bit nightmares, because they are so slow. you may never see one of these again, but don’t worry, they act just like any other regular slot.

So wow! You got to see the inside of a motherboard! I’m glad you  learned so much. See the point of my posts are not necessarily to teach you how to take apart a computer of explain so much. It’s to get you to know your machine a bit better and what’s in it. The next post, will explain more about, umm I don’t know, why doesn’t someone give me an idea about what they want to know, and i will research and find out, yes? Cool. Feel free to comment. Thanks for reading.


About Zerin

But can you show me the source code?

Posted on November 11, 2010, in Computers and Internet and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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