103b ah 2012f

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It's Demolition Time! PC Demolition Lab

On September 25, 2012 students in the CSC 103: How Computers Work course conducted a lab which simply required for them to open up a PC Computer and examine the parts inside. They needed to work in pairs and document all parts found by taking a photo of each piece. Once the lab was completed, students had to individually create a Wiki page to showcase their findings. I was paired with Isabella Gutierrez, but this is my Wiki page cataloging what we found. For more information regarding the instructions of the lab, please visit CSC 103 PC Demo Lab. Interested in this awesome course? See CSC 103 Fall '12 for general information.

Computer Model Observed

Each pair of students were not given exactly the same computer to examine. We were given a Dell Windows XP Professional computer and the model was an Optiplex GX270 with a 1-2CPU.

What Could Possibly Be In There?

When we first removed the cover of the computer, we saw many different parts. For instance:

  • CD drive
  • Hard Drive
  • Fan
  • Motherboard
  • Power supply
  • RAM


The Motherboard is the green, square-like base at the bottom of the computer. It is the main circuit board and is mainly used to hold the processor along with other crucial components of a computer. It has a lot of sliver lines on it which represent the wire connections that are utilized to connect different parts in the computer system.

Ooh Crystals!

On the motherboard, there was also a couple crystals hidden under silver caps for protection. One crystal was located by where the processor would be and the other was located near a small, silver battery. The one closest to the processor is necessary to give the processor its speed. The other crystal is used for digital instances that would pair along with the CD or DVD drive. For more information, check out Computer Crystals


Why the Small Battery?

Seeing as how the whole computer is powered by its own power supply, why is there a small battery located inside the computer? Well, it is there to keep the basic functions of the computers alive...so to keep the computer's internal clock up-to-date.

"Processing..." Processor

The Processor was located under the fan for protection. It needs to be setup that way because it is one of the hottest parts in the computer due to working very hard to process information and fulfill the computer's functions. Processors in genreal can range from about 1-3GHz. The one we found in our PC computer was an Intel Pentium 4 which was 3.2GHz.


Random Access Memory (RAM)

The RAM is responsible for storing data programs while the computer is on and running. When the computer is off, it holds nothing. The reason it is used for storage is because it allows for fast access to data in a random order; it makes it easier for the computer to work. In our PC, it was found next to the fan which held the Processor and there were two 512MB RAMs in the computer, totaling to about 1 GB.


CD or DVD Burner?

The CD drive was found on the cover of the PC. There was no DVD drive in our computer. CD103b-ah.png

Time to Power Up: Power Supply

The power supply was found in a gray box on the side of the computer. It could produce up to 210 Watts.



The were a few cables connecting certain parts on the cover to parts on the motherboard or base of the computer. They were used to simply power certain parts of the computer.

Hard Disk

The Hard Disk was found on the top cover of the PC, next to the CD drive. It holds 80GB. Inside the hard disk is non-volatile, random-access, magnetic data storage device - see Hard Disk - and it is a bit more complex than the RAM. Due to its material, it should not be opened in mid-air as the air is too dirty and dusty for the disk and could risk damage.