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PC Demolition Lab

The PC Demolition Lab is conducted by CSC 103. The purpose is to understand the different elements of a computer and upload the results unto the main wiki page.


The computer taken apart for this wiki page is a Dell Optiplex GX280 DCNE.

Dell GX280 Uncovered

Upon removing the cover, the parts visible are:

  • Motherboard
  • Fans
  • Video and Audio Card
  • Power Supply
  • CD-Drive
  • Floppy-Disk Drive
  • Battery


The motherboard is the large green board on the left upon removal of the cover. It has many small lines etched into it and wires connected to it. The small lines are circuits which transmit data to other parts of the motherboard whereas the wires connect it to other parts of the computer. The four most prominent parts of the motherboard are:

  1. Processor
  2. RAM
  3. Crystal
  4. Battery

According to Wikipedia, a motherboard "A motherboard (sometimes alternatively known as the mainboard, system board, planar board or logic board) 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. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherboard)


  • Pentium 4
  • Located under the fan
  • Can normally operate at the speed between 1GHz to 3GHz
  • According to Wikipedia, "a microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit (CPU) on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. 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).



  • Samsung
  • 512 MB
  • Located between the fan and disk drive
  • According to Wikipedia, the Random-access memory or 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 contrast, other data storage media such as hard disks, CDs, DVDs and magnetic tape, as well as early primary memory types such as drum memory, read and write data only in a predetermined order, consecutively, because of mechanical design limitations. Therefore the time to access a given data location varies significantly depending on its physical location." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random-access_memory).


  • Located at the lower right of the motherboard, to the right of the batteries
  • A small protrusion that controls the time and frequency of the CPU
  • 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).


  • Located next to the RAM
  • Keeps track of the RAM and back up information when the power supply is off
  • According to Wikipedia, the battery is used to "provide power to a system when the primary source of power is unavailable." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backup_battery).

CD / Floppy Disk Drive

  • Located above the hard drive
  • the CD drive is Read Only Memory (ROM) which means the data stored cannot be rewritten
  • the Floppy Disk drive is located underneath the CD drive
  • There are two bunches of cables attached:
  1. Data Transfer - flat cables, transfer the data to the motherboard
  2. Power Supply - round cables, connect the drives to the power supply
  • According to Wikipedia, the CD drive is "an optical disc drive (ODD) is 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." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_disc_drive). The floppy disk drive, which has passed into history, is "a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles. They are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD)." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk).

Power Supply

  • A very large rectangular box located at the lower right, near another fan
  • 280 W
  • According to Wikipedia, the power supply or PSU is "to convert mains AC to low-voltage regulated DC power for the internal components of a computer." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_power_supply)

Hard Disk

Hard Drive Uncovered
  • Located under the CD Drive
  • Can hold 120 gigabyte
  • Is a storage unit for permanent information
  • Information cannot be retrieved as easily as the RAM
  • Can be destroyed by strong magnets
  • According to Wikipedia, a hard disk is a "non-volatile, random-access, digital, magnetic, data storage device." (in Wikipedia. Retrieved Oct. 8 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk)