Brendan L's CSC231 2014 Page

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Brendan Linehan's Lab Report

On 10/07/2014 I took a PC apart. The lab instructions can be found here.

Demolition of the above computer took place on October 7th, 2014. We were asked to familiarize ourselves with the parts of a computer, documenting our demolition as we identified the various components. The goal of this lab was to use simple hand tools such as screw drivers to disassemble and reassemble a desktop computer, identify various items inside of the computer, and understand the basic function and mechanism to each respective item.


Steps taken and discoveries:

  • The Case of the Computer Before We Opened It Up:
  • The Model Number of the Computer:


  • What's Inside? :
    • General Overview of Inside of Case
    • The Motherboard:

The motherboard is the main hub of the computer. All of its parts, the DVD Drive, the hard disk, the CPU, the RAM, graphic cards, USB hubs, VGA and Ethernet ports, almost everything in the computer communicates via the motherboard. The motherboard is arguably the most important part of the computer and is safely stored underneath all of the other parts. This is for protection of the motherboard as well as it being the main hub of the other parts of the computer. The lines and components on the motherboard are so that the other parts of the computer can communicate, via bits and power, via the motherboard.

    • The Hard Disk:

The hard disk is where all of the permanent memory storage of the computer goes. A person's software, videos, music, etc. are all stored in memory on this device. This part is not to be confused with the RAM or Random Access Memory where temporary memory is stored so that programs run by the CPU have temporary memory to utilize without having to write numerous bits to the permanent storage. The inside of the hard disk is depicted in the next bullet point as well as more specifically how it writes things to memory.

      • The Inside of the Hard Disk:

The mini-motherboard looking device on the inside of the hard disk is so that it can communicate with and receive power from the motherboard. Underneath the plastic casing that that smaller motherboard device is connected to are the actual disks where memory is written.


Depicted below is the inside of the plastic casing of the hard disk. What cannot be seen in the picture is that there are 3 metal disks plates as well as the head which is controlled by an actuator to write memory onto the metal disks. This process works much like a DVD or CD burner by writing things to the disk magnetically.

    • The RAM(Random Access Memory):

The RAM of a computer is important for the processing power of the computer. The RAM functions as the temporary memory system of the processor. Information is etched onto the RAM in the form of addresses. There were 4 Nanya RAMs with 2 GBs of memory per channel, having a maximum of 8 Gigabytes of memory. This allows for a maximum of 64,000,000,000 bits to be stored from the processor to the RAM at any time. The more bits that can be sent to the RAM from the CPU means that there is more "extra space" for the processor to briefly store information and to then be able to access at any time. This "extra space" allows for faster processing speeds(on top of how fast the CPU can process the bits itself).

    • The CPU(Central Processing Unit):

Our CPU or microprocessor was an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 model that was made in Malaysia. Its clock speed is 2.40 GHz with a 4 MB cache. The microprocessor is the physical device that performs instructions. It can send and access information to and from the RAM via buses and then perform manipulations on the information. Special storage locations in the CPU itself are called registers. The CPU can access data in registers much faster than the data in memory.

      • The Underside of the CPU:

This is the part of the CPU that connects to the motherboard.

      • The Cooling System for the CPU:

This part of the CPU speaks for itself in its name. The cooling system ensures that the CPU does not overheat and cause electrical problems and essentially the destruction of the entire computer.

    • The CD/DVD Drive:

The CD/DVD Drive is not to be confused with the hard disk drive. The CD/DVD drive is used to read data whether it be movies or music from the disk that is in the drive to the computer. CD/DVD drives with writable or rewritable functions allow data to be sent from the computer to the drive instead of the other way around.

    • The Power Supply:

The power supply and its cooling system are necessary for a computer to receive its power from a power outlet that is external to the computer. It ensures that the computer has power and does not overheat from the amount of power it is receiving. This power then travels along the cabling system to the various parts of the computer that need power.

    • The Cabling System:

The Power Cables: The power cables speak for themselves in their name. The power cables convert and mediate the amount of power that runs from the wall that one plugs their computer into, which in this case is 280 Watts of power. The power cables allow the motherboard to draw the necessary amount of power from these 280 Watts. If it were not for the power cables, the motherboard and computer would be overpowered and all of the electrical components that cannot receive that much power would be fried and rendered useless.


The Data Cables: The data cables also speak for themselves in their name. The data cables are used to communicate data between parts of the computer such as the hard disk or DVD drive to the motherboard. The data cables essentially translate whatever signal, whether it be read what's in the DVD drive to bits for the computer or translate these bits from the computer onto the disk in the DVD drive. The data cables are essential for the various parts of the computer to communicate via the motherboard.

    • The Frequency Crystal:

The crystal is a crystal quartz that naturally oscillates with a bit of electricity to begin. It is encased in silver so as not to interfere with other electromagnetic wavelengths occurring in the computer. The crystal determines the speed at which the microprocessor works and is essentially the clock of the processing system.