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PC Demolition Lab

The PC demolition lab was done in Computer Science 103 by Sarah Taleb and Cynthia Gomez at Smith College, and the results are uploaded to the class wiki


This computer is a Dell desktop. The exact model was not listed on the machine. When the cover of the computer is removed, bundles of cables, the disc drive, cooling fan, power source, and hard drive casings are all visible. The large quantity of cables seen are to transport data between components. The important parts of a computer that were taken out of the computer and will be described are:

  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Disk drive
  • Hard disk

Computer Parts



The motherboard is a circuit board that contains the crucial components of the computer system, and makes connections between many parts of the computer. Two items of notice are present on the mother board:

  1. Printed lines: These lines carry information through a circuit board
  2. Crystal: According to Wikipedia, "a crystal oscillator 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." (Wikipedia, retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_oscillator)
  3. Battery: The battery allows the computer's internal clock to remain consistent.


IMAG0248.jpg IMAG0249.jpg

The processor, or “Central Processing Unit” (CPU) is located on the motherboard beneath the heat sink, (pictured above) and the cooling fan. This specific processor is an xx.xx GHz Intel Pentium 4. According to Wikipedia, the CPU’s job “ is to execute a sequence of stored instructions called a program. The program is represented by a series of numbers that are kept in some kind of computer memory.” (Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 7 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_processing_unit)



The RAM, (Random Access Memory) is a form of storage that accesses stored data to be supplied to the processor and is located on the motherboard. According to Wikipedia, “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” (Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 7 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory) The RAM from this computer has a total memory of 1 gigabyte.

Disk Drive

This computer has a CD-ROM drive, capable of reading and writing data from or onto a CD-ROM disk. However, it cannot read or write DVD-ROMs.

Hard Disk


The hard disk, often referred to as a hard drive, "consists of one or more rigid ("hard") rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material, with magnetic heads arranged to read and write data to the surfaces," according to Wikipedia. (Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 7 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive)