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Processor

This is the heart of the computer – also know as the CPU (central processing unit). Processors are measured by speed in Gigahertz (Ghz). The higher the number the faster the processor is. For example a 2.8Ghz processor is faster than a 1.86Ghz processor. Processors now also have multiple cores which increase their processing speed. Intel, the world’s largest processor manufacturer, recently came up with new processors – i3, i5 and i7 – which made it easier for consumers to distinguish good, better and best options.

 

RAM

Short for Random Access Memory which is basically the computer’s short term memory. This is useful for running several programs at once and maintaining optimal performance of the processor. Users who run several processor heavy programs at the same time would be best served with a computer with a lot of RAM – 8GB and above. General users can easily get away with 4GB RAM. RAM can be added to most computers later as demand increases.

 

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

This is the drive which stores all of our data. This type of memory is measured in Gigabytes (GB) and even Terabytes (TB). It is the drive in the computer where users can store their files, documents and digital media. The more memory you have the more content a user can store.

 

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

This is the specification for ports on a computer to connect other devices like mice, keyboards, printers, external hard drives, digital cameras, media players, eReaders and smartphones. USB has become a standard form of connection. A computer usually has a number of USB ports – the more there are, the more peripherals can be connected.

 

External Hard Drive

As its name suggest an external hard drive sits outside the computer’s chassis and expands the computer’s storage capacity. These are useful products because it can not only increase the space to store content but it can also act as a storage point for backing up important files contained on the computer’s internal hard drive. In the event the computer’s internal hard drive fails – the external hard drive will always have a stored copy of those important documents which have otherwise been lost.

 

Optical Drive

This is the unit inside the computer which contains the CD/DVD drive. This drive allows users to save, upload and view content from a disc. Mini laptops like netbooks do not have optical drives to keep them small and light.

 

Tablet PC

A type of computer which utilises a touchscreen instead of a physical keyboard or mouse to interact with the device. Apple’s iPad ignited an interest in the tablet form factor among consumers. Now there are several other tablets appearing on the market including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. A tablet doesn’t have an optical CD or DVD drive or USB ports. Consumers weighing up the choice between a laptop or a tablet should remember the tablet is more for consuming content rather than creating it. If you need a computer for work, to create documents or to do any kind of editing you’d be better off with a laptop or desktop computer.