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The inside of a Dell™ OptiPlex™ GX280

In the Demolition Lab, we took a Dell Optiplex GX280 apart and documented the parts within. The specific pieces of hardware photographed were from the computer we deconstructed, so the brand and models of the documented parts will be limited to the Dell Optiplex GX280, that is, assume the parts described are from this particular machine. Other brands/products may vary, but this is a brief overview of several critical components of computers. This Wiki Page was created with help from How Stuff Works,

Computer Parts

Computer Parts are the components, devices, and bits (hee hee puns) that make up a computer. The pieces we found were all found internally, and are removable and replaceable.


A birds-eye view of a wired Motherboard

The Motherboard is the primary circuit board inside a computer. All parts of the computer are connected through the Motherboard in some way. The following components are critical parts of the motherboard.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

An Intel® Pentium® 4 Microprocessor

The CPU, most commonly known as the processor, is found under the fan and heat sink. It is the component that contains the microprocessor. That microprocessor is the center of all computer operations. Both hardware and software rely on the processor's performance.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

The two RAM chips found

The Dell Optiplex GX280 has two RAM chips. One created by Nanya and one by MT. This computer has 512 MB of RAM in total. All processors need a buffer to store information while it is being processed. The RAM is to the CPU as a countertop is to a cook: It serves as the place where the ingredients and tools you're working with wait until you need to pick up and use them. Both a fast CPU and an ample amount of RAM are necessary for a speedy PC.

Heat Sink

This is 1/2 of the Dell Optiplex GX280's heatsinks.

Heat sinks are the component, albeit passive, that cools a device by dissipating heat into the surrounding air. Heat sinks are used to cool electronic components. They are designed to increase the surface area in contact with the cooling medium surrounding it, such as the air.

Two heat sinks were found in the lab

  1. 1 found above processor (usually coupled with a fan)
  2. 1 found directly on motherboard


A basic computer fan

The more your computer processes, the more heat it generates. The CPU and other components can handle a certain amount of heat. However, if a PC isn't cooled properly, it can overheat. Fans are the most common device used to cool a PC.

Two fans were found in the lab

  1. 1 by power supply
  2. 1 above heatsink


These crystals are covered in a metal shell

There were three crystals on the motherboard. The crystal regulates the processor.


Small Battery on Motherboard

The battery stores some information, such as the system clock, when the computer is powered down

Power Supply

108w Power Supply

Other than the small battery on the Motherboard, every component in your PC relies on its power supply. The power supply connects to some type of power source. In the Dell Optiplex GX280, the the power supply mounted inside the case with a power cable connection on the outside and a handful of attached cables inside. Some of these cables connect directly to the motherboard while others connect to other components like drives and fans.

Optical Disc Drive (CD/DVD Player)

The optical disk drive

The Optical Disc Drive is utilized for reading or writing data to or from optical discs. This particular drive can only read from Compact Discs, but most recent drives can read and write DVD's as well.

Hard Disk Drive

Outside of the 80 GB Hard Drive
Inside of the 80 GB Hard Drive

The Hard Disk Drive is a form of secondary data storage, that is, unlike the RAM, you can access this data even when a computer has powered down. Inside the Hard Disk Driveis a rapidly rotating discs coated with magnetic material. Magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm read and write data to the surface.

Wiring (Cables)


All the components mentioned previously are connected by some combination of cables. These cables are designed to carry data, power or both. As seen in the image, the cables are connected to the power supply, and linked to other components in the computer.

See Also