Muriel B's CSC231 2014 Page

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Muriel Brunet's Lab Report

On 10/7/14 I worked with Sharon and Marine to take a Dell PC apart. The lab instructions are available here. Our goals for this lab were to take apart a computer and identify the various parts that make up a computer and take note of the key components, which are listed below and explained in more detail.



  • The picture below is of the case of the computer. It has the Model No.: DCNE. It houses all the necessary components. On the back, you can see various ports to which the display, audio, keyboard, mouse and power source are attached. There are also additional USB ports.
CSC231MB case.jpeg

  • This is picture of the inside of the case with all the components in their regular place. You can easily see many important parts such as the CD-Rom drive on the bottom left, the black box labeled Dell which is the cooling system and the power supply, which is the large silver box on the top left with several multicolored cables coming out of it. You can also make out the RAM to the left of the CD-Rom and the large, grey data Cable.
CSC231MB inside.jpeg


  • This is the motherboard after all of the other large elements, such as the power system, hard drive, cooling system, RAM and CD-Rom drive were taken off. The small gold lines all over the board are actually cables which carry information to different parts of the computer.
CSC231MB motherboard.jpeg

Hard Disk

  • This is the hard disk. It was located underneath the CD-Rom drive on the bottom left of the opened case. The hard disk is where all the computer's data is hard coded. It can hold up to 160.0 GB of information. The first picture is of the case, the second is of what you find on the back and the third is of what is inside the case. The shiny, mirror-like disk is the main unit where all the information is stored.
CSC231MB hardDisk3.jpegCSC231MB hardDisk.jpegCSC231MB hardDisk2.jpeg


  • These are the RAM, or Random Access Memory, of the computer. If you look back at the motherboard picture above, you will find two large black rectangles on the bottom edge; this is where the RAM units were placed before we removed them. Each one of these can hold up to two RAM units, though here we only found two 1GB units total. These were designed by Samsung and made in China.
  • RAM is where data is stored temporarily while it is being used. Data is retrieved from where is it hard coded in permanent memory in the hard disk and then stored temporarily in RAM to be manipulated by the processors. Contrary to the hard disk, any data left on the RAM when the computer is shut down is not kept and therefore lost. Retrieving data from the RAM is much faster than from the hard disk.
CSC231MB RAM.jpeg


  • This little metal bit is the crystal, which controls the speed at which the processor operates. Looking at the motherboard, this crystal is found to the left of the pink unit, which is actually a port for the display, and above a little black square.
  • Quite literally a crystal that oscillates as a regular and quite high speed, it acts as a sort of metronome for the computer. It takes one full cycle of the crystal for an operation to be executed by the processor. This computer operates at a speed of 2.4 GHz.
CSC231MB crystal.jpeg


  • This is the processor for this computer. It is an Intel Core DUO made in Costa Rica. It's model number is E6600. This processor, as its name indicates, is made up of two processors combined. It has a speed of 2.4 GHz regulated by the crystal, meaning it can execute 2.4 billion operations in a second. Each operation corresponds to one instruction in assembly language. At such a high speed, the processor heats up very quickly and therefore requires a substantial cooling system, which is explained below.
CSC231MB processor.jpegCSC231MB processor2.jpegCSC231MB processor3.jpeg

Cooling System

  • This is the cooling system for the processor, which was located right above it. As the processor goes through thousands of operations per second, it gets very hot and therefore needs a powerful cooling system. Here it consists of a fan as well as thermal cooling paste. On gaming computers, in which users push their processors to the limit, more extensive cooling systems are needed that may even include water. If the cooling system were to malfunction, the processor could overheat, which causes the computer to shut down.
CSC231MB cooling.jpegCSC231MB cooling2.jpeg

CD-Rom Drive

  • This is the CD-Rom Drive, which, if you look at the original picture of the opened case, was located on the bottom left corner. It was also right above the hard drive. It is DVD writable, meaning you can create burn DVDs and CDs. It also functions as a CD/DVD drive.
CSC231MB CD-Rom.jpeg

Power Supply and Battery

  • This is the power supply which was located on the top left corner of the opened computer picture from above. It can output 280 watts.
CSC231MB powerSupply.jpeg

  • There is also a small battery that can be found near the crystal. This battery allows the computer to keep track of the time even when it is turned off. These batteries usually have a pretty long lifespan and are easy to replace. However, most people do not know about them and are often left thinking their computer broke when it can no longer tell the time accurately after several years of use.
CSC231MB battery.jpeg

Cabling System

  • Here are a couple of the numerous cables found within the computer. They help relay information from one part of the computer to another. Other cables from the power unit helped bring electricity to other units on the motherboard.
CSC231MB cabling.jpeg