Definition of Hardware in Computer

Have you always wanted to learn about computer hardware? If yes, then you are at the right place. In this article, readers will be able to learn all the major points about computer hardware.

Hardware or HW can be defined as all the physical components that are a part of a computer system. This means that all the devices that you can see on your computer can be characterized as computer hardware. For example, the screen of a computer that you see the second you turn on the device is hardware.

In other words, it can also be said that hardware simply refers to all the tangible and physical components of a computer. This includes all the components that can be seen or touched. There are also different types of hardware. Some types of hardware, along with their examples, are given in the table below.

Hardware Type


Input devices

Mouse and keyboard

Output devices

Monitor and printer

Secondary storage devices

CD, DVD, and hard disk

Internal components

Motherboard, RAM, and CPU (Central Processing Unit)

Do you know what a hardware upgrade means? A hardware upgrade can be defined as the replacement of old hardware with new hardware. It can also mean that additional hardware has been added. This helps in improving the performance of the existing hardware.

For example, individuals usually get RAM upgrades to increase the total memory of their computers. Video card upgrades are also very common. In this upgrade, the old video card is removed and replaced with a new card.

Different Types of Computer Hardware

There are different types of computer hardware. In this section, we will look at some of the most common components of computer hardware. The list of computer hardware components is given below.

1. Motherboard

The motherboard is usually defined as a thin circuit board. This board holds together almost all the parts of a computer except output and input devices. This means that crucial hardware like memory, CPU, ports for output and input devices, and hard drives are all located on the motherboard.

It is important to note here that the motherboard is the most important and biggest circuit board that exists in a computer chassis. It is the job of a motherboard to allocate power to all hardware that is connected to it. This enables those devices to communicate with one another.

Motherboards are also used to hold the microprocessor chip of a computer. Every component of a motherboard is responsible for running the computer or improving the performance of the device.

There are different components of a motherboard. These components can vary according to the type and size of the computer. Some of the most commonly used components are as follows.

  • CPU Slot

This slot is provided to install the CPU. This slot provides a direct link between the motherboard and the microprocessor. It also helps in using the CPU and preventing any damage that could occur while installing or removing the computer. Also, this slot often comes with a lock. This lock helps in preventing any unnecessary CPU movement. A heat sink is also located to dissipate any extra heat that might be generated.

  • RAM Slot

RAM slot is a type of memory socket or slot that is provided in the motherboard to install or insert the RAM (Random Access Memory). It is possible for there to be two or more memory slots on a computer.

  • Expansion Slot

The expansion slot is also known as the expansion port or bus port. This slot provides a connection on the motherboard, which can be used as an installation point. This can later be used to connect a hardware expansion card.

For example, you purchase a video expansion card and you want to install a new video card on the computer. Then, you can do that by inserting the card in the expansion slot. Some common expansion slots present in a motherboard are AMR, CNR, AGP, and PCI.

  • Capacitor

A capacitor is a component that is made from two conductive plates and a thin insulator. This insulator is inserted between the two conductive plates. This part of the motherboard is usually wrapped inside a plastic container.

  • Inductor or Coil

As the name indicates, an inductor or coil is an electromagnetic coil that is made from a conducting wire that is wrapped around an iron core. This acts as an electromagnet or inductor as it helps in storing away magnetic energy.

  • Northbridge

Northbridge is an integrated circuit that helps in carrying out communication between the AGP, CPU interface, and memory. Also, this component further helps the southbridge chip to communicate with the CPU, RAM, and graphics controller.

  • USB Port

This port helps in connecting various hardware devices like keyboard and mouse to the computer.

  • PCI Slot

PCI slot or Peripheral Component Interconnect slot helps in connecting various PCI devices. Some common examples of PCI devices are sound, network hardware, modems, and video cards.

  • AGP Slot

AGP slot stands for Accelerated Graphics Port. This slot provides the space for connecting graphic cards.

  • Heat Sink

The purpose of the heat sink is to absorb and disperse any heat that is generated in the computer processor.

  • Power Connector

This is designed to supply power to the motherboard itself.

  • CMOS Battery

CMOS battery or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor battery is a type of memory. It stores the BIOS settings like date, time, and hardware settings.

2. Monitor

A monitor can be defined as the display unit of a computer. You might also say that all the processed data, such as texts and images, are directly displayed on the monitor. A monitor also includes a screen circuit. The screen circuit is enclosed in a case.

Some experts also call monitors by the name of visual display units (VDU). There are also different types of monitors. The different types of monitors are as follows.

  • CRT Monitor

The CRT monitor is a type of monitor that has cathode ray tubes. These tubes produce images in the form of video signals. Other main components of this type of monitor are deflection plate assembly, electron gun assembly, fluorescent screen, base, and glass envelope.

  • LCD Monitor

An LCD monitor is basically a flat panel screen that uses liquid crystal display technology. This is done to produce images on the screen. There are also advanced LCD monitors. These monitors have thin-film transistors that come with capacitors. These monitors also use active-matrix technology. This helps the pixels to retain their charge.

  • LED Monitor

LED monitors are an advanced version of an LCD monitor. These monitors use cold cathode fluorescent light to backlight the display. There are also LED panels, and every panel has lots of LEDs. These help in displaying the backlight.

  • Plasma Monitor

As the title indicates, plasma monitors use plasma display technology. This helps in producing high resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080. It comes with a wide viewing angle, high refresh rate, and outstanding contrast ratio, amongst many other features.

3. Keyboard

According to many experts, a keyboard is one of the most important input devices of a computer. A keyboard is designed in a manner that allows the user to input text, characters, and other commands directly into a computer, tablet, desktop, or other devices.

Keyboards also come with different sets of keys that can be used to enter characters, numbers and perform many other functions. Some functions that can be performed by keyboards include paste, copy, enter and delete.

There are different types of keyboards, and some of the types of keyboards commonly available in the market are mentioned below.

  • AZERTY keyboards.

  • QWERTY keyboards.

  • DVORAK keyboards.

4. Mouse

A mouse can be described as a small handheld device. This device is designed to control or move the point (the cursor present on the computer screen) in a GUI (Graphical User Interface).

A mouse basically helps the user to select or point to any object that is present on the display screen of the computer. This device is usually placed on a flat surface to allow smooth movement to control the cursor. There are different types of these devices that one can purchase in the market, and those different types of the mouse are:

  • Trackball mouse.

  • Mechanical mouse.

  • Wireless mouse.

  • Optical mouse.

There are many functions that can be performed by a mouse. Some of those functions are:

  • The main function of a mouse is to move the cursor on the screen.

  • A mouse helps in opening a folder or document. After that, one can simply execute a program. This can be done by taking the cursor to the folder and double-clicking on the respective icon.

  • You can select files, texts, or any other object on the screen.

  • Hovering can also be done with the help of a mouse. Hovering is the act of moving the cursor of the mouse over a clickable object. During hovering, the icon displays information about the object without pressing any button of the mouse.

  • A mouse can be used to scroll up or down. This can be done while viewing a document or webpage.

The different parts of a mouse are as follows.

  • Two Buttons: Most mouses come with two buttons. These buttons can be used for performing right or left clicks.

  • Scroll Wheel: A scroll wheel is located in the middle of the right and left buttons of a mouse. This wheel can be used to scroll up and down. It can also be used to zoom in and zoom out in some applications like AutoCAD.

  • Battery: A battery is required in the case of a wireless mouse.

  • Motion Detection Assembly: A mouse can also have a trackball or optical sensor. The purpose of this sensor is to provide signals to the computer about the location and motion of the mouse.

Relationship Between Hardware Devices and Software

There is an intricate relationship that exists between hardware devices and software. According to experts, both hard and software are mutually dependent on one another. Both of these components must work together to make a computer work.

One cannot install software without the help of hardware. Similarly, a computer with just hardware is completely useless. This is because if one wants to get a job done, then there must be relevant software available to help with the task.

Purchasing hardware is usually a one-time expense. However, software, on the other hand, has to be purchased intermittently and can be quite expensive to purchase. To complete different jobs, different hardware will be required.

The software usually acts as an interface between the hardware and the user. It can be concluded that if the hardware is the ‘heart’ of a computer, then the software is the ‘soul’ of the computer. They work in a complementary way to one another.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. What is the Hardware of a Computer?

Answer: The hardware of a computer refers to all the physical and tangible components of a computer. This means that all the components that can be seen and touched can be called hardware.

Question 2. What are the Five Types of Hardware?

Answer: The five types of hardware are mentioned below.

  1. Monitor

  2. Motherboard

  3. Keyboard

  4. Mouse

  5. CPU (Central Processing Unit)

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