Chapter 1. Starting with the Basics

In This Chapter

  • Defining hardware, software, and peripherals

  • Identifying the common components of all PCs

  • Comparing desktop and laptop PCs

  • Understanding RAM and your PC's CPU

  • Defining the operating system

If your name is Hemingway or Faulkner or King, the first chapter is always the toughest to write. For me, however, this chapter was fun to write because it tackles the basic questions, such as which components make up your PC and why you need an operating system. You'll discover more about the specific parts of your PC that determine how fast it is, and I also discuss the pros and cons of choosing a laptop (or netbook or notebook) over a desktop PC.

If you're a hardware technician or a PC power user, you might decide to eschew these basic concepts and move on — and that's okay. But if you're new to the world of personal computers running Windows 7 or you're going to buy your first PC running Microsoft's latest and greatest version of Windows, this chapter is a great place to start. In fact, you would be amazed by how many folks I talk to who have owned their PCs for a year or two and still don't know some of the terms that you'll read here!

Here's the first Mark's Maxim for this book:


It takes a solid foundation to build a power user.™

So read on!

Basic Terms

My high school English teacher, a wonderful lady whom I have always admired (even then), always told us, "Never jump into anything before defining your terms." (I owe her a lot.) No small coincidence ...

Get PCs All-in-One For Dummies®, 5th Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.