103b ap 2012f

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PC Demolition Lab

The PC Demolition lab was conducted by students in Intro to the Computer 103 at Smith College. Students were instructed to take a PC apart, and identify and record the visible parts. The purpose of this lab is to locate and understand the function of specific computer parts. Their findings are uploaded to the class wiki


The computer taken apart in this demolition is a' Dell Windows XP Professional.

When the cover of the computer is removed, the visible parts are the:
  • motherboard
  • RAM
  • Power Supply
  • Disk Drive
  • Fan
  • Processor
  • Cables


  • The motherboard is located beneath the RAM, processor, battery, fan and cables.
  • The lines on the motherboard are circuits. These circuits are used to transfer information throughout the motherboard.
  • According to wikipedia a 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."(in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct . 9 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherboard ).

  • The major components of the motherboard are the:
    • Ram
    • Processor
    • Power Supply
    • Crystal


  • Brand and Model: could not be identified
  • The processor is located underneath the fan in the computer.
  • The processor contains millions of transistors. When the computer is doing work, these switches are operated and as a result they generate heat.
  • According to wikipedia, a processor "incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit (IC),[1] or at most a few integrated circuits.[2] It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and provides results as output. It is an example of sequential digital logic, as it has internal memory. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary numeral system." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microprocessor).


  • Brand: Samsung
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • The RAM is located between the fan and the optical disc drive
  • According to wikipedia, the RAM 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."(in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory).


  • The crystal is located on the motherboard near the ports.
  • The crystal is used to control the processor. It helps regulate how fast the CPU should go in order to efficiently do work.
  • According to wikipedia, the crystal " 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. This frequency is commonly used to keep track of time (as in quartz wristwatches), to provide a stable clock signal for digital integrated circuits, and to stabilize frequencies for radio transmitters and receivers." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_oscillator)


  • The battery is used to power the motherboard when the computer is off. It is also used to keep track of the date and time.
  • According to wikipedia, "A backup battery provides power to a system when the primary source of power is unavailable. Backup batteries range from small single cells to retain clock time and date in computers, up to large battery room facilities that power uninterruptible power supply systems for large data centers. Small backup batteries may be primary cells; rechargeable backup batteries are kept charged by the prime power supply." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backup_battery)

Hard Disk

  • The hard disk is located beneath the optical disc drive.
  • This hard disk can hold 80 GB of data
  • Inside the hard disk is a circular mirror disk. It is a magnetic disk with a pointer that moves to write and save files.
  • According to wikipedia, a hard disk is a " non-volatile, random-access, magnetic data storage device. An HDD consists of one or more rigid ("hard") rapidly rotating discs (platters) coated with magnetic material. Magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm read and write data to the surfaces. The read-write heads are supported on a thin layer of air inside the enclosed disk unit with only tiny gaps between the heads and the disk surface." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harddisk)

Optical Disc Drive

  • The disc drive is in the corner next to the fan.
  • The optical disc drive is both a CD and DVD drive.
  • According to wikipedia, a disc drive is a "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. Some drives can only read from discs, but recent drives are commonly both readers and recorders, also called burners or writers."(in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_disc_drive)


  • The skinny cables connects the all of the components of the computer to the power supply
  • The thick cables are data tranfers


  • According to wikipedia, 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." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_port_(hardware))
    • Serial Port: A serial communication physical interface through which information transfers in or out one bit at a time
    • PS/2 Connector: Is used for connecting some keyboards and mice to a PC compatible computer system. Its name comes from the IBM Personal System/2 series of personal computers
    • Parallel Port: Sends several data signals simultaneously over several parallel channels (as opposed to the Serial Port)
    • Games Port: The traditional connector for video game input devices on x86-based PCs

All these ports have been replaced by USB

Power Supply

  • The power supply is located in the bottom right hand corner of the computer. It is behind the disc drive and is connected to the motherboard through large cables.
  • This computer has a maximum output of 280 volts.
  • According to wikipedia,"A power supply unit (PSU) converts mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer. Modern personal computers universally use a switched-mode power supply. Some power supplies have a manual selector for input voltage, while others automatically adapt to the supply voltage." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_supply_unit_(computer))


  • The fan is located at the top left of a computer beside the disc drive.
  • According to wikipedia,"A computer fan is any fan inside, or attached to, a computer case used for active cooling, and may refer to fans that draw cooler air into the case from the outside, expel warm air from inside, or move air across a heatsink to cool a particular component." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_fan)