Mariem A's CSC231 2014 Page

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Mariem's Lab

On 10/7/14 I took a PC apart. The lab instructions are available here.


The goal of the lab was to discover the inside of a PC. We have been discussing memory, processor and the crystal this semester and this lab was a hands on experience of getting to see these important parts of a computer inside of the case. The lab helped us figure out where inside the case each of the prominent parts of a computer are located and hence, expanded our knowledge of the computer hardware. It was a very valuable exercise because it is important to get a real world sense of the theory we have been learning.

[Q1] The PC I took apart was a Dell PC. The model of the PC was DCNE. Below is a picture of the details about the PC.

  • The Model number, Serial Number, MFG Date and other details about the PC.
Csc231MA Model Number.jpg

Make :Dell
Model: DCNE


Steps taken and discoveries:

  • The case of the computer before we open it up:
CSC231MA case.jpg

The case protects and holds together everything inside the computer. The case is designed such that the ports and CD drives are accessible without having to open the case.

  • The inside of the case + power supply:
CSC231MA inside case.jpg

[Q2] This pictures shows the the components of the computer that can be seen right after we take the case off. One may see the motherboard, RAM,data and power supply cables, the heat sink and the CD drive from the outside. The processor and the hard disk weren't visible because the processor was underneath the heat sink and the hard disk was underneath the CD-drive. [Q6] The power supply can also be seen in the picture. It can output W of power.

  • The random access memory (RAM)
Csc231MA RAM.jpg

Csc231MA RAM inside.jpg

RAM is considered to be the temporary memory of a computer. Every time we open a file, the file gets loaded to the RAM from the hard drive. This is because reading data from the RAM is much quicker than reading from memory. Therefore, the RAM space is highly significant in determining the speed of the computer as more data can be loaded on to the RAM from memory. In many cases, it is better to invest in purchasing a better RAM rather than getting a faster processor.

[Q4] The RAM was connected to the motherboard via a slot on the board. The slot had a tiny clip-like structures and RAM fit right in there. Inside the specific PC we have demolished, the RAM was 1 GB. Unfortunately, the manufactured by sticker information was not available. However, we noticed that other people seemed to have their RAM manufactured by Samsung.

  • The Hard Drive
Csc231MA Hard Drive.jpg

[Q8] The hard disk is the primary storage of information. The hard drive stores the information on the hard disk. Everything that has been saved is stored in the hard drive. The hard disk in the PC that we took apart could hold 250GB data.

[Q9] The hard drive consists of a platter and a read and write arm. The arm stores memory on the platter.

  • The DVD drive
Csc231MA CD ROM.jpg

Csc231MA CD ROM 2.jpg

[Q5] The PC we took apart had a Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) drive. The drive can run both Compact Discs (CD) and DVDs. The DVD drive is able to read the files from the CDs and DVDs and also write to them because of the DVD burner.

  • The cooling system
  • The heat sinks
Csc231MA Cooler.jpg

Csc231MA Cooler2.jpg
  • The fan for the processor
Csc231MA Fan.jpg

It is very important to keep the computer parts within an operating temperature limit, thus avoiding potential overheating. If the parts get too hot, there is a risk of melting. The cooling system is found around the processor. The system consists of a fan and heat sinks to prevent the melting or malfunctioning of the processor. The fan and the heat sinks help by actively exhausting the hot air.

  • The Processor
Csc231MA Processor.jpg
  • The backside of the processor
Csc231MA Processor Back.jpg

[Q3] The processor was below the cooling system and it was inside a protective metal casing which we had to unbuckle to get the processor out. The model number of the processor was found by removing the thermal paste that covered the processor. Our model was a dual core processor and the model number was 6600 (see picture below). The processor was made in Malaysia. It is a 2.40 GHz processor with 4MB cache.

  • The model number of the processor
Csc231MA Processor Model.jpg

The central processing unit is responsible for interpreting and executing most of the instructions in a computer. It is considered to be the brain of the computer. As we saw in class, the registers in the memory can get data from the memory using data buses, execute operations on them and store them back in memory. Names of registers in the memory: esi, edi, eax,ebx,ecx,edx.

  • The motherboard
Csc231MA Motherboard.jpg

This picture shows the motherboard inside the case.

Csc231MA Motherboard Out.jpg

[Q10] The mother board is attached to the bottom of the case via small screws. It holds all the important components of a computer including RAM, the processor, video and sound cards and the crystal. The motherboard is often referred to as a printed circuitry with ports. It requires several connections in order to maintain the proper functioning of the computer. The ports for mouse, keyboard, speaker, screen and USB ports can be found on the motherboard. The lines on the motherboard are the electrical pathways that function like wires, transmitting electrical signals.

  • The crystal that drives the processor
Csc231MA Crystal.jpg

[Q11] The quartz crystal is mounted inside a small metal case and is found near the processor. The natural frequency of the vibration of this crystal is proportional to its size. This frequency primarily determines the speed of processing speed of the computer. The shape and size of the crystal can be altered to change the frequency at which it vibrates. Each "tick" corresponds to a cycle.

  • The power supply cable
Csc231MA Power Cable.jpg

[Q7] The power supply cable provides electrical energy to the components inside the case that need power.

  • The data cable
Csc231MA Data Cable.jpg

[Q7] The function of the data cables is to transfer data between devices connected to the mother board. For example, the data from the CD-ROM can be transferred to the memory for processing and then can be played using the speaker which is also connected to the motherboard via one of the ports.

  • The battery
Csc231MA Battery.jpg

[Q12] The battery can be found connected to the motherboard. This battery power the Real Time Clock (RTC) in the computer regardless of whether the computer is powered or not. When the computer is turned on, a query is sent to the RTC to get the correct time and date. The life span of the battery is about 5 to 7 years. When this battery dies, the computer cannot boot up because the system settings information is also stored in the RTC chip and when the battery is dead, the computer cannot boot up without knowing the hardware setting. The system information is stored in non-volatile RAM in recent computers which means that even if the battery die, the computer can still start. Only the time will be wrong.

The information on this Wiki about different parts of the computer was compiled using various online sources.