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PC Demolition Lab Report

On September 25th, 2012, my lab partner and I took apart a Dell PC computer (model number: ND-3530A) to investigate what was inside.


Our computer pre-demolition:

Computer Before.jpg

Computer with the lid off:

Computer Lid Off.jpg

After the major parts had all been taken out:

Computer After 2.jpg

The computer "put back together" after the demolition:

Computer After.jpg

And here is documentation of what we found!

The Mother Board

According to Wikipedia, the motherboard is "a printed circuit board (PCB) found in all modern computers which holds many of the crucial components of the system, such as the central processing unit (CPU) and memory, and provides connectors for other peripherals" (Retrieved on Oct 9 2012, from Motherboard Wiki Article).

Here is a view of the motherboard while it is still in the computer:

Motherboard 1.jpg

And here are some images of the motherboard after it has been removed from the computer:

Motherboard 3.jpg

Motherboard 4.jpg

Motherboard 5.jpg

The Processor

According to Wikipedia, the processor is "the hardware within a computer system which carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012, from Processor Wiki Article).

A processor is basically a highly sophisticated calculator. It is a square chip found on the motherboard, and it houses more than a billion gates. It is located underneath a fan because it is the hottest electronic piece in the computer.

Why Is It So Hot??: Conceptualizing How Fast Processors Work


  1. 1 Hertz (Hz) = 1 cycle/second
  2. Your average laptop = 1 GHz (GigaHertz) - 3 GHz
  3. 3 GHz = 3 billion cycles per second.

These numbers basically boil down to the fact that processors have the ability to process an ENORMOUS amount of instructions in a very short amount of time. Therefore, it is processors that make computers so extraordinary. Computers operate on very, very simple instructions but are able to execute very complex tasks because of the sheer volume of instructions--this is why processors get so hot.

  • Details about the processor found in this computer (pictured below):
    • Brand: Intel
    • Model Number: 3511A306

Here is the processor while still attached to the motherboard:

Processor 1.jpg

Here is the space where the processor lives on the motherboard:

Processor 2.jpg

Here is the processor once it has been removed from the motherboard:

Processor 3.jpg

Here is the fan used to cool down the processor:


LES Fan 2.jpg

The Random Access Memory (RAM)

The RAM holds anywhere from 2 to 8 GB (Gigabytes) and is where programs reside when a computer is running. According to Wikipedia, ot is a "form of computer storage" and what makes a RAM so effective is that it "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" (Retrieved on Oct 9 2012, from RAM Wiki Link).

  • Details of the RAM for this computer:
    • 512MB
    • Samsung

This is the RAM once it has been taken out of the computer:

RAM 1.jpg

RAM 2.jpg

Every time the computer is turned off, the memory is erased. The programs are then stored on the hard disk when the computer is off.

The Hard Disk

According to Wikipedia, the hard disk drive is "is a non-volatile, random-access, magnetic data storage device" and have been the"dominant secondary storage device in general purpose computers since the early 1960s" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012 from Hard Disk Drive Wiki Article).

The Hard Disk uses magnetic technology to operate, which allows it to store memory when the electricity is off. However, the magnetic technology is very slow compared to electric technology, which is why the RAM is used when the electricity is on.

The hard disk in this computer is located underneath the optical drive, and has 80 GB of data storage space.

This is a picture of the hard drive while it is still in the computer:

Hard Drive 1.jpg

This is the hard drive once it is out of the computer:

Hard Drive 3.jpg

This is where the hard drive lives on the motherboard:

Hard Drive 4.jpg

This is the hard drive in various stages of being disassembled:

Hard Drive 8.jpg

Hard Drive 6.jpg

Hard Drive 7.jpg


The Optical Disc

Wikipedia defines the optical disk as "a disk drive that uses laser light or electromagnetic waves within or near the visible light spectrum as part of the process of reading or writing data to or from optical discs" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012, from Optical Disc Drive Wiki Article).

The optical disc is one of the larger parts visible when you first open the computer. Our computer had a DVR/RW and CDR/RW disc drive, which means that this drive not only has the capacity to read CDs and DVDs, but burn them as well.

Here is a picture of the optical disc drive after it was removed from the motherboard. You can see the space where it usually resides is directly on top of the hard drive in this computer:

Optical Drive.jpg

The Power Supply Unit

According to Wikipedia, the Power Supply Unit (PSU) "converts mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012, from PSU Wiki Article).

On our computer, the PSU was located at the bottom right-hand corner of the computer (where all the red arrows are pointing in the picture below), and could provide up to 280 Watts of power to the computer.

Screen shot 2012-10-09 at 7.42.52 PM.png

This is what the PSU looks like underneath its metal casing:



The Crystal

The crystal is located on the motherboard and, according to wikipedia, is "an electronic oscillator circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a very precise frequency" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012 from Crystal Oscillator Wiki Article). This frequency is used in a computer to tell the processor how fast to operate.

This is what the crystal looks like:


This is where the crystal is located on the motherboard:

Screen shot 2012-10-09 at 7.59.57 PM.png


A small battery, like the one found in your watch, can be found on the motherboard of a computer. This is used for the clock function in the computer--it stays on even when the computer is turned off, therefore allowing the time to remain accurate.

Here is where it was located on the motherboard of our computer:

Screen shot 2012-10-09 at 8.11.16 PM.png

The Wiring

The lines seen on the motherboard are wires for bits to travel back and forth from the processor to the memory. Cables in and around the motherboard also allow for information to travel to different places in the computer.

The red arrow in the following picture points to one of the many "lines" on the motherboard where bits can travel back and forth:

Screen shot 2012-10-09 at 8.15.23 PM.png

The red arrows in the following picture point to some of the many multicolored wires where bits can also travel:

Screen shot 2012-10-09 at 8.18.01 PM.png

Computer Ports

Computers have various connections/ports that allow it to interact with peripherals, such as a display, a keyboard, or a printer. Wikipedia writes that "a port serves as an interface between the computer and other computers or peripheral devices. Physically, a port is a specialized outlet on a piece of equipment to which a plug or cable connects. Electronically, the several conductors making up the outlet provide a signal transfer between devices" (Retrieved from Wikipedia on Oct 9 2012 from Computer Ports Wiki Article).

Here are two pictures of the ports from our computer after they had been removed:

Port 2.jpg

Port 3.jpg

Further Information

Computers contain LOTS of screws:


Further Websites

Our Class Webpage

Our Class's Wiki Page