103b ab 2012f

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PC Demolition Lab

General Overview


All images in this wiki page are of Dell X08-73060 Windows XP Professional 1-2CPU model

After opening the computer, these parts are visible:

  • Mother Board
  • Two Fans
  • Cables
    • Power Transfer
    • Data Transfer
  • CD Drive
  • Hardrive
  • Power Supply



The motherboard is the large piece of board with all the small lines etched onto it. The small lines are circuits, which allows the flow of information between memory and the motherboard. The board also contains many of the most important features in a computer, such as the processor and the RAM.

According to Motherboard Wikipedia Page, "a typical desktop computer today has its microprocessor, main memory and many other essential components connected to the motherboard." Other external devices such as hard drive and CD drive are also connected to the motherboard via cables.

There is also a small battery on the motherboard, which is used for the computer to continue tracking time even when the computer is disconnected to any power source.


  • Intel Pentium 4 processor (model number: 3332A626).
  • The processor is found underneath the large, black fan.

103b-ab-Processor1.jpg 103b-ab-Processor2.jpg

The processor is also called the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The processor is made up of billions of logic gates that carries out instructions for the computer. According to Central Processing Unit Wikipedia Page, a modern day processor is typically a four-centimeter square (or smaller) with many connecting pins.

The speed of a computer now is typically somewhere between 1GHz to 3GHz. A processor that operates at 3GHz can carry out 3 billion instructions per second! The fast speed means the processor can get extremely hot while the computer is running, which is why the processor is found underneath the fan; the fan helps to keep the temperature down.


On the mother board, there is another piece that works closely with the processor, called the crystal. The crystal acts like the metronome for the processor and tells the processor how fast to go.

Random Access Memory

  • 512MB
  • two rows of "chips" on the motherboard


The Random Access Memory (RAM) is the working memory of the computer. It is a "form of computer data storage. A random-access device allows stored data to be accessed in very nearly the same amount of time for any storage location, so data can be accessed quickly in any random order." RAM Wikipedia Page

The size of storage for RAM today is typically between 2GB to 8GB.

Although information stored inside the RAM can be easily and quickly accessed, it has one particular downside: the information stored is available only when the power supply is on; when there is no power supply, all information previously stored in the RAM is lost. So the RAM is only for temporary memory storage; the hard disk or an external hard drive is used for permanent storage.

CD/DVD Drive


The CD drive is located next to the hard drive (on the left of the picture) with data transfer and power supply cables attached to it. This specific Dell computer has only a CD drive, which can play or burn(duplicate) CD's.

There are two types of cables attached to the CD drive that connects the CD drive to the mother board and power supply.

  1. Data Transfer Cables: these are the strip-like, wide cables (annotated by red arrow) that transfer information from the CD drive to the motherboard.
  2. Power Supply Cables: these are the orange, yellow, black, red, and blue bundles of cable (annotated by green arrow) that connects the CD drive to the power supply. These cables also connects the motherboard to the power supply.

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

  • maximum output capacity of 210W
  • large, rectangular box-like object located on the right side. Towards one end is another fan.


According to Power Supply Unit Wikipedia Page, the power supply of a computer's main function is to change "alternating current from a wall socket to low-voltage direct current to operate the processor and peripheral devices." Because the computer operates at a lower voltage than what the average wall sockets put out, the power supply is needed to change the voltage to a more appropriate level for the computer's use.

Hard Disk

  • 40BG
  • located to the right of the CD drive.

The hard disk drive, like the RAM, is a storage unit. Unlike the RAM, however, the hard disk allows for permanent storage. Information on the hard disk can also be retrieved, although in a slower speed than the RAM. A typical size for a modern-day hard disk is measured in GB and TB (terabytes).

After opening the cover to the hard disk drive reveals a shiny, round, metal disk with a magnetic head over the disk. The general picture resembles that of an old record player.

According to Hard Disk Drive Wikipedia Page, the hard disk "consists of one or more rigid ("hard") rapidly rotating discs (platters) coated with magnetic material, with magnetic heads arranged to read and write data to the surfaces."

103b-ab-hard disk drive.jpg 103b-ab-hard disk.jpg